Australia’s missing class of batsmen

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By aussie1st, aussie1st is a Roar Pro

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    Just a decade ago, many Australian fans and most importantly the selectors could name a handful of batting replacements to fill in or even take over the spots of the current batting lineup.

    How things have changed in the space of a decade with no player in their late 20’s knocking the door down for selection.

    When talking about unlucky batsmen from the past decade in Australian cricket, names such as Brad Hodge, David Hussey, Phil Jaques, Michael Bevan, Chris Rogers, Martin Love and Michael Di Venuto were mentioned.

    A decade ago these were the players putting pressure on the incumbents with their First Class averages well above 45.

    The thing each of these guys have in common apart from missing the boat in regards to Test cricket is each of them were in their late 20’s a decade ago.

    Back then the selectors and fans were debating over whether to pick a young promising player such as Michael Clarke and Shane Watson or go with the guys mentioned above.

    Times have changed substantially since then with no such luxury for the current selectors.

    The batsmen in their late 20’s have First Class averages between 35-40 and while there are some promising youngsters on the scene, they have not been able to established themselves at Test level yet.

    If we go back to the 2005/06 season where the batsmen in their late 20’s now would have been in their early 20’s, Mark Cosgrove made 736 runs at 66.9, George Bailey 778 runs at 43.22, Shaun Marsh 676 runs at 37.55, Callum Ferguson 506 runs at 36.14 and Cameron White 482 runs at 30.12.

    The 2007/08 season showed some promise with Luke Pomersbach putting his name on the radar with 743 runs at 61.91 and it was also Philip Hughes’ first season where he ended up with 559 runs at 62.11. Shaun Marsh and Cameron White also put in some solid numbers and interesting enough neither of them would play this amount of games again (7 and 9 respectively).

    2008/09 saw the emergence of the other young leftie who is currently in the Australian setup in Usman Khawaja. Hughes had a massive second year to back up his first one while White had another solid season but like Khawaja and Hughes, he did not play enough games to push the 1000 run barrier. Pomersbach copped the second year syndrome, from which he would never recapture the heights of his 07/08 season.

    The next season was our first sighting of Steven Smith who had a mammoth season with four hundreds for 772 runs at 77.2. Hughes also had a big year almost cracking the 1000 run barrier and Khawaja backed up his first season. This was also Peter Forrest’s first noticeable production.

    The mark of the new decade also brought about a change in the run scorers. Gone were Martin Love and Brad Hodge and the veterans left struggled with age appearing to catch up with them.

    Two seasons have gone in this new decade with a lack of big runs and no batsmen has crossed the 1000 run barrier since the 2008/09 season.

    Of the players I mentioned who are in their late 20’s now, Mark Cosgrove is the only one that has a respectable First Class record.

    Shaun Marsh has been producing runs in the past few seasons but his lack of matches either through injury or national duty has meant he is still yet to play a full season and his First Class average is well below 40.

    Cameron White is in the same boat however his First Class average is acceptable at 40 but his recent demotion from the National setup coupled with a lacklustre return in Shield cricket means White won’t be adding to his test tally anytime soon.

    There are other names in their late 20’s who have been producing recently such as Rob Quiney, Peter Forrest, Ed Cowan and Liam Davis but apart from Cowan none of them have a First Class average over 40.

    It is clear players from the class of early 2000’s have not lived up to the hype and failed to kick on like many would have hoped.

    George Bailey and Peter Forrest are next in line for the Australian batting lineup which shows how far the standards have dropped as apart from this season (11/12) neither has made an significant impression in the runs department.

    There is still hope that the current youngsters on the scene will bring Australia back to the glory days where batsmen like David Hussey, Martin Love and co could be left out and the side still remained strong.

    In around five years Philip Hughes, Steven Smith, Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Joe Burns, Chris Lynn and Tom Cooper will be in their late 20’s and one can only hope they kick on and don’t follow their predecessors.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • May 6th 2012 @ 11:02am
      Disco said | May 6th 2012 @ 11:02am | ! Report

      If only Khawaja was “currently in the Australian setup”.

    • May 6th 2012 @ 11:46am
      Todd Johnson said | May 6th 2012 @ 11:46am | ! Report

      Interesting stats – hopefully the selectors take note of these and don’t follow the “potential” trap of the last selectors with the test batting line up.

      These numbers tell me a couple of things…

      – Cosgrove, Bailey, Cowan, Khawaja are all about the same level ans deserve continued consideration
      – S Marsh is not in the league as the names above. 10 matches per 100 is not good enough
      – C White probably isn’t quite there as a bat
      – Watson’s numbers don’t befit a test number 3. Probably should be 6
      – C Rogers should have been given more opportunities
      – P Hughes deserves support but he needs to sort out his game so that he doesn’t get out the same way each innings
      – The top players stand out clearly, on average and games per 100 (Ponting, Hayden, Waugh)

      First Class Career numbers:
      Current Players:
      M Cosgrove: Matches: 109, Ave: 43, 100’s: 21 Games per 100: 5.19
      S Marsh: Matches: 73, Ave: 36, 100’s: 7 Games per 100: 10.42
      P Hughes Matches: 70, Ave: 46, 100’s: 17 Games per 100: 4.11
      C White Matches: 120, Ave: 40, 100’s: 16 Games per 100: 7.50
      U Khawaja Matches: 46, Ave: 42, 100’s: 9 Games per 100: 5.11
      E Cowan Matches: 67, Ave: 40, 100’s: 13 Games per 100: 5.15
      G Bailey Matches: 81, Ave: 40, 100’s: 14 Games per 100: 5.78
      C Rogers Matches: 208, Ave: 50, 100’s: 52 Games per 100: 4.00
      S Watson Matches: 104, Ave: 44 100’s: 17 Games per 100: 6.11
      R Ponting Matches: 273, Ave: 55, 100’s: 77 Games per 100: 3.54

