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A squad to win back the Ashes

Brian Zhang Roar Rookie

By Brian Zhang , Brian Zhang is a Roar Rookie

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    Dave Warner's set Australia up with some good batting in the first innings. (AP Photo/Andrew Brownbill)

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    The Ashes is less than four months away and England are red hot favourites to retain the famous urn while Australia are rank outsiders.

    There have also been talks of back-to-back Ashes humiliations for Australia in both away and home series.

    And Australia’s latest Border-Gavaskar humiliation at the hands of India probably back this theory up.

    But if most things go Australia’s way and if the selectors make smart choices, something they haven’t done for a while, then Australia may just have a sniff.

    England haven’t had it all their way either. They have performed very ordinarily in their current series against New Zealand.

    Personally I don’t think Australia will win the series in England but it may be closer than some suspect.

    1. David Warner

    He’s made a reasonable start to his Test career with 1263 runs at just under 40 including three centuries and seven half centuries.

    Over the last year and a half, Warner has matured slowly but surely into a Test cricketer.

    Innings like the 123* off 170 deliveries against New Zealand in Hobart late 2011 shows that he has the patience to build an innings in tough conditions.

    However innings like the 180 off 159 balls against India last year in Perth shows that he can still be aggressive and dominate bowling attacks when he wants to.

    His aggressive out-and-out attacking style could be very effective in nullifying the English attack.

    But it is also a huge risk.

    Many of Warner’s dismissals so far in his career have been because of careless wafts outside off stump with no footwork.

    Warner had a fairly ordinary series in India but England is almost the opposite conditions.

    He has been a part of the Australian side in all forms of the game for over four years now. He needs a big series this series to confirm himself as a genuine Test batsman.

    2. Shane Watson

    I have Watson in the side but he goes back to his successful position in opening.

    Unlike Cowan, Watson scores runs at a much quicker rate and he and Warner can easily get Australia off to fast starts and quickly silence the English crowd.

    Watson’s success in every form of the game has come as an opener. Ever since he has been demoted down the order he has averaged less than 25. He still continues to open to ODIs and T20s and still is scoring runs heavily.

    But Watson’s position will come with one condition, he must play as an allrounder, whether he bowls 15 overs or 25 overs.

    He has had success in England with the ball before and if he either chooses not to bowl or is not fit to bowl then he should not be considered. This could a big breakthrough series for Watson that could see him return to his 2009/10 form. But it could also be a series where his position goes on the line.

    He is too talented to not be converting 50s into 100s and needs to start doing so and stand up.

    3. Usman Khawaja

    I have Khawaja over Hughes for the start of the series simply because he has a much more sounder, fluent and steadier technique than Hughes. Khawaja was extremely unlucky not to get a Test match against India and also not to get a Test against Sri Lanka earlier in the summer.

    Despite his ordinary record in first-class cricket this season, he is the more fluent batsman and his technique means he can play swing bowling better. This is also a big series for Khawaja as he can easily establish his position in the Australian Test team.

    4. Michael Clarke

    The all important captain Clarke bats at no.4. I initially wanted to keep Clarke at five simply because all his success has come at number five. But because Australia’s top order is not strong at all, he bats one higher.

    It is predictable that Clarke has yet another heavy series with runs but his captaincy on the field will also be a huge factor. If Clarke performs well in both aspects, Australia will have a chance.

    5. Ed Cowan

    Many of you will think this is an extremely bizarre move considering I don’t have Cowan opening.

    But because the selectors will never drop him, I’ve kept him at no.5.

    Cowan’s numbers in terms of runs may not back it up, but he has the ability to stay at the crease for long periods.

    Because he doesn’t score at a reasonable rate, he is not suited opening but in the middle order. In case Australia lose three quick wickets, Cowan can come and steady it for Australia by getting through the new ball.

    If he comes in when Australia are 3/250, then Cowan will have more freedom and less pressure on him to score runs. But if Cowan does not perform in the first two Tests, then he should be axed indefinitely.

    6. Moises Henriques

    Henriques plays as the batting allrounder at no. 6. His average was strong with the bat in the Shield season and had a extremely good debut match. Despite scores of 5, 0, 0 and 2 in his next four innings, I would still retain Henriques as the main or back-up allrounder to Watson.

    7. Brad Haddin

    Brad Haddin starts as the keeper for the start of the series as has he been in sensational batting form this season. His keeping form is good too.

    Also his last Ashes series in England yielded 278 runs at 46 (4 Tests) which is more than acceptable for a keeper-batsman. His experience will be vital to the side considering Watson, Clarke, Hughes and himself are the only batsmen to have played in the ’09 series.

    If he under performs then Wade comes right back in.

