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Former captains react to cricket crisis

AAP logoAAP 15/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Former skipper Ian Chappell wants some youngsters to be blooded following Australia's fifth-straight Test loss, while Michael Clarke has offered his support to under-siege successor Steve Smith.

There was no shortage of calls for change, demands for answers and expressions of outrage after Australia's loss in the first Test against South Africa.

That WACA defeat represented the first time Australia had lost the first Test of a home summer since 1988.

Smith's side came to Hobart with high hopes of turning things around but were sent in and skittled for 85 - their lowest Test total at home since 1984.

Australia followed it up with a second-innings collapse of 8-32 at Bellerive to risk being whitewashed in a home Test series. That ignominy has not happened since federation.

"I want the Australian team to know that we are right here to help them. We are a part of that cricket family," Clarke said on the Nine Network.

"Our phone numbers haven't changed. We're at every single game ... we feel the pain as much as the players.

"We don't want to get in anybody's way but, if the Australian changeroom feels like they can use our services for anything to help them, we'd love to help.

"Steve Smith's performances as a player are unbelievable ... but this is where he's going to be tested as a captain."

Shane Warne, Mark Taylor, Ian Healy and Michael Slater all visited Australia's change rooms after the loss in Hobart, chatting with players.

Chappell, sitting alongside Clarke, felt Australia had gone backwards since the Argus review in 2011.

"We've been digging a big hole and it's just got deeper and deeper," Chappell said.

"Hopefully, we've hit the bottom now.

"Going down the route of old debutants all the time leads you down a dead-end path and we've hit that dead end now. I don't think the selectors have any choice but to go for some youth."

Former England skipper and BT Sport pundit Michael Vaughan agreed, opining that a number of Australian players weren't up to Test standard.

"The Australian selectors will have to be brave. They might have to pick two or three younger players that possibly aren't ready," Vaughan said.

"Don't pick all youngsters, but it clearly needs freshening up.

"I've never seen an Australian batting unit look so fragile against the short ball ... I've never seen an Australian side play to this level."

Ricky Ponting, speaking alongside Vaughan, felt players - not selectors - should cop the brunt of scrutiny.

"That's a very, very poor batting performance again," Ponting said.

"Are they lacking confidence because of some of the selections and things that have happened? - maybe.

"But when you're out there in the heat of the battle, that's all gone. You've got to find a way to play the game."

Herschelle Gibbs and Allan Donald were among the former South African players tweeting their congratulations and excitement as their compatriots completed a third-straight series win in Australia.

"Speechless! Think I'm gana have a beer at 3am," spearhead Dale Steyn posted on Twitter, having flown home for shoulder surgery after suffering an injury in the first Test.

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