'I don’t see a reason why India should not win in Australia. I think India will steamroll Australia,” Thomson said.
Bhubaneshwar: For the second time in three overseas Test series this year, Virat Kohli-led India will start favourites on the tour when they take the field against Australia for four-Test rubber, and Australian pace legend Jeff Thomson believes the visitors will “steamroll” Tim Paine’s side Down Under.
Before blanking West Indies 2-0 at home recently, India slipped to a 1-4 loss in England after starting the five-Test series as runaway favourites. Earlier this year, India lost the series in South Africa 1-2 after conceding positions of strength in the first two Tests. However, Thomson, who terrorised batsmen around the world with his raw pace in his 13-year playing career through the 1970s and 80s, is confident that the visitors will win their maiden Test series in Australia.
“Your bowling stocks are pretty good. You’ve got a really good, solid team. The batsmen are beautiful, the fielding has improved, and I don’t see a reason why India should not win in Australia. I think India will steamroll Australia,” Thomson said in his panel discussion at the ongoing Ekamra Sports Literary Festival here.
India last went on a Test assignment in Australia in 2014-15, and the hosts, then led by Steve Smith, took that series 2-0. Smith and opener David Warner, Australia’s top run-getters in that series with aggregates of 769 and 427 runs respectively, will be missing in action this time as the duo is serving one-year ban owing to ball-tampering charges.
“Without these two,” Thomson said, “the Australian batting line-up is very average.”
The 68-year-old also came down heavily on Australia’s batsmen in the aftermath of the Test series that they lost 1-0 to Pakistan in UAE.
“You see the footwork of the Australians during the series against Pakistan. They lack technique, they just want to smack the ball out of the park, which is due to playing too many T20 and ODI matches,” Thomson said.
India’s batting will be led by skipper Kohli, who scored 692 runs on his previous trip to Australia, and while the veteran fast bowler conceded that the 29-year-old will be a force to reckon with, he suggested that modern batsmen tend to get impatient if they are kept quiet for a few overs.
“These days, a batsman will not score for two overs and then score a boundary with a stupid shot. In our times, not getting out was the mindset of batsmen.
“I hope apart from Kohli, India’s other batsmen also play well. When he gets out, other members should show the same fighting spirit. Given Australia’s batting line-up, if you score 300-350 runs, you should win,” he said.
India begin their tour of Australia on 21 November with a three-match T20I series before the four-Test duel starts in Adelaide on 6 December.
A veteran of 200 Test wickets, Thomson was arguably the fastest bowler of his generation. Together with Dennis Lillee, he formed one half of what was touted as the fiercest pace attack of their time.
Remembering his playing days, Thomson credited quality first-class cricket as one of the reasons behind his development as a fast bowler.
“I was lucky to be born with an athletic body. I was not much into gym routines, but did a lot of heavy lifting. Also, we used to play only four-day matches and Test cricket,” he said.
“One-dayers never started until the first World Cup. Bowlers like me and Lillee used to play only first-class cricket and Test cricket. I played with international cricketers in club cricket and Sheffield Shield, so that helped me grow as a bowler. These days, there’s way too much money in first-class cricket but no quality. The players want to get a T20 franchise contract somehow.”
The Aussie, who is believed to have clocked over 100mph on multiple occasions, rued the decline of pace bowling over the years.
“Balls today are of poor quality and they don’t swing. Boundaries have come in, bats are so huge, there's a restriction on bouncers. Nowadays, a mistimed shot easily clears the in-field whereas earlier it would have been out. You have all the money but no quality and no one to watch," he said.
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