Ashes 2013 preview – Part two: the batsmen

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    Balance in a batting line-up means that a top five (or six these days) has the ability to deal with a varied attack, on a difficult wicket, and in different match circumstances.

    The South Africans showed that in Faf Du Plessis, they have a player who has the skill set (and mental aptitude) to deliver results in varied and difficult circumstances. Do the Australian players have these qualities?

    To win the Ashes in 2013, the Australian batsmen must exhibit three things which I believe have been lacking recently in Australian cricket:

    1. Technique
    2. Mental toughness
    3. Intimacy with their own game

    Any field of hopefuls must be assessed against these characteristics, because in an away Ashes series these traits will be brutally tested.

    The first four batsmen must be the strongest, both technically and mentally.

    1. Ed Cowan without a doubt has the mental stability and intimacy with his own game (he reminds me much of Alistair Cook in this regard – the way he waits for bowlers to bowl to him) to open the batting. He holds down the number one spot as the best opener in Australia.

    2. David Warner needs a lot of work. But his wrist spin, while currently inconsistent, is a great addition for the balance for this team. Warner must work on both his bowling and his batting (which still remains altogether too loose for an Ashes opener).

    (NB: An honourable contender for Dave Warner’s spot, or Ed Cowan’s for that matter, must be Phil Hughes, who is continuing to beat down the door with strong domestic performances.)

    3. Michael Clarke must take this mantle. While he has played the role of saviour admirably this summer it is time for him to impose himself on the game by batting at number three. “What is he saying?” I hear some of you ask. “Four calendar doubles and you want him to impose himself?” Clarke needs to take responsibility now as the leader of the batting line-up, and when he is effectively coming in at three anyway, why not?

    4. Usman Khawaja – on sports blog sites you very rarely see this man not touted for higher honours. As we say in Australia, he is the goods. If anyone has seen Uzzie bat beyond his brief appearance in the baggy green you would have to agree that he is beautiful to watch, and in my mind he is the most technically gifted and talented batsman in Australia by a country mile. Put simply, he must get another opportunity following the retirement of Ponting. Usman is Australia’s greatest long term prospect for the number three position.

    5. Alex Doolan, while still largely unproven, is in terrific First Class form. Tasmania may have unearthed a gem. Doolan has a beautiful technique, and he could be the next Australian number four.

    6. Shane Watson. Enough said. An honourable mention for Moises Henriques, who is finally starting to realise some of his potential – let’s hope he kicks on and becomes another Watson.

    7. The wicketkeeper/batsman – as a personal preference I take an uninjured Tim Paine, who for me is a class above Wade. Although Paine is returning from injury, it will be interesting to see this duel for the gloves play out.

    So what do you think Roarers? I know I have omitted some players (CJ Ferguson, Peter Forrest and Marcus Harris for example), but generally I like the shape and balance of that top seven.

    Who should our top seven be for the Ashes 2013?

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • December 2nd 2012 @ 2:35am
      Johnno said | December 2nd 2012 @ 2:35am | ! Report

      What, no Mike Hussey, and you overrate Ed Cowan far too highly. And you also rate Dave Warner’s wrist spin.My advice too, Warner is simple .Your a batsmen focus on your batting, last thing you want too do is work too much in your lilted time at training on your bowling, when you have so much work to do on your batting still to become a complete player, your not the finished product yet Dave Warner, along way to go big time. You don’t want to go down the road of Cameron White, Steve Smith,road.

      You only have limited time at training and can’t focus on both . Simon klatch ditched the bowling and it worked fine.
      Micheal Bevan I believe his 1st class career was dogged and burdened by being pressured to bowl, too much.

      Alan Border, and Darren Lehman only had to do a bit of this and a bit of that no real pressure unlike Bevan,Katich, and before he started to get back problems Micheal Clarke too, who I believe has become a much better batsmen since not being expected to bowl much, only sparingly.

      I also think Dave Warner is a better no 3, he would be a great no 3. I like Shane Watson as an opener. He gets out way too much LBW, Phillander got him. But he has the right technique and temperament to open. Dave Warner would be a class no 3 I think.

