Ashes Diary 2013, entry no.6

I may be getting ahead of myself – and not for the first time – but The Oval may have thrown together a batting line-up Australia can work with this summer.

Rogers has the technique, patience and guile to cut it. His century at Durham was reward for a career of graft and aged 35, if he keeps fit, should play for a good handful of years.

Readers of Steinbeck may see Rogers as George to Watto’s Lennie.

Watto fell into the no.3 spot in London because there was nowhere else for him and produced a career saving knock. I know, the pitch was perfect for him and Bresnan wasn’t there, but his brutality before Lunch on the first day was great to watch, while his ability to maintain concentration after 100, was, well, un-Watto. I’m not quite ready to love again, but you never know, this innings may turn Watto around. I’d still prefer to see him at no.4, behind the captain.

Clarke topped the Australian averages (47.62) on the back of one big knock. Besides that innings in Manchester he was inconsistent. Expect more at home.

Smith deserved his century after a number of solid knocks that fell short. His technique issues will always exist, however, he has a great eye and backs his ability to take on the bowlers. Smith is a confidence player and at the moment he is full of it.

Faulkner injected life at The Oval. His front and aggression were a pleasant surprise. He batted and bowled with attitude and made the hosts take notice. And I liked the way he had a crack at England for their go-slow tactics.

Warner is the weakness in the top 6. He hits across the line at everything – even in that socks TV commercial, rarely offers the full face of the bat, and can only go at one pace – flat out. Untamed, impossible to control, and not too bright, Warner reminds me of a silky terrier we had when we were kids. Dad had him put down when he started biting visitors. Let’s hope this doesn’t happen to Warner.

Haddin offered experience and assurance behind the wickets. His record haul of dismissals showed he has returned to his best. How things could’ve been different if he had dragged Australia to victory in the first Test.

Australia led on all but one first innings. The ability to score is there; the willingness to hang in has to follow.

Our bowlers performed. Harris was the best on either side. When fit he has the mental and physical attributes required and he has the measure of Cook. If his body holds up, Harris may win back the urn.

Sidds was Sidds: a captain’s and country’s joy. I’d suggest we make him PM, but why ruin a good bloke. And he’ll achieve more as a cricketer than a polly.

The third pace bowling position is still open with Starc, Pattinson and Bird to choose from. Not a bad problem to have for selectors.

Lyon bowled well and should be shown faith when required this summer. The Agar experiment was well intentioned, however, he is too young and needs more time at first class level. Likewise Ahmed, who needs to prove himself.

Clarke is correct, there are positives to take from this 3-0 defeat.

For England, Swann and Anderson set the series up early with match winning spells. When the latter dropped off, Broad stepped up.

Bell carried the batting. His three centuries helped his team out of sticky situations. KP was next best. Cook and Trott may redeem themselves in Australia, with long, tedious, paint drying innings they are renowned for, or perhaps Harris has broken their confidence. Another average series from these two could see the Ashes handed over.

Clarke was the better of the captains with well researched plans and quick thinking in the field that kept matches moving. His declaration on the last day was admirable, if only fifteen minutes away from disaster. He is a captain who places his duty to cricket and spectators ahead of statistics. In contrast, Cook was playing for a draw from the third Test and accepted Clarke’s challenge at The Oval out of obligation, like the office nerd dragged onto the dance floor at the Christmas party. It will be interesting to see how he copes if England are forced to chase matches Downunder.

Until then.


  1. Peter Flynn says

    Great Man,

    Right handers from 3 to 6 will be a good move.

    We simply cannot carry those dopey, soft left-handers devoid of presence, technique, a Test match batting plan and clues against spin.

    Fox Sports showed Khawaja’s dismissals. Never again.

  2. Excellent report again Andrew. Superb journalism.

    Yes, a batting order is taking shape. Call me crazy, but I reckon after Rogers great work, David Hussey might be a fit in this team. Hussey looked a shoe in for a place in the team once his brother and Ponting retired, but he dropped the ball with a poor summer lasy year. I fhe can recapture the form that has delivered a record as good as Rogers and one that is far superior to every other shield player in this era, I see us finding a spot for him. The time for experimentation is over: pcik someone, like Rogers, who has proven themselves time and again.

