Second Test, Pakistan v Australia (Abu Dhabi) – Day 3: Generation X Factor?

Seven days into this series and the Aussies are doing it tough. Doing it tough under the oppressive Arabian sun. Resuming on 1/22, chasing a monumental 6/570 declared, today would bring no respite. For an Australian cricket lover, this series has been just about as enjoyable as enduring Buzzard, Tubby and Heals calling the Matador BBQ Cup.

I have now had three days to digest the selection panel’s puzzling, yet unfortunately, not surprising, decisions for this match. I am still confused. Out went a specialist number three batsman who had just peeled of a century in the warm up match, and a specialist spinner (obviously surplus to requirements under sub-continental conditions). In came a specialist in the shorter forms of the game, and an erratic young paceman. Make sense? No, didn’t think so.

Anyhow, this is the team that is representing Australia, and support them I will. However, this penchant for picking players with an ‘x factor’ is bordering on insanity. Apart from the dogged Rogers at the top of the order, this top 7 could very well swagger on out through the fireworks and coloured smoke into a T20 International. Warner, Maxwell, Clarke, Smith, Marsh and Haddin provide an abundance of stroke play, but do they provide substance? The jury is out.

With Rogers departing late on Day 2, it was Warner and Lyon (night watchman) to face the music. And it was apparent very early on, that we didn’t like the tune. Warner was first to go, splaying a square cut straight to point. Lyon had provided a sound defensive technique, reminiscent of the great Dizzy Gillespie, and something which his new partner, ‘The Big Show’ could take notes on. This man was selected on ‘x factor’ alone and after a whirlwind 30-odd, his luck ran out. A Test match standard first drop batsman he most certainly is not.

After Lyon, Smith and Clarke had all vacated the crease, it was Mitchell Marsh, in just his second Test match who gritted his teeth and took the fight to the Pakistanis. Haddin and Johnson came and went, and the ‘banana-chomping, wood chopping Traralgon Tearaway’ joined the youngest player in the team to provide a partnership. Yep, an actual partnership. Then, just as the youngest of Swampy’s boys appeared destined for a maiden ton, he spooned one to mid-on and that was that. A first innings total of 261 on this pitch is nothing short of deplorable.

As disappointing as the Australians have been, these young Pakistanis have been just as impressive. Apart from the irrepressible form of the veteran Younus, Shezhad, Ali and Shafiq are all a joy to watch. Rafat, Shah and the latest Imran Khan model have all had their moments with the ball. The man I am most impressed by however is the lithe young wicketkeeper-batsman, Sarfraz Ahmed. His glove work and batsmanship have been a breath of fresh air, but not since the great Saleem Yousuf have we seen such vigorous and vivacious appealing from behind the stumps. Fantastic.

As the Aussies head towards a seemingly unavoidable series defeat, I am left wondering which direction this team is headed. Are there cracks appearing? Or is this just another in a long line of disappointing sub-continent tours? I am not sure. One thing I am sure of though, is that ‘x factor’ alone will not win you many test matches. Technique and temperament perhaps?

About Joe Moore

Learned the art of the drop-punt from Derek Kickett as Jamie Lawson watched on. And thus, a Swan for life. @joedmoore1979


  1. Telling analysis of batting line-up Joe. Makes me wonder if this is just about keeping the squad’s hands in as preparation for the world cup

  2. Good points, well made Joe.
    We’ll get to learn a bit more about application and attitude in the fourth innings.
    Can it be saved now?

  3. Thanks guys, I am far from convinced that this batting line-up possesses the application or the fortitude required to save a Test match. I would happily accept being proven wrong though.

    Interesting point, Dave. I hope they would never consider using a Test Series to fine-tune a World Cup campaign, but nothing would surprise me these days. In my humble opinion, the sanctity of Test match cricket must always remain the priority.

    Old fashioned view perhaps?

  4. I cannot understand the thinking of throwing untried players at number 3. Ponting started down the order and then was promoted. Recently the selectors have put Quiney, Doolan and now Maxwell at three all with no success.

  5. Malcolm Ashwood says

    A bewildering selection of the team ironic if it had been on the other foot we would be wondering and questioning if there was anything sinister involved
    Thanks Joe

  6. Luke Reynolds says

    The great Saleem Yousuf! For me it’s just another in a long line of disappointing sub-continent tours. Can’t see it changing while we don’t a) play tour games & b) don’t have a spinner’s paradise in Australia like we did with the 1980’s SCG. For the same reasons we will easily beat India out here in this Summer’s Tests.

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