Ashes Q&A with Brad Hogg: Who to pick at six and seven?

Tristan Knell Roar Rookie

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    With the Ashes kicking off at the Gabba on November 23, the debate over the makeup of the Aussie cricket team continues.

    Bowlers Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood and Nathan Lyon will form the best attack we have seen in years if they are at 100 per cent fitness.

    The top order of Matt Renshaw, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and Peter Handscomb seems to be a lock, which leaves the number six and the wicketkeeper as the most highly debated topics in the game.

    The contenders for number six are Hilton Cartwright, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, George Bailey, Callum Ferguson, Nic Maddison, Daniel Hughes, Moises Henriques and Marcus Stoinis.

    The keeping contenders are Peter Nevill, Alex Carey and the incumbent Matthew Wade.

    I caught up for a chat with Brad Hogg on my Talking with TK Podcast to ask him for his opinion on the Ashes debate while also catching up about his travelling prior to his season of 20/20 with the Melbourne Renegades.

    Catch the entire show here.

    If you love your cricket, the likes of Steve Waugh, Damien Fleming, Brad Haddin, Greg Chappell, Merv Hughes and John Buchanan have all had a chat on the podcast.

    Now to the Q & A with Hoggy:

    TK – Brad, having a look to the Ashes, you’re a big fan of Alex Carey for the wicketkeeper role, which he is contesting with Matthew Wade and Peter Nevill. All three of them didn’t do much to stand out on the weekend, what’s your take on it?

    Brad Hogg – Nevill had a great season in Shield cricket last year, I think he averaged 50 with the bat. Australia has to make the decision, the keeper for me is the energy in the team. If you look at when Australia has been successful they have had Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist behind the stumps, for a good decade they were the mainstay players in the team.

    When you look at it, Matthew Wade and Peter Nevill, both have had a hard time on the selection process, being in and out of the team and neither has had a real good go at it, well both haven’t taken their opportunities despite being talented players.

    If I was looking at it I’d say we got Warner, we got Steve Smith that’s making runs and Renshaw has done alright at the top. But after that our batters aren’t doing enough so we are looking for the keeper who is batting well and scoring runs.

    But the keepers aren’t scoring runs so we’ve struggled in that department over the last couple of years.

    For me, I’d say Carey you got this spot for a couple of years, so make the best out of the opportunity. The only other guy that I would have looked at is Sam Whiteman, but he’s broken his finger and he’s out for the whole season. Timing is everything.

    There has been a lot of talk about Carey, but for me he’s young, he’s going to be around for a long time, so get him in there.

    TK – I spoke to Steve Waugh last week and he said something similar to you in pick and stick, that they need to show confidence in someone young?

    BH – I’ve got no qualms putting in an experienced batter in there, in that middle order to strengthen it because the young players coming through aren’t performing and if you look at the one day series, all the Indian batsmen averaged between 40 and 55, all the Australian batsmen were averaging from high 20s to David Warner and Steve Smith who averaged 50s.


    (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

    Other than those two everyone was below 40.

    When you’re sizing the two teams up that’s a huge problem for the Australians moving forward. They’ve got to work out what youngsters are coming through, who has got the mental aptitude to deal with the pressure out in the middle and turn those low averages out to bigger averages.

    TK – Do we place too much an emphasis on having an all-rounder at number six Brad?

    BH – The all-rounder. Yes, I do unless you got a Ben Stokes there is no point trying to fill that role with someone who has got potential. As far as I’m concerned when you look at when Australia has been dominant, players have dominated Shield cricket.

    You look at the Mike Husseys, didn’t get a game till very late, Justin Langer till very late, Matthew Hayden.

    These guys learnt their craft in Shield cricket, it was made tough for them to get into the Australian team and when they got in they knew that it was going to be a limited opportunity and they made the most of it.

    I don’t think we are doing that enough these days, we’ve just gone to bring youth through.

    If you look at the last Shield game, Ed Cowan was the highest run scorer for NSW, won the award for NSW and those guys are not playing in the strongest team. As far as I’m concerned that is a backward step.

    If you’re not playing the best people in Shield cricket and giving them a run and an opportunity to represent their country when they’ve got the runs on the board, it’s making it too easy for the youngsters to get lengthy opportunities when they haven’t quite deserved it.

    TK – So if you could pick one player to be the number six for Australia who would it be?

    BH – For my liking, you haven’t got an all-rounder like Ben Stokes, you’re looking at a bits and pieces player. For mine, we got a great bowling attack and there needs to someone extremely experienced at number six, so if we haven’t got a quality all-rounder whose making runs we have got to go for the experienced option.

    There is no reason why we can’t go for George Bailey who averaged 50 last year in Shield cricket, he scored a double 100 and has the performances on the board.

    George Bailey of Australia

    (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

    He should be playing one day cricket, he’s a quality player, he’s one of those players that’s been hard done by. You look at Ed Cowan who made a lot of runs last year but I don’t think he would be the perfect fit at number six, I think his role is more at the top of the order probably at number three or even opening, but he’s not going to get a go there.

    Then you got Hilton Cartwright who they gave a coupl of opportunities to and he averaged 50 last year. If they are going to go for an all-rounder, then they have to go for the experience of George Bailey or the young feller who put on the performances last year.

    They gave him a go in the last Test series and I think it would be quite rude for him not to get a go. It’s either maturity or if they go with the young feller they got to give him a go for a very long time at least three or four Test matches in a row.

    TK’s verdict
    I tend to agree with Hoggy that we do need an experienced six to take the pressure off the seven. With the calibre of the bowling line up we have, there is less need on a bowling all-rounder to carry the load.

    Within the team, both Smith and Warner can bowl a few overs if the four top liners need a few overs off.

    At the six either Shaun Marsh or Hilton Cartwright will get the nod. Hilton is a better batsman than he gets credit for and we should place less emphasis on him to be a bowler.

    This will allow us to go back to Nevill’s finer keeper skills, and I think Carey needs a bumper season in the Shield this year to unseat his more experienced rival.

    Who are your picks for the number six and seven as we move forward towards an exciting Test series?