  3. Andrew Starkie says

    T Bone, I spent the series longing for Michael Hussey to return. We would’ve won at Trent Bridge with him. He had two good years left. His personality clash with Clarke has cost Austn cricket.

    Yep, agreed about David. He let himself down at crucial moments last summer. As if he tried too hard and got too nervous after waiting so long.

    Flynny, I won’t give up on Khawaja. Nor will I totally accept Watto. The future policy for Austn batsmen must be simple: breed players with good technique; and only pick those who have succeeded at Shield level. 50 and 20 over form should never, ever be considered when picking a test team. The Glen Maxwells and Shaun Marshes of the world must get runs wearing white clothes.

  4. Andrew

    What a weird series. We make the two highest scores, Poms rarely make over 370, three legitimate batsmen average over 40, the first innings leads you mention, yet we go down 3-0 and go close to losing the last.

    Yes, we may, by accident perhaps, have stumbled on the top 6 we need. But Rogers isn’t a long term option, so after this series, who opens? Does Silk get a go, when do Maddison and others get a look in?

    One more thing: with all the drama over bad light, why do Tests still mostly start at 11 and go until at least 6 and later with the growing poor over rates? Wouldn’t a firm start of 10am be better?


  5. Andrew Starkie says

    Sean, Roger can go to 40. As Huss should have.

    10am is a no brainer.

    Yep, a bizarre series. England won the big moments, day 4 and 5 on the back of Bell.

    i see last day at the oval as separate to the rest of the series. It was manufactured by Clarke. Thankfuly he did, there’s no way Cook would have engineered a run chase.

  6. Good review, Andrew.

    Totally agree with you re Warner: he is the now the weak link, given Watson’s big 100. I just cannot have him opening any longer.

  7. mickey randall says

    Liked the Watto/Lennie from Of Mice and Men comparison, but you might be harsh on Lennie who was always well-intentioned, loyal and prepared to listen to George. Perhaps someone should read Steinbeck’s novella to Watto.

  8. Another good piece of writing Andrew. A couple of pointers.
    We’ve long expressed concern re the prospect of Harris playing more then 2, 3 tests. He played 4 here, performing well in all. Siddle though seemed to peter out after the third test. I’d be curious at his figures in the final pair of matches.

    Faulkner made an impressive debut, but do we retain him in the 11 for the opening test of the summer, or bring in a specialist batsmen, such as his Tasmanian captain George Bailey? Your view Andrew?


  9. Andrew Starkie says

    Glen! Even their women have won! Bloody hell!!

    Yep, there’s a selection dilemma for Brisbane. I’d like to see the same team picked, to be honest. Faulkner was a nice surprise. Pattinson may come in. I’d like to see a pace barrage from our team. It’s a tough one. Don’t worry about Sidds, he’ll bounce back.

  10. Andrew,
    I like the idea of stability, but I don’t like the idea of Haddin walking to the crease at 4 fa.

  11. Ta Andrew. I’m sure Siddle will bowl well at the Gabba, my concern re him is like the one with Harris; how many consecutive matches can they play.


  12. Andrew Starkie says

    Smokie, i know, it doesn’t fill you with confidence. But, take a gamble in the 1st Test? Load up with bowlers and knock them over twice?

    Glen, none of our quicks need to play until the opening of the Shield.

  13. Malcolm Ashwood says

    Interesting article Andrew personally what happened to the dog is a good idea re Warner he has the common sense of a mentally retarded wombat . I agree we can’t give up on Khwaja he is batting like a deer caught in the headlights needs to be given a decent shot at it he’ll even Smith with all hie technical weaknesses is showing promise because he is being given a run of Test Matches in a row
    No No and No on Test Matches starting at Ten the ball just does to much Tests could be won in the 1st session bring in a RUN PENALTY for less than 90 overs BOWLED and I bet it is never needed Teams will stop the bullshit and get on with it
    Re Clarkes Captaincy Tactially he is V good a mile in front of Ponting but his personal relationship skills are diabolical you are 100 per cent correct re M Hussey a lot of that infamous E Mail which went around did happen

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