Australia in West Indies 2015 and what to do about England: Wonderland

West Indies 0 – 2 Australia

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where -‘ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.” 
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

And so the Test match series in the West Indies is over. Didn’t last long, did it? Seldom would an entire Test series have been viewed as a warm up to the main event. But that’s been the case for this Caribbean tour, immediately preceding, as it does, a tour of England. And yet a 2-0 sweep has left quite a few questions. And now I’m wondering.
As fundamentally one-sided as the Möbius strip, team cricket in this Test series was notable only for confirming the existence of a yawning gap between Australia and West Indies cricket in 2015. It’s both very curious and not very interesting. Instead, as is often the case, more interest could be found in subtext than in match results (as a good story is sustained by more than its last passage). Of all sports, it is the layered nature of cricket and cricketers (within Test series, within Test matches, within days, within sessions, within hours, within spells, within innings, within overs) upon which quirky stories most vividly and wildly grow.
So many inter-related stories.

In Roseau we saw captaincy nous in the form of bowling changes from MJ Clarke. We saw a pace bowling triumvirate working well, even without recent workhorses PM Siddle and RJ Harris; JR Hazlewood taking on that role. MA Starc scything through the lower order.

We saw AC Voges making 100 on debut at age 35; something IM Chappell would like to be happening for batsmen far younger. We saw leg spin of D Bishoo confound the Australians.

In Kingston we saw SPD Smith dominate the batting card (again), with relative continuing failures to SR Watson, DA Warner and SE Marsh. High quality fast bowling brought JE Taylor 6 wickets. We saw Australia’s pace bowling triumvirate again clicking and NM Lyon himself take further steps towards finding his ever-elusive confidence. And that’s just the big picture, available online and free. Much more to be observed if observation were possible.

But reading the entrails, it’s hard to shake the impression of an unstable Australian batting order (reliant as it recently was upon AC Voges and then upon SPD Smith; for of the innings in which they scored 130 and 199 respectively, no other batsman scored above 50). CJL Rogers missed both Tests with concussion, opening the door to SE Marsh, who kind of kept his foot in it without walking through. In any event, he is unsuitable to opening in England where the new ball is expected to swing. CJL Rogers won’t have many more Tests in him. Who will make up the next long term opening pair? Probably not SE Marsh, nor SR Watson. Planting an early front foot and playing around an immobile front leg is a recipe for disaster in England (caught behind to the swinger, lbw to the straight one), as anyone watching T Alderman’s 1989 masterclass could attest. Why SE Marsh and SR Watson have been invited to tour England is anyone’s guess. And we have DA Warner recently declaring himself a new man. Again, anyone’s guess.
So many stories.

It’s been heartening to read of the latest bowling group attacking as a pack. All individuals bring their own demons to the team, of course, and MG Johnson’s may be the fiercest of all. How he performs in England will be interesting, after his radar and that part of his nervous system controlling gross motor skills and bodily coordination having previously deserted him there. Of course, it was on the back of MG Johnson’s new found ‘hostility’ that the Ashes whitewash in Australia was built. Custard-like pitches and soft run-ups, smaller playing surfaces and witty foreign crowds may all play their parts in dousing that hostile fire in England. NM Lyon meanwhile, has come a long way. Thankfully his position in the team is the safest it’s ever been.
So many stories.

I wonder… should AC Voges play in England? What about JA Burns? What about M Klinger? PSP Handscomb? JP Faulkner? SA Abbott? GJ Bailey? AC Agar? Fawad Ahmed? AL Fekete? SNJ O’Keefe? GJ Maxwell? What about SR Watson? SE Marsh? BJ Haddin?
The English tied their series 1-1 with New Zealand. Strange days up there. KP Pietersen is yesterday’s news, the local one-day team rattled up 408 (JC Buttler 129 (77), JE Root 104 (78)) against the World Cup finalists, and there’s a building sense of regeneration. I wonder…
Looking forward very much to the green fields of England being beamed here into wintry dark lounge rooms; port and chocolate at the ready. Play.

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
– Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. One of his stories was judged as a finalist in the Tasmanian Writers’ Prize 2021. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Peter Flynn says

    Thank you.

    Wank Forrell

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says

    OBP you are spot on re so many questions.Should english county form come in to selection and as Voges showed having a huge shield season and in being in form is a good recipe to start with,Klinger has done that also.Burns is curious in that he seemed to be a selection for the future made runs in his last test and has been discarded.The main question to come out of this 2 test series is should there be
    2 tiers of test cricket involving promotion and relegation,West Indies are certainly average opposition

  3. Skip of Skipton says

    Where’s Ed Cowan? He was making a stack of shield runs last season, and batting aggressively. Klinger also looked to be in career best form when I saw him, albeit in the Big Bash. Like Steve Smith did, Agar should concentrate on his batting and shelve the spinners.

    @Malcolm, there sort of are two tiers of test cricket it seems. We used to play 5 test series against the Windies, and often. Now it’s a two or three test series occasionally. We never play Bangladesh or Zimbabwe etc.

    Why are we back playing an Ashes series in England only two years after the last?

