Aussies may have to take conventional approach
AUSTRALIA is resigned to the possibility they may face reverse swing, but not be able to bowl it themselves in the fourth Test against India starting on Thursday.
One of the lingering fallouts from the ball-tampering scandal is how it might have impacted Australia's everyday maintenance of the old ball in Test cricket.
Although it wasn't likely to be the topic of conversation coach Justin Langer and selector Greg Chappell were going around in circles on as they walked laps of the SCG on Tuesday.
Australia is anxiously mulling over its XI for a do-or-die final Test they must win to ensure they don't go down as the first side to ever lose to India at home.
Aaron Finch attended the optional training session on Tuesday but didn't bat in another sign his position at the top of the order is in grave danger.
The other under-threat player Mitchell Marsh opted to rest from training along with the fast bowling attack with such a tight turnaround between two Tests.
On the surface it would seem Marsh and rookie part-time leg-spinner Marnus Labuschagne may feature as part of a six pronged bowling attack - with Finch dropped - in a bid to take the 20 wickets they need on a potentially flat and turning pitch.
But there was no certainty Langer and Chappell had come to any sort of final decision by the time they ended their stroll.
Meanwhile, the Australian bowlers certain of selection mulled how they can break an Indian batting line-up that were so impenetrable they declared twice in Melbourne - without reverse swing.
Despite the fact there's a generally accepted style of 'work' that international teams put into making the ball go reverse after 40 overs, the stain left by Cape Town has put Australia's players in a position where they cannot afford any scrutiny on what they're doing with the ball.
Statistics revealed during the Melbourne Test showed how much more effective Steve Smith's Australian team was last summer reversing the ball, as opposed to what Tim Paine's team has been able to do against India.
The Indian side hasn't got the ball to reverse a significant amount either, but there is a difference and a reason for it.
Until the International Cricket Council shows that it's willing to be strict on borderline - but generally accepted - practices for aiding reverse swing, like throwing the ball into the square from the boundary fence, Australia may remain prisoners of the past.
The entire landscape has changed and Australia's bid to take 20 wickets at the moment is likely to focus more on trying to find conventional swing.
Quite simply, other teams may find they can get away with more than Australia without having a microscope put on their every move.
Pace bowling leader Pat Cummins says he doesn't believe reverse swing was as big a factor 12 months' ago during the Ashes as it's been made out to be, and therefore Australia's inability to get it this summer hasn't been noticeable.
"We tried bowling some cross-seamers (at the MCG) and it just didn't seem to scuff up as much as a couple days later," Cummins said.
"Sometimes you get a ball that goes, sometimes it doesn't. No doubt they (India) bowled really well with it, presented a really good seam.
"And they're probably more suited to those conditions. To be honest I don't really remember getting too much reverse swing last summer in the Ashes. I didn't feel like it played a massive part.
"I know last summer, traditional swing there was pretty much none, and we thought reverse swing was probably the only way we're going to get side[ways] movement. (But) it didn't really happen at all last summer either.
"We know we're going to be out there for quite a while bowling, it's a really good team. The wicket's pretty dry. So reverse swing's a pretty big factor, especially I'd say for the other two (quicks).
"Joshy (Hazlewood) presents a really good seam, we know what Starcy (Mitchell Starc) does, but it just hasn't been a massive play so far."