Damien Martyn: 'I don't mind losing the Ashes so long as we get better'

Stylish batsman from the 'golden era' believes Australia's main problem as they head for back-to-back series with England is a chronic lack of runs at the top of the order

What has happened to the Aussie cricket team? Their confidence has been knocked around ahead of the Ashes. India may have been favourites on the tour there that's just ended, but it's more the way we've gone about playing that meant we got whitewashed 4-0.

The biggest worry is the top six. Only the captain, Michael Clarke, has performed at the level he should have done, and the rest just don't stack up at the moment. When we come to England the bowling will go OK with the big guys we've got. But we need a lot more runs, and to do that we need to get back to basics. It's a cliché but it's true.

Our pool is running dry, to be honest. In the old days, three or four guys would get 1,000 runs in a home season, or 2,000 runs in county cricket. We're not seeing that any more. The selectors can't say to themselves, "This kid is standing out", and they are picking players on the basis of talent rather than the numbers.

Having said that, two of our top six, Ed Cowan and Phil Hughes, have been scoring heavily in domestic cricket. They deserved to get picked and they merit a run in the side. It's hard to judge them on the basis of what they've done in India, and it will be very different in English conditions.

I knew Hughes got found out in the last couple of Ashes series but I think that says more about England. That's what is so impressive about them: their gameplans and the way they do their homework have been just fantastic. But Hughes went away and fixed a few issues, he's trained hard with Justin Langer and now he's the leading run-scorer. You have to pick him. After another 10 Tests, if he hasn't done it then we'll think again.

Our young batters really have to learn how to play Test cricket. Take David Warner; he has come into the Test arena through Twenty20 and one-dayers. He has had to learn how to build an innings. England's series in New Zealand has been an example of good, old-fashioned Test cricket with Alastair Cook and Co constructing long innings. We've got Langer and Darren Lehmann coaching the state teams now and it's great to get these guys back in first-class cricket, because hopefully they can improve our strength in depth again.

Some kids will only want to play Twenty20, whether for the money or whatever. But they can't lose the basics, you've still got to hone your technique. We've got to coach our kids with the foundations – and stop them playing T20 at too young an age. In the old days we used to play club cricket all day Saturday, 80 or 90 overs, and then all day the following Saturday too. If Ricky Ponting was coming through now, he would still want to play Test cricket.

Ponting's retirement has left Australia with a huge hole to fill, and now Mike Hussey's gone as well. So we've got to move on. But it's not easy. When the last generation of players all retired at the same time, everybody was looking for the next Warne or McGrath or Hayden. For a while it was a case of, "Who's going to bowl leg spin?" or expecting our keeper to bat like Adam Gilchrist. Warney has ruined it for everybody, to be honest, and Gilly. They've ruined it for the next kid coming through, who's thinking, "Oh God, I've got to do that".

People say our spinners are no good since Shane. But Warney was the best; he was special. We'll look back in years to come and just think we were bloody lucky, basically. Our group of players turned into unbelievable cricketers, it was a golden era.

There's probably been a heap of players who tried to be the next Shane Warne, but they just can't do it. So it's not a question of why hasn't the next Warne come along yet. He did inspire a lot of kids to play cricket in the first place. But it's a hard skill to bowl leg spin, and the wickets and conditions are not conducive in Australia now – even the SCG hasn't turned much lately – so the kids don't get the chances to show what they can do.

I haven't really got to the bottom of why Hussey has retired. He has got a big family, and he doesn't want to spend a long time away from home. But he loves the game so much and he's still making runs. I was waiting for him to stop but he never did. Perhaps he will come back. It's interesting that the coach, Mickey Arthur, mentioned it himself, that they had asked Hussey and he turned them down. The coach could have said, "We're not going backwards" but he didn't.

On the subject of the management, they have taken a lot of flak for banning those four players for not doing their "homework". The great teams I played in would have done their preparation but still, it's not as if no one ever missed the bus. Should the coach have taken such a public stance?

It's a tough one. Because our group was more senior we kept it in-house and knocked our problems on the head as a group. My old skipper Steve Waugh has come out and said that it should be kept in-house. But now this is harder, we've got a young captain and a new coach, and the players are a little younger, so I think it was supposed to be a kick in the arse.

Arthur and "Pup" [Clarke] both wanted to draw a line in the sand. They have said that it was a question of ill-discipline and slackness over a long period. It has certainly fed the media, and it really doesn't help if you are getting spanked as well, as we were in India. But then you might ask Mickey, since it had been going on for a long time, if he hadn't given them too much latitude in the first place.

I know Clarke well. He's a good kid, he loves the game and he's a big thinker. It's a hard position that he finds himself in, though. He has played in the side when they were winning everything. And now he's having to rebuild the team, and it was very bad for him to lose Hussey. They had been making stacks of runs together. Now Michael's trying to fast-track these guys into being Test cricketers. He needs to keep that group of players together and galvanise them.

It doesn't look good from the outside but I would want to judge it from this moment onwards and see how it goes in the Ashes. If they lose, then in a sense as long as they are playing better cricket you don't mind losing.

Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?