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Australian batsmen losing focus: Waugh

AAP logoAAP 8/11/2016 Darren Walton

National selector Mark Waugh has challenged Australia's top order to sharpen up mentally after he was left dismayed by their latest batting capitulation.

Waugh was still scratching his head 24 hours after watching Steve Smith's side slump to a 177-run loss in the first Test in Perth after having South Africa on the ropes on day two.

"The facts are it was disappointing. I mean, we shouldn't lose from that position, really," Waugh said on Fox Sports' Inside Cricket program.

"We've seen it happen probably three or four times in the last five Test matches where we've dominated day one, we've been ahead in the game and then I don't know whether it's a subconscious thing where we relax a bit.

"But South Africa played great. Full credit to them. But if our boys look at their performances, they'll know they can do a lot better than that."

Even South African great Shaun Pollock was "still trying to work it out" after the visitors inflicted the first defeat on Australia in the opening Test of the summer in 28 years.

And the Proteas did it without pace spearhead Dale Steyn, who broke down just one wicket into Australia's second innings.

While ruing the inability of Dave Warner and Usman Khwaja to convert 97s into big hundreds, Waugh was reluctant to lay blame for Australia's latest collapse.

"It was a combination of some good bowling and some poor execution with the bat; poor decision making," he said.

"I think it's a bit of a mental thing now, possibly. We've had it happen to us probably three or four times in recent times - in Sri Lanka. We go back to England, that was a while ago.

"So it's probably both technical and mental ... so you can't do much about it. It's up to the individual.

"They've got to work a their game and how to best to adapt to the conditions. We're not probably adapting to what we're seeing in front of us with the bat.

"Maybe we're thinking about something else, but they're not concentrating on that ball and what to do if the ball's reversing or a left-arm spinner's bowling.

"You've got to have your plans in if it's that sort of bowling. At the moment it looks like we're batting and hoping a little bit."

Waugh also lamented the contentious second-innings dismissals of Smith and Mitchell Marsh as potential game changers, and isn't giving up on Australia turning the three-Test series around.

"These guys are talented enough and, if you look at them individually, they've all make runs at different times," he said.

"But as a unit we're just not getting partnerships after the first one, really.

"We're just losing wickets in blocks and having two new batsmen at the crease, which is always tough in Test match cricket."

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