Michael Clarke's ideas of Aussies' aggression are warped, writes Michael Jeh
Brisbane: So Australia are now ranked number one in Tests and ODIs. Whilst I think the jury's out on whether that's a fair barometer of how far they've come in just one season, India can expect no favours.
Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson gives England's Kevin Pietersen some lip service as umpire Kumar Dharmasena steps in during the Fourth Ashes Test in Melbourne last year. Pic/Getty Images
Learn to duck and hook — the Aussies will try to pound you into submission on pitches that they claim will we be just as challenging as the ones they encountered in India in 2013. There will be no talk of 'doctored' pitches because that is a termed only reserved for spinning pitches (when those claiming have no decent spinners!).
These will be hard and fast, no different to what Australia has always served up to just about every opponent since cricket began. Oh, there was a brief period when spinning pitches were prepared to counter the might of the West Indies in the 1980s — Allan Border spun Australia to victory once and Bob Holland did it again a few years later — but apart from that convenient aberration, expect the expected.
India may well argue that the days are long gone when facing short-pitched bowling was the Achilles Heel of Asian teams. They may well fear it less but let's not confuse that with the ability to play it any better. They may well take on the short ball more aggressively but unless executed properly, bravado alone is not a recipe to dine on.
Uphill task for visitors
The reality is that most teams struggle against high-quality fast bowling aimed at the throat. England were woeful last summer, even South Africa, AB de Villiers apart, looked ill at ease. India were still left floundering when they toured here last. Some of the greatest batsmen India has ever produced still struggled to survive, let alone dominate.
Sri Lanka were humiliated in the Tests when they toured Down Under in 2012-13. Quality players like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were muzzled, Sangakkara succumbing to broken bones in his hand courtesy of some chin music that his delicate fingers were unable to play. Pakistan have always struggled to make big scores in Australia.
So despite the obvious class of Virat Kohli, India will need more than one genius to tame the Aussie pace attack. They will need courage and tenacity in equal measure. Oh, and I almost forgot — a few nasty quicks of their own might be useful too. When it stops swinging, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and those operating at his pace will get slaughtered.
If Michael Clarke's recent comments are anything to go by, the same hostility will be dished out in the verbal sense too. He has made it clear that he sees nothing wrong with the way the Aussies have come hard at the opposition — it's past the point where he is even denying it. It is now an accepted part of their game plan and India will cop it from the players as well as the spectators.
When India toured in 2004, I was with some senior journalists from India when they were subjected to some vile insults from members of the public in Brisbane. That was then - this is now. Things have changed significantly in the geopolitical sense and it is now almost de rigeur to cop a bit of "banter".
Clarke has a ready ally in the Australian government — they are trying to amend laws to make it legal now for people to "insult, offend or humiliate" other citizens but apparently it is still illegal to "intimidate".
If these laws are ratified, in the pursuit of the noble ideals of Freedom of Speech, we expect now that the average person will understand the semantics between insulting, humiliating and intimidating. The cricketers, uneducated chaps that most of them are, will apparently know where that fine line is and will always know when to step back from the brink of intimidation. Yeah right!
Clarke himself, by his own admission, has stumbled clumsily over that line twice in the last few months, once in Brisbane and then again in Cape Town. Yet, he claims with some authority, that his team knows that they cannot cross that line. If it was that clear, he fails to explain why, as captain, he failed to do the very thing that he now claims is something he understands clearly.
Clear as mud. Just humour me — try insulting, humiliating or offending someone with genuine intent but make sure you don't intimidate them. See, easy isn't it? Anyone can see the difference! And we refer to the politicians who make up these laws as "The Honourable". They must refer to us as "The Idiots who vote".
India rarely seem to encounter the same controversies when they tour other countries. In a few months' time, they will embark on a tour that will test them on the back foot but will also test them on the backchat. Hooking one and ducking the other may yet be the best way to deal with the number one ranked team. Helmets and ear plugs essential.
The Test series scoreline in the hosts' favour when India toured Australia in 2011-12