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Kim Hughes slams CA over Test squad prep

AAP logoAAP 13/11/2016 Rob Forsaith

Former Australia skipper Kim Hughes believes a "diabolical" lack of preparation meant the Test squad was destined to struggle this summer, calling for heads to roll at Cricket Australia.

CA boss James Sutherland claimed on Sunday that his under-siege employees can't use a cramped schedule as an excuse for the current batting crisis.

They are words that will further infuriate former Test players Hughes, Michael Hussey, Chris Rogers, Ian Chappell and others concerned the Sheffield Shield has been devalued in recent years.

Australia, skittled for 85 in Hobart after a shambolic first-innings collapse of 10-83 in Perth, only had one day-night Shield clash to prepare for a three-Test series against South Africa.

The opening round of the Shield was preceded by the domestic one-day competition, while the likes of Steve Smith and David Warner were in South Africa for a one-day tour.

"Whoever put that program together should be sacked, simply because in October there should have been a minimum of two, maybe maximum three Shield games," Hughes told ABC Radio.

"The preparation for this Test series was diabolical ... you're living in fairyland (to think it was going to be suitable).

"The cornerstone of Australian cricket has always been Shield cricket ... they've belittled that value.

"They've been done over cold here by the program ... I don't know whether we've been as low as this for a long while."

Hughes added it made selectors' job even harder.

"I felt a bit sorry for them as well ... you couldn't design a worse program," he said.

Even Usman Khawaja, speaking prior to the Test squad being named, noted it "would have been nicer ... for us to get a couple of Shield games in before the Test series".

Sutherland felt plenty of criticism in recent days was warranted, but doubted whether "the preparation is anything that Australian cricket can complain about".

"Because South Africa have had the same schedule," Sutherland claimed on ABC Radio.

"We have both played each other in one-day matches in October.

"They played a game in Adelaide under lights as (the Test squad had) Shield cricket played under lights, so if you draw that comparison the team we are playing against hasn't had any different preparation."

However, the Proteas last month had a red-ball tour game in Adelaide in addition to their pink-ball clash in the same city.

Shifting the first Test from its traditional home in Brisbane to Perth has also been widely criticised.

Sutherland reiterated his organisation wanted to play less international cricket in an effort to ease the burden on players and make matches more relevant.

"So that it's more valuable and there's not these random series that crop up all the time," he said.

"That we have context through some sort of a league structure. The hope is there will be less international cricket."

Australia are fully expected to have at least two Shield games prior to the first Test of 2017-18, when they host England.

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