As part of Cricket Australia’s new transparency policy, I was invited to attend and report on the National Selection Panel (NSP) meeting to select a squad for the upcoming 4 match Test series in India. The selectors present were: Chairman John Inverarity (JI), Rod Marsh (RM), Andy Bichel (Bic, there’s only one AB), Coach Mickey Arthur (MA) and the captain Michael Clarke (PUP). Also present due to the meeting being held at Michael Clarke’s house, Kyly Clarke (KC) was present at various times. This is an unedited transcript of what transpired on a balmy Sydney evening…
JI: I’d like to welcome everyone here for this selection meeting. While I don’t read the papers I’m pretty sure the Australian public have been thrilled with our selections this summer. So let’s keep up the good work. Time to pick this 14 man squad for India. Clarkey you were on beer duties, what have you come up with for tonight?
PUP: Had a bit on John, I got Kyles to get the slabs tonight…
KC: Here you go boys, I got two slabs of VB, it’s back to 4.9% you know….
JI: Very disappointing Pup and Kyly, you know we don’t like anything Victorian here at the NSP
RM: I’ll drink it if I have to. Only two slabs?? Not a traditional selection meeting.
JI: Well let’s get down to business. We need to pick a top order. Warner’s a certainty and I liked Ed Cowan’s book so he’s in. What about number 3?
Bic: Quiney didn’t handle Steyn, Morkel and Philander anywhere near as well as Hughes handled Weledegara, Eranga, Kulasekara and co. Hughes is a sure thing for the next 15 Tests now.
JI: That was easy. What about number number 4? Is that Watto’s spot or do you want to bat there Clarkey?
PUP: @*&# no, let Watto bat there
JI: Done, Watto 4 and Pup at 5. What about number 6? Do we need an all-rounder or bat Wadey at 6?
Bic: Andrew McDonald shold be our 6. Good bat, his tight medium pace will suit India.
PUP: He’s injured. How about a good NSW all-rounder in Moises Henriques. He’s promised alot over the years. Maybe he will deliver one day.
JI: The craziest idea just came into my head. Stay with me guys. What if we picked 3 all-rounders to cover all bases. Say we picked a guy like, let’s say Moises Henriques who can bowl medium and bat a little bit. Then we pick Glenn Maxwell who can slog and bowl offies. And Steve Smith who seemed like a nice guy at the NSWCA Xmas party.
RM: No complaints here
MA: Good choice. What about the keeper? I say we just pick Wadey, he’s good when it’s his shout and a reserve is only a 10 hour flight away.
JI: Did anyone pick up that I extended the squad to 16? Maxy and Smith have to be in . To give us plenty of options.
RM: Haddin’s no better keeper than Wade anyway. Did I just say that aloud? Ready for another beer Bic.
Bic: Another round for everyone. We dont need two keepers in a 14 man squad.
JI: It’s a 16 man squad now.
Bic: We only need 1 keeper in a 16 man man squad. @#$% me smashed that one down. Whose up for another one?
JI, RM, Bic, PUP: Yep!
JI: Time to select the spinners. Lyon a certainty?
PUP: @*&$ yeah, he now leads us in in the song
MA: Good enough for me
JI: What about our second spinner? Holland and Beer are out with shoulder injuries. Panesar dominated in India recently so we need a left arm orthodox. O’Keefe has been doing well for NSW but I think Xavier Doherty’s form in one-day and Twenty20 has been great. So let’s pick him for Test cricket again.
Bic: Fast bowlers pick themselves. Siddle, Pattinson, Starc, Johnson and Bird. Hilfenhaus and Harris still not right.
PUP: Spot on Bic. Xavier has been great in ODI’s, means he’s a certainy to star in Test cricket.
JI: Up to 16 now, feel we could do with 1 more. Need an extra bat.
Bic: What about George Bailey? Can face old or new ball, great leader of men, perfect fit for our Test team.
JI: Nah not what we’re looking for, no good picking a 30 year old who might play 70 Tests over the next 5 years, I want flamboyant players who might bowl a few overs of off or leg spin.
RM: No-one around like that. Let’s just pick Khawaja, can’t bowl or drink but I like his style.
JI: @*%$ me that’s 17. Well let’s just do it anyway. The Aussie public will be behind it. Just look at the papers. Not that I read them. We might need 21 for the Ashes Tour. To cover all bases.