My Australian XI for Boxing Day

With the pre-season and rookie drafts done and dusted it’s time to take a look at the state of Australian cricket. Unlike many others who were calling this past week’s defeat one of the lowest moments in Australian cricket, I see it more as a wake-up call. This side needs a total overhaul for the future, and this means experimenting during the upcoming four test series which could be at the detriment of team success in the short-term. The team that played against New Zealand, even without the addition of Shane Watson and Ryan Harris, would still beat India in the upcoming series in my opinion. Without saying too much about the Test Match in Hobart, it was an unbelievably bowler-biased pitch which neither the Aussies or New Zealanders could handle. Don’t get me wrong, pitches like the one witnessed are great for Test Cricket as for once the bowlers had it easier than their batting counterparts, but long story short the Kiwis had the best batting conditions during their second dig and not even David Warner’s stunning knock on debut could save the Aussies.


But looking ahead to the opening Test of the series against India, here is the line-up that I would go with:             


Ed Cowan

David Warner

Michael Clarke

Usman Khawaja

Shane Watson

Dan Christian

Brad Haddin

Peter Siddle

James Pattinson

Nathan Lyon

Ryan Harris


The most significant move in this side, apart from Nathan Lyon’s promotion from 11 to ten, would be moving the skipper Clarke to number three. It has been said time and time again that the number three batsman needs to have great technique and temperament but also needs to be capable of playing an expansive game. Clarke ticks these three boxes, and it would be fitting that the Aussie captain takes over the mantle of long-term number three batsman from his predecessor Ricky Ponting. Khawaja, as a result, moves down to four and should thrive slightly lower down the order with less pressure on his bat for the most part. Watson is my number five as there is no way Australia should open with Watson and Warner in a test match. And that’s beside the point; Ed Cowan is in supreme form and is deserving of an opening spot in the test side. Cowan looks adept to playing the Simon Katich role which will afford Warner more freedom should the two of them survive the new ball early on.


If I was pressed I would say that Ponting will play in Melbourne, purely because Mike Hussey isn’t quite as deserving of a farewell tour and the selectors really have to make a decision on one or the other. But Ponting’s two dismissals in Hobart should have sounded the death knell for his career. The first one, out LBW to Tim Southie, he was beaten by low bounce but, more significantly, he was beaten for pace and Ponting was extremely late playing a shot. In the second innings Ponting’s wicket was reminiscent of an old video game as he spooned a lofted back-foot drive straight down the fielders throat; sorry Ricky but it’s time to depart gracefully. There is twelve days before Boxing Day and it would take a brave man to discount one or two significant press conferences between now and then.


Phil Hughes is the obvious omission; he is incredibly out of sorts and needs time to find his feet away from the spotlight. He must be applauded for sacrificing a pay-day in the Big Bash League to focus on the upcoming tour matches with the Chairman’s XI and the longer form of the game in general. Brad Haddin will most likely keep his spot for the first Test, mainly due to his fine glovework in Hobart, however it would be an excellent occasion to have Matthew Wade debuting at the MCG on Boxing Day. Although it must be noted that he is a Tasmanian, not a Victorian, but he has been adopted as one of our own. And Mitchell Starc is the unlucky bowler to lose his spot for the returning Ryan Harris. Starc was impressive in patches on debut and has a bright future, but surely the selector’s will pick Peter Siddle ahead of Starc in Melbourne.


South Australian all-rounder Dan Christian comes in for Hussey. Mr.Cricket has shown in the past that he is capable of turning his form around when given the opportunity however it remains to be seen whether the selector’s have lost patience with him. Christian provides another option now that Shane Watson’s bowling load will be lightened, whilst he was the highest scorer in this season’s Sheffield Shield before missing the last round of matches through Australian duties.


It shapes as one of the most important summers in recent times and there is only one thing I can say with much certainty. By the end of the summer the Michael Clarke-bashing by many cricket fans will have dwindled to a select few who refuse to acknowledge his standing in the game. In his brief tenure as skipper he has shown himself to be an excellent leader with a brilliant tactical mind who has proven himself more than capable of hitting a captain’s knock when required. It is time to put your feelings about his off-field persona to one side and to get behind the captain of OUR National cricket team. Clarke and the team around him will be better for it, and who knows what Pup can achieve with the crowd on his side.

Comments

  1. John Butler says:

    Nick, that looks like the start of a team that might contest the next Ashes series. But I can’t see them making all those changes for Boxing Day. At least if Mickey Arthur’s comments are to be taken seriously.

    One complicating issue is Watson’s fitness, or lack thereof. His announcement that he can play as a batsman but not a bowler perplexes. Is he fit or not?

  2. Your team is identical to mine, except I had Marsh in before I knew he was injured long term. Whether I would have Dan Christian, who you have for Marsh, I’m not sure.

  3. I think Watson is beginning to look at his long-term future and has realised his longevity in the game will be diminished if he continues to bowl. Who knows, if he is moved down the order he may feel as though he is once again capable of doing both. My feeling is that he’s fit and he wants to do everything to remain that way for the summer.

    With Watson asking for a diminished workload with the ball I think Christian would bring alot to the team. There are a handful of players making a ton of runs in Sheffield Shield, Peter Forrest & Michael Klinger spring to mind, but Christian offers a great deal with both bat and ball. Alternatively, maybe it’s time to throw Callum Ferguson in the deep-end after an encouraging knock against Western Australia.

  4. Andrew Starkie says:

    Give Ponting and Hussey a send-off in Melbourne. My 11:

    Cowan
    Warner
    Clarke
    Ponting
    Hussey
    Watson
    Haddin
    Siddle
    Starc
    Pattinson
    Lyon

    Throw the baby out with the bath water for the second Test with all focus on the Ashes 2013. My 11:

    Cowan
    Warner
    Clarke
    Khawaja
    Watson
    Christian
    Haddin
    Siddle
    Starc
    Pattinson
    Lyon

    Marsh and Harris aren’t fit enough and need to prove themselves in First Class cricket.

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