Australia are not ready for Ashes – yet

TheGenuineTailender Roar Guru

By TheGenuineTailender, TheGenuineTailender is a Roar Guru

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    We may have thumped Sri Lanka, the batsmen may be scoring runs, the bowlers taking wickets and some of the fielders snaffling catches. But the giant elephant in the room remains.

    We are in no way, shape or form ready for the Ashes.

    Ed Cowan continues to speak highly of his increased drive, understanding and comfort in his Test role. However his batting average hovers precariously at 32.66, well below par for any Test match opener.

    Shane Watson, the star all-rounder, has through the media been turned into a poor man’s Jacques Kallis, who doesn’t bowl or score enough runs to warrant his place.

    Michael Hussey’s exit leaves a gaping hole of experience and runs in the Australian middle order. He’s as irreplaceable as any retiring great.

    Matthew Wade’s glove work continues to draw criticism, as names like Tim Paine and Brad Haddin are touted to be hot on his heels.

    Mitchell Johnson appears to have recaptured his best form, at least it looked that way throughout the Perth and MCG tests. Again in Sydney however, when promoted to all-rounder status, he has lacked penetration with ball and runs with bat.

    Our fast bowling contingent is heavily depleted and the injury ward overflowing. Patrick Cummins, James Pattinson, Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus are all part of a group of Test match bowlers to have spent significant time on the side lines recently.

    Spinner Nathan Lyon hasn’t been able to produce the big day five hauls, heroics and match winning efforts which Australians expect of their front line spinner. His is increasingly being criticized for an inability to finish sides off.

    So we have problems, all of them are significant. I don’t know all the answers, but I’ll try solving some for us right now.

    Looking ahead to the Ashes, cricket’s Holy Grail, what do we need to do? A team reshuffle is high on the agenda and will address many issues raised.

    The Australian side lacks balance, consistency, experience and clear player roles, so I have rejigged the side in an attempt to alleviate some of these issues and hopefully bring clarity to team.

    My touring party to India and England will consist of 17 players. My starting XI is as follows.

    1. David Warner
    2. Shane Watson
    3. Phillip Hughes
    4. Usman Khawaja
    5. Michael Clarke (C)
    6. David Hussey
    7. Matthew Wade (wk)
    8. Peter Siddle
    9. James Pattinson
    10. Nathan Lyon
    11. Jackson Bird

    Warner has proven to be highly effective at setting the tone of an innings straight off the bat. He has a world class batting average for Test match openers and can set you flying high towards victory in the first session of a Test.

    The enigmatic and often self-absorbed Watson has his flaws no doubt, however it is undeniable that his quality straight driving and powerful technique provides him with tools to set Australia off to many a solid start. His record at the top of the order is as good as any. His bowling should be approached as a last resort, a luxury and used sparingly.

    Hughes has begun his reincarnation to Test cricket promisingly, with two half centuries. He was often exploited by the brand new ball, and number three protects him slightly from this, however that doesn’t mean he doesn’t possess the ability to handle things at 1-0.

    Furthermore, Hughes is better suited to facing spin bowling than Watson and Warner and thus protects them a bit more if he is the one to bat at three.

    Usman Khawaja is the next most talented batsman in the country. He has a good first class record and is in excellent form. Many believe his inclusion to the Test side is inevitable and I’m happy to have this classy player forming part of the Australian middle order.

    Michael Clarke, enough said.

    David Hussey brings as close to a like-for-like match to his brother as any cricketer in the world – a proper professional with a wealth of experience, particularly in English condition. Hussey has the first class pedigree to prove he is capable at the highest level and has another two good years of cricket in him. Ample time for another young batsman to step up.

    Matthew Wade is on notice. His batting continues to instigate a wagging tail and scoring runs will always be a strength of his. Wade’s glove work has been under immense pressure, but I’m willing to persevere as I’ve seen him play Ryobi Cup and know he is better than he is showing.

    Peter Siddle is one of the first two picked these days and walks straight into the touring party as the spearhead of the attack.

    James Pattinson has impressed many with his aggressive brand of fast bowling. He brings the in-your-face mentality many of us love. Pattinson will need to cage some of that energy and focus on ripping the pegs out of the ground but his short Test career has demonstrated he has a canny ability to get wickets.

    Nathan Lyon’s confidence has taken a shot of late but a tour to India might be the perfect thing for him – rank turners are expected to be a major feature of the landscape on the sub continental tour. Lyon still has far and away the best Test match record of any Aussie spinner since the retirement of Shane Warne and will continue to grow in the role as time progresses.

    Jackson Bird has risen quickly from Sydney club cricketer to Test match bowler. He has dismantled the Sri Lankan line-up in two Tests already and has a year and a half of first class dominance under his belt. Bird adds a huge amount of balance to the side – his consistency is something that has been lacking a lot lately and will prove invaluable against a world class batting line-up like England.

    I have left out Ed Cowan as I believe he really isn’t up to the standard of Test match cricket. His record is poor and he never displayed the first class dominance in the Sheffield Shield that indicates he would be successful at the highest level.

    The remainder of my touring party consists of Alex Doolan – as the in-form, next in line spare batsman – Tim Paine the reserve keeper, Michael Beer as a second spin option who brings the variety of left-arm orthodox to the fore and the fast bowling contingent of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus.

    The two Mitchells miss out on starting positions because of their tendency to leak runs and inconsistent form. If an injury occurs they will slot in nicely but I don’t consider them among the top three fast bowlers in the country at the moment.

    And for the record, Johnson is as much an all-rounder as Matthew Wade is a fast bowler. He’s a good number eight, nothing more.

