Australia’s missing class of batsmen

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Just a decade ago, many Australian fans and most importantly the selectors could name a handful of batting replacements to fill in or even take over the spots of the current batting lineup.

How things have changed in the space of a decade with no player in their late 20′s knocking the door down for selection.

When talking about unlucky batsmen from the past decade in Australian cricket, names such as Brad Hodge, David Hussey, Phil Jaques, Michael Bevan, Chris Rogers, Martin Love and Michael Di Venuto were mentioned.

A decade ago these were the players putting pressure on the incumbents with their First Class averages well above 45.

The thing each of these guys have in common apart from missing the boat in regards to Test cricket is each of them were in their late 20′s a decade ago.

Back then the selectors and fans were debating over whether to pick a young promising player such as Michael Clarke and Shane Watson or go with the guys mentioned above.

Times have changed substantially since then with no such luxury for the current selectors.

The batsmen in their late 20′s have First Class averages between 35-40 and while there are some promising youngsters on the scene, they have not been able to established themselves at Test level yet.

If we go back to the 2005/06 season where the batsmen in their late 20′s now would have been in their early 20′s, Mark Cosgrove made 736 runs at 66.9, George Bailey 778 runs at 43.22, Shaun Marsh 676 runs at 37.55, Callum Ferguson 506 runs at 36.14 and Cameron White 482 runs at 30.12.

The 2007/08 season showed some promise with Luke Pomersbach putting his name on the radar with 743 runs at 61.91 and it was also Philip Hughes’ first season where he ended up with 559 runs at 62.11. Shaun Marsh and Cameron White also put in some solid numbers and interesting enough neither of them would play this amount of games again (7 and 9 respectively).

2008/09 saw the emergence of the other young leftie who is currently in the Australian setup in Usman Khawaja. Hughes had a massive second year to back up his first one while White had another solid season but like Khawaja and Hughes, he did not play enough games to push the 1000 run barrier. Pomersbach copped the second year syndrome, from which he would never recapture the heights of his 07/08 season.

The next season was our first sighting of Steven Smith who had a mammoth season with four hundreds for 772 runs at 77.2. Hughes also had a big year almost cracking the 1000 run barrier and Khawaja backed up his first season. This was also Peter Forrest’s first noticeable production.

The mark of the new decade also brought about a change in the run scorers. Gone were Martin Love and Brad Hodge and the veterans left struggled with age appearing to catch up with them.

Two seasons have gone in this new decade with a lack of big runs and no batsmen has crossed the 1000 run barrier since the 2008/09 season.

Of the players I mentioned who are in their late 20′s now, Mark Cosgrove is the only one that has a respectable First Class record.

Shaun Marsh has been producing runs in the past few seasons but his lack of matches either through injury or national duty has meant he is still yet to play a full season and his First Class average is well below 40.

Cameron White is in the same boat however his First Class average is acceptable at 40 but his recent demotion from the National setup coupled with a lacklustre return in Shield cricket means White won’t be adding to his test tally anytime soon.

There are other names in their late 20′s who have been producing recently such as Rob Quiney, Peter Forrest, Ed Cowan and Liam Davis but apart from Cowan none of them have a First Class average over 40.

It is clear players from the class of early 2000′s have not lived up to the hype and failed to kick on like many would have hoped.

George Bailey and Peter Forrest are next in line for the Australian batting lineup which shows how far the standards have dropped as apart from this season (11/12) neither has made an significant impression in the runs department.

There is still hope that the current youngsters on the scene will bring Australia back to the glory days where batsmen like David Hussey, Martin Love and co could be left out and the side still remained strong.

In around five years Philip Hughes, Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Joe Burns, Chris Lynn and Tom Cooper will be in their late 20′s and one can only hope they kick on and don’t follow their predecessors.

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