So, we are in a transition phase, then it's over and then we're in it again. Seems like Australia's progression is dependent on results.
I've gone over contracted and other players in Australia and put this against the ages of players generally around the selected 11. I want to point out that I don't think a player's longevity should be primarily judged by their age for two reasons. Firstly, performances count. They do need to be balanced with moving forward, however. Secondly, batsmen can be just as effective later in life as they are when young. Older batsmen know their game well and bring solidity and consistency - ideally! Bowlers will always struggle to maintain pace and be injury free as the tolls on the body are magnified.
Stuart Clark - 33 years and 332 days
Ricky Ponting - 34 years and 250 days
Michael Hussey - 34 years and 91 days
Simon Katich - 34 years and 5 days
Brett Lee - 32 years and 291 days
Brad Haddin - 31 years and 307 days
As has been said previously a repeat of the Chappel/Lillee/Marsh debacle could be devastating to Australian cricket. The problem always is, however, that at some point a player has to be thrown in the deep end and you never can be completely sure how they will go. It has become more popular to give established shield players a call-up and retain them - eg Hussey and North. There is great merit in this as younger players can find the transition exceedingly difficult - ala Hughes. Trott likewise showed great maturity when he debuted for England. This also gives young players ear-marked for the baggy green time to develop their game so when their time comes they are better prepared. Perhaps Aus should give Hughes at least two more seasons of shield cricket before putting him up against Steyn, Harmison and co. Although, he didn't too badly in South Africa - did he!
My list of those worth looking at closely this summer and beyond are:
My big two here are Bollinger and Ferguson. Both know their games well and have proven themselves in international cricket. I have little faith in the spin options in Australia overall but as I am in Adelaide I've seen alot more of the Cullen's than anyone else. Both have promise but a lot of development to go. Marsh was disappointing last summer and has had a bad run with injuries but he's worth looking at this summer to see what he's learned. Geeves is still improving but can rip through a batting lineup.
So, the next point is how to 'phase out' players while introducing new ones. I hope that ODI cricket is NOT used as a test bleeding ground but I'll concede it is an opportunity for players to experience facing or bowling to the best in the world. 20/20 contributes nothing at all in my view. Bowling 4 overs to sloggers or reverse sweeping your first ball is bollocks - plain and simple.