Relieved after Australia dodged a humbling series defeat to Bangladesh, skipper Steve Smith says his side must address their constant batting collapses or risk losing the Ashes.
Australia escaped from their first visit to Bangladesh in 11 years with a 1-1 series draw, winning the second Test in Chittagong by seven wickets after losing in Dhaka by 20 runs.
Set a target of 86 runs to win after bowling out Bangladesh for 157 in their second innings, Australia needed just 16 overs to claim victory on Thursday with a day to spare.
Much of the credit will rightly go to man of the match Nathan Lyon, who became the first Australian to take 13 wickets in a Test in Asia.
Lyon’s 6-60 in the second innings took his wicket tally for the tour to 22, just one shy of Sri Lankan tweaker Rangana Herath’s record for the most dismissals in a two-match Test series.
He shared man of the series honours with David Warner, who backed up his drought-breaking triumph in Dhaka with a gutsy century in stifling heat during Australia’s first innings.
Recalled spinner Ashton Agar and electrifying quick Pat Cummins were also impressive, showing the fortitude necessary for them to forge long Test careers for Australia.
But while Bangladesh proved to be tougher opponents than their No.9 ranking would suggest, Lyon and Warner’s heroics helped to obscure some deep-rooted issues.
Australia undid the good work of their bowlers with dismal batting collapses in both Tests, and Smith admitted it was an issue they desperately needed to address.
“We would have much preferred 2-0 but it’s nice to get over the line here and have a 1-1 draw,” Smith said.
“I still think we have a lot of improvement in us. We probably let ourselves down at times throughout this Test match.
“I thought our first-innings bowling was very good to restrict them. Our first-innings batting, obviously the partnership between (Peter Handscomb) and Davey was fantastic.
“And then we got ourselves into one of our collapses that we’ve had.
“I think we’ve had 15 collapses in our last 14 games … that’s not good enough for an Australian cricket team.
“That’s something we really need to work on. We need to rectify that come the next series and the Ashes.”
Warner, Smith and Handscomb were the only Australians to make 50s during the series but Smith suggested Australia’s batting problems were largely above the shoulders.
“I’d say that probably 95 per cent of batting is mental and decision-making,” Smith said.
“I don’t think it’s technical a lot of the time. Guys just have to make better decisions consistently and hopefully be able to build some partnerships in the middle.
“You have to find ways to work with your partner out there, get another partnership going and stop the rut as such.”