A cricketing revolution: Three cases for the selection of Joe Mennie

Friends, cricket fans, countrymen – don’t be a Daryl, lend me your ears. If you happen to be a Daryl Somers lend me your eardrums instead. It is often said that an infinite number of monkeys in an infinite number of selection panel meetings would eventually produce a Test XII containing Shaun Marsh and Nathan Coulter-Nile. Australia managed to do it with one set of monkeys which is quite impressive in its own way. That said, a monkey led selection policy is not a sustainable long term solution. Particularly one that does not put Joe Mennie in the test squad.

So, we know what you get if you pay peanuts or even if you pay quite well, apparently. But what do some of the great cricketing minds of the ages think about Australia’s selection practices?


The scientific approach (quotes: Charles Darwin)


I gradually came to disbelieve in selection as a divine revelation. The fact that many false selections have spread over large portions of the earth like wild-fire had some weight with me… But I was very unwilling to give up my belief… Thus disbelief crept over me at a very slow rate, but at last was complete. The rate was so slow that I felt no distress, and have never since doubted even for a single second that my conclusion was correct… And this is a damnable doctrine.


We have heard a lot lately about gut feelings, genuine pace and somethings special. We have heard how a first class batting average of 38 (now 39 thanks to the West Indies) means some people will play test cricket, repeatedly. We have heard how not playing first class cricket should not be a barrier to test squad inclusion. What we have not heard is why.


If the misery of the fans be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our selections, great is our sin.


For all the stats and computers and analysts, when your star bowler breaks his foot the game after your other star bowler retires and you may need to rest your other other star bowler as a dead rubber of a series progresses, where is the science in selection? Why shouldn’t 24 shield wickets at 18.87 with a strikerate of 47.2 put you in selectors’ considerations?

Relentless accuracy can be just as fearsome as pure pace. Just ask Michael Atherton. If the current selectors were selectorising in the mid ’90s what of Glenn McGrath? In their eyes he must be an ineffectual trundler, incapable of getting batsmen to don the brown underpants. Gone are 563 test wickets. Straight back to shooting pigs in Narromine for you, slow coach.

The selectors are in denial (de-Coulter-Nile to be precise) if they believe anyone other than Joe Mennie is currently the most consistent form bowler of the Sheffield Shield and deserving of a place in the test squad.


Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends.



The arts: the perspective of beauty and romance (quotes: William Shakespeare)


Conscience doth make selectors of us all.


A scientific approach to selection is all very good and well. However, test cricket is as much beauty as science. The sound of leather on willow, the sight of a well struck cover drive, the splash of Pimms into a pre-cooled jug. Test cricket has such a loyal band of followers because of its romance. The Australian selectors ignore the romance of the game at their peril.

When a spot opens up in the batting lineup for a couple of tests there is no romance to be had in rehashing a player that has already had his fair share of opportunities. Although the high farce provided by his two dismissals in Adelaide combined with the opportunity it gave Channel 9 to harass his parents certainly added entertainment value. Nonetheless, the romantic option would be to give an inform journeyman a crack. Say: ‘Maxy, lad, no-one’s bashing the door down so have a crack for the next few tests as a kind of fond farewell from us’. Romance – without it test cricket is diminished.


The selector doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.


Romance would say don’t pick some bloke who hasn’t played first class cricket all year as your next fast bowling option. Ok, common sense would say that but romance would also say reward form even if it isn’t in the form you expected. Extend the hand of selection to the bloke that is performing honestly and exceptionally in a perpetually average side.

The Australian cricket team is short of cricketers we can like at the moment. Give us someone we can love. Give us the best South Australian Joe since Scuderi (sans mullet). Give us substance before style.

Think of the banners and the folk poetry they once contained. People had Reiffels that could send Warne-ings about Waughs. Border protection was a Duncan Fearnley box and results were Taylor made. The awful puns have gone the way of ten pin bowling in the innings break (or sailing if you insist on being that young). Please, for a moment, think of the many, many, Mennie puns that Joe’s selection could enable. It could signal a resurgence in Australia’s Manchester industry as bed sheets around the country are slapped with a fresh and unexpected coat of paint.


We know what we are, but not what we may be.



Non-oxymoronic political philosophy (quotes: Karl Marx)


Cricket is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.


It is time for us to mount a selectorial revolution. To person the digital barricades of Twitter and Facebook. To clog the comments sections of every digital cricket story on every website. Write letters to the editor for the niche market of people that actually read newspapers, if you must. And what must our demands be? A return of cricket to the people through the selection of Joe Mennie in the test squad.

