Time to turn it on
Nathan Hauritz's form is a worry ahead of the Ashes, admits Ian Harvey, but it is not all bad for Australia.
Last Updated: 19/10/10 9:23am
After two good, hard Tests Australia's Ashes preparations can now start in earnest.
Sure Ricky Ponting and the boys will be very disappointed to lose to India but it's not all doom-and-gloom in the camp by any means.
Ponting (along with Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson) will now rest up for the Ashes as he isn't involved in the one-dayers and that will give him a chance to look at what went wrong in India and what the side can do better leading into the battle with England.
There is definitely going to be an added pressure on Australia as the home side in the Ashes; even though England are now above them in the world rankings, the fans back home will still expect them to win in their own back yard.
But the rankings will count for little once the action gets underway and, who knows, while England may take confidence from going fourth it might also add to the pressure on them too.
The biggest concern for Australia, aside from the way their batting in the second innings let them down in both Tests, is the form of Nathan Hauritz.
The seam bowling side of things will look after itself in Australia, particularly if Doug Bollinger is fully fit and firing come the Ashes. Given the number of left-handers in England's team, he could play a real big part in the series, swinging the ball away and making them uncomfortable.
Ben Hilfenhaus was absolutely fantastic and while Mitchell Johnson can be erratic he is also a wicket-taking bowler; plus, it is early days but Peter George looks like he might be a good option to have in the wings. Having a Test in India under his belt can only stand him in good stead.
But Hauritz didn't seem to improve during the series and although Ponting trusted him enough to bowl nearly 40 overs in the first innings in Bangalore, the spinner did get smacked around in the second. Ok, that can happen - particularly when you're up against someone of Sachin Tendulkar's class.
While he now has the confidence to bowl his version of the 'topper' or 'doosra' in a game, variety shouldn't come at the expense of doing the basics right - namely keeping it tight at one end and building up pressure. If you don't it makes it tough for the captain to set fields.
We (and Shane Warne, judging by his comments on Twitter) saw as much on the final day when Hauritz bowled to what was a pretty extraordinary field. While I agree with Ricky's take on it - that a bowler should have a fair say in what field he bowls to - Shane's volley at Ricky's captaincy struck a chord.
It's the captain's job to change the field if it's not working - after all, it's his head on the chopping block. This is an area Australia will definitely have to work on.
On the plus side, Shane Watson and Simon Katich have struck up a real bond at the top of the order. If they can take that into the Ashes it will be a real positive for Australia, particularly as it will limit Ponting's exposure to the new ball.
In the past the Aussies have been good at targeting opposition batsmen; they've tried to get them in as soon as possible and make them uncomfortable.
Outside of the openers, Ponting is definitely a danger man. He was unlucky not to get a hundred against India on three occasions and looks in very good form.
England will want to get stuck into him as soon as they can, particularly as Michael Clarke isn't setting the world alight at the moment and Marcus North isn't out of the firing line as yet despite his timely century.
I'd say now that North will probably start the first Test in the Ashes but he'll need some good runs early on to be sure of his place.
It means there is a lot for the selectors to chew over in the next three or four weeks. But if Australia are good at one thing other than winning, it is bouncing back after series defeats.