Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Hilditch handball!

Firstly I'd like to start with an apology to our readers for not posting in a few days; given how entertaining the 1st test against South Africa was- with quality cricket and few controversies- it is no wonder i was AWOL! Secondly, congratulations to South Africa for a wonderful win of an intriguing test.

With the NZ minnow bashing series well and truly a thing of the past- and the opportunity to try out new player and combinations at this time also lost- Australia have to deal with their imminent dethroning from the coveted top-side position. More importantly, Ricky Ponting and the chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch are scrambling for a bowling combination that can bowl out a quality batting line up twice in a test.

Now two summers after their retirement, it has become boring that the media add to this problem with the repetition of remarks about Australia missing the legendary Warne/McGrath combination. These comments are self evident and do nothing to address the fact we have not really had a policy of re-building -as is stated time and again- but as I've said in previous posts, it has purely been a program of filling in the gaps and hoping that players not performing will lift.

Obviously it is impractical and ridiculous to just scrap the current line up and replace the entire team with new players; a core of performing experienced players is needed to carry on the traditions and pass on their experience to the new players. With that said, it doesn't take an expert to see who needs to have their position assessed. So who do i think is secure? Simon Katich is clearly solid as an opener. Brad Haddin has answered my concerns about settling into the side. Mitch Johnson is having a blinder of a year. Surely Andrew Symonds has answered his critics. Michael Clarke has performed well and is showing good leadership on the field and with his media statements. That's it... I'm finished!

I'm the first to admit that R.Ponting, M.Hussey, M.Hayden and B.Lee are champion players that have served their country well... but they also must be answerable when their form is off.
Firstly, why do we have an attitude now that once a player becomes test captain, they have that position until they retire? While it would be a massive concession to make, why can't Ponting step down (or be nudged!) from the stresses of captaincy for a test or two to concentrate on his batting? For the first few years of Pontings leadership he bucked a trend for batting captains to have their average suffer. But now with good knocks the exception not the norm i think he needs to step back and correct his form problems; Clarke is more than capable of holding the reins.

Lee is obviously in a slump; even though he bowled a great spell late on day 4 against SA. He needs a spell for the Blues to correct a few things like his front foot/run-up.
Huss is a bit of a mystery. He looks "heavy" at the crease and appears to be lacking his amazing shot selection and confidence. Haddos, for all of his wonderful service to the team is now past his used by date, and while luck goes against you when you are down, it is time -unfortunately- to go even though he won't be going out on top.

Who then is accountable for these problems? Typically Hilditch has claimed the onus is on the senior players to lift their game and has held them culpable for the SA loss. This is clearly dodging his own responsibility as a selector. Is it too much work for the selectors to actually select players? When players aren't performing, the selectors must take the time to personally warn the player and ensure that failure to achieve will result in new players filling their position!

For so many years now we have had MANY very talented cricketers unable to get into the national side due to every position well and truly secured by a top play... why aren't they getting their turns now? M.Klinger has over 900 runs for the season... and it isn't even the new year yet!

The announcement that B.Hilfenhaus is likely to get a cap for the Boxing Day test is a welcome change of selector form; but i can't help think that CA are scrambling to save the series instead of securing the future.

stoph verismo


  1. Top post indeed. Australia do have to deal with the sad fact that cricketers the ilk of Warne and McGrath are generation players and we will not see their like for quite some time. It is surely time for the media to embrace the new generation rather than dwell on the past.
    Selectors must make the tough calls and realise that Brett Lee although great, is on the decline and 140 km/h is not fast enough when you are bowling straight up and down. If we took anything from the India smacking it should be we need bowlers that can move the ball in the air and off the seam as well. Why we have become so obsessed with reverse swing is beyond me. I hark back to the good old days when players like Lillee and Hadlee would be drooling at the prospect of a new prune to terrorise the batsmen. Nowadays as soon as the new ball is taken the commentators start to talk about roughing it up so it can swing!! We need bowlers that can create pressure on the scoreboard and draw the batsmen into errors rather than trying to bowl a wicket ball every time the arm rolls over. Batsmen are stupid, they will get themselves out, just give them time.
    Lastly I want the public to know just how special a player Brad Haddin is. He was never going to replace Gilly but no one ever will, the man was a freak. Haddin is a solid gloveman that can make quality contributions with the bat. He's the reason SA we chasing 400 odd and not 250.
    Great blog site Stop I look forwad to perusing it on a daily basis.

  2. Too right Stoph and Phil. Although I like to think of myself as a batsman (albeit shite this season) so I don't think batsmen are stupid. One of the other authors would agree with you though!

    Spot on re selection issues and Haddin. I would probably give Lee a shield game, drop Siddle, Krejza and let Hayden bat for Qld. Stoph; I'd want Ponting and Hussey to stay. If for no other reason because I'd already kick four blokes out of the 11. I concede that Symonds should be out there. Maybe the selectors have to given a thumbs up on that one.

