Batting Rob Quiney at number 3 in his debut Test match was cruel to him personally, and a mistake for the Australian cricket team in general.
I believe he should have been selected to come in at number six, thereby easing the pressure on him considerably in his first game in the baggy green.
I understand the argument that Quiney bats at the top of the order for Victoria and should therefore do the same at Test level. However, that completely overlooks the fact that international cricket is a massive step up from first class cricket.
Quite simply, it’s not a like-for-like comparison. It’s a little bit different facing Ben Cutting in the Sheffield Shield than it is facing Dale Steyn in a Test match.
In any case, Quiney wasn’t selected as opener for Australia anyway. And that only reaffirms my opinion that he should have come in down the order.
It’s also worth pointing out that Quiney has only recently cemented his spot as an opener for the Bushrangers, and has actually batted almost everywhere in the order for Victoria. Yes, as an opener he has been most impressive, but he’s not a career opener.
Australia has a long history of allowing new batsmen to ease their way into Test cricket by bringing them in down the order. Damien Martyn, Greg Blewett, Ricky Ponting, Stuart Law, Martin Love, Simon Katich, Darren Lehmann, Michael Bevan, Michael Clarke, Brad Hodge and Marcus North are just a collection of Australian batsmen who made their debuts at five or six despite batting at three or four for their respective states.
In a staggering and relevant statistic, of the eleven batsmen listed above, all but Martyn and Katich notched at least half centuries in their debut Test match, with Blewett, Love, Clarke and North all making hundreds.
Bringing the rookies in down the order enabled them to be shielded from fresh bowlers armed with a new ball.
Coming in down the order also protects debutants from the pressure of the match. Come in at six with 400 on the board, and it’s a lot less stressful. Come in at six with just 100 on the board, and at least you know some other experienced batsmen have failed, so you’ve got nothing to lose.
This is not to suggest that Quiney isn’t up to the task of batting first drop at Test level. In his short time at the crease, he looked composed and comfortable. The people suggesting he played rash shots and that it was due to the influence of Twenty20 cricket are way, way off the mark.
Quiney played good traditional cricket shots to short pitched bowling. He wasn’t slogging, he was actually playing the ball on its merit.
To suggest he should have tried to evade the short balls ignores the fact that doing so is a good way to get hurt, or get out.
However, I still think he could have benefited greatly from being eased into Test cricket.
Apart from the fact that it would have been better for Quiney himself and his career if he came in down the order, I could also argue that it was wrong for the team. Quite simply, I didn’t think it was a wise idea to have three inexperienced players at the top of the order.
However, with an overnight score of 4/487, that’s currently an argument with a lot of holes in it. You simply can’t question the results.
Even though I’m certain it wasn’t in Australia’s game plan to be 3 for 40.