‘I think they’re hostile at the best of times.’
As Australia moves inexorably towards a series defeat – or at best a draw – in India, it is vital that all cricket-lovers in the nation commit themselves fully to finding the right people to blame.
Candidates such as Glenn McGrath (retired), Shane Warne (retired) and the former Mrs. Brett Lee (honey trap) spring to mind.
However, as always, it is difficult to go past the national selectors, who appear to be suffering a Dravid-style form slump on this tour.
Inspired by their example, I present my Top 5 Dud Theories of Selection.
1. We must pick a spinner even if they suck (c)
I have no problem with Krejza’s selection for this Test assuming he should even have been on the tour. (I would suggest that picking an underperforming offie in preference to a much better-credentialled Chinaman bowler doesn’t make much sense to me.) However, I cannot fathom why the selectors would drop Stuart Clark and retain Cameron White. One has a Test bowling average of 22 and the other can’t get a bowl for Victoria despite being the captain! Put another way, who would you rather face?
2. We can’t pick two left-arm fast bowlers in the same side
This brilliant reasoning was used to exclude Doug Bollinger from considerations despite him plainly being the most dangerous bowler in Australian first-class cricket. Yet the Second Test team featured three bowlers of the same type in Lee, Watson and Siddle. The bias against everything except regulation right-arm meds has also been applied against Warne and MacGill (the “you can’t play 2 leg-spinners” theory), while for a while Stuart Clark was regarded as “too similar to Glenn McGrath”. Since when was that a problem?
3. We should pick that bowler for his batting – aka the Simon O’Donnell trap.
See also C. White (Cameron or, for that matter, Craig). Applies to keepers too, possibly including the current Aussie incumbent and certainly every England keeper since Jack Russell.
4. We should pick an all-rounder no matter what
A similar problem to No.3, but (like each aeroplane) subtly different. The issue in this case is not whether a player’s best batting or bowling is good enough, but which will be delivered on any given day. When one is required and the other delivered, the team becomes imbalanced. Watson is a leading example.
5. We can’t just pick people from NSW
David Hookes famously observed that every NSW debutant receives not just a baggy blue cap, but also a baggy green cap in a brown paper bag. Strangely, he thought this was a bad thing! Selectors in the current series have deviated from this NSW-centric policy (no Clark, no Bollinger) and in my biased opinion it has cost them. In future, I suggest we pick our best 6 batsmen, our single best gloveman, our 4 bowlers most likely to take wickets and then, if in doubt, pick a New South Welshman!