Plenty to like about the Ashes squad

I’m actually reasonably happy with the 2013 Australian team for the Ashes tour. I’m usually not. Normally there’s something to complain about. In 1989 it was Mike Whitney missing out despite taking 9 wickets in the final Test  of the 1988/89 summer. In 1993 in was my childhood hero Dean Jones missing out, as well other favourites in Tony Dodemaide (who had  brilliant seasons in 1991/92 and 1992/93 at Shield level), Jamie Siddons and a perennialy injured Bruce Reid. Jamie Cox should have been in the squad in 1997 instead of an out of form Michael Slater. As should have Darren Lehmann. Matthew Innes should have been the left arm quick on the 2001 tour instead of white-ball specialist Nathan Bracken. And don’t get me started on Brett Lee, who struggled through the 2001 English Summer while Damien Fleming, a man suited to English conditions if ever there was one, sat on the sidelines and didn’t play a Test. B.J.Hodge toured in 2005 but couldn’t get a game. I could go on and on. But no high achiever has missed out this time.

Seven batsmen have been chosen and it’s hard to argue with the decisions made. Cowan and Warner have been a solid opening combo without dominating, they deserve to keep being paired up. Rogers is a quality player well versed in English conditions and, despite his age and only having played one Test, looms as a vital part of the upcoming 10 Tests against the old enemy. Can see him batting at three. Clarke and Watson will be joined in the middle order by one of Hughes or Khawaja. Form in the lead up games will play a big part, as will the timing of Watson’s next calf injury. Of the batsmen to miss out Steve Smith is slighty unlucky to miss after his good tour of India (though his form didn’t warrant selection on that tour), the selectors rightly noting his weakness to the moving ball, as they rightly noted his excellent playing of spin bowling in picking him for India. George Bailey and David Hussey would be kicking themselves after extremely poor Sheffield Shield seasons meant they probably weren’t considered, while Shaun Marsh and Aaron Finch were others who couldn’t convert their white-ball form to First Class cricket. Callum Ferguson doesn’t do enough despite his undoubted talent. Alex Doolan, Joe Burns and Nic Maddinson all show promise without banging the selectors door down. Adam Voges is inconsistent, Mark Cosgrove is too fat, Mitchell Marsh too often out injured. Tasmanian 21 year old Jordan Silk and 21 year old Victorian Peter Handscomb have made promising starts and are a good few Shield knocks away from being considered. The Ashes will be won or lost on the performance of our batsmen.

The selection of 35 year old Brad Haddin as number 1 keeper and vice-captain after not being rated good enough to be in the team for the last 12 months highlights our lack of leadership and batting strength as the selectors acknowledge his outstanding Shield season with the bat. While forgetting his batting struggles in his last full Test series. Wade has been demoted to the role of deputy, but may be a chance for a batting spot if he shows some form and the batsmen selected struggle.

Nathan Lyon is rightly picked as the spinner, with the selectors seemingly leaving a place open for the possible inclusion of former Pakistani leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed if his Australian citizenship comes through in time. 19 year old West Australian left arm orthodox Ashton Agar is a selectors favourite and was reportedly close to being picked. Won’t hurt him to wait a bit longer. Despite solid Shield form Steven O’Keefe continues to miss out, when I have seen him bowl he seems a very similar type of bowler to Xavier Doherty, whose struggles in the Test arena may have put Inverarity and Co. off him. Doherty and Glenn Maxwell battled in India and would have barely been discussed.

While we can barely find 6 batsmen good enough for Test cricket, Australia has an embarassment of riches in our fast bowling stocks. Siddle and James Pattinson were certain selections, Ryan Harris is as good as any quick in world cricket if his fragile body can hold up, Mitchell Starc shows plenty of promise with his pace and swing and Jackson Bird, despite leaving the Indian tour early due to injury, showed in his two Test matches he can be a force in the 5 day game. James Faulkner is a great and well deserved selection, the “bowling all-rounder” as Inverarity put it. An outstanding record in First Class cricket for the Tigers, 125 wickets in 34 games at an average of 22.34. A batting average of just under 30, but that will improve. Showed his quality with knocks of 46 and 89 in the Sheffield Shield final in March, coming in at 6/56 in the second innings and departing when the score was 8/249. And he barracks for Collingwood, a very admirable trait. Ben Hilfenhaus was unlucky to miss after finishing the season well and helping the Tigers to the Shield title after being injured earlier in the summer, as well as his previous form in England where he was our best bowler in the 2009 Ashes series. Mitchell Johnson has been dumped after a poor Indian tour, could be hard to get back in the baggy green for the left armer. Other quicks to be unlucky include Clint McKay who would be a handful in English conditions and will be a key part of the Champions Trophy one-day tournament in June, Luke Butterworth who has been a wonderful player for Tasmania for many seasons, playing a huge role in all of the Tigers Sheffield Shield final wins, and in this era of giving Australian caps to just about anyone is unlucky not to have worn the national colours, and WA seamer Nathan Coulter-Nile. South Australia’s Chad Sayers must also be nearing consideration after 49 wickets for the Redbacks in Shield competition.

