HENRY: Is Arthur taking the Mickey with his selections?
Mickey Arthur - new Australian cricket coach (Courtesy: Fox Sports)
Mickey Arthur has been making a repeated point of letting the media, hence the cricket public, know that Australia will be sticking with the same team for consistency and match experience.
That, of course, makes some sense when you are playing a short tournament in a short format in conditions that don’t vary too much.
The bench warmers in 20/20 are like pinch hitters in baseball: they don’t get called on very often, and when they do, it will be at short notice with little match practice.
T20 is about as close to baseball as cricket gets. If they play 9 aside and a few less overs, the players can wear knickerbockers and a glove.
So what does the Australian coach do?
He goes against his mandate!
Pace had been chosen, and a successful option on a turning pitch in Australia’s opening Super 8 match against India. Then conditions change and spin became the cornerstone of the attack in the second round match against South Africa.
Dan Christian was presented with the orange fluoro bib even though he can bowl his liquorice all sorts of seam, cutters and spinners and smash the ball miles.
He is Australia’s best fieldsman.
Cameron White doesn’t bowl these days and is struggling with the bat, while Christian and Matthew Wade have found themselves in the latter middle order and not facing many deliveries.
Both Wade and Christian have been far more productive than White and they have all round skills to add to the mix. Fair enough bringing in Doherty, but White is the man who needs to be rested if Australia are serious about winning his thing.
Two years ago, Australia persisted with Michael Clarke even though Clarke himself doubted his position in the shortest form. Australia lost the final as direct consequence of that dogmatic selection.
Progress in the World Cup of Slogging has been untroubled so far for Australia.
The early round pitches were more suited to seam attacks than spin, something not often the case in Sri Lanka. But the worm has turned, along with most things delivered with any amount of rotation as the Super 8 section progressed.
Normal transmission has resumed.
The hitherto unwanted Xavier Doherty was re-introduced to the white pill and had immediate effect.
Anytime you see the back of Jacques Kallis cheaply there is cause for minor celebration.
To find him at the crease in the opening over and then on his way in the third, defending meekly, the cigars might be justified. Doherty had him prodding to Wade, and then in the 11th, Wade sent Duminy packing with a brilliant between the legs stumping.
Doherty and Arthur would have been feeling pleased with themselves.
Spin bowling accounted for 8 overs 3-53 as Glenn Maxwell, strangely, got a lonely one over spell and the hitherto unpickable Brag Hogg didn’t fill his full quota.
Hmmm, maybe it wasn’t turning that much after all?
A late flurry from newcomer Faahran Bahadien: the name has sub-continental ancestry which would suggest he may have a genetic disposition to coping with spin.
He can hook as well as sweep. Both forward and reverse seemed the only way to get Hogg and X away.
He also took after Cummins and Starc in the final two overs to take South Africa to an unlikely score of 147. That total felt under par, but at least AB DeVilliers had something to work with.
Finally, it was confirmed as under par as the Proteas couldn’t get the wickets they needed to put Australia’s middle order under the pump.
The early loss of Warner, outthought by Morkel, was the only promising moment for the South Africans.
Umpires and leg stump proved poor relations as Watson survived another Kumar Dharamsena doubter. You can add Robin Peterson to the leg stump family.
Watson made them pay.
He could pull a rabbit out of a bear trap so often did he pepper the mid wicket boundary off fast and slow men, right or left handed. He looks to be in career best 20 over form (yes, I know it’s a limited concept BUT HE IS!) and his 2-29 got him another MOM.
He looked like he was playing a different game to all others who wheeled willow last night.
It came a shock when he holed out (another term that needs reference in 20/20) off Peterson.
The rarefied air of invincibility that had intoxicated him finally led to his demise. In the Caribbean, they call it “drowning in honey”.
Watson had swallowed the complete hive.
Watching Cameron White bat after Shane Watson was like watching Meatloaf follow Michael Buble.
South Africa made some costly errors in the field, which may or may not have made a difference in the final washup, but eventually Australia were untroubled with overs left in the bank.
Winning form is good form no matter what XI you put on the park and Australia have won their last 5 on the trot.
The pitches are likely to spin more and more as the semi finals approach, and with Sri Lanka looking like certain play –off contenders in the other group, you can bet your last rupee that the local groundsmen won’t be doing overtime on the heavy roller.
Spin will play an increasingly important role in who goes all the way, so X Doherty had better warm the digits up.
The biggest problem for Australia is the lack of match time the batsmen are getting thanks to Shane Watson dominating this tournament.
Geoff Lawson OAM is a former Australian cricketer and the former coach of the Pakistan cricket team. Nicknamed "Henry" after the Australian poet, Lawson was a fast bowler for New South Wales and Australia.