    8. Mitchell Johnson

    I have Johnson ahead of Starc because I don’t think rushing Starc into the side straight after surgery is the right thing to do for such a young talented player.

    And also having Johnson isn’t a big loss as both players are very similar.

    Johnson’s experience is also vital to Australia’s chances as he will know the conditions better now having already been a part of the ’09 series.

    His batting form over this season has been solid but not great, but it may come in handy at times. I thought he was unlucky not to have played more Tests in the India series but this will be a big chance for Johnson.

    9. Peter Siddle

    For the last two years he has been Australia’s most consistent bowler. At 28 with 41 Tests, he is now one of the more experienced players in the Australian side. The last Ashes series in England, Siddle proved his qualities with 20 wickets including 5/21 in the fourth Test.

    He had a mediocre series in India but the swinging and seaming conditions of England suits Siddle’s style of bowling.

    10. James Pattinson

    He was probably Australia’s best bowler in the India series despite his stats not showing it.

    He gave it his absolute all on pitches that were never going to assist fast bowlers. The England conditions like Siddle will suit Pattinson nicely and if he gets his rhythm going, he can easily rattle the English batting line-up.

    11. Nathan Lyon

    His nine-wicket haul in the last Test against India proves that he is still the best off-spinner in Australia at the moment.

    The conditions will not be the best for an off spinner especially for a touring side but given Graeme Swann has had success, Lyon will have an impact. If he bowls like he did in that first innings against India, and around the wicket more often, then he will take wickets.

    Reserves

    12. Mitchell Starc

    Given he proves his fitness, Starc will replace either of the three starting fast bowlers if an injury or poor performance occurs.

    His height and ability to swing the ball both ways makes his Australia’s Chris Tremlett.

    Throughout the Australian summer, Starc was also able to bowl up to and around 145km/h. He will be another bowler that can threaten the English batting line-up.

    13. Pat Cummins

    He has faded away slightly since his Test debut against South Africa due to injuries. But he is certainly not forgotten. I wouldn’t rush Cummins straight into the side, given he has barely played a first-class game in the last 18 months but if he should be selected in the tour matches and certainly considered later in the series.

    14. Stephen O’Keefe

    He was very unlucky to not be selected in the India series but he should be given a chance at the baggy green this series. He is the leading wicket taker for all spinners in the Shield this season and he also is a very good back-up for Nathan Lyon.

    Not only that but he is a very capable with the bat and can play as the spin-bowling all-rounder. At 28 he is no rookie and his experience as captain of the NSW team will come in handy.

    15. Alex Doolan

    I haven’t seen much of this guy bat but his stats this year are nothing to scoff at. Doolan has scored 715 runs at 42 this season including one century and four half-centuries. The conversion rate and the average may be a minor issue but he definitely deserves a chance this series given the amount of talent he possesses.

    16. Phil Hughes

    I wouldn’t write this guy off just yet. Hughes had a torrid time in India but England is a totally different story. Hughes has been tormented by the English bowlers in the five Tests he has played against them.

    But Hughes has enormous talent within him. His record right now is almost identical to Ricky Ponting’s when he was the same age and not many 24 year olds have scored 21 first-class hundreds.

    He will be seriously tested by the English bowlers but this time he will know what to expect and be much better prepared for it.

    17. James Faulkner

    Many of you will be extremely surprised by this selection of mine. But Faulkner this season has impressed domestically and internationally.

    This season he has taken 38 wickets at just over 20, strike rate of 42, best of 5/23.

    With those stats you can’t walk passed this guy without considering him. Faulkner also has the ability to swing the ball back into the right handers and bowls extremely well bowling at that angle.

    He can also swing it away from the left-handers. He is inexperienced but could make a huge impact.

    Well Roarers, I’d like to hear your comments and thoughts, if you agree or disagree with me.

    Be sure to head to the second ODI between Australia and England this Friday at the Gabba, and don't forget to be wearing your XXXX Goldie to be in with a chance to win $10k in XXXX GOLD’s crowd catch competition.

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    The Crowd Says (132)

    • March 27th 2013 @ 4:03am
      murali said | March 27th 2013 @ 4:03am | ! Report

      what about mr smith ? he is bettter than ed cowan?????

      • March 27th 2013 @ 10:37am
        Sam said | March 27th 2013 @ 10:37am | ! Report

        I think Smith cemented his spot for the English tour. His dogged and gritty innings prevented collapse on two occassions. He look the most composed batsman in the worlds most testing cricketing conditions. I think it’s a bit of a slap in his face!

