Third Test – Day 1: The proof is in the fruit-cake

Day 1, Third Test, Perth

 

 

When South Africa were 6-75 shortly after lunch yesterday, and even after 74 overs when they were dismissed for 225, John Inverarity’s selection panel must have been pinching themselves. However, I see the success not as the proof being in the pudding but rather the fruit-cake.

 

Only fruit-cake thinking could have producedAustralia’s team selection for the Perth Test.

 

When was the last timeAustralia’s entire pace division was replaced from one Test to the next? James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle were replaced by Mitchell Starc, John Hastings and Mitchell Johnson with Shane Watson returning as fourth pace bowler as well as batsman.

 

OK, so Pattinson strained his side and is out for the summer but Siddle and Hilfenhaus were being ‘rested’. ‘Rested’, what sort of wussy cricketers are we producing? It is noteworthy than neither Dale Steyn nor Morne Morkel is having the game off.

 

Siddle, we are led to believe, almost reached hero status inAdelaide. He might’ve been a hero had we won. He put in as a full-hearted bowler is expected to but came up short. Figures of 4/65 from 33 overs looked good in the second innings scorebook but it has to be remembered that on the last day the Proteas lost only the wicket of De Villiers in the first five hours of play. If Siddle was a hero he would’ve made greater inroads before that.

 

Hilfenhaus looked lacklustre in the second innings in Adelaide after picking up three first innings wickets. If it was necessary to drop him, drop him. If both he and Siddle needed to be rested why aren’t they resting back in Tasmania and Victoria respectively instead of cluttering up the Perth dressing room?

 

It could be argued that the resting policy adopted in this match represents a clear sign of the cheapening of the Baggy Green and Test cricket itself. Siddle and Hilfenhaus have done the hard yakka on two roads in Brisbane and Adelaide and deserved to be rewarded by playing on a more responsive surface in the decisive match of the series against the number one side in the world. As one commentator put it yesterday, Hilfenhaus, as Australia’s best outswing bowler, would be the most likely to achieve success utilising the Fremantle Doctor.

 

One final point is this squad mentality – carrying players around from match to match – in home Tests when they are playing no part in the game and not performing the 12th man duties of yore. This practice goes back a couple of years ago to when Mitchell Johnson was ‘rested’ for the Adelaide Ashes Test. Then in Brisbane this summer we saw Watson taking net sessions, and inAdelaide, wearing an orange vest, transporting Gatorade bottles to outfielders. Why? If players are not in the side they are not in the side and have no business being there.

 

To me there’s no place in the team for hangers-on. Perhaps the one decent decision of recent times was to send Rob Quiney back to Melbourne where he turned out for Victoria in a domestic one-day game – as a professional cricketer ought to do.

 

If Australia wins this match can we expect Luke Butterworth, Jackson Bird and Ben Cutting opening the attack in Hobart?

About Bernard Whimpress

Freelance historian (mainly sport) currently writing his 20th book. For the previous 15 years was Curator of the Adelaide Oval Museum and Historian for the South Australian Cricket Association. Will accept writing commissions with reasonable pay. Most recent books - The MCC Official Ashes Treasures and The Greatest Ashes Battles.

Comments

  1. Pamela Sherpa says:

    “There’s no place for hangers on.” Classic! I couldn’t imagine anything worse than not being in the team and hanging around in the dressing room. Imagine what thoughts would be going through your head. You’d almost be hoping that the bowlers in the team would do badly or break down.

  2. bernard whimpress says:

    Thanks Pamela

    The only reason to select a squad in the past was to cover player(s) who had to pass fitness tests before the match. What a difference a day marks. We can only speculate on what the non-participants were thinking in yesterday’s final session.

    Bernard

  3. John Butler says:

    Bernard, I think test cricket is being generally dudded by decision makers who think they know better.

    Test fixturing makes no sense in cricket terms now. It serves merely to accommodate other interests. The height of summer is given over to a competition which only exists because it is hoped it will be a TV ‘product’. Players jump on planes to play meaningless short form series, then everyone complains they couldn’t prepare properly for the main event. I could go on.

    Selection is a symptom of a deeper malaise.

  4. Top shelf, Bernard. The travelling squad seems to be an extension of not sending players out of the team back to domestic cricket. Instead of gaining match fitness, they’re sent to the nets or the gym. Madness.

  5. Strongly agree with you Bernard, ridiculous going into such a big Test match on the best fast bowling pitch without our two best fast bowlers. Without Pattinson and Cummins our bowling depth is limited, Starc and Johnson aren’t up to leading the attack. Hastings is a good one-day bowler whose first class figures are inflated by seam friendly Sheffield Shield pitches, as is the case with Bird, Butterworth, Copeland, Cutting and McKay, who all bowl around that 125-130kmph mark.

  6. It was enlightening to listen to DK Lillee on the ABC cricket broadcast yesterday afternoon. He offered his thoughts on all things fast-bowling, in particular that the quicks are not preparing themselves properly.
    He also mentioned that P Siddle’s recent conversion to vegetarianism will not assist his bowling prospects long-term: “I have probably just offended 100,000 vegetarians, but I don’t care.”

  7. Pamela Sherpa says:

    Smokie , I didn’t hear Lillee , but would have been interested to hear his thoughts . Siddle does not look ‘right’ fitness/health wise. In the last match I thought he expended too much energy trying to act menacing and looking aggro .

  8. bernard whimpress says:

    Gents and Pamela

    Many thanks for your intelligent comments. As a group you sound like potential readers of On Our Selection, a book I self-published last year and which has now sold out. Sadly, although there was commercial interest from four publishers no one followed through.

    Cheers
    Bernard

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