Former Australian captain Ian Chappell said playing spin was a state of mind and insisted he did not agree with former opener Justin Langer's recent explanation of batsmen from Down Under play slower bowlers on dusty sub-continental pitches.
Langer had compared the art of playing spin bowling to eating chillies. A former Australian opener, with 23 Test hundreds to his credit, Langer said eating chillies burns Aussie mouths and that is what happens when they play spin.
However, Chappell, now an outspoken commentator and writer, said the analogy was improper as he himself had started playing spin before acquiring a taste for spicy food. Chappell said the problem with modern Australian batsmen is that their coaches never bothered to correct wrong footwork and techniques.
"To me, it is at a young age that the real problem lies with modern Australian batsmen, and it is here that the roots of their disconnect with playing good spin bowling lie: the coaches overlook the correct footwork fundamentals," Chappell wrote in his column for ESPN Cricinfo.
Chappell said a batsman should not worry about the wicketkeeper when stepping out to attack a spinner.
"You might as well be stumped by three yards rather than three inches. To make a real difference to a spin bowler's length you have to advance a decent distance, and coming out of your crease only a little generally improves the delivery," Chappell wrote.
Langer, who was in India for the Champions League Twenty20 as the coach of Perth Scorchers, had tried to defend his young batsmen's inadequacies against the likes of Sunil Narine, Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichanradn Ashwin, saying spin has always been a bane for Australian batsmen.
But Chappell stressed on that fact that Australian batsmen have traditionally not struggled against spinners.
"Australian batsmen haven't always struggled against good spin bowling. Neil Harvey was acknowledged as a twinkle-toed batsman who was never out stumped in his Test career, and the dashing Doug Walters is the best player of offspin bowling I have seen. There were many others in that period who were extremely efficient when it came to playing good spin," he wrote.
Australia have produced some of the best all-round batsmen in the game. Ricky Ponting, who had struggled to get bat to ball on Australia's tour of India in 1998, turned out to be one of the biggest threats to spin bowlers around the world. Matthew Hayden, the former left-handed opener, who with Langer, stitched some of the finest partnerships in Test cricket was equally adept against the likes of Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
A difficult test awaits Australia, who are already in the United Arab Emirates for a long series against Pakistan. They did come out on top on a slow and low surface in Dubai in the T20 International against Pakistan, where Glenn Maxwell turned out to be a potent threat with the ball and David Warner conquered all of Australia's demons with a swashbuckling half-century. Can they carry this confidence into the ODIs?
Depending on how they play, either Langer or Chappell will stand vindicated by the end of the series.