Ashes manager Howard: no excuse for losses

Cricket Australia performance manager Pat Howard says there are no excuses for the Australia’s disastrous batting collapses in the Ashes series defeat.

Much has been made of the Australian team’s inability to perform in English conditions as swing bowling by the likes of England pacemen Stuart Broad and James Anderson reduced the batsmen to nervous prodders.

But Howard said on Tuesday the batsmen’s history showed they were capable of playing well in those circumstances.

“We didn’t adapt and we didn’t play well in those conditions and we’re actually an experienced team, so we don’t have a lot of excuses,” he told Sky Sports Radio.

“(Shane) Watson, (Michael) Clarke, (Steve) Smith, (Chris) Rogers all got Ashes centuries in 2013.

“So, we’ve got guys who are capable here, (newcomer Adam) Voges had scored and was picked because of a lot of (English) county experience.

“Our ability to adjust to those conditions wasn’t good enough, and to be honest that’s our Achilles heel.”

Howard defended the axing of Test wicketkeeper Brad Haddin midway through Australia’s unsuccessful campaign and admitted it was a “tough one” emotionally for both player and selectors.

Haddin was forced to pull out of the second Test at Lord’s due to family reasons, before being overlooked by selectors in the third and fourth Test defeats in favour of Peter Nevill.

He has since returned to Australia and may never pull on the Baggy Green again.

“Emotionally it was a tough one and to be honest it was exactly what happened in 2012 as well, so ‘Hads’ had to go home then as well,” he said.

“The team’s been through it before. But look, I was part of every conversation Brad was in, contract meetings etcetera where, ‘Mate, you’ve got to get your batting numbers up’, he was told that multiple times, he knew that.

“I’m not surprised it’s sort of split the emotions.”

When asked if Haddin’s omission dispirited the playing group, Howard said he was unsure.

“It’s one of those ones you can’t do in hindsight because you don’t know,” he said.

“If he’s in the team, out of the team, we might’ve been just as bad with `Hads’ in, you could say the same thing about `Watto’.”

Howard also said the debate surrounding the presence of wives and girlfriends around the team camp was overblown.

“(You) need to understand, these guys are on tour, without a day off if they go to the IPL, until the third week of June 2017. Not a day off tour. So you’ve got to have some normality there,” he said.

“This is not the silver bullet.”

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