      If the bowl loses a little shine he can rip in. And if needed to come in early os be it too. Hussey I still have not given up as a no 3 for the Ashes. He is a an opener converted into the middle order coz he couldn’t get a spot in the aussy team as an opener.

      But don’t burden or overbowl Warner or try and turn him into a an all rounder. He has to work hard on his batting before he can worry about becoming a quality spinner or all rounder.

      When Andrew Symonds was used as a spinner and medium pacer, Symonds was batting from no 6 , very different to opening. Warner is a no 3 or no 4 not a no 6.

      My Ashes Top 6 would be
      -Shane Watson
      -Phil Hughes
      -Dave Warner
      -Alex Doolan
      -Micheal Clarke
      -Mike Hussey (But i am very open to Hussey batting at 3 , or no4 if injuries happen
      -Matt Wade , surly now Haddin is finished, but Tim Paine can bat and may pop up

      And Henriques, and Khawaja are not forgotten as well. Ed Cowan only made a century on a GABBA that was hardly a demon pitch more like a road, no where near as much life as this Perth pitch. And Cowan if you take that innings his average is quite average,

      And Alex Doolan had made more runs than phil Hughes by about 50 runs, and has had 3 less innings. He scored 160 vs STH Africa for Australia A. He is 26 so mature and having a hot streak.

    • December 2nd 2012 @ 9:30am
      Red Kev said | December 2nd 2012 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Quite frankly I think you’re crazy.
      Neither Warner nor Cowan has convinced me, I’d back Hughes as an opener over both. However given the current set up I would keep Warner and consign Cowan to history as the guy who kept Phil Hughes’ spot warm while he was dropped for a year.
      Clarke is not a no.3, I would back him to move up to 4, but he is a 4 or 5 player, not a first drop.
      Hussey is still in good form, is unflappable and while Khawaja finds his feet in the national setup I would put Hussey at no.3.
      Doolan has not shown anymore than Dan Christian did last year. This half-season is the best he has ever played in his entire career (and he’s not a 21 y.o just arriving on the scene). He may be ready for the Ashes series if his form continues, but he should only be on the plane to England as a backup. The same applies to Joe Burns – who I do think is a future national player but the key word is future.
      Watson is a problem child, you can’t put him in an important spot (1,2,3) because he misses so many matches, that means he has to sit at 4/5/6 and the logical spot is 6 for an allrounder.
      As for your suggestion of Henriques … whatever you guys are smoking, it’s time to share because that is some pink flying elephant sized delusion if you think he’s an international standard player.
      Forrest and Bailey and Ferguson are not worth looking at.

      Hughes, Warner, Hussey, Clarke, Khawaja, Watson
      By the time Hussey hangs up the gloves, Khawaja will be ready for no.3 and Burns or Doolan (and my money is on Burns) will be ready for no.5.

    • December 2nd 2012 @ 10:28am
      Bearfax said | December 2nd 2012 @ 10:28am | ! Report

      Agreed with the other posters. Cowen the best opener? Are you crazy. The guy has a test average of 33, has had only one century and one other good innings in 16 innings, is 30 years old, has a first class average just tipping 40 after a golden year. He occupies the crease well, but he rarely scores more than 30-40. You must be looking at another Cowen.

      Warner. A player who can devastate an attack and the sort of player who can wear a bowling attack down and soften up the ball. Ideal opener if you have a solid partner. He will get better as he settles into his position and already with a test average in the 40s

      Hughes. By far the best opener in Australia. Just needs a little support and confidence. When he’s hot, he is devastating and can consistently score big as well as occupy the crease. Sure he was found out for a weakness….what past great batsman hasnt been and come back stronger…almost all of them have including Ponting, Clarke, both Waughs, Hayden etc…get off the kids back. This kid is Australia’s main stay opener for the next decade if handled well. Already this season is averaging near 55 at Shield level and an excellent foil for Warner

      Khawaja at 3, but I would keep him at 4 for a while and have Hussey or Clarks at 3 for a time until he’s settled. The selectors made a total bosh up with Khawaja last time, preferring to favour a less talent and older Shaun Marsh. Dreadful mistake. Hopefully Khawaja will give us a big score to get the monkey off his back because after Hughes, he’s the next best young bat and he’s averaging in the mid 40s in the Shield.

