Former Test captain Ian Chappell says he is “not surprised” to see Australia struggle in its series against India, claiming national selectors have made some “head-scratching” decisions.
- Chappell says he could not understand some of the selections made in India
- He believes Travis Head should have played the first Test
- Chappell queries why Matt Kuhnemann was brought into the Australia XI
India has already retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy with an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-Test series.
The hosts won the series opener in Nagpur by an innings and 132 runs, before securing a six-wicket victory in the second Test in Delhi.
The third Test will be played in Indore, beginning Wednesday.
“The mess they have got themselves in isn’t surprising, although some of the selections have been head-scratching to say the least,” Chappell told ABC Sport.
Chappell said he could not understand why batter Travis Head was dropped for the first Test following his summer in Australia.
Head was recalled for the second Test, making 12 and 43.
Chappell admitted he thought Head would struggle to play spin in India, but believed the South Australian should have been selected in Nagpur.
“You just don’t drop some guy who has been one of your top scorers in Australia,” he said.
“You find out if he can play in India.”
Chappell also queried the selection of Matthew Renshaw in the middle order, given his previous Test experience in India was batting as an opener.
Renshaw opened alongside David Warner in all four Tests on Australia’s 2017 tour of India.
The Queenslander batted at number five in Nagpur and in the second innings in Delhi when he was subbed in for Warner, who was ruled out due to concussion.
“Batting in the middle order — when you virtually come in to face spin bowling straight away — is a hell of a lot harder than if you can get a few runs on the board facing the quicks and then you’re facing the spinners,” Chappell said.
Kuhnemann selection under fire
Chappell also challenged the selection panel’s decision to parachute Matt Kuhnemann into the Test XI for Delhi.
Kuhnemann was called up to the Australian squad to replace fellow Queensland spinner Mitch Swepson, who had briefly returned home for the birth of his first child.
He was named to make his Test debut in Delhi as one of three spinners, having leapfrogged Ashton Agar, who was already in India.
Agar has since returned to Australia to play domestic cricket but will fly back to India for next month’s ODI series.
Chappell said Kuhnemann’s performance in Delhi provided no justification for his selection.
Kuhnemann returned the figures of 2-72 and 0-38.
Chappell also said selectors should not have called up Kuhnemann to the Test squad if the decision was based on his Sheffield Shield form.
“He’s not bowling to the best batsmen in Australia,” Chappell said.
“So, if his Shield record is quite good, you’ve got to remember he is not bowling to the best players. So, how do you decide that Kuhnemann is ready for India because he is bowling really well [in Sheffield Shield]?
“Now, a good selector — and I’m not sure we have got any of those at the moment — can see some things that tell him, ‘I think this guy is ready’ and you might take a punt.
“But in general, it’s not a good system for either the players or the selectors to decide who is ready for Test cricket.”
Retired Australia fast bowler Stuart Clark said a lack of red-ball cricket between the final Test of the Australian summer — against South Africa in the first week of January — and the opening match of the series in India had not helped the tourists.
“The choice Cricket Australia made this time around was to prioritise the Big Bash and unfortunately the players probably aren’t doing as well as they can,” he said.