First Test – Day 2: Lie back and think of England

Australia 5/450 dec, Sri Lanka 4/87

With the second day’s play as interesting as a Saturday arvo in Lismore, my thoughts have turned to England.

With two Ashes campaigns scheduled for 2013, uncertainty hangs over the line-up of the Australian team.

Is Cowan the right choice? Yesterday’s dismissal, trying to attack early against mediocre bowling, was terrible. He isn’t suited to this approach. Since debuting, Cowan has played well at times, but is still getting out too easily. I hope he finds his feet and tempo as his technique is sound – baseball stance aside – and you can really feel his passion which is what we need more of.

Warner looks a safer bet but how will he cope with the moving ball in England? I’d like to see him play straighter. I don’t swallow the ‘but that’s the way he plays’ line when he unnecessarily holes out. Cricket’s a team sport. If Warner wants to play for himself, take up tennis.

Meanwhile, Chris Rogers, the best opener in Shield cricket for years but in his mid 30s now, wonders what he did wrong.

Number 3, Cricket’s equivalent to CHF, has become Australia’s Bermuda Triangle. Khawaja, Marsh, Quiney (am I forgetting someone?) have had their first attempts at Test cricket ruined by being thrown in the deep end too early.

Hughes has been given another go. He scored runs yesterday by being watchful outside off, but doesn’t appear to have made technical changes. Will he be going to England at 3? Remember what happened last time when the English bowlers found his weak spot?

Meanwhile Clarke and Hussey fill their boots with the softened ball. I bang on about this but the captain has to man up and move to three. Or he and the Huss will regularly be in before Lunch in England.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful towards a legend and fellow Rooboy, but Ponting’s end was painful to watch. He should have received the guard of honour a year ago, Khawaja shown faith, played at 5 or 6 and told to be ready for Blighty.

What about Watson? Without any cricket under his belt he was brought in for the Perth Test and understandably was as rusty as an old gate. I liked his show of emotion at the Allan Border Medal and few years ago, but he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed. Too often – like yesterday – he gets out to soft dismissals. I think of George Foreman in Zaire every time he nicks driving at a ball he shouldn’t. And Matt Hayden repeatedly scooping to short cover in England in 09. And Andrew McDonald. Who did he offend?

Selectors appear to have decided Lyon is the answer to our spinning problems. I hope so. He appears comfortable at this level, gets loop and bounce for an offie and takes wickets. And too many careers have been ruined in the poorly executed and fruitless search for Warne’s replacement.

Despite throwing his wicket away in Perth and making a costly error in Adelaide in dropping Kallis in the second innings, Wade is safe. Haddin is out of favour and Paine is returning from long-term injury.

Our fast bowlers have been dropping like contestants on ‘The Bachelor’. Besides Sidds and Hilf they are young and should develop fitness and strength over time. Starc and Pattinson won’t be ready to plunder next year, but with Cummins, should carry our attack for years to come.

On the topic of injured bowlers, Watto included, I’m no buff, polo shirt wearing, human movement degree specialist, but surely the best way to get fit for a sport, any sport, is to train appropriately for that sport. So surely in order to prepare for Test cricket, bowlers need to bowl. A lot. Not a limited quota of roll downs in the nets and definitely not by spending hours in the gym. As Courtney Walsh used to say: ‘Just bowl, man’.

Some of the above concerns won’t be answered until hostilities commence against the Old Enemy. What’s important is that in this Sri Lankan series – for it holds little other value – selectors must decide on a squad for 2013 and stick with it. It’s too late to experiment.

Australia 5/450 dec.
Hussey 115*
Welegedara 3/130

Sri Lanka 4/87
Dishan 50*
Lyon 1/0


  1. Pamela Sherpa says

    Blindingly sensible/enjoyable report Andrew . Speaking of England . The series in India has been fascinating .

  2. Colin Ritchie says

    A most insightful report Andrew. You raise questions many punters would like answered. As you pointed out the selectors must look to the future and give players the opportunity and the confidence to cement a position in the team. Chopping and changing the team around doesn’t help this.

  3. Excellent report Andrew. I would like to see Clarke at least come up the order to No.4, Mr.Cricket No.5 and a young player blooded at 6. Khawaja is the most likely.
    Concerned about our top 3 against the moving ball against England. No match winners with the ball either.

  4. Skip of Skipton says

    The Lismore reference cracked me up (being from the district). Although, watching Dilshan and Mathews today was like a Saturday arvo in Cressy!

    I reckon English conditions should suit the Hilf, he has some similarities to Terry Alderman.

  5. Good stuff, Andrew. I was almost starting to get interested in cricket this season when the Boks caught the boat back to Capetown for their Boxing Day Test. Seeing we share the same cricket season, why not a 6 Test Series every 3rd year – 3 in Oz and 3 on the Veldt? We can alternate who gets the Boxing Day spot.
    I guess a full 3 months of Test Cricket might interfere with the ACB’s Big Bash bastard child.
    Can’t agree with you about Quiney and Sean Marsh being thrown in too early. Both were mature cricketers with years of Shield experience. Quiney lacked the technique for the next level, and Marsh the temperament. Still you don’t find out without trying them.

