Exclusive: Australian XI for first Test named by Channel Nine

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    Richie Benaud was Billy Birmingham's most famous Twelfth Man character. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    The much anticipated announcement of the Australian Test side to take on England in the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge has been made, with no real surprises in the XI named.

    The new National Selection Panel, comprising Nine Network managing director Jeffrey Browne, Nine Network head of sport Steve Crawley and Nine Network legend Ozzie Ostrich made the announcement this morning, flanked by Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland, who said that the team named met with CA’s approval.

    The relationship between the Nine Network and Cricket Australia has come under fire in recent days since the completion of the new $450 million broadcast deal.

    However, Sutherland emphatically denied that Cricket Australia has tried to unduly pressure Nine over its programming schedule.

    “While it is true that there was heated discussion around my preference that Millionaire Hot Seat to be shifted from its current 5.30pm timeslot and run at 7.00pm after the evening news, I respect the right of Nine to ultimately schedule programs without interference from CA,” said Sutherland.

    Cricket Australia high performance manager Pat Howard, who had previously been quoted as being “extremely upset” when Miss Murphy was eliminated from The Voice prior to the final, also said that while Cricket Australia did not expect to be the final decision-maker on who ultimately won The Voice, it wanted to protect its investment and ensure that the people at home saw the best singers every time.

    For its part Nine boss Browne said that he was comfortable that both sides had enjoyed robust discussion and understood each other’s needs, and he was confident that the side he’d selected for the first Test would meet with widespread public approval.

    “This side is a blend of experience, ability and promise for the future, and contains players central to the ongoing success of Nine as the leading free-to-air television network in the country,” said Browne.

    The squad named is (in likely batting order, with Browne’s comments attached):

    Karl Stefanovic, RH opening batsman: “A sure bet to get the innings started each morning. Has resurrected his career after once reporting for duty worse for wear, Andrew Symonds style.”

    Mark Taylor, LH opening batsman: “Tubby promised that if we put him back on the park he’d stop doing those Fujitsu ads. That was good enough for me.”

    Michael Clarke (c), RH batsman: “Subject to fitness testing following a back injury. Also has a non-consort clause barring him from personal relationships with rival network reality TV stars.”

    Paul Gallen, RH batsman: “Let’s face it, Gallen is the hottest ticket in town right now. Joe Root might have dealt with Warner ok, but he’ll now be changing his undies five times a day.”

    Shane Watson, RH batsman: “Obviously there is still a question mark over him scoring runs at this level, but the ratings go through the roof when he bats, as if the nation tunes in hoping to see him fail.”

    Laurie Oakes, RH batsman: “Admittedly not as agile in the field as he once was, but can be guaranteed to keep the heat on the Englishmen.”

    Ian Healy, wicketkeeper: “We were of the view that Matthew Wade has not made the most of advances in stump microphone technology, to provide better insight to viewers. Healy is the benchmark and we will be expecting a return to high quality, profanity-laced, audible sledging.”

    Joe Previtera, RH bowler: “Previously better known as a Nine cameraman but whose bowling continues to improve. A shrewd cricket brain who was the first to realise that Scott Muller couldn’t bowl or throw.”

    Andrew Johns, RH bowler: “What I love about Joey is that no matter how many experts and cricket followers around the globe tell Joey that our team is “off,” he’ll still have $100 on the nose for us. The ultimate team man.”

    Scotty Cam, RH bowler: “Great bloke to have around the dressing room. Appeals to a wide demographic, the mums just love him to death.”

    Joel Madden, RH spin bowler: “Subject to fast-tracking of naturalisation papers, perfect timing coming straight off a strong showing in The Voice. What I like most about Joel is that he sets an example to the younger players on how to relax in his own room at night rather than head out to nightspots and into potential trouble.”

    Asked to comment on players who had missed selection, Browne said that while there may be a number of worthy cricketers who missed out this time, the selectors had to take into account all factors.

    “For example,” Browne said, “take Usman Khawaja. I’m sorry but the kid just doesn’t rate.”

    Sutherland and Howard confirmed that the side selected meets all criteria under the ‘Informed Player Management’ protocol.

    Further, in anticipation that this side gets wiped off the park in the first Test, coach Mickey Arthur has already prepared and distributed the homework task, to ensure that all players have ample time to complete it, and that no player crosses a line in the sand.

    In closing, Sutherland acknowledged that the $450m rights deal signalled changing times in sport and media in Australia.

    “Kerry Packer was of course well known for pulling crap like Doug Mulray and Mick Molloy off the air if they were having a bad night, and so it isn’t much of a stretch for Nine to demand the same thing of our players.

