Australia completely underperformed in all three departments during their latest defeat to West Indies, but it was rather the sloppy fielding that concerned captain Steve Smith. Even Australia’s caretaker coach Justin Langer is visibly frustrated regarding his team’s poor fielding.
Langer suggested this performance says all, where the Australians are now standing despite being World Champions.
Smith (74) and Usman Khawaja (98), both were promoted one spot up the order due to David Warner’s broken finger, apparently took control of the match with a 170-run stand.
A 300-plus total seemed possible but Australia couldn’t manage to find enough boundaries lately and had to finish on 7-265, a total the hosts West Indies chased down with four wickets in hand and 4.2 overs remaining.
The hosts were lightning first to reach 0-40 after four overs, with Johnson Charles and Andre Fletcher giving a sensational 74-run stand.
But both openers were reprieved by Khawaja, he was mainly responsible for the low point of a fielding performance that surprised Smith.
“We were sloppy with most of the things we did in the field,” the skipper said.
“This isn’t the standard the Australian cricket team sets … we didn’t field like an Australian side. We want to be the best fielding team in the world, so we’ve got a lot of work to do to get to that mark.”
Even Justin Langer pointed out the basic problem, “I’ve always viewed fielding as a key barometer of a cricket team. If your throwing is good and you’re switched on and you’re doing all the little things well, that’s always a good sign for me.
And I felt we were a bit off in that department in our loss to the West Indies the other night. One of the basics you learn as a kid is that catches win matches, so of course it hurts when you miss some opportunities like we did in St Kitts.
But I think a performance like the one we had is simply a reflection of where this team is at right now.”
Smith, who lost the toss, believes the problem was “an attitude thing”.
“The guys just seemed a little bit flat,” he said.
“It’s hard to put a finger on it, I guess it’s just each individual looking at themselves in the mirror and making sure we have that attitude to go out there and get the job done.
“We made pretty costly errors pretty early in the game, they cost us a fair bit in the end.”
Fletcher was on just four when he chipped a ball to mid-on, where Khawaja failed to hold on to a low catch.
Khawaja then again made a mess of a golden chance in the deep, which came when Charles was on 36. Fletcher scored 27, while Charles was trapped lbw by Adam Zampa on 48.
Frankly speaking, Australia have lost a lot of experience since the World Cup last year. Mitchell Johnson, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Michael Clarke were genuine superstars of the game and now the Ausies don’t have the luxury to call on them anymore. They didn’t have David Warner or Mitchell Starc against the Windies as well, so you’re left with a team that’s quite inexperienced internationally.