Andrew Starkie’s Ashes Diary (6)

ASHES DIARY

Entry 6

Tuesday December 14, 2010

Sorry, mostly a negative rant today; with a bit of positivity at the end.

If I was confused by Australian selection policies before the Brisbane Test, things aren’t any clearer as we head to Perth.

Consider Doug Bollinger.  Instructed by Cricket Australia to play the IPL in South Africa (Is CA a part-owner of the IPL?), Doug and Hussey arrived late and tired on the redeye for the Indian tour.  Doug was two wickets away from bowling Australia to victory in the first Test, when he tore stomach muscles.  He was unable to continue and so went our chances of victory.  His series over, Doug headed home to get himself right for the Ashes. We lost the Indian series two zip.  Doug did the rehab and was building match fitness and confidence with NSW, when included in the first Test squad.  He was ‘rested’ from the final Sheffield Shield match in order to be ready for Brisbane, only to be excluded due to lack of match fitness. Bizarre. 

Brought in for Adelaide, Doug opened and knocked over Strauss first over.  He tired quickly and rarely troubled Cook, Pietersen and others.  He wasn’t the only one.  Doug was unfit and only match practice can fix this, however, he’s been dumped for Perth and Mitchell Johnson, who hasn’t played at all since being dropped after Brisbane, looks set to replace him.  Doug was our best quick last Summer and deserves the selectors’ patience.

Johnson. Why wasn’t he sent back to Shield cricket to rediscover his form and confidence?  Only time in the middle can achieve this.  A few trundles in the nets with Troy Cooley gently whispering advice in his ear, is an artificial alternative and a too precious approach.  Wickets in the nets mean nothing.  If given the choice, surely Johnson would have preferred letting rip against Queensland last weekend.

I know I’m banging on here, but…

Michael Beer.  I’m all for romantic stories and those of us old enough, will never forget Peter Taylor’s debut in Sydney.  But Michael Beer?  He’s played four first class games!  Whoever Warney anoints gets picked.  (All respect to Warney this week, just quietly.)  If Beer plays – he may be 12th man – I hope he goes well, but I’m worried for the boy.  Doherty was like a lamb sent to a bloody slaughter in Adelaide and I fear the same for Beer.  Our selectors’ concern over our spinners is understandable – they all average over 40 in First Class and Tests – however, Hauritz is the best we have and should play. What will happen to Beer if he plays and is carted everywhere?  Will he be treated the way all other spinners have since Warne?

Last one and then I’ll be more positive…

Phillip Hughes.  I like him.  There’s something swashbuckling, gallant and vulnerable about the way he plays.  He shouldn’t have been dropped in England in ’09 and doesn’t appear to have been coached too well since with his flaws still obvious.  However, he’s back in for Perth after scores of 4 and a duck in his last game and averaging just over 20 for the First Class season.  Save for an 80 for Australia A, that’s hardly encouraging stuff.  The Poms will shrug their shoulders and bowl short.  With Chris Rogers (who should’ve been in England two years ago) injured, and Phil Jaques still appearing to struggle after back surgery – our opening batsmen stocks are limited. 

Having said all that…

Reactionary, plugging holes in the wall selection policies aside, we can win the third Test.  Of course we can, but it goes without saying, everything must go our way.  Punter must win the toss.  Fiddle with the coin if need be.  Bat first.  Broad is gone and Tremlett seems more intent on taking wickets off-field Warney-like.  Anderson is jet-lagged.  Bat and bat and bat.  Watson must go on with a start and Punter, Clarke, Huss and others must contribute.  This is obvious.  Smith’s inclusion is interesting.  I think Cameron White is a better option for giving solidity to the middle order, however, Smith won’t be overawed and his bowling will be worth watching.

Harris was our best bowler in Adelaide and should play.  God knows what the selectors have in mind for the other bowling positions.  Whoever they are, they must bowl for their lives; and pray England’s batsmen have a bad Test.  And we hold our catches.

If we lose in Perth, the Ashes are decided and Boxing Day will be a huge anti-climax.  Let’s hope the series is still alive at Christmas.

Comments

  1. Andrew, it’s hard not to bang on. Much of what’s going on doesn’t make much sense.

    But the mindset in the Aussie dressing room seems to regard all legitimate questioning as unpatriotic slander.

    On the brighter side, it may take a series loss to prompt a clean out. It should start off the field.

  2. ‘But the mindset in the Aussie dressing room seems to regard all legitimate questioning as unpatriotic slander.’

    Wasn’t there a similar mindset amongst the powers in the bad old days of the Soviet Union?

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    Is it just me or are our selectors sounding more and more like confused politicians these days? And Punter for that matter. They talk in circles, contradict, and then finally bump into each other. I hate being negative – no one barracks harder for the Aussies than I do – but I’m confused by their confusion.

    And another thing: why is Shield cricket form, or lack of, no longer considered a prerequisite for Test selection? Before the first and third Tests, our squads were named before the final shield game, not allowing players to force their way in to the squad with good domestic form. Has the Shield lost credibility? Is it no longer the best domestic competition in the world? It appears the selectors identify players long before they have served an apprenticeship, pushing them forward and therefore, rendering Shield cricket redundant in terms of preparing young players for national honours. Consider Smith, Khawaja, Beer etc.

  4. The Australian selection panel clearly come from that fine intellectual tradition that introduced the cane toad.
    The poor deluded bastards must have taken leave of their senses.

  5. Peter Flynn says

    We have some good young players just starting their careers.

    Most come from NSW because they attempt to produce Test players.

    When Hilditch is finally ditched because of his wretched Testlotto selection policy, we should start to see some of them being rewarded with Test selection.

    Go with some youth and Australian cricket will be fine in a couple of years time.

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