Who will be in the starting XI for the Gabba Test?
Is Ricky Ponting back to his best? (AAP Image/Ben Macmahon).
The Gabba Test match cannot come soon enough. The sporting ‘black hole’ between the football and cricket seasons is enough to send any true Aussie sports fan around the bend.
Sorry, but the A-League and a Bledisloe Cup dead rubber simply do not suffice.
To pass the time, I’m sure that many of you kept an interest in the T20 World Cup, and the opening rounds of the Sheffield Shield and domestic one day season.
Perhaps you made mental notes of the eleven cricketers who you think should don the Baggy Green for the opening Test on November 9? Well I did, and here is my Australian XI:
1. David Warner
It will be fascinating to see how Warner fares when he meets Steyn, Morkel and Philander for the first time in the Test arena. Had success against the Indians last summer, but their bowlers were flat and lacked heart. The Proteas’ pace trio will be a massive test of character for the nuggetty New South Welshman.
2. Ed Cowan
Foot to the ball, elbow up, full face – Ed Cowan’s controlled demeanour at the crease provides a perfect balance to the audacious stroke play of companion David Warner. But with Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja nipping at his heels, a few low scores could see his days numbered.
3. Shane Watson
His class is unquestionable. However, his 35 Test matches have only produced two centuries. This home series Watson will undoubtedly be out to convert starts into big scores. While it should be used sparingly, his wicket-to-wicket bowling will also be a huge asset for the Aussies.
4. Michael Clarke
A wow of a summer in 11/12 saw Pup take home the Allan Border Medal. At four, he is the heartbeat of the Australian line-up. The captain may also be needed for some left-arm offies, but the Gabba deck is hardly a spinner’s paradise.
5. Ricky Ponting
Ahh Rick Ponting. Who can forget his defying, gritty, ungraceful (more adjectives please) century in the Sydney Test last summer? If he can score big runs early against the Proteas, then who knows, perhaps England 2013 isn’t too much to ask. If not, the knives will be out yet again.
6. Michael Hussey
Hussey is best suited to the number six position. He is an excellent player of spin, and seems to bring the best out of Australia’s tail order. Like Ponting, he will need to get among the runs at the Gabba and in Adelaide to keep the pressure off.
7. Matthew Wade
Wade or Haddin? Tough question, but I think Wade’s form and youth will see him named for the first Test.
8. Peter Siddle
Siddle’s ability to make the batsman play has been a key element of his game. I watched him play the Bulls at the Gabba earlier in the week, and a line-up that included Khawaja and Forrest could barely get him away. While he has given up meat, that hopefully won’t curb his hunger for South African scalps.
9. James Patterson
If he can stay fit, Patterson could be the Aussies’ most deadly weapon for the Test series. The confident Victorian will not be afraid to dig in the short stuff to Kallis, Smith and Amla alike. The Indian series also showed he does not mind a bit of verbal banter as well.
10. Ben Hilfenhaus
Hilfy and the young Patterson will take the new ball for the Aussies at the Gabba. The Tasmanian was a stand-out last summer. What he lacks in pace, he redeems with uncanny accuracy and movement in the air. He is the backbone of the Australian attack.
11. Mitch Starc
Starc pips Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon for the final spot. He is in good form, and his left-arm option adds some variety to the pace attack. However, he cannot afford a bad showing, as Aussie quicks are queuing up for miles.
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