      • Roar Guru

        March 28th 2013 @ 11:26pm
        nick richardson said | March 28th 2013 @ 11:26pm | ! Report

        Brian you lost all credibility by putting Watson opening, but then it got worse Cowan 5 Henriques 6 Haddin 7.
        Mate your fried.
        Johnson over Harris and Bird. There would be half a dozen more capable bowlers than Johnson. Not to add the fact he will get abused in England.

    • March 27th 2013 @ 7:15am
      Red Kev said | March 27th 2013 @ 7:15am | ! Report

      I was expecting a list of English players, they are the only ones with a chance to win the Ashes. Johnson and Watson in your first choice team … and Henriques … talk about selecting to lose.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 11:39am
        Disco said | March 27th 2013 @ 11:39am | ! Report

        Yes, my jaw dropped at the suggestion of Watson opening and Johnson at No.8.

        But Cummins?! That takes the cake.

        No Bird or Harris – what?!

        Johnson, may I remind the author, was at the forefront of the last two Ashes series victories… for England.

        • Roar Guru

          March 28th 2013 @ 1:33pm
          Simon said | March 28th 2013 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

          Interesting thoughts, most of which I don’t agree with.

          Watson does not score at a quicker rate than Cowan. They are probably very similar, with a strike rate of 55.

          And please, I don’t have much faith in the selection panel at present, but even still, I know they don’t rate Johnson in their best 4 bowlers.

      • March 28th 2013 @ 3:10pm
        iambunney said | March 28th 2013 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

        Well said Red Kev – what I don’t understand about the plethora of “this is what the Aus team should look like” articles, is that the authors all use drastic language in describing the problem, and then shuffle the deck chairs when presenting their “solution”. I think that, at the very least, in the short term the following players should be waved bye-bye – Henriques, Smith (despite his decent showing in last two tests), Wade (a keeper who can’t catch is untenable) Hughes, Cowan, Maxwell, & Doherty.
        The Sheffield Shield this season has produced very few standout batsmen, but good bowling figures, so the cupboard is essentially bare on that front. So what to do? Blood some really young players who have potential.
        Here’s some suggestions.
        1. Warner – he has the skills, but perhaps not the temperament. Should be instructed he’s going to be dropped if he knicks having windy woofs!
        2. Chris Rogers – If you’re looking for experience, and a quality avg over a long period – the unlucky Rogers should have a change of fortune. 3rd highest Shield scorer this season at avg of 49. If Ricky & Hussey weren’t too old, neither is Rogers
        3. Khawaja – Hughes has had his third chance, and failed to impress. Time to give Khawaja another crack. Neither have banged down the door with sheer weight of runs, but few options
        4. Clarke – nuff said
        5. & 6.Joe Burns / Nic Maddinson / Alex Doolan – Burns and Maddinson look the best of the new bunch, even though their numbers may not look that way and should be thrown in so they will get the experience. Is a long road ahead. I include the not so young Doolan as a back-up – the best two of the three in tour games should get initial nod.
        7. Hartley – best catcher in the country. Not an awful batsman either. Tim Paine to tour as back-up
        8. Watson – that’s right Watson. His batting has stunk for too long, but his bowling is still excellent, esp in swinging conditions such as England. Pick him as 3rd seamer and then he’s in no doubt. You don’t bowl, you’re not picked.
        9. Siddle – under pressure from Bird for mine, but he gets 1st crack.
        10. Pattinson – our best and brightest young fast prospect
        11. Lyon – proved he was number one after returning from dud dropping in 2nd test. O’Keefe to tour as back up

        To the NSP – I offer comparitively cheap rates for my consultancy!

        • March 28th 2013 @ 4:48pm
          iambunney said | March 28th 2013 @ 4:48pm | ! Report

          I hereby whip myself for a great oversight – Ryan Harris.
          He dragged Qld back into the Shield final with 4 wickets in 5 overs on a dead pitch – Let’s hope he stays fit.
          I stand by my selection of Watson as third seamer, so Harris will have to fight it out with Siddle, Pattinson and Bird.
          Tough call. If only 6 bowlers and 4 batsman was a good balanced team – we might just be alright! 🙂

    • March 27th 2013 @ 7:38am
      Robert said | March 27th 2013 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      No need for two(three if you count Watson)all rounders.Faulkner is more than enough.I dont think we need an all rounder anyway but if we do it should be a bowling all rounder and Moises’ bowling is poor.Bird and Harris are a must in English conditions.Paine should be keeper or at least reserve because its time Wade was sent back to state cricket.You cant avg.a missed chance every game at any level let alone test cricket

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    • March 27th 2013 @ 7:43am
      Jayden said | March 27th 2013 @ 7:43am | ! Report

      Warner
      Cowan

      Together they’re actually the most successful opening team in cricket right now… Says a lot about everyone’s openers

