The Australia spin legend Shane Warne has singled out the country's bowlers as the key concern after their long reign as the world's best side was all but ended by defeat to South Africa in Melbourne. Australia crashed to a nine-wicket loss at the MCG on Tuesday to suffer a first home series defeat since 1992-93.
The series defeat follows hot on the heels of their 2-0 loss in India. Defeat in the final Test of the series in Sydney next week mean they relinquish top spot in the ICC rankings to the Proteas for the first time. It is an unthinkable scenario for a team who not so long ago were untouchable with players such as Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist leading the line. And Warne has been critical of the current crop of Aussie bowlers, saying they lacked "imagination and flair".
Warne said: "After Australia's two losses to South Africa, I reckon our bowlers need to have more imagination and flair. They especially need this when tackling the tail and when the wickets are flat. I have concerns about Australia's ability to take 20 wickets. The bowlers can't just bowl line and length all day and hope batsmen lose patience, chase one and nick it to the wicketkeeper or slip. They need to be able to bowl a hostile spell, as Merv Hughes and McGrath did."
Warne, 39, admitted the Australians had been outplayed by South Africa in the series so far, but insisted they could rediscover their past glories despite concerns the current team is in decline. He added: "The Aussies have tried and given everything but have been outplayed in the big moments. That has been the difference.
"There is no disgrace in losing like in 2005 when England was the best team and deserved to win. It is the same this summer. South Africa deserved to win because it was the best side."