Wednesday, 25 May 2011

What does 2011 and 2012 hold?

So, Australia has a new test captain (with the last still playing in the team), young bowling stocks abound and some promising batsmen are kicking around. Looks like Australia will have a bumper season kicking off with a test series in Sri Lanka, then to South Africa and the summer hosting India and New Zealand.
Wait, didn't we just lose an Ashes series? How did we lose that again? That's right, we had no spinner (well, noone that could bowl spin), our quicks couldn't penetrate a cardboard box and our batsmen couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag; save Watson, Hussey and Haddin. England played exceptionally well and no doubt fully deserved the series win and the margin by which they won. So is there any reason to be hopeful?
Yes there is. There are some great quicks doing the rounds in Starc, Copeland and Pattinson with some promising batsmen in Ferguson, Khawaja with Shaun Marsh injury free. Hughes looks to have worked on his technique and developed more patience so he'll be considered a chance for an opening spot before the summer finishes. I think Marsh is a key as he also opens and can be incredible damaging. Unfortunately his summer was ordinary which limited the options CA had. Tim Paine is obviously in the selectors sights as both the national wicket-keeper and a future captain. I fear Haddin may well get a nudge well before he's ready to call it a day. The quick trio are vital to Aus starting the long road back to the top of the test tree. It will be a long time before Aus invokes the fear it did from 1993 to 2004 (perhaps it never will) but you get busy trying or.....
We learnt last summer that Hilfenhaus is indeed mortal, Bollinger has a weaker ticker than we thought, Siddle could excel but rarely will (although he is a good stock bowler), Harris will forever be plagued with injury, Johnson is not 'back' and Aus has no single spinner worth picking. 'What about Hauritz?' I hear you (yes you) ask. If he's fit, I'd concede it's worth giving him a chance; perhaps Clarke will better manage him than Ponting. But if we're brutally honest who would disagree that Beer, Doherty, McGain - the list goes on - just are not up to the standard required for test cricket? A grounds keeper who quietly asked if he could bowl to the redbacks since he had nothing to do may well find himself in a baggy green before too long. Nathan Lyon has impressed all with his control and flight and with the revolving door policy for Aus spinners who knows?
The future may not be sparklingly bright admittedly but hell it looks interesting. The funny thing is that if Aus' middle order can develop more spine; in particularly Ponting and Clarke, some pressure can be taken off the bowlers and they may be able to attack more. When you've got 230 on the board and bowling day 1 it's pretty hard to keep slips in and men around the bat once some runs start to flow. The thing that Clarke can bring to the table is a plan B. When you think about where Cook got his runs in the Ashes, how many shots between cover and mid-off do you remember? Not bloody many I bet because his weakness is supposed to be full on/outside off and that's where Aus thought we'd get him out - but he'd tightened his technique - leaving the ball alone unless it was short enough to cut or straight enough to drive. We had no other idea of how we'd see the back of him and about 25,000 runs later still don't.
While finding a spinner that can at least keep things tight will aid the attack immenesley, our quicks have to be more consistent. The reason greats like Warne and McGrath got results was because they were always at the batsmen. Never giving a batsmen width, half-volleys or long hops builds pressure by limiting the scoring options they have. Even in test cricket batsmen will sooner or later try to release the shackles, thereby taking a risk and potentially offering an opportunity. However, when a batsman knows that he'll 'get at least one every over' all he has to so is wait. Siddle improved greatly over the summer by reducing his bad balls but with Johnson at the other end all this good work is entirely undone. Batsmen get their eye in, build condfidence and before you know it you're getting hit too. Hilfenhaus became too predictable and with no swing he was far less dangerous. Bollinger may well come back but at the same time may not be forgiven for Adelaide. Let's hope Harris can find the form he burst onto the scene with because someone has to mentor the Starcs of this world.
My friends, the outlook is not entirely bleak, but it's bloody far form being bright.


  1. After my bold prediction that Australia would win back The Ashes and then subsequently got thumped it has made me rethink my position on Australia's prospects.
    It's not that I don't think we have the players to get back the number one spot, it's just that I think they are not capable of all putting it together for long enough.
    Ponting will struggle with his demotion, and let's not mess around, he was sacked. I predict he will get out early and often playing rash shots trying to impose himself and if he doesn't start at number five, he will be there soon enough.
    Clarke will begin his captaincy well in our relatively easy summer but will come undone once the touring begins. If he is still captain or sane come The Ashes tour of England I will be surprised. He does not have the temperament to deal with adversity and poor form as well as the poison press. Think Kim Hughes in 1983.
    Kawaja will be the one that sets our summer alight much like Duminy did here a few years ago. I predict they will struggle to dismiss him all summer.
    As we have lost all that is worth losing I think we need to pick a spinner at the beginning of the summer and come hell or highwater KEEP PLAYING him and throwing him the ball.
    It's the bowling that I think is the greatest unknown and the most inconsistent. Bollinger is capable of good things, Hilf of great things and Johnson of the exceptional but they are all also capable of dog poop too.
    It will be a long time between tests for Australia and Clarke has had too long to think about it.
    My prediction for his first test will be 2 in the first innings and a junk tonne in the second as Australia bat out a lifeless draw.

