An Australia A side in name only
The Australia A side to play the Proteas in their only tour match was picked yesterday. In the wake of some head scratching selections, I thought it timely to pose this question to my fellow Roarers – why pick an Australia A side at all?
Traditionally, ‘A’ sides have served as either a second XI or a developmental team, allowing a country’s best young prospects to gain some exposure against international opposition.
This side doesn’t fit either description. It is neither a second XI nor a developmental team.
A number of the selections are more than a little puzzling. Of course, the Chairman of Selectors did attempt to justify his picks, but I’m not going to go near the continued infatuation with a side of all-rounders.
Nor am I willing to debate the much criticised policy of managing fast bowlers: ‘If they don’t play, they won’t get injured’.
With roots in Albury-Wodonga, and as the Chief Selector of rugby league’s Ranga All-Stars (go on, dig it up and have a read), I’m more than happy for Andrew McDonald to be selected as captain of the side.
But, despite McDonald’s strong early season Shield returns, we’ve been there before and it hasn’t really worked out.
He isn’t even knocking on the door of Test selection, let alone barging through it, and at best he has slim prospects of slotting into the Australian middle order when current international players retire. So why pick him?
The selection of Nathan Coulter-Nile is equally baffling. When you consider the fact that he is the only specialist quick chosen, you reach a whole new level of befuddlement.
Australia is blessed with a generation of young fast bowlers who are unable to break into the Gabba attack for the first Test.
Think of Starc, Cummins, Cutting, Bird, Hazlewood and McDermott, and you have to wonder how Coulter-Nile was even considered, let alone picked as the sole fast bowler.
As I said earlier, this is South Africa’s sole tour match before the first Test. The Proteas have planned their tour that way for a reason.
Despite the obvious opportunities for Phillip Hughes to score some runs and build international confidence, and for Tim Paine to get behind the stumps, is it too cynical to suggest a little Mickey Arthur inspired sabotage?
Are we hoping for South Africa to arrive at the crease a little underdone for the first Test? Or am I missing the obvious reasons for selecting this particular Australia A side?
Fellow Roarers, I’m looking to you on this one, because I haven’t stopped scratching my head.
Roar expert Glenn Mitchell's video review of Day 4 of the second Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval