Aaron Finch, D'Arcy Short, Chris Lynn and Travis Head all failed against South Africa.
Aaron Finch, D'Arcy Short, Chris Lynn and Travis Head all failed against South Africa.

Aussie cricket ‘completely lost’

AUSTRALIA will have no choice but to select their Test top six on gut instinct rather than results after yet another scandalous batting capitulation in Perth.

The summer is only one day old, but Australian cricket looks completely lost.

Coach Justin Langer has billed this one-day series against South Africa as a selection shootout for the first Test against India, but a host of candidates once again surrendered in front of his very eyes.

Techniques are flawed and shot selection at times hard to comprehend as the rudderless ODI side slumped to its 17th defeat in 19 starts, a crushing six-wicket loss to the Proteas with 124 balls still to play.

Test great and recently departed selector Mark Waugh says he can't remember there being more uncertainty heading into a Test summer, and the latest inept performance - admittedly on a wild pitch which captured the spirit of the old WACA - raised only more questions.

Often the problem with starting the summer in Melbourne Cup week is it's hard to get out of the barriers.

But was the meek 24,342 turn-out at the state-of-the-art 60,000 capacity Perth Stadium more to do with the horses, or the crisis engulfing cricket on and off the field?

The game desperately needed Australia to stand up and show something on opening day, but if possible, the hole only got deeper.

South Africa's world class pace attack led by the unstoppable Dale Steyn tore through Test incumbent Travis Head and Shane Warne-pick D'Arcy Short in the third over, and when all-format opener Aaron Finch was rapped on the pads Australia was in crisis at 3-8.

Ultimately bowled out for 152, it was Australia's lowest ODI score batting first for … two years - which sadly reinforces the depressing fact that this kind of disaster is far from an aberration.

Shaun Marsh withdrew with a pain in the backside, as Australia's World Cup defence became one.

Langer stressed in the pre-match the importance of at least batting out the 50 overs. But they couldn't even make it to 40 and suffered the humiliation of having to go back into the field for another half an hour before the dinner was ready to be served.

Finch is considered a certainty for the first Test and Head as close to, but still doubts linger.

How will Finch handle the swinging new ball when he hasn't opened in Sheffield Shield for several years?

When will Head translate promise into consistent output?

Chris Lynn doesn't want to be discounted as a Test candidate, but he could only hold on for so long before he became the first of three victims for Andile Phehlukwayo.

Glenn Maxwell might have been hard done by this year, but this match was a prime opportunity to perform a rescue mission that could have changed perceptions, yet he lasted just eight balls to be out to 11.

It was unclear whether Maxwell was blowing up about the catch that was claimed or his poor shot choice, but the latter would have been more appropriate.

Marcus Stoinis has been flagged as a potential challenger to Mitchell Marsh's position as the Test all-rounder, but he looked unconvincing for his 14-ball stay, although he did take three wickets in a lost cause.

Nathan Coulter-Nile top scored at No.9 with 34 to further embarrass those higher up the order, but why on earth did he open the bowling ahead of Mitchell Starc?

Marsh was ruled out with an abscess on his backside that was successfully lanced off in surgery, and he desperately needs time in the middle to convince selectors he can fight through another summer after his recent failure against Pakistan.

The only good news for Australia on another horror day was a hundred to Victorian Test hopeful Peter Handscomb at the MCG that suddenly puts him in the box seat for a recall against India, and a return to form for Mitchell Marsh for WA.

But alarm bells are ringing for Australia on every front.