    For example the run rate is too slow and viewers start to switch channels we might look at putting up re-runs of Survivor: Jersey Shore.”

    “We’re comfortable that in 2013 we’re squarely in the entertainment business now, and that silly old romantics like Richie Benaud and Gideon Haigh who yearn for old-style Test cricket, can instead sit at home and watch re-runs of Bodyline,” said Sutherland.

    Geoff Parkes
    Geoff Parkes

    Geoff is a Melbourne-based sports fanatic and writer who started contributing to The Roar in 2012 under the pen name Allanthus. His first book, A World in Union Conflict; The Global Battle For Rugby Supremacy, was released in December 2017 to critical acclaim. For details on the book visit www.geoffparkes.com. Meanwhile, his twin goals of achieving a single figure golf handicap and owning a fast racehorse remain tantalisingly out of reach.

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    The Crowd Says (38)

    • June 21st 2013 @ 6:32am
      Johnno said | June 21st 2013 @ 6:32am | ! Report

      You know what guys, this has been goin on by 9 for years, right since Packer’s World series c’mon aussie c’mon in the 1970’s.

      It was Kerry Packer’s cash, that brought out the World’s best to Australia. So he paid the stars directly to be here, of course Packer had a say on selection. Do you think he said to the rest of the world coach , bench Viv Richards. No you must be haven a laf.

      And all the rest of the World star’s like Imran Khan etc.

      And as for other stuff, with the Micheal Clarke , Simon Katich fiasco, Micheal Clarke got backed coz, they thought he was “wait for it” more marketable” despite at the time Simon Katich scoring more runs, and being a rock as an opening batsmen Australia desperately needed. I suspect channel 9 had a say in that too.

      What else, Greg Matthews pulled in the crowds and kept on getting picked.

      Let’s see some other stuff. many suspected aussy umpires were dodgy, just ask the unlucky South African’s in the 90’s who were victims of dubious LBW’S, all in the name of pumping TV rating’s, and media rights.

      In South Africa a few of there cricketers got massive fines, after the 1993/4 Adelaide Test decider game 3. And the South African fans via radio shock jocks on talk back radio in South Africa, the fans all chipped in and paid the fines themselves for the players so annoyed were they by the Adelaide test.

      Dave Warner, was picked for a lot of one dayer’s when he wasn’t ready, as he brought int he TV ratings. He had not even played 1st class cricket when he made his ODI and T20 debuts.

      Heck Micheal Clarke they stayed loyal too, a lot of the time, despite lean times, as he was supposedly so well liked by a wider audience, despite not being well liked by long term cricket fans, and traditionalists.

      Shane Watson is another favourite who keeps getting picked, as he brought in interest and TV ratings, as did Andrew Symonds, who was given so many chances in the ODI squad, and he turned it around with a career saving 100 int he 2003 world cup vs Pakistan.
      Most players would of been dropped much earlier.

      Brett Lee’s test career was saved a lot as he was marketable too. But his test career faded a lot in the last few years. Where as guys like Stuart Clark only gore recognition later in life.

      SO for a long time, in the name of TV ratings I have always wondered if channel 9 have had a behind close doors on national selection for a long time.

      Just look at how many shameless ads, channel 9 are allowed to promote of there shows during the cricket. Micheal Slater, Tubby, Marc Nicholas never shut up promoting them. and never let Ritchie Benaud get a word in.

      So when channel 9 put so much money into cricket Australia;s coffer’s it’s only natural to suspect that they have been having a insestual relationship for years with cricket Australia.

      Just look at the BCCI and the TV networks in India, no local commentators dare criticise the team. Much the same seems to happen in Australia at 9. At least in India, they at least have some commentators from other countries when a test series is on.

      Alan Border and Matt Hayden helped out during the Indian test series in India, to give the Aussy angle, and the freedom to criticise the Aussy team.

      • Roar Rookie

        June 21st 2013 @ 8:08am
        Wilson Flatley said | June 21st 2013 @ 8:08am | ! Report

        I was very disappointed in 9 retaining the rights; whereas once they reinvigorated Australian Cricket, they are now a ball and chain around the neck. The incessant bleating from the commentators about how great the current team is, is incredibly cringeworthy, and a lack of international guest commentators is depressing. I was very much hoping channel 10 got the rights and would be a circuit breaker. You could do a lot worse than start the whole thing back from scratch.

        9 whinging about selections is laughable; you blokes just paid half a billion, and the papers are signed. If they didn’t like the set-up then they shouldn’t have paid overs for the rights, you’ve made your own bed channel 9, now grow a set and lay down in it.

