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Cricket World Cup 2023

‘They are just waiting to be shot down’ – Matthew Hayden blasts Australia’s defensive tactics vs South Africa

Matthew Hayden
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Matthew Hayden has come down hard at Australia’s defensive tactics during their second World Cup game against South Africa at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium in Lucknow today (October 12).

Australia succumbed to their second successive defeat at the World Cup, failing to reach the target of 312 against South Africa in Lucknow. It didn’t even turn out to be a close game as they were bowled out for 177 with nearly ten overs left to play, losing the game by 134 runs to slip to ninth place in the points table.

After a 27-run opening partnership between David Warner and Mitchell Marsh, everything went downhill for Australia as they lost wickets in clusters. Both openers departed within the space of seven balls. Steve Smith and Marcus Stoinis got controversial review decisions, and Australia were six down for 70 with the game seemingly out of their grasp.


Towards the latter stages of Australia’s innings, Matthew Hayden criticised Australia’s tactics with both bat and ball: “Back-to-back wickets for the first and second wickets. Mini partnership. Back-to-back wickets for the third and fourth wickets. Mini partnership again. This is the only major contribution here right now (Marnus Labuschagne and Mitchell Starc added 69 for the seventh wicket).

“What interestingly though, has come to the fore is just how now they are starting to think, ‘okay, we going to get runs’ as opposed to, ‘okay, we’re gonna just survive’. And I think that’s been the trending story of the day.”

While bowling earlier in the day, Australia did not have a good time on the field either and looked sloppy. The intensity was not as high as is commonly seen with Australian teams.

Glenn Maxwell came onto bowl in the seventh over as the first-change bowler ahead of captain Pat Cummins or lead spinner Adam Zampa, a move that irked Hayden, who complained that these were surprisingly defensive tactics: “You had an off-spinner bowling inside ten overs, with no slip, with not really a conscious plan to go, ‘Right, how are we going to get a wicket’.

“Whenever I think of … Shane Warne, the very first thing that he comes up with is, immediately, how am I trying to get a wicket. And I sense that hasn’t happened with the ball. I sense it also hasn’t happened with the bat either. They are just waiting to be shot down, and they have been.”

Five-time world champions Australia now face an uphill task of qualifying for the semi-finals after losing their first two matches at the World Cup. With seven games to go, they would need to win somewhere around five or six games to stand a chance.

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