Tuesday, 15 November 2011

When it's time to panic

Start panicking. Australia's test team is littered with seemingly self-entitled egos unwilling to look themselves in the mirror.

Upon reading Haddin's comments about his shot selection and claiming he'll 'continue to play my natural game' I was struck by the lack of contrition. I doubt what 'got him there' in the first place was swiping wildly at 5 for not many. If you can't assess that batting time is demanded then you should not be there.

To those who claim 'this is no time to panic, don't make major changes' I ask 'how can it get any worse?'

47 all out does not demonstrate a new low but it does reflect the unbalanced nature of the team. You have one opener that cannot justify his place in the team and the other batting out of position. The number 4 refuses to retire until his wheelchair prevents his taking guard. The strike bowler actually bowls first change and bowls rubbish at a ratio of 50 to 1 to his good balls. The keeper's skills behind the stumps are deteriorating so who cares how he bats?

Just like the retirements of Chappell, Lillee and Marsh together left gaping wholes in the 3 facets of the game (plus captaincy), we can expect letting Ponting, Hughes, Haddin and Johnson to require some adjustment. Of course, not all 4 of these players have been 'greats' of the game and in that way are more easily replaced.

Watson filled the opener's gap in England in 2009 but his remaining there has been an avoidance of a problem rather than a solution to one. He has two hundreds to his name and several 50s; openers go on from these positions. He bats like a middle-order player and is currently required to find a wicket because Johnson doesn't know where they are. Admittedly dropping Johnson and getting a consistent bowler may ease Watson's load but it's difficult to see him not being required with the ball.

As much as I'd like Hughes to make the opening spot his own the work he's done on his technique is not enough to secure a place. Perhaps this work will translate into big shield scores and weight of runs will get him back in. This is what should have been the case to begin with. With 3 out of the top 6 shield scorers this season being openers it's not like there's few choices as replacements.

Ponting has been an incredible batsman but his stubbornness is only hurting his legacy, not enhancing it. It's difficult to understand what exactly he's trying to prove by hanging around ungainly. While Dravid peels off runs on different surfaces Ponting looks ill-equipped on every surface. Now his exit will be a sad one but this was always likely with Aus in a far from dominant position. Not every player can have the send off Waugh had.

Johnson is the most infuriating bowler I've seen for a long time. One quote from a punter sums it up 'if Johnson could bowl he'd be an allrounder'. Too true for too long. Match-winners at worst win you matches once in a while. Between the Ashes in 2009 and now he's done it once in Perth. With so many young quicks (and old - think Bollinger) available how can CA seriously keep giving this guy a game? If he goes back to shield cricket and takes bags on Adelaide Oval then fine, pick him. But the fact is others already are so in the mean time pick them!

Of course Marsh's (recurrent) injury is terrible timing but my ideal 11 would be as follows:

Liam Davis/Rob Quiney/Chris Rogers

An esteemed writer commented that Voges is as unlucky as anybody not to have featured in the test set up. I scoffed at this at the time. Voges is 2nd on the runs list in this season's sheffield shield. Perhaps Khawaja is occupying his spot?


  1. I like your thinking LRO. Marsh to open is where he should have been when Katich was injured last summer against the Poms. Hughes will go back and score gazillions of Shield runs but thats because his flawed technique can survive one level below the real thing but every time he returns he'll be warming slippers hands. Of your three others, I'd probably go with Quiney - Davis is ready yet and Rogers has missed his chance through no fault of his own. He was "hilditched".

    Khawaja tick ... has future all over him. Swap Clarke and Hussey because Hussey could bat anywhere, even underwater but the Skipper likes it just fine at 3rd drop. It suits his style and temperament. Watson at six is just simple common sense. Voges as first batting reserve. Paine if fit but Wade is an impressive reserve.