  2. Brett Lee was on radio last night and really just sounded concerned about Aus' spin prospects and said quite similarly to you, Nos, that they need to pick a bloke and stick with him. He reckons Krejza is the one which I found odd considering Hauritz didn't do too badly and he's from NSW.
    Aus go to Sri Lanka soonish, then South Africa before NZ and India come here for the summer so there's 4 countries Aus plays in the next 9 months. Don't forget the Ashes are back-to-back with 2013 in England then 2013/2014 in Aus due to the 2015 World Cup.

  3. i hate to be a broken record, but... NOW IS the time for a overhaul. we could have done it during the 9/10 summer with lightweights Pakistan etc, but no, CA had NO balls and continued with the, "steady as she goes" tactic and when the crunch came, we were found wanting.

    Ponting HAS done the right thing for both the country and his career...except for the plan of remaining at 3. 5 is his spot or he can piss off! i wonder how long it will take (ie, how many wasted innings)before he realises this too?

    i'm hard pressed to think of ANY current bowler that has guaranteed his spot; we can forever lament the lack of Mr Hurley and W. Lawry's favourite bird as central figures to build an attack around, or we can create a new one... clearly i'm for the latter!

    i am pro Hauritz, or should i say WAS, not am, as the time and opportunity to build him up as the #1 spinner has passed, the time has come to look further afeild and show some faith in a new (younger)turner of the ball; and note to CA, give up on this left arm orth caper, if you want someone to land it outside of leg and come back to the stumps do the right thing and develop a leggie

    Clarke? i'll reserve my judgement, but what i will say is at least he has shown the ability to be genuinly creative... unlike Punter who was reactive.

  4. Starc and Pattison should feature with the ball this summer and I hope Peter George gets a run. There's several quicks around so surely a few will stand up. Batting-wise the stocks look a little leaner but enough to be positive about. I watched Doherty against the redbacks and he just didn't look threatening. Beer is the same. Unfortunately I don't think there really is anyone other than Hauritz that has shown the mettle. He is hardly all that attacking but hopefully under Clarke he can take more risks.
    On Clarke, I think he will be good for where Aus is now. Granted he needs to get runs (and show some discipline) but he's worth a chance.

  5. i didn't think about Hauritz's better chances under Pup- certainly Punter didn't know how to captain a spinner- but how can Haury train without his tracksuit etc?

    when i said current bowlers Lefty, i meant of the ones that bowled during the Ashes...and that includes Hey Diddle, so you know i'm serious. i
    m certainly keen on getting those younger guys in at the cost of Hilf, the Rug etc

  6. You look around the top sides and you see spinners every time. Even South Africa have got Imran Tahir and Petersen now, India - well it's India, England have Swann, Pakistan have Ajmal, Sri Lanka have bloody heaps. This really is the area I'm most concerned about. 'They' have spin summits and go on about spin bowling all the time - for what?!? It's easy to forget that even when Warne was playing there were guys like Tim May and Magill around. Where the hell have the spinners gone?
    My problem with Hauritz is that he looks like a stock bowler to me. That's fine when you're a quick as you have others around you but when you're the only frontline spinner you need to be taking wickets. I can't see him doing that on days 1 and 2 when the pitch is batting-friendly. I'm starting to go for Krejza as he gives it alot of flight but the amount of runs he goes for worries me. If he doesn't take a few he'll have figures of 1/150 often.

  7. I'm not sure why everyone is so surprised about our spin bowling stocks. Pre-Warne Australia gave the ball to the likes of Greg Matthews who could also bat and Holland who was almost 50!! History is littered with hack part timers amid the class turners from most countries.
    The fact is most people are expecting too much from a spinner. Our captains have forgotten how to use a mere mortals.

  8. or we can forget about a specialist spinner and have an extra seamer. every batsman thinks he can roll the arm at times, why not get those with the aptitude to spend a very small amount extra net time so they can offer a few "change over" overs during a session.

    instead of putting someone in the side with an expectation that they will DO A JOB (spinner) play without one until a genuine bowler can be found and developed.

    further to that- DEVELOP ONE CA!!!

  9. Thats's what I mean Stoph; Centre of Excellence, under 19s, the late Terry Jenner, spin summits - this has all but produced nothing. That's why I'm surprised Nos; it's not like there hasn't been money and effort put into developing spinners. I have to disagree about pre-Warne though. It wasn't just part-timers who got a guernsey. Blokes like Peter McIntyre featured, then Tim May and Mo Matthews - these were out and out spinners. Nathan Lyon from SA was really looking for something to in between groundskeeping and so bowled to the redbacks - who said 'shit you're alright mate, come and play for us'. Sod the Centre of Excellence, let's go around the grounds and pick up some groundskeepers!
    Katich has missed out on a CA contract so that's the end of the opening stalwart. Thanks for the memories Kat; an absolute rock.

