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.