    The bowling line up worries me because none of them are great shakes with the bat. I'd also prefer Siddle to George because the lad is all ticker ... sort of a refined Merv Hughes. Mind you, first time he sticks his tongue in Pup's ear, get rid of him. James Pattinson definitely because he should have been picked ahead of Pat Cummins.

    Therefore, I'd have Siddle, Harris, Pattinson and Lyon with Cummins as my twelfth. Mind you, I'd rush Hauritz back as soon as possible.

    Esteemed eh?

  2. 10,000 hits and counting Mr Lango!

    I think there's so many pace options with Starc, Bollinger, Hilfenhaus, Pattinson, George and others bowling well. WA have just unearthed another too. It speaks volumes of the batsmen that have made runs so far this season. Considering Johnson is bowling so poorly you can't go wrong. I agree about Siddle and believe he's become more consistent. His lack of movement in the air may be his downfall. On the other hand, Hilfenhaus seemed to have only that and it wasn't good enough.

    I'd happily have Siddle, Harris and Pattinson. I do like having a left-armer though so am watching Starc with interest. Hauritz has been unfairly treated but after giving Lyon the chance I think he has to get an extended run; the very thing no spinner has been given since Warne. This summer will be the greatest test for Lyon; bowling on Aus wickets against the Indians.

  3. great points guys. I've got to say that the knife must be weilded and Hughes and Jono MUST be cut! the point that Jono is holding his spot as a "match winner" only holds water when 1) we are winning matches, 2) he actually does that- and not with the bat, even though i think he is a fine batsman.

    Hughes is incapable of realising that his percieved weakness could actually be best resorce, if only he could go over the top or along the ground, but his temperament is tested every time and found wanting (every time!)

    Khwaja MUST stay. Cummins MUST be given a new red ball,

    Quiney and Wade are creating statements that must be observed soor rather than later.

    Ponting- you can't bat with a gold watch in your pocket!

    i think Watto wants to bowl regardless- it is just his drive.

    i too would have Haury back, but can't see CA buying him a new uniform!

  4. A real issue for Aus is Harris. Even now after one test back he's said to have stiffness and soreness resulting in a 'wait and see' for the 2nd test; and this after bowling a team out for under 100 in an innings. The guy is almost as fragile as Reid and doesn't have time on his side. He's a very good bowler but Aus can't afford for him to break down during a game. Cummins can bowl long spells at consistent pace and that is why I think they have to bite the bullet with him.
    The 5 quicks Aus should be thinking of as the 'bowling squad' are Starc, Cummins, Siddle, Harris and Pattinson. If Johnson bowls the house down then fine, look at him. I'd even throw the Rug in there as well and probably Copeland. Equally an issue as the batting problems Aus had in the Ashes was the inability to take 20 wickets.
    Wipe the slate clean, start again and actually start the 'rebuilding' now. To date it's been a tinkering with sacking Katich hardly a refocussing of attention to the future.

  5. The 2nd test couldn't be in a better position for a thrilling finale. Ponting and Clarke at the crease with an uncertain tail looming after Hussey, these two know that if one or worse, both are gone in the first hour it's likely curtains and 2 nil down.
    It's a pity that opportunities for the youngsters are coming through injuries but Khawaja and Cummins have made the most of their chances. At least Cummins will likely feature this summer irrespective of who else is available.
    Watson's injury highlights the fact he can't open the batting and bowl so Inverarity and co have major questions to ask themselves before NZ in Brisbane.
    Hughes has likely saved his spot for the summer and Ponting may well do the same tonight. I think Haddin will get dropped after this series but mainly due to his batting which is perhaps unfair. Blame Gilchrist for changing expectations on wicket-keeping.

  6. A bit soft on your part Lefty. It's called an ideal 11 for a reason and by my count you have picked 13!

    What a second test. The result however probably hurt us more than anything.

    Ponting showed enough to prolong the agony that is his fall from grace.

    Our batsmen were let off the hook with runs from those that should not be relied upon.

    But Cummins, what a ripper!!

  7. great result- Test represented at its best!
    Well done NicNack!