  10. Katich has LOST his CA contract! thanks for your outstanding service Kat! i hope he has a blinder leading NSW if he does this season

  11. i should have refreshed my screen before last post Lefty

  12. New players getting CA contracts.. Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, John Hastings, David Hussey, Usman Khawaja, Jason Krejza and James Pattinson.
    Players losing contracts.. James Hopes, Simon Katich, Andrew McDonald, Clint McKay, Marcus North, Shaun Tait and Adam Voges.

  13. Wouldn't it be great if he went back and scored 1000 for the season again. He's one guy I would have been happy to see at least get a chance to prove his worth; rather than just discarding him. For god's sake they let Taylor go 50 innings without a ton.
    I guess Watson won't be moving from opening if there's a spot available at the other end. I wonder what they're planning on doing with Haddin. I reckon he'd be the most nervous of the 'older' brigade - especially as Watson was given the VC.

  14. McKay! Now I'm surprised by that; not surprised by any of the other omissions. I thought McKay was definitely in CA plans but I'm happy he's not; don't rate him at all. Poor Ronnie eh! Does nothing really wrong (except for his hair) and just gets the boot.

  15. 1k b4 xmas would stick it up em Lefty...
    i for one am spewin about Ronnie, as he was having such a good season before his ankle, i actually think he could have done more for Aus.

    Watson is Ayers rock solid

  16. Five Victorians have received Cricket Australia contracts. Hussey, White, Siddle, Hastings and James Pattinson! Congratulations boys

  17. I wouldn't be surprised to see Ronnie appear in an ODI or two. I saw him against the redbacks and he is so solid with the ball. I remember he had a purple patch with the bat too last summer.
    Glad CA could find space for one South Australian out of 25. Guess Dan Christian and Peter George aren't good enough. Well, George is good enough to bowl for Aus in tests in India and Dan Christian is a star but, nah, don't worry about it. Tasmania only started playing the game last month but they got Hilf, Doherty and Paine in. Ponting too if you count the old timer.
    I wonder if Klinger had a better season (after the massive previous one) if he would have had a chance. Selection is alot about performing at the right time so I reckon he's missed the boat. I'm going to get right behind David Hussey to get a test berth; do it for Hodge Huss!

  18. how did Klinger miss out? the season b4 last he was on 940 b4 xmas! ...and went on! D Hussey would be good, and we love hime, but as an "up your's" for Hodge he misses out...gotta be born. i know that sucks, but...

  19. Kilnger didn't have a good shield season and was injured a bit. You just can't afford that - look at Phil Jacques. Lots of young quicks which is good and thank god North got the boot.
    My 11 for Sri Lanka and South Africa:

    M. Hussey

    I think the quicks could get rotated; just relaised Starc didn't get a contract! Hilf deserves a look-in; as does Bollinger (well, maybe) and I think Pattinson is in the mix as well. I reckon give Hauritz the tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa and really if he's not showing signs that he can take 5 for on a day 5 pitch then say goodbye.
    If they're going to keep going with Punter then he'll need to get big runs on these tours - if he doesn't - Ferguson in. The problem with the batting is at the top for mine. I don't think Khawaja has opened but if he can (in my view if you bat 3 you can open up) then Hughes gets another chance (which he perhaps doesn't deserve yet) and if Hughes fails then back to NSW sunshine.

  20. Sorry, the new boys are an encouragement but I can't get over the axing of Katich. Trying to make sense of throwing out one of your best three batsmen is one thing but breaking up a the best batting partnership we have adds to the ludicrous nature of the decision. He has averaged better than Ponting in four out of the last six series and Clarke in five of the last six.

    I've been blaming Hilditch but as readers at The Cricketragics have pointed out, maybe the new Skipper gave him the et tu Brute treatment, playing the elephant who never forgets when Katich throated him in the sheds because he wanted to do to the team song what he was keen to do to the Bingle Bungle later on.

    Someone else suggested its akin to Wayne Bennett flipping Wally Lewis the key to the outside dunny (sorry about the league reference lads) but there is no comparison ... Wally was no longer still one of the games leading players. It would be a better comparison to make with Ponting except that he's being retained.

    Re-Phil Hughes and his next series of off stump failures ... surely his replacement will be Shaun Marsh on the basis of the utters Hilditch made when dropping the contract bomb.

  21. I'm not sure about the Clarke incident though Lango; I'd hope (perhaps naively) that the incumbent couldn't persuade selectors who think otherwise that the opening bat shouldn't be there. If you're right, and unfortunately you may be, then subjectivity and personal gripes take precedent over the best 11 - or 25.
    Marsh had a terrible summer and then got injured so fingers crossed we'll see him get a chance again soon. I think he's more solid technically than Hughes but I do believe Hughes tightened his technique which at least shows he's learning and improving. Perhaps all is not lost at the top, but there's precious little else.

  22. I heard Ponting told Hodge his international career would be limited if he became captain when they were both young