  4. E.regnans says

    Scheduling of first class cricket is a problem.
    GJ Maxwell or JP Faulkner or other 50/20 over internationals rarely get a run of first class matches.

    If I’m a player who didn’t tour West Indies, but rate myself a chance to make the Ashes squad, how do I improve my chances? How do I prove my skills/ form/ dressing room banter?

  5. Good pondering E.r.

    Some thoughts your article prompted for me,
    …Big numbers in shield cricket mightn’t be enough.
    …I’m pretty sure they went with Rogers last time because of his experience in England and their conditions.
    …My preference is for developing a player like Faulkner rather than Voges, But this isn’t in line with their current thinking based on the Rogers decision.
    …Hazelwood; my man crush has started

  6. E.regnans says

    That’s probably spot on, MikeD.
    A horses-for-courses policy is both valid and sensible.
    (e.g. one spinner, two?)
    I agree with your speculation over CJL Rogers’ selection last time in England, given his very long and successful career in County cricket.

    There’s inconsistency in the policy’s application, of course.
    I wonder what the case looks like for playing SR Watson in England.

  7. Luke Reynolds says

    What an odd little series. I hate two-Test series.
    RJ Harris was a certainty for the Ashes. But who misses out if he plays? That’s the biggest question facing the selectors.
    CL Rogers’ mishap didn’t do SE Marsh any favours. Marsh, despite being very, very lucky to be there, did well against India at #5. He’s not a red ball opener in any conditions. Voges took his chance and how can he be left out now?
    The Windies squad plus Harris is the squad going to Engand. But I have big hopes for PSP Handscomb and JP Faulkner. Hopefully their time will come soon.

  8. Yes MG Johnson and the English. Which MG are we likely to see, the bowler from 2009 who seemed to land the ball everywhere except the pitch, or the threatening unplayable demon of 2013-14. His form the last eighteen months has fluctuated between those two extremes without a huge peak or trough.

    Voges, S. Marsh, Watson, which one of those is given a good run in England ? All have form to recommend them, all have limitations, none are our future. I’d like to see more test opportunities for fellows like M. Marsh and Faulkner.

    Two test series are to put it crudely; rubbish ! I can recall a few two test series in the 70’s and 80’s but these were generally tagged on to the end of full test series, ie 1974 -75, England in Australia, then of to Aeoteora, similarily the Windies going from India to Pakistan. Nowadays two test series are tacked on to ODI’s or 20-20’s, virtually in the role of a filler. Not good enough for the ultimate form of cricket

    Glen!

  9. E.regnans says

    Reuters piece in the Guardian today.
    On the quandary of selecting pace bowlers for England.
    Could easily be another piece on the batting order.
    And on the wicket-keeper.
    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/jun/16/australia-pace-bowlers-selection-dilemma-ashes

  10. E.regnans says

    Overnight 50-over cricket in England.
    NZ 7/349 (50 overs)
    England 3/350 (44 overs)
    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/jun/17/england-morgan-root-new-zealand-centuries

    Jason Gillespie reckons Australia’s Ashes squad too old.
    http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cricket/dads-army-jason-gillespie-labels-australias-ashes-squad-too-old-20150617-ghpx1l.html

    And in county cricket: JP Faulkner takes a hat-trick for Lancashire
    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/jun/14/lancashire-leicestershire-county-championship-match-report

    any dots to be joined in there…?

  11. E.regnans says

    Mark Nicholas on cricinfo now writing of this building sense of English regeneration.
    “England are electric”

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/888917.html

  12. England has just won a top ODI series against NZ, but how does that translate into Test winning form? Then again we’ve not won a series in the UK since 2001. A good series beckons.

    Come on Aussies, Come on !!!

    Glen!

  13. E.regnans says

    Latest round of county matches. Left-arm quick MHA Footitt and the old SCJ Broad in form. Along with JA Burns.

    Somerset d Hampshire by 9 wickets
    no Test implications
    Essex d Gloucestershire by 5 wickets
    Essex 319 (AN Cook 48) Glou 116, Glou 316, Essex 5/117 (AN Cook 0)
    Surrey d Derbyshire by 222 runs
    Surrey 239 (MHA Footitt 3/74), Derb 207, Surrey 315 (MHA Footitt 4/102), Derb 125
    Middlesex d with Worcestershire
    Midd 309 (JA Burns 57, MM Ali 0/37), Worc 385 (MM Ali 54), Midd 362 (JA Burns 87, MM Ali 1/82), Worc 1/39
    Yorkshire d Nottinghamshire by an inning and 8 runs
    Nott 224 (SCJ Broad 34, BW Hilfenhaus 28, TT Bresnan 2/49), York 430 (A Lyth 0, GS Ballance 14, JM Bairstow 15, TT Bresnan 55*, SCJ Broad 7/84, BW Hilfenhaus 2/75), Nott 198 (SCJ Broad 50, BW Hilfenhaus 17*, TT Bresnan 2/40)
    Glamorgan d Leicestershire by 137 runs
    Glam 278 (CJ McKay 3/61), Leic 253 (MJ Cosgrove 38), Glam 298 (CJ McKay 1/81), Leic 186 (MJ Cosgrove 14)

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