    • Columnist

      June 21st 2013 @ 8:07am
      Geoff Parkes said | June 21st 2013 @ 8:07am | ! Report

      Cheers Johnno. Love a good conspiracy theory.

    • June 21st 2013 @ 9:38am
      Chui said | June 21st 2013 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      Was Bert Newton declared not fit.

      It would be the only reason he’s not in there.

      That or not being able to find a helmet that fits.

      Then a new dynasty like the drinking Marshes could start when Mathew gets a call up.

      • Roar Guru

        June 21st 2013 @ 11:32am
        The Bush said | June 21st 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        Matthew Newton also unavailable as he is mentoring Davey Warner through his alcohol addiction.

      • June 23rd 2013 @ 10:26pm
        Jacques of Lilydale said | June 23rd 2013 @ 10:26pm | ! Report

        Why wasn’t Eddie McGuire picked? He’d drive the poms to distraction

    • Columnist

      June 21st 2013 @ 9:39am
      Dane Eldridge said | June 21st 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      Nice one, Allanthus! Although I am disappointed that one spot in the team hasn’t been saved for the winner of Big Brother.

    • June 21st 2013 @ 10:47am
      Pope Paul VII said | June 21st 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report

      Top Squad Allanthus. Delta, Ricky, Seal and Danny Ross must be very close to selection. Karl actually played Qld schoolboys didn’t he?

      Great of Johnno to recall the Aus/SA in Adelaide. SA should have been fined for not being able to keep out Steve Waugh. Peter Kirsten’s finest moment eye rolling at the non striker’s end

      • June 21st 2013 @ 11:02am
        Johnno said | June 21st 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

        South Africa at Adelaide 93/4, were making Steve Waugh look like Curtley Ambrose. Peter Kirsten was one angry man. Darrell Hair wow, I wonder if the hair’s of his back stood it up, that test was a basically the beginning of the end for Darell Hair, Bryce Lawrence rugby ref style after Boks VS Wallabies.

        • June 21st 2013 @ 12:17pm
          Pope Paul VII said | June 21st 2013 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          I agree Johnno Big Dazza did seem to think Big meant bigger than the game.

      • Columnist

        June 21st 2013 @ 11:04am
        Geoff Parkes said | June 21st 2013 @ 11:04am | ! Report

        Pope, any correlation between Karl Stefanovic making this squad and him being an actual cricketer is purely co-oincidental, trust me!

    • Columnist

      June 21st 2013 @ 11:11am
      Geoff Parkes said | June 21st 2013 @ 11:11am | ! Report

      Johnno, in all seriousness, of all the points you raise above, the one about the bland, sycophantic Indian commentary is the one that stands out and annoys me the most. To the point where it almost became unwatchable during the last series, with obvious issues over the non-use of DRS glossed over by commentators clearly under censorship restrictions.

      But what’s interesting is that this is the reverse situation to here – the article above is obviously bought about by reports of the TV network interfering with the team selection process, whereas in India it’s the cricket authority wielding the power over the broadcaster.

      What a warped world we live in…

      • June 21st 2013 @ 11:25am
        Johnno said | June 21st 2013 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        Yes but do you really think the media networks who pay massive amounts for TV rights, would dare ever let the BCCI, drop Sachin.
        No chance, Sachin will retire , he will never be dropped and hasn’t , retired form ODI cricket never dropped even though he was having a very lean time, and same in test cricket. Sachin is a money maker for the networks, so I don’t for 1 second believe the TV networks in India do not have say on selection of teams. Same with guys like Sehwag even, who is a crowd pleaser and personality and brings in the crowds . The censorship of the Indian media agreed, it was appalling and laughable basically to watch. And the gloss over no discussion whatsoever about DRS was well deplorable and laughable, when stating the obvious it was the topic on everyone’s lip’s,

        • June 21st 2013 @ 12:03pm
          Bayman said | June 21st 2013 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          Love ya work, Johnno. I was watching a movie the other night and thinking of you. Aussie Mel Gibson was in it – called Conspiracy Theory.

          I’m not sure if it’s the networks keeping Sachin in, or the selectors being worried that if they drop him some maniac fan will shoot them……bloody hell, Johnno, I should never have watched that movie!

          • June 21st 2013 @ 12:16pm
            Johnno said | June 21st 2013 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

            I haven’t seen it Bayman. Maybe I shouldn’t, sports will seem even more corrupt after, oh no lol. India is a place, I have no answer for crazy, complex all rolled into one, anything seems possible in India.

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