Who should play for Australia next?

The ten day break between Lords and the upcoming third Test at Old Trafford is like an oasis for Australia. A bounty of space and time devoid of Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann. There’s been no time for relaxation, jelly and ice cream though. A section of the touring party has been battling Sussex at Hove, while the rest receive counselling.

Some of Australia’s fans are in need of counselling too after we copped a seventh defeat in ten Test Matches in London last week. With James Pattinson returning home injured, David Warner piling on 193 for the A side in Pretoria, and Ed Cowan posting 66 and a 77 not out against Sussex, heart rates remain high with conjecture raging about Australia’s XI for the next Test.

Australia’s immensely bad batting, which I discussed in depth in the Lords Preview and again in Australia’s Invertebrate Batting, has generated vociferous commentary. If we analysed some of the propositions circulating, we’d have about fifteen different 11s. I’ve made my feelings clear about the big picture and some of the factors affecting Australia’s batting demise, but with some radical ideas frisbeeing about in relation to who should play next, I’m in the conservative camp when it comes to selection for the remainder of this series.

Stick with the squad

You can’t go ringing up blokes and dragging them in from all corners with inadequate preparation, and dump them in the middle of an intense Ashes contest. Some people have demanded “bring in young guys and start building”. This popular line is trotted out in all sports, whenever things aren’t great, but it’s a shallow throwaway. This is already one of the youngest assemblies of Australian Test players in the past 25 years.

Mishandling our player resources is now a habit that requires breaking. The last thing we need to do is inhibit some young lad’s development by having him terrorised by England’s attack in front of the Barmy Army, who will be deployed in force for the first time this series at Old Trafford.

You don’t develop players in the Test team, you develop them in First Class cricket and pick accomplished and proven candidates to play Test cricket. Clearly this hasn’t happened for Australia with recent selection lacking philosophy and consistent logic, so it’s time for some continuity.

Chopping and changing is something to avoid in these circumstances

He’s a strong candidate and it looks likely he’ll play in Manchester, but I believe David Warner should not be rushed back in on account of one score for Australia A. Over 1300 runs were scored in that match with 3 centurions, a double centurion and a collection of worthy starts. This indicates the pitch was like the Great Eastern highway.

Warner scored 33 in the second dig and reports suggest he had to be separated from a heated confrontation with the opposition wicket keeper. He was sent there for disciplinary reasons and to fix an ailing attitude. Has the penny dropped for Warner? I’m not sure, I’d tell him we want another hundred for the A team when they play Sth Africa A again on Wednesday, but I believe he’s just arrived back in England to rejoin the squad so it seems he’ll play and hopefully prove me wrong.

As for the top order that failed at Lords; We can argue that Phil Hughes shouldn’t have been brought back so soon (or at all) and that Watson is an opener, a number six or a T20 specialist. Simon Katich should not have been deposed in 2011, but he should not be brought back in now, and we should not play Mathew Wade (0 & 30not out v Sussex) – a future wicket keeper who should bat at 7 – as a top six batsman.

Ed Cowan was dropped after the First Test so to reinstate him in the Third creates a revolving door and perpetuates a culture of self-preservation and fear.

Frankly, there should only be two certain changes for Old Trafford

Jackson Bird or Mitchell Starc in for the injured Pattinson and Nathan Lyon in for Ashton Agar. Naturally, this assertion lacks detailed pitch and weather analysis and the fitness of our players could affect selection come Thursday, but I’m hoping for some continuity both in the line up and the batting order.

My Old Trafford XI

Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Hughes, Smith, Haddin, Siddle, Harris, Lyon, Bird. (12th man Starc)

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6 comments

  1. Can’t argue too much with that. Australia just need to play better. They’ve got the raw materials, just need to keep hitting them with a mallet til they look like something useful.

  2. After reading a plethora of articles about cricket in the past couple of months, I caught a couple about t20 in the UK.

    Seems like T20 is massively in vogue in the Old Dart. They had 50000 people turn up to two separate Friday night fixtures in London (one north, one south of the river).
    It appears as though the commercial bandwagon permeates even the staunchest of test playing nations.

    What is most interesting though, is that the T20 competition is devoid of England’s stars.

    I’d struggle to pick any of the names mentioned in the articles out in the street. The only name I instantly recognised was that of young Kiwi paceman Mitchell McClenaghan.

    This led me to investigate further and compare two players who have much in common:
    Ian Bell and Shane Watson. Both are possessors of two of the sweetest cover drives in the game. They’re both in their early thirties and should both be at the peak of their batting powers (that age, before eyesight and reflexes wane, where experience really counts).

    One of these two batsmen is the leading run scorer in the Ashes; the other appears a walking LBW candidate.

    What is most interesting when you look at their career stats is this:

    Ian Bell has scored 15000 first class runs, across 377 innings since 1999. He’s only played 44 T20 fixtures.

    Shane Watson has only batted 205 times in first-class cricket scoring 8000 runs. He’s played 112 T20 fixtures.

    This is, I imagine, one of just a number of examples. I know Matt Prior only plays test cricket, I can’t see Alistair Cook hitting the leather off the ball.

    If T20 is entertainment, why does Australia need its best cricketers playing it? They should be honing their skills for the test arena. Australia should identify players who can carry the Baggy Green forward, lock them on contracts and keep them away from the pyjama contests. Send them to the Caribbean or England to play first class cricket in the off-season if necessary.

  3. How much longer do you expect to be? I can’t leave my bag by itself and it’s busy so our seat will get taken if I leave.

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