  6. Skip of Skipton says

    Peter B, we used to play 3 tests here, then 3 in South Africa straight after, but they were considered separate series.

    I can’t have Sean Marsh, from what I’ve seen. Young bro Mitch is meant to be handy (not that I’ve seen him either) he was an U/18 footy rep for WA too, and could play apparently, but chose cricket.

  7. The Lismore reference spot on, played cricket up there twice, very quiet town. Was about 40 degrees both times too from memory. That’s the best I’ve heard S.Watson summed up-“he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed”. Great work Andrew!

    Skip- Hilf was our best bowler in England in 2009 without dominating though, I’m sure he’s a big part of the selectors plans for England 2013. I’ve seen Mitch Marsh quite a few times live and on TV, as good a young all-rounder as you would ever see. Potential only gets you so far though. Lack of disipline his biggest problem.

  8. Skip of Skipton says

    Cheers Luke. Yes Lismore is a quiet backwater. Funny someone from Skipton saying that I will admit. Lismore does have a good footy/cricket ground. Big and well groomed oval. Much better than Derri’s ground.

    That’s a pretty good wrap on Mitch Marsh. Maybe we just get him into the team now. Is he more a bowler or more a batter?

    Ian Botham is the only true all-rounder I have seen. As in, if he couldn’t bowl I would still pick him as a batsman. If he couldn’t bat, I would still pick him as a bowler. Kapil Dev would come close. Imran Khan and Richard Hadlee too, but Botham was the one. Shane Watson is a poor man’s Botham.

  9. When I played at Lismore we played on the ground next to the footy ground, wasn’t great but the footy ground did look good! Always liked Derri’s ground when we played there, both Lismore and Derrinallum left our Association a few years back.

    M.Marsh probably more of a bat, bowls up to 140kph when fit. Hits a long ball. Agree with Botham but would put Imran up there with him, his batting got better the older he got.

  10. Skip of Skipton says

    We play cricket against both Lismore and Derrinallum. Also Rokewood, Linton, Carngham, Carranballac and Smythesdale. It’s called the Grenville Cricket Association. We (Skipton) are bringing up the rear as usual, and that is why I challenged Cookie? from North Barnawartha for a game to determine the worst cricket team in Victoria.

    Imran Khan was/is a very heavy dude. Look at the ’92 World Cup that was held here in AUS/NZ. Pakistan were just about gone, then he rallied his team to win their last 5 or 6 games to take out the whole shebang! Pakistan were well known to be be talented but flaky, still are, but he got them switched on big time.

    Mitch Marsh now!

  11. I play for Pomborneit in the South West CA. I think Carranballac were once in our Division 2 at one stage as well?? Also teams like Westmere and Mingay? We used to have a Division 2 North and a Division 2 South. We were always in South, as well as Division 1 &3. Have memories of playing against Grenville at (the sadly now defunct) Ballarat Country Week in the late 90’s.

    Pakistan wouldn’t have won that World Cup without Imran, he’s just about been the only bloke who could unite their team. Great player.

  12. Skip of Skipton says

    Mingay is nothing more than a dot on the map now. Same for Westmere, although the W for SMW Rovers footy club stands for Westmere. Pomborneit? Classic. Is the Pombo Mart still standing?

  13. Guess you 2 blokes are too young to have seen Gary Sobers. He would pick up and carry Imran and Botham. In the best half dozen batsman of the last 50 years and as good a first change fast medium swing bowler as you could see. Bowled both orthodox and wrist spin and a dynamite fieldsman. Bradman always said Sobers 256 on the MCG against Lillee in his pomp was the best innings he ever saw.
    Imran and Botham both great. I liked Imran more because he was a thinking cricketer. Botham was pure eye and instinct, but when he was on he was overpowering. His bowling always looked ordinary, but he got a lot of good batsmen out – particularly in England where he could swing it.

  14. Ha yes Skip, Pombo Mart is still standing and open for business!! Good little cafe in there now as well.

    Peter would loved to have seen Sobers, have only seen very limited archival footage, what a freakishly talented player he must have been.

  15. Andrew Starkie says

    nice little drive through Pomberneit. Moving islands? Wherre’s the Lismore footy ground?

  16. Sadly the floating islands fell victim to the drought a few years back…..

  17. John Butler says

    Nice one Starks.

    Though I’ll differ slightly on Hughes. I thought he looked to have rectified certain problems. He certainly looked better balanced.

    But you’re right that the Lankins didn’t really have anyone to fully test him.

  18. The Black Prince says

    Shane Watson is Australian crickets answer to Scott Gumbleton…grossly over rated and given far too many chances by the selectors to prove his worth.

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