      Recently retired players:
      M Hayden Matches: 295, Ave: 52, 100’s: 79 Games per 100: 3.73
      M Waugh Matches: 368, Ave: 52, 100’s: 81 Games per 100: 4.5

    • May 6th 2012 @ 1:11pm
      Matt F said | May 6th 2012 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

      Consistency is the key here. We’ve got a bunch of batsmen that can pile on the runs when they feel like it but can’t produce the numbers year in year out, which is what separates them from the previous generation.

      Cosgrove is probably the best example. He has a career average of 43 but when broken down season by season we can see serious inconsistency. He seems to have one season where he averages 60+ and follows it up with a season of under 35. He has all the talent but has never had the desire or work ethic to take his talent to the next level. I’m sure that there are a number of cricketers who could be placed in a similar category.

      • May 6th 2012 @ 5:48pm
        Rhys said | May 6th 2012 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

        Cosgrove is the Greg Ritchie of his generation. I’m not saying that necessarily in reference to his physical profile, but Ritchie too was a batsman that promised so much more than he was able to deliver.

    • May 6th 2012 @ 1:42pm
      aussie1st said | May 6th 2012 @ 1:42pm | ! Report

      One name I left out in this piece was Andrew McDonald. When he finally got a proper go in 2006 he has averaged 44 from that period to now. His main problem has been converting his 50s but that can be partially put down to batting with Hodge, Dussey, White and Rogers.

      • May 7th 2012 @ 6:17am
        ManInBlack said | May 7th 2012 @ 6:17am | ! Report

        In Andrew McDonald’s case – you can’t ignore his high quality but sadly massively under rated bowling. However – as Greg Chappell said a couple of years back when Shane Watson was opening the batting “There’s only room for one all rounder” and that left me amazed that A. S.Watson was being used as an opening bat and B. that the opening bat was considered the all-rounder of the test team. Granted – he looked set for a stellar shield season a couple of years back but kept finding dodgy was of getting injured including a busted hand in the middle of a super bowling spell (wickets as well as super economy – there are some good stories of him 100% working over supposedly very good NSW players in the last shield game this year.).

        In the case of Chris Rogers – he fits the profile for success – or, fitted. He’d scored his 10,000 1st class runs. He’d had to wait behind Langer and Hayden. He got one test as a fill in for injured Hayden and never got sighted again. But, gee – a career 1st class record of 17,000+ runs at avg of 50.
        And, he’s ‘only’ 34.
        Used to be that guys that age had another 3 or 4 years in the national team if they wanted and that forced the young fella’s to keep improving their game at state level. Of course – had that mentality that seemed to have served us well been followed, then one B.Hodge would be considering retirement from the test squad now.
        The silly thing is – the media keeps trying to shuffle Hussey and Ponting out. But, there’s no one any better – so, let the young guys be forced to bash the door down.

        • May 7th 2012 @ 8:20pm
          Disco said | May 7th 2012 @ 8:20pm | ! Report

          Why McDonald was ostracised after the 2009 tour to South Africa eludes me.

          • May 9th 2012 @ 5:29pm
            Lolly said | May 9th 2012 @ 5:29pm | ! Report

            Same here. He was bowling well enough to have been given another shot. He’s played well in County cricket on top of his Shield record, even if it is with Leics in division 2. For some reason he just seems to have become invisible.

    • May 7th 2012 @ 1:14am
      Marcus Taylor said | May 7th 2012 @ 1:14am | ! Report

      So what’s your suggestion? How do we fix it? We know things are bad, batting-wise, so why did this happen and how can we change it?

    • May 7th 2012 @ 10:01am
      Pope Paul VII said | May 7th 2012 @ 10:01am | ! Report

      I have a bit of a theory. Prior to the last three or four seasons Australia had a long hot drought. Flatter and slower wickets were the order of the day and it was runs all around. Since the drought broke batting has been more of a challenge, so the current lot are having a battle stacking up the runs. This includes Ponting, Hussey and Clarke on the more difficult wickets too.

      In regard to Ponting and Hussey there is no denying their exceptional quality and experience. There is also no denying they are well supported by the selectors when they have highly droppable lean stretches. Do the selectors have any criteria for letting them go?

      If the South Africans run through the current top 6 then Cowan’s 20s like 50’s and 50’s worth 100s might apply to the incoming batsman as a matter of expediency to replace the outgoing.

      • May 7th 2012 @ 1:26pm
        Ian Whitchurch said | May 7th 2012 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

        I think theres something in that theory. Good call.

      • May 7th 2012 @ 1:39pm
        aussie1st said | May 7th 2012 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

        That certainly is one reason I was thinking of. It would explain the lack of runs over the past couple of seasons and also the crazy bowling averages we have been seeing. However it also appears the players from this class just aren’t of the same standards compared to 10 years ago. When Hughes and Khawaja were dominating the circuit none of the guys I mentioned were following suit, it was the older guys like Rogers, Hodge, Dussey and Love scoring the runs.

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