NEW DELHI, (Reuters) – Australia’s struggles in the ongoing Ashes series show the team have yet to emerge from a transition phase, and India will face similar problems when several leading players retire, former Australia captain Bobby Simpson said.
Languishing in fourth place in the ICC test rankings, Australia are a shadow of the dominant side that featured Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist.
Ricky Ponting’s men trail England 1-0 in the Ashes series and the pressure is mounting ahead of the third test in Perth starting tonight.
Simpson said it was far from easy to replace key players such as Warne and McGrath.
“If you go through the history of the game, we’ve always had a poor period after great teams,” Simpson told reporters after addressing a cricket seminar in memory of former Indian cricket board president Raj Singh Dungarpur late on Tuesday.
India must also prepare for life after several of their key players retire.
“What happens in India when Sachin (Tendulkar) goes, (Vangipurappu) Laxman goes and Rahul (Dravid) goes? That’s not far away,” he said.
The Indian trio have amassed more than 34,000 test runs between them, with Tendulkar and Dravid now nearing the age of 38, while Laxman is 36.
Australia’s struggles have led selectors, led by Simpson’s son-in-law Andrew Hilditch, to try as many as 10 spinners to fill the void left by Warne, but none have been able to step into his shoes.
“You are talking about a genius, aren’t you? You can never replace a genius,” said Simpson, who also coached Australia’s 1987 World Cup winning team.
“You know there has been so much emphasis on fast bowling at all levels in world cricket the spinners are, unfortunately, disappearing. How many good spinners are there in India now?”
Australia’s fast bowling department has looked listless, particularly Mitchell Johnson, though Simpson says the left-arm pacer can still harm England.
“I think Mitchell mainly has lost rhythm and the only way you can get your rhythm back is by bowling and bowling and bowling … I think he’ll still be a threat.”
Simpson has not lost his faith in Ponting either.
“I think Ricky has scored enough runs to retain the captaincy. Look at some of the ways he got out, which was unfortunate. When things don’t go your way, it’s very difficult.”