    So the big question is...............you guessed it - who do you put in?
    2 pace bowlers, a batsman and a spinner. So many choices. Any spinner to put in? I say no. Bugger all bowl a large spell in state games and scream out to be picked. I'd assume Clarke and Symonds will bowl 20 - 25 overs between them in a day. I'd put Watson in - pick him to bat 7 and bowl 15 odd overs. He'd have to be taken to South Africa, and their pitches aren't all that different to ours. Bloody hell - he should have played in Perth! I reckon Bollinger should get called up, Phil Hughes given a gurnsey, and the other bowler I'm not sure of. I think Hilfenhaus deserves a trundle. Macdonald perhaps.

    The greatest thing is that the Perth test was an absolute beauty. I think there is a comparison to be made here. Like India, South Africa have developed more than just a promising test squad; they are a fantastic allround team. Duminy batted bloody well on day 5 - and he'll probably make way for Prince! Both India and Sth A have quite distinctly improved, and while Australia has lost some competitiveness it should not be undersestimated how much more lethal Aus' opponents are compared with 5 years ago.

  3. I too am a batsman but I have to admit we are a stupid breed. How often have you thrown your bat in disgust at playing a "stupid" shot. It happened to me on the weekend. Crap bowling with no movement and what do I do? I play across the line at one and edge it onto middle peg....stupid.
    For me it's Symonds out, Watson in. While I don't agree Symonds deserned to be suspended I do think his form showed nothing to be selected for the NZ practice games. His form since has shown very little too. Drop Siddle for Hilfenhaus and Lee for Bollinger. It's time we started to be ruthless with the bowlers like we are with the batters. Hodge can attest to this. The man avergaes more than 50 with a 200 in his last test and he's gone. Matt the bat needs to announce his retirement and make this his farewell series or the axe will do it for him. He does not deserve to tour for the ashes no matter what he has done. Australia need to realise it is a transition time and hanging onto aged heroes for nostalgia will not help us in the long run.
    Bring on Boxing Day!!

    Great blog!

  4. thanks guys
    it certainly is a case of some serious chopping needed. i agree with the majority of these three comments, although i think Symonds should now be considered secure in the side (at the moment) and while his form leading in didn't merit consideration, his aggregate for the GABBA green top saw him the 3rd highest Australian run scorer for the test.

    a duck in the 2nd NZ test, 57 and 37 for the SA test. as many a commentator has said, he saves at least 20 runs in the field too! not that that should be a major reason for inclusion.

    the curator has said that the MCG is of no value to a spinner, and state games there this season has backed that up. so i think we should discount Hauritz and get the extra pace in- like you two, Watson in.

    Leftriteout, i think Ponting should still be in, just hand over the captaincy for a spell... whether his pride/ego could deal with that i'm not sure!

    it is hard to want Huss out, but unless he gets something over 50 this test i'd be saying goodbye Michael, hello David!

  5. Just like the Waugh brothers....Steve gave way for Mark. That worked a treat!!

  6. Have they ever dropped a captain of his captaincy but left him in the side? I know many other countries have done that (India, West Indies) but can't remember if Aus has. I agree that David Hussey deserves an opportunity but again Aus would be giving a guy over 30 a start in the test team. Hence I've focussed on younger players. Having said that he could have 5 years of test cricket which is a lot of tours these days.

    I've started to believe that Ponting is in actual fact not a good captain. He's not attacking and inventive enough with fielding positions, he doesn't seem to get the best out of players and I don't think he commands much respect either. Clarke is the future so right on Stoph - give him the reigns.

    I think when considering a clean out it is important to bear in mind this has been quite forced over the last few years anyway. Langer, Martyn, McGrath, Warne, Gilchrist - all gone. Selectors may be hesitant to clean out further. I'm not excusing this by any means; I'm quite clear that I want Hayden, Siddle, Krejza out - likely for good. But I think Aus selectors are a very conservative bunch and change happens slowly in this game.

  7. i couldn't remember if W.Lawry was still retained after getting the R's... it turns out he wasn't (i was not even an itch back then!), still for mine just because you can't retain form and captain at the same time, shouldn't necessarily mean you lose both jobs... Ponting IS worth giving a few more chances with the bat, even though i don't like his captaincy approach! Maybe i just miss Taylor and Waughs styles! SHUT UP PONSFORD about Taylor!

    so i s'pose what i'm saying Lefty is.. i don't recall an Australian board dropping a captain and retaining their place either; doesn't mean it shouldn't happen!

    it is true we've lost nearly half a world beating side through natural attrition, but i think it shouldn't mean that the players from the same era shouldn't be considered dead-wood if they don't perform!

    on-wards and up-wards!

    got to right a new post now.