      Hughes
      Khawaja
      Clarke

      Best three bats we could put in here

      Burns

      Young player who’s been one of the best in shield this season, developmental position as no senior player has knocked down the door really

      Wade

      On his last chance but is rather him than throwing in Paine after his recent return

      Give it to him next season when we know he can last a season without injury

      Pattinson
      Harris/Hilfenhaus
      Bird
      Lyon

      The best bowlers for the conditions, all can swing it and move it around, which in England is absolutely vital to getting wickets

      Siddle, Starc, Bailey, Rogers, Paine Watson as reserves

      • March 27th 2013 @ 8:03am
        Red Kev said | March 27th 2013 @ 8:03am | ! Report

        Cook/Compton were performing better than Cowan/Warner at the start of the NZ series, I am unsure if that is still the case, it is probably pretty close.
        Also Fulton/Rutherford for NZ and Vijay/Dhawan for India are both far ahead of our opening partnership.

        • March 27th 2013 @ 8:16am
          Jayden said | March 27th 2013 @ 8:16am | ! Report

          I think there has to be 5/15 (hoe they’re normally balanced) between the pair?

      • March 27th 2013 @ 1:13pm
        nickyc said | March 27th 2013 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

        Cook/Compton partnership av. 63.75 (end of NZ series)

        Fulton/Rutherford av. 54.40

        Are Warner/Cowan really averaging 63.75+ together in tests? If so, I for one have been underestimating them.

        • March 27th 2013 @ 1:25pm
          Red Kev said | March 27th 2013 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

          Warner/Cowan average 44.86 as an opening partnership.

          • March 27th 2013 @ 1:40pm
            nickyc said | March 27th 2013 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

            Cheers RK. Good to know I’m not completely delusional!

            • March 27th 2013 @ 5:53pm
              Anthony said | March 27th 2013 @ 5:53pm | ! Report

              To be fair though, Compton/Cook and Fulton/Rutherford’s stats are taken from a fairly small amount of games. Granted, they’ve done well enough, but when you consider that in 3 of those games they’ve played on absolute roads, it’s less impressive.

              That said, Rutherford looks like he’ll be a genuine star.

              • March 28th 2013 @ 12:26am
                nickyc said | March 28th 2013 @ 12:26am | ! Report

                You’re right it’s early days for both partnerships with just three tests (Fulton/Rutherford) and seven tests (Cook/Compton) under their belts. Coincidentally, both partnerships averaged 54.40 on the NZ roads. A better comparison with Warner/Cowan is the performance of Cook/Compton in India where they averaged 70.43 on the spin friendly tracks.

              • Roar Guru

                March 28th 2013 @ 1:36pm
                Simon said | March 28th 2013 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

                Comption/Cook played 4 Tests in India.

      • March 27th 2013 @ 6:59pm
        Richard said | March 27th 2013 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

        Doolan is better than Burns IMO

    • March 27th 2013 @ 7:44am
      Brett Graham said | March 27th 2013 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      You must be a Trojan Horse mate. That is an even worse top 6 than the one we have and riddled with confusion.
      If Watson is playing as an allrounder why is Henriques in the team at all – surely he is not going to score more runs than any of Smith,Hughes,Rogers or even Bailey to name just a few.
      Playing Cowan in the middle order is truly bizzare and an admission you think your top order will fail regularly using your logic for his selection.
      Khawaja might have claims to a spot but to argue he is more fluent and a better player than Hughes is simply ignoring their FC and Test records.
      Then there is the bowling…..
      How you leave Bird and Harris out of the squad is unfathomable to me and to select Johnson over a genuine swing bowler in Starc is perplexing.


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      • March 27th 2013 @ 10:37am
        Stephen said | March 27th 2013 @ 10:37am | ! Report

        I would have both Khawaja and Hughes in there. Both have good first class records, the thing that stands out for Khawaja is his ability to score on green tracks against the moving ball something which will be priceless in England. Fantastic to see Inevarity acknowledge that in his interview yesterday

        • March 27th 2013 @ 11:41am
          Disco said | March 27th 2013 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          And the fact that Hughes has been made to look silly in three Test series now.

          • March 27th 2013 @ 4:40pm
            Amith said | March 27th 2013 @ 4:40pm | ! Report

            Stephen i think Hughes is on his last chances, agree that both are the future of our lineup but Khawaja hasn’t had a second chance yet, Hughes has had 3 comebacks so he needs to make it count in the ashes. Lets hope both fire for us.

    • March 27th 2013 @ 8:00am
      Jayden said | March 27th 2013 @ 8:00am | ! Report

      I also found it interesting that “if Cowan doesn’t perform in the first two tests he should be dropped indefinitely”

      Watson.hasn’t performed in two years… What’s your recommendation for punishment there mate? 😉

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