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Australia's Test prep under spotlight

AAP logoAAP 16/11/2016 Andrew Drummond

As Cricket Australia ponders what has gone wrong to spark the fall of our Test team as the world's No.1 side, preparation leading up to the failed South African series is under the spotlight.

Australia have lost their past five ODIs and five Tests, most recently being skittled for 85 in an innings-and-80-run loss to South Africa in Hobart.

A tight international schedule has been blamed for a lack of team and individual preparation and, while Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland isn't jumping to any conclusions, he says the situation is being reviewed.

"It may or may not be an issue in terms of the Australian team getting bowled out for 85 in the first innings of a Hobart Test match," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"No one can tell me or guarantee that is actually the case because there are plenty of summers gone by where we've had a similar preparation to the season and done well.

"But we haven't this time and that gives cause for us to challenge ourselves on how we prepare our players."

Australia's players had limited red-ball exposure, in the form of one Sheffield Shield round, in the lead-up to the series.

South Africa played two two-day matches when they first arrived Down Under but, otherwise, came off the same ODI schedule as Australia.

"There's a kaleidoscope of complexity in scheduling," Sutherland added.

"There are things about the schedule that I would like to change but they're very difficult to change.

"It's not just from a team performance perspective - it's also about our obligations to deliver content to our grounds, to our state associations, to media partners and others."

Following the Hobart loss, Sutherland said team management identified players lacking preparation and those managing injuries were found to be "most challenged".

The role and timing of Shield cricket to act as a feeder to Test representation could also be up for review, he suggested.

"It's a matter of whether Sheffield Shield cricket is performing the role that Australian cricket needs it to right now," Sutherland said.

"I think that's part of a discussion that we need to have internally, in regard to how Shield cricket is supported, where it fits in the schedule and the role that it plays in producing Australian Test cricketers in the future."

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