Looking forward to the 5 Tests in England followed by the 5 Ashes Tests out here. Most of the Australian players careers will be made or lost over these 10 Tests.

Australian Squad for 5 Test Ashes Tour of England:

Michael Clarke (c)     (NSW)

Brad Haddin (vc) (wk)  (NSW)

Ed Cowan (TAS)

David Warner (NSW)

Chris Rogers (VIC)

Shane Watson (NSW)

Usman Khawaja (QLD)

Phil Hughes (SA)

Matthew Wade (VIC)

Nathan Lyon (NSW- has just signed for the Blues)

James Faulkner (TAS)

Peter Siddle (VIC)

James Pattinson (VIC)

Ryan Harris (QLD)

Mitchell Starc (NSW)

Jackson Bird (TAS)

About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

Comments

  1. The Wrap says:

    Sorry Luke, this mob couldn’t bat their way out of a wet paper bag. My Pohmmy mates are lining up already.

    Sorry about the Pies too. Bucks not got the yeast levels right yet?

  2. Harris injured already.
    Hope Haddin has fixed his keeping woes and attitude – people seem to have forgotten his dreadful glovework last time in England, especially behind left-handed batsmen.
    Reasonably happy with squad, especially the exclusion of Smith and Johnson.

  3. The squad makes more sense than the indian one. Thankfully sanity prevailed and we left out Smith, Maxwell and Henriques. Rogers and Faulkner have more than earned a shot. Good to see them get it.

    As for your Victoriancentricity of selectorial complaints, Luke, I say, what Victoriancentricity? All those guys were hard done by, as we Victorians always seem to be. Bloody NSW mafia have denied so many of our boys over the years that it’s scandalous.

    Looking forward to all the L.Reynolds posts during the actual games, mate

  4. DBalassone says:

    Fantastic, informative summary of the squad. Not sure who else the selectors could have turned to. D.Hussey would have been nice, but perhaps didn’t have the runs at shield level this season, and neither did George Bailey for that matter. Re vice-captaincy, could Siddle have been an option – or is there a law against quicks being in such roles?

    PS share your disappointment re Flemo in ’01. What did Lee take 8 or 9 wickets in a 5-test series, while Fleming sat in the dressing room?

  5. mickey randall says:

    I hope I’m wrong but the doomsday scenario of being down 8-0 on the morning of Boxing Day as suggested by G Baum in The Age is likely. Pray for rain.

  6. Please clarify. I am aware Brad Haddin is our Vice Captain, but is he going as a specialist batsmen; our number one keeper; back up keeper, making up the numbers? What is his actual role in the squad ?

    Gee whiz our batting looks bad. We’ve never lost 5-0 on English soil, but maybe this will be the time. Since my first recollections of an Ashes touring squad, 1972, i’ve oft heard them described as the worst to leave our shores. This one is up there with 1977, and 1985, as being a contender for that moniker . The fast mediums look fine, Lyon is developing, but then i worry about the rest of the squad.

    Truly, the sad fact is there are no batsmen piling on the runs. You can sit back, and weep tears about the period when Siddons, Law, Maher, Hodge, etc , made oodles of runs, but weren’t able to force their way into the test team, despite being prodigous run scorers. Nowawdays the test batsmen are not necessarliy prodigous run scorers, Clarke excepted. No, there will be some long, cold nights in front of the box, then there’s the home series to follow. Help !

    Glen!

  7. We’re going to get destroyed, no amount of spin can say any differently. Cosgrove’s fat!? pfft nah really!?

  8. Wrap- our batting lineup is very poor. Would be an ideal time for a few of them to standup alongside Clarke. Disappointed with yesterday but still have plenty of faith in Bucks.
    Crio- Harris very fragile for such a well built bloke. All reports are he will be right for the Ashes but playing him is always a risk despite his talent. Haddin’s keeping in 2009 was awful, hope he handles the swinging Duke better this time.
    T-Bone- yes a much better looking squad without the bits-and-pieces players Smith, Maxwell and Henriques. Love the word Victoriancentricity. Bloody NSW mafia indeed.
    Damien- Totally agree with the Siddle option as Vice Captain. Brett Lee 2001 Ashes- 5 Tests, 9 wickets at 55.11!! Flemmo would have been a sensation with the Duke.
    Mickey- If our batsmen don’t stand up that scenario highly likely!
    Glen- Inverarity said in the press conference Haddin was Vice Captain and number 1 keeper. Wade demoted to back up.
    Cal- a fit Cosgrove would be in our Test team, he’s good enough. Second highest run scorer of the Shield season (behind Ponting) with 784 runs. No player carrying 30 kilos too many will get picked nowdays.

  9. The tragic thing about this squad Luke is there can be no complaints about batsmen being hard done by. That players averaging 40 in Shield cricket are now seen as good things is a terrible indictment on the abyss we’re in.

  10. Spot on Jeff, the abscene of any prolific run scorers at Shield level also means medicore players get extended selection in the Test team. After Clarke (52.3) no-one else averages over 40 and if you take out Warner (39.5) they all average under 36.

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