Warne's reveals fears about batting line-up
SHANE Warne is alarmed by a perceived lack of batting depth in Australian cricket, saying there are not six Test-quality batsmen in the country right now.
The bowling great pinpointed a dearth of young batting talent coming through the system as his biggest concern in Australian cricket right now.
"Why isn't the talent coming through?" Warne, who will be commentating for Fox Cricket this summer, said.
"I can't think of one young batsman that's come through from any state that you think is going to be the next superstar of Australian cricket.
"I don't think we have six genuine Test match batsmen of genuine Test match class. The only certain picks right now (in the top six) are Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja.
"We're trying to pick batsmen to hopefully do a role, we're hopeful when they come in the side. It's not like they're knocking the door down with 100 after 100 in domestic cricket.
"I'm trying to be realistic and I'm trying to be positive but I'm really worried about our batsmen against quality bowling, spin or fast."
It's a situation he says makes the country's all-star attack invaluable.
"If something happens to our bowlers we're in real trouble. We've got to accept we're a very average batting team, our bowlers save us," he said.
"When they're all fit and playing we've got one of the best bowling attacks in the world, if not the best."
Warne took 708 wickets across 145 Tests in the '90s and early to mid-2000s. It was a period in which competition for Test selection was as high as ever, with the quality of the players left out saying plenty about those selected.
Batsmen of the calibre of Michael Di Venuto (25,200 runs at 45.90), Jamie Siddons (11,587 at 44.91) and Jamie Cox (18,614 at 42.69) all retired without a baggy green despite churning out the runs in first-class cricket.
Others like Brad Hodge (17,084 first-class runs at 48.81) and Michael Bevan (19,147 at 57.32) were given limited opportunity at the highest level.
Stuart Law (27,080 at 50.52) got just one Test, making an unbeaten 54 in his only innings.
With that wealth of riches at its disposal, Australia experienced a golden age, twice winning 16 Tests in a row and taking out three consecutive World Cups.
It was an environment that saw Michael Hussey spend 10 years in Shield cricket before getting a crack at Test level.
By the time he was given his baggy green as a 30-year-old he was a ready-made Test player, going on to play 79 matches, averaging 51.52 and scoring 19 centuries.
Hussey is less pessimistic about the current batting stocks than Warne but says there are concerns.
While he would have loved to have won his first Test cap earlier, he knows his extended run in Shield put him in good stead to take on the world's best bowlers.
He believes today's Australian batsmen would benefit from a similarly lengthy apprenticeship, allowing them to master their own game before international bowlers get the chance to try pick it part.
It's something he says would have the two-fold effect of improving the Sheffield Shield and better preparing batsmen for the step up to Test cricket.
"I would like to see guys having to really earn their place in that Australian team, really dominate that level below for a period of time, not just a few games and then getting an opportunity," he said.
"We've got to put a real focus on making sure that next level down is a great breeding ground, developing some gun players so the jump from Shield cricket up to Test cricket is a bit smaller.
"It's really tough for experienced campaigners to perform well on a consistent basis. But for young guys coming in (to Test cricket) who are still learning their game or still trying to develop their game, to make that jump up on the biggest stage can be really tough."