Next generation batters need to stand up
Could Phil Hughes be Australia's next key batsmen? (AP Photo/Chris Crerar)
At the end of the Ashes series in 2010/11, there were all sorts of concerns around Australian cricket, with feelings that had not been felt for 15 years when the team was rocked by rebel tour defections.
Amongst all the doom and gloom, perhaps one of the most grave concerns was the make up of the team’s bowling attack. The alarm bells began ringing when we conceded 1/517 in Brisbane, a mind boggling scorecard.
It was written off as a blip, but once Adelaide came, it was shown to be an epidemic, bar a brief resuscitation in Perth. Scores of 5/620, 513, and 644 were racked up against a wayward and toothless attack.
Doug Bollinger had hit the wall, Mitch Johnson did not know where it was going, Ben Hilfenhaus lost his swing and pace, and it seemed anyone who could bowl left arm slow was getting a run.
Fast forward 18 months, and we now have tremendous depth and arguably one of, if not, the best battery of fast bowlers in world cricket.
Hilfenhaus and Siddle have been revitalised and along with Ryan Harris are the leaders of the young pack. Cummins, Pattinson and Starc have all had a taste and performed well on the big stage, and waiting in the wings are Hazelwood, Cutting, McDermott and Bird. Nathan Lyon has emerged as a promising young spinner and should get an extended run.
This tremendous depth in bowling has now highlighted the lack of similar depth in our batting ranks. Whilst the bowling attack is young, the batting line up consists of two players over the age of 35.
Ponting and Hussey both scored centuries during the India series to give themselves breathing space in the side, but the lack of players knocking on the door to take their place is making it easier for them to stay there.
This summer has to be the summer when the next generation of batsmen stand up and put their name before the selectors.
A lot of attention has been put onto Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja who have both left NSW to seek a fresh start as they push to be back in the baggy green. Hughes has made a promising start and has shown signs of an improved technique but will need to keep this up all summer.
Khawaja has also started well for Queensland but there are still concerns about his fitness and fielding. The other batting discard from last summer, Shaun Marsh, is still struggling and looks like a man that might even have to go back to grade cricket to find his game again.
Elsewhere, there are plenty who have shown glimpses but not gone on with it. George Bailey and Peter Forrest seem to be the incumbents given their selections for the ODI side. Bailey would likely be the one to get the nod, with Forrest a bit off the pace for Queensland at the moment.
Callum Ferguson looked certain to play test matches until his knee injury, and is still finding his rhythm upon his return. Tom Cooper had a great summer and A tour but has now been dropped by SA.
Moises Henriques has started like a house on fire this summer, and if consistent will be up there for consideration. Joe Burns from Queensland has also had a good start to follow on from an impressive season last year.
There are a bevvy of talented batsmen who haven’t even been mentioned here. It is up to this group to take the bit between their teeth and stamp themselves as the next wave of Aussies to take us back to the top of the game.