Australia’s policy of rotating its fast bowlers has come under much attention and scrutiny in recent weeks.
However, if the announcement of Australia’s 17-man Test tour squad to India has confirmed one thing, the main theory selectors use when picking sides is that of ‘guess and check’.
The tour party includes three batting all-rounders, two of whom in Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques are untried at Test level, while putting Steve Smith in the category is unjust seeing as he rarely bowls these days and has a first-class average of 55.
The selectors will always put on a confident front in saying they believe these players have the ability to succeed at international level, however it seems they are hoping rather than believing. The attitude is ‘surely one of these guys will perform?’
Like Rob Quiney recently, they can easily become Australia’s forgotten men should they go a couple of Tests without performing.
The guessing game when it comes to Test spinners will continue, with Xavier Doherty chosen to try and resurrect is Test career after two Tests, and an almighty hammering by the English in the 2010-11 Ashes.
No one can doubt Doherty’s worth as a limited-over and T20 cricketer, but an average of 44 in first-class cricket does not shout Test selection. Believe it or not there are still some Nathan Hauritz fans out there and his name should be mentioned more often than it currently is.
The circus that has seen Cameron White, Bryce McGain, Cullen Bailey, Jason Krejza and Beau Casson all trialed and failed in five Tests or fewer has continued its cycle, with Doherty given another turn.
In all these cases, the guess and check model has failed miserably, and in some seen bowlers go from Test to grade cricketers in a mere matter of months.
Assuming David Warner is able to play, Australia’s batting line-up for the first Test will most likely look be – Warner, Cowan, Hughes then Clarke, Khuwaja and Watson making up the middle order with positioning yet be finalised, leaving no room for the three newcomers.
On current shield form Henriques would be next cab off the rank, while Maxwell’s handy off spin could work in his favour, but in no way should Smith be considered a good enough batter to play as a number six in India.
The last time Australia went for a squad this big was prior to the 2010-11 home Ashes series, with rash decision-making in picking the likes of Doherty and Smith no doubt attributing to the dismal series Australia had.
What will the squad look like come the Ashes in six months time? Not even the selectors can guess that.