Is rotation costing Australia a psychological edge?
But in the debate surrounding Australia’s controversial ‘informed player management’ program first launched in 2011/12, one topic hasn’t to come up.
Is Australian cricket losing its fear factor and giving away a valuable mental edge through the lack of a genuine star bowler?
There is no doubt rotation, first introduced in late 2011, gives chairman of selectors John Inverarity a bigger pool of talent to choose from.
Fourteen specialist bowlers (Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, John Hastings, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Jackson Bird, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty, Ben Cutting, Kane Richardson, James Faulkner, Ben Laughlin) have played for Australia in either of the three formats during the 2012/13 home summer.
This doesn’t include four all-rounders selected (Shane Watson, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, Moises Henriques) and is before a ball has even been bowled against the West Indies.
But it’s often been said cricket is 90 percent mental.
Batsmen hate facing key bowlers. Great leather-slingers intimidate willow wielders.
Test cricket records for recent great Australian bowlers highlight this.
Opposition batsmen from the 1970s and early 1980s had to face the legend that was Lillee (355 wickets at 23.92).
In the 1980s and 1990s, it was Craig McDermott (291 wickets at 28.63).
In the 1990s until 2007, Warne (708 wickets at 25.41), Glenn McGrath (563 wickets at 21.64) and Jason Gillespie (259 wickets at 26.13) ran riot.
But which Australian seamer is scaring batsmen now purely on reputation? Are they playing enough to build a name and a ranking?
Mitchell Johnson (205 wickets at 30.63), Peter Siddle (141 wickets at 28.51) and Ben Hilfenhaus (99 wickets at 28.5) are Australia’s three leading Test wicket-takers.
Have a look at the latest ICC Test, ODI and T20 bowling rankings.
Australia has only three bowlers (Peter Siddle fifth, Ben Hilfenhaus 10th and Mitchell Johnson (18th) in the Test top-20.
In ODIs, Australia doesn’t have a bowler in the top 10. Clint McKay (14th) is our highest-ranked ODI bowler. Johnson is 19th.
In T20 cricket, Shane Watson (eighth) is the only Australian bowler in the top-30. Next best is Mitchell Starc (32nd).
When teams face South Africa in Test cricket, they go out to bat fearing the world’s number one (Dale Steyn) and two (Vernon Philander) bowlers.
No-one can genuinely claim to be a bowler opposition batters hate facing on statistics alone.
There is less rotation with the batting – especially in Test cricket – but Australia also lacks a star aside from skipper Michael Clarke.
But there is a top 10 player in all disciplines.
Clarke is ranked number one in Tests and number eight in ODIs – Australia’s best batsman in both.
Dave Warner is Australia’s second highest ranked Test batsman at 24 while Shane Watson (14th) is our next best ODI player.
Watson (fourth) and Warner (fifth) are also ranked highly in the T20 batting ratings.
Another point is that ‘informed player management’ doesn’t seem to apply to spinners .
Nathan Lyon played all six Tests while Xavier Doherty had lined up in five ODIs and two T20 matches against Sri Lanka.