The Roar
The Roar


Have stakes ever been higher for Australian cricket?

14th December, 2010

Not only are they staring at the prospect of losing the Ashes. Again. For the third time in four series. And before Christmas, no less. That is bad enough. But individual careers could be defined in the third Test against England in Perth starting on Thursday.

Captain Ricky Ponting said as much before the Ashes.

“I’d probably be looking for a new job if we lose again,” Ponting said in July.

“It’s as simple as that.”

Ponting risks becoming the first Australian captain to lose three Ashes series since Billy Murdoch, some 120 years ago.

Murdoch lost four Ashes series in all, although the series were shorter than the current five Test format.

But to be the first since the 1880s is something in itself.

Ponting has led his country in Test matches 75 times, with his 47 victories a record for a Test skipper.


The Tasmanian has lost only 15 Tests.

It seems almost absurd that the man rated Australia’s best batsman since Bradman, and most successful captain, could have such an Ashes blot on his career.

Then there’s chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch, who conceded last week: “You can’t win, unless you win”.

“If you don’t make changes, you’re too conservative. If you do make changes, you’re chopping and changing,” Hilditch said of a selector’s lot.

Hilditch’s contract expires at the end of the one-day World Cup next April.

The lawyer and ex-Test opening bat has presided over a selection regime now pilloried.

In the past four years, seven cricketers have played just one Test for Australia.


South Australia’s Dan Cullen began the trend – once considered the rising spinning star, he hasn’t got a four-day game for his state since February last year.

The one-Test wonders are Cullen, Chris Rogers, Beau Casson, Bryce McGain, Graham Manou, Clint McKay and Peter George.

Only Manou would consider himself fortunate, the SA wicketkeeper replaced an injured Brad Haddin, for a Test during Australia’s failed Ashes campaign in England last year.

Spinners Jason Krejza and Xavier Doherty played two Tests before being discarded; Victorians Andrew McDonald and Cameron White four each.

Add Phil Hughes (seven Tests) and Steve Smith (two Tests) to the list, but at least both are now back in the baggy green.

The shock selection for the Perth Test, tweaker Michael Beer, will be the 10th spinner tried in Tests since the great Shane Warne retired.

Beer will be Australia’s 418th Test cricketer in 133 years – but 36 have played for Australia in the past four years.


Lose at the WACA and the scene may be set for the revolving door to spin again.