‘I think they’re hostile at the best of times.’
More cricket this week, although slightly less juvenile than last week’s Festival Of Onions. With Cricket Australia’s contract list out last week and the Ashes side to be named today, it struck me that there is now a set of phantom cricketers in Australia: players who appear real to observers of the game, but not necessarily to selectors, and about whom theories (conspiracy and otherwise) abound.
Here’s my Top 5:
1. Phil Jaques (c) – His last Test innings was a ton, but that didn’t help Jason Gillespie or Martin Love! A dodgy back, the consistency of Katich and a prodigy have seen Jaques leave the contract list despite a Test average of 47. Nor has “the Pro” has been considered as a spare batsman, even though batting in the middle order would be a luxury for any seasoned opener, as M.Hussey would testify.
2. Chris Rogers – Jaques Mark II. Has scored a million runs in first-class cricket (well 11,000 at 50), including a double-century against Australia for Leicestershire on the 2005 Ashes tour. Also has the fourth-highest average of any long-term Shield opener ever, behind only Ponsford, Lawry and Hayden (5,000 run qualification). 1195 runs at 75 in the 2008-09 competition plus the domestic one-day player of the year award were still not enough to secure a contract. I’m not sure why.
3. Jason Krejza – I played Scrabble for the first time in years last Friday night (yes, it’s an exciting life), and this man was first picked for the triple word score. However, a potential value of 72 and obvious ability as a bowler have not been enough to endear him to the firm of Hilditch Hughes Cox & Boon. Back to the Tasmanian wilderness! Or is that a tautology?
4. Brad Hodge – Would bat higher except yesterday’s paper reckoned he was a good chance of touring this time around. The natural successor to Siddons and Law, he may never get the chance to improve on his Test average of 55. On the upside, he may never get to ruin it.
5. Adam Voges – as we all know, marriage is supposed to be forever. Which makes Adam Voges’ decision not to postpone his wedding despite being picked for Australia all the more confusing. If you shave a couple of months off eternity, you are still left with eternity. On the other hand if you tell the Aussie selectors you are unavailable for no good reason, you may as hire a plane and write “PLEASE DON’T RENEW MY CONTRACT” in the South African sky. Or am I being unromantic?
Anyone I’ve missed? What about some other phantoms down the ages?