HOBART (Reuters) – Australia captain Steven Smith said he was embarrassed by his team’s performance against South Africa and accused his players of lacking pride in their wickets after another batting collapse paved the way to a crushing 2-0 series defeat.
Having resumed on 121 for two on day four in Hobart, Australia lost eight wickets for 40 runs before lunch to crumble to an innings and 80-run loss, the team’s fifth successive defeat in tests.
Australia head to Adelaide for the series finale under lights next week with confidence at rock-bottom and pundits demanding wholesale changes to the team’s roster and staff.
While giving credit to South Africa’s outstanding pace attack, Smith offered no defence for his batsmen and slammed them for failing to live up to the demands of international cricket.
“It’s not working. Obviously on the back of five losses there’s going to be a lot talked about in regards to selection and things like that,” the 27-year-old said at a candid post-match media conference.
“We’re not digging in enough, we’re not having the pride in our wicket … Something’s got to change and we’ve got to play a lot better than we have been if we’re going to beat any opposition around the world at the moment.
“I need players that are willing to get in the contest and get in the battle and have some pride in playing for Australia and pride in the baggy green (cap).
“I’m quite sick of saying it. We’ve lost five times in a row and for an Australian cricket team that’s humiliating and I’m embarrassed to be sitting here in this position, to be honest with you.”
Trounced by 177 runs in Perth, Australia brought a re-tooled lineup to Hobart, with Joe Burns replacing injured opener Shaun Marsh and specialist number six batsman Callum Ferguson debuting in place of all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.
Burns scored one and a duck, while Ferguson scored one in the second innings and ran himself out for three in the first.
Debutant seamer Joe Mennie, who replaced injured paceman Peter Siddle, took 1-85 and rarely threatened.
Australia coach Darren Lehmann guaranteed there would be further changes to the team before Adelaide but Smith gave a bleak prognosis of the available replacements.
“We need guys in state cricket to really step and jump out of the pack,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anyone really doing that at the moment, that’s really averaging 55-60, things like that.
“So there’s obviously going to be questions asked in all different ways.”
Smith said his bowlers also needed to lift, berating them for lacking discipline and giving their opponents “freebies” with loose deliveries in each over.
The bowlers would at least be rested before Adelaide, in contrast to the batsmen, who face a week of toil for their Sheffield Shield sides.
Barring Smith, his vice-captain David Warner and pace duo Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, Lehmann suggested the rest of the team had no guarantees.
“Outside of that, everyone’s got to make some runs and take some wickets. It’s a really important four days of Shield cricket,” he said.
“You’ve got to have an eye to the future as well.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)