Balance in a batting line-up means that a top five (or six these days) has the ability to deal with a varied attack, on a difficult wicket, and in different match circumstances.
The South Africans showed that in Faf Du Plessis, they have a player who has the skill set (and mental aptitude) to deliver results in varied and difficult circumstances. Do the Australian players have these qualities?
To win the Ashes in 2013, the Australian batsmen must exhibit three things which I believe have been lacking recently in Australian cricket:
2. Mental toughness
3. Intimacy with their own game
Any field of hopefuls must be assessed against these characteristics, because in an away Ashes series these traits will be brutally tested.
The first four batsmen must be the strongest, both technically and mentally.
1. Ed Cowan without a doubt has the mental stability and intimacy with his own game (he reminds me much of Alistair Cook in this regard – the way he waits for bowlers to bowl to him) to open the batting. He holds down the number one spot as the best opener in Australia.
2. David Warner needs a lot of work. But his wrist spin, while currently inconsistent, is a great addition for the balance for this team. Warner must work on both his bowling and his batting (which still remains altogether too loose for an Ashes opener).
(NB: An honourable contender for Dave Warner’s spot, or Ed Cowan’s for that matter, must be Phil Hughes, who is continuing to beat down the door with strong domestic performances.)
3. Michael Clarke must take this mantle. While he has played the role of saviour admirably this summer it is time for him to impose himself on the game by batting at number three. “What is he saying?” I hear some of you ask. “Four calendar doubles and you want him to impose himself?” Clarke needs to take responsibility now as the leader of the batting line-up, and when he is effectively coming in at three anyway, why not?
4. Usman Khawaja – on sports blog sites you very rarely see this man not touted for higher honours. As we say in Australia, he is the goods. If anyone has seen Uzzie bat beyond his brief appearance in the baggy green you would have to agree that he is beautiful to watch, and in my mind he is the most technically gifted and talented batsman in Australia by a country mile. Put simply, he must get another opportunity following the retirement of Ponting. Usman is Australia’s greatest long term prospect for the number three position.
5. Alex Doolan, while still largely unproven, is in terrific First Class form. Tasmania may have unearthed a gem. Doolan has a beautiful technique, and he could be the next Australian number four.
6. Shane Watson. Enough said. An honourable mention for Moises Henriques, who is finally starting to realise some of his potential – let’s hope he kicks on and becomes another Watson.
7. The wicketkeeper/batsman – as a personal preference I take an uninjured Tim Paine, who for me is a class above Wade. Although Paine is returning from injury, it will be interesting to see this duel for the gloves play out.
So what do you think Roarers? I know I have omitted some players (CJ Ferguson, Peter Forrest and Marcus Harris for example), but generally I like the shape and balance of that top seven.
Who should our top seven be for the Ashes 2013?