Australian cricket’s great strength in recent years has been the meritocratic nature of the people that inhabit the test team. The Australian team is, for the most part, gloriously publicly educated and robustly diverse as a result. Well, as diverse as a bunch of white anglo-saxon men and Usman Khawaja can get, anyway.

But those that control the means of player production loom like a spectre. Selection has taken on somewhat of a cultish aspect, influenced by factors other than how a player is actually playing. It is clear that power is consolidating, which is saying something for cricket. Even under the auspices of a working class boy from Adelaide’s northern suburbs, selection is at risk of descending further into the cabalistic policies implemented in other countries that privilege influence above performance.


Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form.


The test watching people of Australia must strike back and return selection, perhaps truly for the first time, entirely to the hands of merit. To embrace that supposedly peculiar egalitarian Australianness and demand that a South Australian gets a run in the test squad. Who knows, some day it could lead to a Tasmanian, once again, getting selected. Apparently they still play cricket there.

We must demand Joe gets a go and if our campaign requires further support we can always point out that he’s actually from New South Wales.


Let the selectors tremble at a cricketing revolution. The fans have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a spot in the squad to win.


About Dave Brown

Upholding the honour of the colony. "Play up Norwoods!"


  1. A spectre is haunting australian cricket, the spectre of a non-South Australian selection. If all that is holy is being profaned, with all solids melting into air, surely now is the time for Joe Mennie to join the hardy handed sons of toil in the australian cricketing fraternity.

    How’s that sound Dave ?

  2. Perfection, Glen

  3. “ten pin bowling in the innings break”- Gold, Dave. How I’ve missed the action from the Logan City lanes! Of course ten-pin bowling films are excellent- The Big Lebowski and King Pin to mention two. Perhaps either could be shown at lunch instead of The Cricket Show. Wouldn’t we all love to hear Tubbs and Slats debriefing the antics of The Dude.

    Would be thrilled to see Joe get picked. Fantastic article Dave. The high point of my Friday morning!

  4. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Who’d have thunk that this corker analysis would unearth my hitherto untold tale of my ten years of league bowling at Chadstone with the Buffalos (sic), high score 267. Ave 165.

    Cara Honeychurch and Joe Mennie would be a solid attack

  5. Prefer others (on what I saw at the ‘G)
    You still dining out on Peter George’s successes?

  6. Thanks Mickey. I was a great fan of the TV show Ed. There aren’t enough bowling alley lawyers in this world.

    You are a man of many talents, Swish. 267 – did you blow your run towards 300 early or late?

    Ahhh, those heady Bangalore days, Crio.

  7. Aidan Hammond says

    Now that Usman Khawaja can play on boxing day Shaun Marsh could be the 12th man and Usman Back in

  8. John Butler says

    Brilliant, impassioned plea Dave. But invoking logic, evidence and considered thinking condemns it to failure in the current landscape.

    The interesting thing is that the selection discussion has remained basically the same as Hilditch became Inverarity, became Marsh. Is this confirmation that inherited traits dominate in a small gene pool?

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Excellent Dave. Love it all, especially the de-Coulter-Nile line.

    But why stop at Mennie? Surely Chad Sayers (129 wickets at 24.69) deserves a run? Just taking it one Redback at a time?

  10. Yep, if Usman fully fit, Aidan. No need to risk him though.

    Thanks John, I think you may be correct.

    Thanks Luke. Sayers has 16 wickets at 25.81 this season. Should be considered for the next Ashes tour – could be Aldermanesque. Has the even weirder attribute of actually being from SA.

  11. Luke Reynolds says

    Sayers would no doubt be Aldermanesque in England. This need for speed has at least been in vogue since the 2001 Ashes tour when Damian Fleming was criminally overlooked for all 5 Tests in favour of Brett Lee, who had a poor series. A cricketing tragedy that DW Fleming never played a Test in the UK.

  12. If you reminded the selectors that Mennie was originally from NSW he’d be in like a shot!

  13. That may be the key point, Tiger. I should have put it in the first line instead of the last.

  14. I’m perplexed by the non selection in Australian teams of Nic Maddison. He ticks the right box; he plays for NSW !!! He’s been mentioned quite often as an australian selection, but seems to go on off the radar. Please explain.


  15. Just turned 24 and with a similar FC average to S Marsh. Good question Glen. As you point out he ticks the most important box.

  16. He got seduced by T20 technique and the long form flaws were a bit exposed. Captained and thrived in recent shield win. Not far away.

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