Top coaches rate Aussies still the best

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Ricky Ponting's men remain a notch above the rest, feel coaches of leading cricket nations.

Updated: November 08, 2008 11:53 IST
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Australia's dominance in world cricket looks to be on the wane and despite India having exposed the visitors' vulnerability in the ongoing Test series, Ricky Ponting's men remain a notch above the rest, feel coaches of leading cricket nations.

"It is still a world-class attack in the right conditions. They were slightly exposed in India when Stuart Clark didn't play -- he gives them control and allows Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson to tear away. The lack of a spinner is putting more pressure on their quicks, too," says South Africa coach Mickey Arthur.

"(But) we are under no illusions as to what a good team they are. There are one or two cracks in their make-up, and the spin bowling issue will remain with them for the going forward. But they are still a very good team," he added.

Arthur said cracks are beginning to emerge in the team, which was once almost invincible but insisted that it was just a temporary phase as the world champions cope with the retirement of greats like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

"Every side goes through a rebuilding phase, and Australia are going through that right now in certain positions. Senior players will be under a bit more pressure to perform with a lot of inexperienced guys in the team," he was quoted as saying by 'The Sydney Morning Herald'.

Asked to name the side most likely to replace Australia at the top, Arthur said, "In familiar conditions -- South Africa, England and Australia -- I think it's going to be us. In the subcontinent, in their own conditions, India are a very good side."

Sri Lanka coach Trevor Bayliss echoed Arthur's views and said Australia are not a side to be taken lightly even in their toughest phase.

"It's hard to replace two of the best bowlers ever. I suppose overall it's brought the attack back to the pack to a certain degree.

"It probably has if you're talking about the degree to which they've dominated over the last 10 or 15 years, but I think they will still win more than their share of Test matches. They might just find it a bit tougher to win as consistently. Rather than winning series 5-0, they might be a bit closer, and they could lose the odd one," he explained.

England coach Peter Moores felt too much is being made of Australia's weaknesses in what is essentially a transition phase for them.

"They are going through a period transition which is only to be expected after losing two all-time greats like Warne and McGrath. Their biggest challenge is to find slow bowlers with the kind of experience and know-how that Warne had.

"They are still No.1 in the world and we and the other countries have got to try and close the gap. It won't be easy," he said.

Moores said it won't be easy for any team to topple Australia from the top.

"I think it's premature at the moment to talk about who will succeed them. The first priority has got to be to match their levels of achievement."

Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam said the prime reason for the Australians' patchy run is the absence of a quality spinner like Warne in the side.

"You need a world-class spinner to win in India and Pakistan, and Australia have not had that since the retirement of Shane Warne. Apart from Brett Lee, who is their obvious strike bowler, there does not seem to be a lot of depth.

"I don't know much about the depth and the talent coming through the first-class system, but you would have to say that this present Australian side has declined a little," he said.

Alam picked India as the side most likely to replace Australia at the top.

"I think India are above the rest. The way they played in Australia was very good, and you could tell they were dominating for much of the time. South Africa are also a good side, but I rate India very highly," he said.

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