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Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Aussie bowling in a spin

Australia skipper Ricky Ponting
Ponting has a host of worries after the first Test defeat

There has been plenty of soul-searching in Australia over the last few days after their shock first Test defeat against South Africa in Perth.

After the game, skipper Ricky Ponting said his side's batsmen were to blame for the six-wicket loss.

But with South Africa achieving the second-highest run chase in Test history, making 414-4, Australia's bowling attack has come under intense scrutiny.

BBC Sport spoke to Terry Jenner, former spin guru to legendary bowler Shane Warne, for his take on the bowling problems facing Australia.

After the South Africa defeat, is the focus on Australia's bowling attack valid?

"The focus on the bowling is not overplayed. Brett Lee was way below his best, Peter Siddle appears to be just short of the standard while Jason Krejza tries to get a wicket every ball and at international level you can't afford to do that.

"Lee has struggled for the best part of four months now. It is hard to say that because he has carried the Australian bowlers for the last year since the retirement of Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne.

Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne
McGrath (L) and Warne were a deadly combination for Australia

"Siddle didn't move the ball at all. He was told to pitch the ball up in the second innings, which he did but he did not deviate.

"He is a hard worker and he is a guy with terrific spirit but you can't see him bowling them out.

"On the bowling side it did not look good for Australia but the batsmen have to look at themselves as well - Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke gave away their wickets.

"Australia could have shut South Africa out of the game and on another day they might have."

Did Australia plan properly for the retirement of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath?

"The right word is complacency. They probably thought the day was never going to come when Warne was going to retire.

"You could lose one top bowler, but to lose both was gut wrenching. We hadn't prepared people to take over and Stuart Clark just happened to appear on the scene.

"Australia thought they had more time than they had and they were caught short."

Was it right to drop Jason Krejza for the second Test?

"He does give the ball a tweak and he does spin it hard but he went for over four runs an over.

"Even though he is in his mid-20s he is very inexperienced and at this stage Jason does not know how to bowl defensively. He just keeps trying to attack.

Come back Vaughny

"In India he took 8-215 on his Test debut but the performance covered a multitude of sins. He was expensive but he bowled wicket-taking balls on a pitch that helped him.

"You would normally expect Lee to have the batsmen on the back foot and then Krejza at the other end maybe could get away with one or two bad balls. But against South Africa, Lee was not troubling them.

"Jason has paid the price but it is not the end for him."

Why is there a problem with developing Australian spinners?

"Every guy in a state squad wants to play all the forms of cricket but for a spinner, it takes a significant amount experience to be able to change your game to do that.

"It's the longer form of the game that suffers because a young spinner takes the spin off the ball so he can become more accurate and when they do that they become semi dot-ball bowlers.

"That's why we have no leg-spinners in Australia at the moment because they are asked, through a total lack of understanding, to bowl dot balls.

"Shane Warne says that when you defend with the field, then you can attack with the ball.

"It takes a lot longer to develop a wrist spinner with accuracy, it's much easier to sacrifice the spin to become accurate. But you don't bring your spin back, it's gone forever.

"You have more leg spinners going around in England than we have in Australia. You never would have thought an Australian could say that because we have been breeding them here for years.

"But we are not developing youngsters because we say to them that they have to bowl economically."

What should happen now?

"We need a change of attitude and we now have to have a rethink about how we develop these guys.

"Cricket Australia have employed Shane to try and get through to captains about encouraging the development of wrist spin as well as using field placings to protect them - and I hope they listen to him.

"I would also look at the form of cricket spin bowlers play.

Steven Smith
Steven Smith has impressed for New South Wales this year

"There is a young player in New South Wales called Steven Smith, who is very talented - but he is playing limited-over cricket.

"He should play just four-day cricket instead. If he is our future, let's develop him as such.

"Warne played a host of Tests before he played a one-day international and that allowed him to develop his craft.

"We are not bereft of some reasonably good developing cricketers but you have to work out how they are going to get their opportunity to show they are up to it."

How should rising stars be handled?

"Australia have taken a few guys on tours in recent times that have looked like they might have filled a role.

"Queensland's Ashley Noffke took a massive number of wickets over here. They took him to the West Indies, he didn't play, they come home and he struggled for form.

"There was the same problem with Ben Hilfenhaus, it took him ages to regain his form.

"Doug Bollinger went to India, didn't bowl a ball in anger and he struggled in the first part of the season.

"Beau Casson went to the West Indies and didn't do a bad job when he was asked to play but then they opted not to take him to India, which was a surprise, and ever since then he has gone backwards.

"People should be accountable for these things, but they are not.

"It's almost like they are saying 'put a line through him, who's next?'."

Terry Jenner was speaking to BBC Sport's Mark Orlovac

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see also
Aussie coach Nielsen extends stay
23 Dec 08 |  Australia
Jenner fears Aussie spin decline
23 Dec 08 |  Australia
Australia drop spin bowler Krejza
22 Dec 08 |  Australia
S Africa run chase stuns Aussies
21 Dec 08 |  Cricket
Aussie spinner out of India tour
03 Oct 08 |  Cricket
Australia gamble on spin rookies
12 Sep 08 |  Cricket
Where next for Australia?
28 Jan 08 |  Australia
Warne tempted by Ashes comeback
20 May 08 |  Australia
Warne to coach Australia spinners
26 Dec 07 |  Australia

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