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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Australia still missing Warne, McGrath: Harbhajan

A familiar thorn in Australian flesh, Harbhajan Singh offered no sympathy to Ricky Ponting and his grief-stricken teammates on their Ashes debacle and said they are still missing Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

As expected, Harbhajan looked rather amused by Australia's Ashes defeat as he went on to highlight the positive implications of England's Ashes triumph.

"Congratulations," was his spontaneous response when he was told about Australia's defeat and was asked to comment on.

"Honestly speaking, I was too busy with my new house (in Jalandhar) and did not see much of Ashes. But it's great to see other teams dominating Australia. England clearly played better and deserved to win," said the off-spinner, who had had umpteen run-ins with a number of Australian cricketers, notably Andrew Symonds.

On a more serious note, Harbhajan said Australia were struggling to adjust to a life without Warne and McGrath.

"They are clearly missing players of the calibres of Warne and McGrath. You have to remember that bowlers win you Test matches and you have to take 20 wickets to win a Test.

"Warne and McGrath were the biggest pillars in Australian cricket and I think it would take time before Australia find their replacements. They will struggle till similar wicket-taking bowlers break into the scene," explained Harbhajan after unveiling the Compaq Cup, which will be given to the winner of next month's tri-series in Sri Lanka.

Asked if he felt even Symonds too was missed, Harbhajan side-stepped the provocation.

"See, Symonds, as long as he was part of the team, did well for Australia. He is a very, very good player. But I think more than Symonds or even (Adam) Gilchrist, Australia sorely missed Warne and McGrath," he said.

Harbhajan and Symonds were the main protagonists of the 2007 'Monkeygate scandal' that threatened to rip apart world cricket.

Harbhajan was accused of calling Symonds a monkey before Justice John Hansen exonerated him of the charge.

Harbhajan said The Oval, venue of fifth and final Ashes Test, offered enough turn and Australia made a mistake by leaving out off-spinner Nathan Hauritz.

"Had I been there, I would have taken 10 wickets and prevented Australia's defeat," he quipped before adding "there was enough turn on the track."

England yesterday pulled off a sensational 197-run victory over Australia in the fifth and final cricket Test to regain the Ashes urn after a four-year gap.

After the defeat, Australia slipped to number four in Test rankings while captain Ricky Ponting suffered the ignominy of being the only the second Australia captain in 132 years of Ashes history to lose two series on England soil.

The other was Australia's first touring captain Billy Murdoch a century ago. Murdoch lost his second series in 1890.

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