Marsh continues to look for answers.
Marsh continues to look for answers.

Damning statistic shames Aussie batsmen

For Australia to defeat India this summer - a tough task for the world's No.5-ranked outfit against Test cricket's top dogs - the biggest question they'll need to answer is a simple one.

Where will the runs come from?

Chipping away at the near-perfect batting technique of Indian skipper Virat Kohli is one thing, but if Australia's top six fails to fire and Tim Paine's world-class bowling outfit don't have any runs to defend then Justin Langer's first Test series on home soil is going to be a nightmare.

Langer, of course, has started his tenure as Australian coach by nailing down the key criteria for selection in the top six: runs, runs and more runs.

It's a simple metric but it's the only one which matters to the new king pin of Australian cricket.

More specifically, hundreds are what Langer is interested in.

He said as much in September when he announced the Test squad for Australia's Test tour of the UAE to play Pakistan - and defended the decision to overlook the merits of subcontinental specialist Glenn Maxwell.

Justin Langer wants to see his batsmen score big, big centuries. Picture: AAP
Justin Langer wants to see his batsmen score big, big centuries. Picture: AAP

"He's 30 years old, for example," Langer said of Maxwell at the time.

"Steve Smith's 29 and got 79 hundreds, Glenn Maxwell's got 17 hundreds."

The numbers were a little bit off - Langer had accidentally doubled-counted international centuries - but the message was clear: centuries matter.

AUSTRALIA'S SOLE CENTURION

One statistic which should send chills down the spines of Australian cricket fans is this: of current, eligible, players there's only one Australian who has scored a Test century against India.

And he's not been picked.

Maxwell has played just four Tests against India, but in that time was able to reach the magic century mark - which he achieved with a breakthrough knock alongside then-skipper Steve Smith in Ranchi last year.

That day he took on Indian pace duo Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav - both in line to lead the tourist's attack in Adelaide - as well as the twin spin terrors of Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

He rebuilt Australia's innings with a 191-run fifth-wicket stand alongside Smith as Australia piled on 451 for the first innings: exactly the sort of total they'll be chasing in every Test this summer.

Shaun Marsh was THIS close to notching three figures against India in 2014.
Shaun Marsh was THIS close to notching three figures against India in 2014.

WHAT ABOUT THE CURRENT CROP?

While the newcomers Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Marcus Harris have never faced India in a Test - and surprisingly, neither has local specialist Usman Khawaja - both Shaun and Mitchell Marsh have had their chances.

Shaun came closest - and as close as you can come. He was cruelly dismissed one shy of a well-deserved ton when he was run out for 99 in the 2014 Boxing Day Test.

It's one of four half-centuries Shaun Marsh has against India from 20 innings, while brother Mitchell has not passed 41 in eight attempts.

Naturally, there are two big names missing from this list.

Both Steve Smith and David Warner have plundered big scores against India. Smith has a staggering seven centuries - and a scary average of 84.06 - while Warner boasts four triple-figure scores against Australia's fierce rival.

There's question marks over this Australian batting line-up, which Test great Shane Warne recently tagged the worst he'd ever seen.

Warne's scathing assessment came midway through the first Test of Australia's series against Pakistan - which they would go on to draw, following a defiant century to Usman Khawaja and stoic supporting roles from Travis Head and Tim Paine.

But their efforts, in many ways, papered over the cracks of a fragile top order - with the line-up to be rolled out against India in Adelaide to strongly resemble that which struggled in the UAE.

David Warner (R) remains sidelined with his ban. Picture: Getty
David Warner (R) remains sidelined with his ban. Picture: Getty

Notably there's still no Steve Smith, David Warner or Cameron Bancroft, who all remain banned from the sandpaper affair.

"We need them (the banned trio)," Warne said in October.

"I think Australia's batting at the moment is the worst I have seen it."

'TREMENDOUS FAITH'

Australian vice-captain Josh Hazlewood backed the under-pressure batting line-up to fire, insisting he had 'tremendous faith' in them to do so.

"I have a lot of confidence," Hazlewood said.

"The guys coming into the team are in form and scored runs this summer.

"Shaun Marsh keeps peeling them off in every format and every game he plays. I've got tremendous faith in the top order."

Josh Hazlewood sends down another rocket in an Australian net session. Picture: AAP
Josh Hazlewood sends down another rocket in an Australian net session. Picture: AAP

Hazlewood said spicy net sessions were the perfect preparation for whatever India were planning on throwing at Australia.

"The nets are pretty fiery, everyone feels a touch quicker in the nets as well," he said.

"I always make sure I bowl when (fellow quicks) Pat (Cummins) or Mitch (Starc) are batting so I don't have to face them."

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News Corp Australia


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