    Ben Hilfenhaus has a solid record in England and will come in almost seamlessly if required.

    So there we have it. The reshuffle is complete and I believe we now have a balanced side as ready as possible to take on India and England.

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    The Crowd Says (54)

    • January 7th 2013 @ 7:46am
      WW said | January 7th 2013 @ 7:46am | ! Report

      are you surprised that we will not win the ashes.

      what gave it away…the fact we haven’t looked the same side since warne and mcgrath retired

      it is not so just about the players we have and don’t have though. look at the england side. Quality all around. We can not and will not win the ashes this year.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 9:05am
      The no. Three said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      What would a most current Aussie test team look like purely just on form?

      D Warner
      U Khawaja
      P Hughes
      A Doolan
      M Clarke (c)
      J Faulkner
      M Wade
      P Siddle
      J Pattinson- uninjured
      N Lyon
      J Bird
      then
      M Johnson
      A Zampa
      T Paine
      J Burns

      Well, thats you ashes squad.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 10:32am
        Rob Barrow said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        Agree with this article, Khwaaja is a must and I would also get Burns as the backup batsman. I wouldn’t take Maxwell as his bowling won’t stand up in the ashes nor the Indian series.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 1:00pm
        TheGenuineTailender said | January 7th 2013 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

        I’m not sure Zampa has any form. He played one first class match where he did well. But that doesn’t constitute form.

        Glenn Maxwell is closer to being a specialist spare batsman than replacement all-rounder.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 1:28pm
        matt h said | January 7th 2013 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

        Hmmm, purely on Shield form you would have to include Haddin not Paine.

        The BBL makes it so damn difficult. Doolan’s “form” was ages ago and it is his only hot run in his career to date. Risky.

        Also, for the Watson’s and Cowan’s of this world, would their form be equally as good as the “form” players if they were playing in the Shield against lesser sides? Remember pre-South Africa Ponting was in fantastic form in the Shield. al this showed is that he remains a class above your average state player.

        Faulkner is not a test match 6. Look at his career average well below 30.

        And Zampa is a 20 year old who has played a small handful of shield games and his stats are just ok. What form?

        Do Starc’s back to back 5 fors in tests not consitute form?

        Only one back up paceman when our bowlers break down every 5 minutes?

        Back to the drawing board I think

    • January 7th 2013 @ 10:04am
      Jason said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      I don’t think we should over estimate how good England are. Much will depend on which KP turns up to play but take out Cook and their batting looks as fragile as ours with Bell returning to his 2005 form and a couple of newbies as well.

      I’d take Pattinson, Bird and Siddle over Jimmy, Finn and Broad/AN Other.

      Swann and Prior are better than Lyon and Wade of course.

      Overall though, in 2012 Australia performed far better against South Africa than England did.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 10:14am
        The Bush said | January 7th 2013 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Trott is better the Hughes, Cook alone is better than any opening combination we can put on the field, KP is a Clarke equivalent and they have the experience of Bell, who averages over 45, to prop up their lower order. As to their bowling attack, Anderson (somehow) has become one of the premier fast bowlers in the world over an extended period. As good as Pattinson or Bird may one day become, Anderson has been at the top of his game for three straight seasons yet.

        It could well become a blood bath in my opinion (at least in England).

        • January 8th 2013 @ 10:38am
          Frankie Hughes said | January 8th 2013 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          Don’t be silly.

          Cook has had more than his fair share of luck during his purple patch. He’s technically limited and Bird will have him in his pocket.

          Bell is a fair weather batsman. Only gets runs when everyone else does.

          Trott was a flash in the pan. Nothing to fear.

          We’ll hammer the Poms easy.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 11:30am
      Pope Paul VII said | January 7th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

      The Aussie batting is inexperienced and the single serious fast bowling test since NZ loss, at Perth, they came off second best. The Australian fast bowling is pretty good. Lyon is steady, though his chances of singing the song any time soon are not that great.

      The fast men give Australia a chance but as The Bush points out the english bats are no mugs. They will not be intimidated.

      Ando, Finn, Tremlett ( if fit ), Bresnan, Onions, Broad ( has been rubbish ) and a couple of youngsters who’s names escape me speaks of good depth. Monty and Swanny also cover our blokes in spin. We can knock Anderson all we want but he does the job to perfection.

      Early days yet but our blokes are not 1989 standard tourists and the english are most certainly not 1989 stupid.

    • Roar Guru

      January 7th 2013 @ 12:22pm
      Andy_Roo said | January 7th 2013 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

      i agree with the squad almost completely. One issue though is that AUS will only take 14 players to India, not 17
      Cowan will be in the team for the India tour at least. If he does not perform there he will not go to England.
      Watson should play at no.6 in india and Khawaja at no. 4.
      David Hussey will go to England as a back-up batsman, not as a first choice player.
      Maxwell should get a game or two in india and will tour England.
      Joe Burns will should go to England.

      And sadly I give AUS zero chance of winning in England.

    • Roar Rookie

      January 7th 2013 @ 1:04pm
      Justin Ware said | January 7th 2013 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

      Wade will rise to the challenge of keeping in India, his keeping to the fast bowlers IMO has been superb but the same can’t be said for his keeping to spin, give him time to sort it out fellas, it’s a technical issue, nothing more, Healy will be in his ear and once he fixes his keeping to spin he is better than Prior

      • January 7th 2013 @ 3:47pm
        Jason said | January 7th 2013 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

        At this stage I’d be happy for him keeping to spin better than Rob Quiney.

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