      Clarke. Enough said. Australia’s best bat

      Hussey. For now Australia’s second best bat. Until he falters leave him there. We can afford one old bloke if he is still performing and adds experience and a steady head.

      Watson. Should not be an opener or No 3 at test cricket level, especially with Warner there. Too risky of an early collapse. I’d have him at 5 or 6 where he could be devastating against an old ball and a tiring attack. Like Gilchrist, Watson is ideal for opening or No 3 at 50s and 20s over games but better down the order in tests. Would also take some pressure off him for bowling.

      Doolan. A maybe for the future. I want to see this kid over a couple of years not just one golden patch.

      Burns. I suspect a future test player waiting for his chance. Maybe a year or two from a position but if the opportunity arises I would give him a taste as a leaning experience.

      Cosgrove. Still young and a good Shield average over several years. Obvious classy talent and I dont think he would let a test side down. Reminds me of Boof

      David Hussey. Very good Shield average of over 50. I fear he will be this generation’s Brad Hodge of Australian cricket given his age now. Would not let a test side down but probably past the point where selectors will seriously look at him.

      My batting side would be

      Warner
      Hughes
      Khawaja
      Clarke
      Watson
      Hussey

    • December 2nd 2012 @ 10:51am
      buddha9 said | December 2nd 2012 @ 10:51am | ! Report

      well second day in perth showed what australian cricket is currently made of and it doesn’t look like much — nonsense being sprouted that you can give england a run in the ashes is just that, nonsense — Aussies bowled badly but they batted worse — if warner is a test opener i’m a dutchman’s jockstrap in fact the batting looks pretty much as it did in 2010 against the poms : undisciplined , overly dependent on hussey and clarke, full of people who make bad choices, who don’t know how to bat out a day and with a long tail
      As for the bowling: no one can bowl a tight line and save runs; hastings bowling into the breeze hasn’t swung a ball all game, Stac is running in on his tiptoes likes he’s frightened of giving it his all because he’s desperately trying not to spray ditto mitchell J; lyons will get milked; and what else you got? siddle? helfinhouse — please none of these two look any better than they did in england and then in 2010 in oz — the reason you’ve been in the first two games was because SA played badly while the aussie gave it their all as they always do — problem is giving it your all will only go so far if talent is lacking — england just out batted and out bowled india in india — they won’t have a issue with you guys — 3/0 and 2-1

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 1:20pm
        matt h said | December 3rd 2012 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

        Hmm, I think overall we have stood up to the Saffa’s at home a bit better than you guys did this year. Having said that, England would still start clear favourites.

    • Roar Guru

      December 3rd 2012 @ 3:19am
      Andy_Roo said | December 3rd 2012 @ 3:19am | ! Report

      For m two cents worth I think the batting line-up for the Ashes should be as follows

      Warner – Not cemented in his spot yet but he has shown he can destroy a bowling attack and has also played solidly when needed (i.e. Hobart v NZ)

      Cowan – Also not cemented but has solid technique and maturity. Needs to form strong partnership with Warner.

      Watson – Not good enough for a permanent top order player but has experience which is needed while other players mature.

      Clarke – must move to number 4 – he has been coming in early and making big runs so shouldn’t be a problem for him to move up one spot.

      Hussey – moves up one spot same as Clarke. Hussey’s experience is critical at the moment.

      Khawaja – Has the class to be number three but needs to be brought in at 6 first until he settes in the team and makes some runs. Eventually should swap places with Watson.

      Wade is the incumbent and bats well at 7. Not cemented in team yet.

      Others to be selected for the touring party are

      Hughes – A third opener is essential and Hughes can force his way in if he keeps scoring well.

      Joe Burns/Alex Doolan – Long term replacement for Hussey

      Paine – Better keeper than Wade and now fit again needs to keep pressure on Wade.

      In summary ten batsmen make the tour with two of those being keeper and reserve keeper.

      • December 3rd 2012 @ 8:58am
        Bearfax said | December 3rd 2012 @ 8:58am | ! Report

        Not the team I would choose Andy, but probably the one the selectors will choose.Your backup players though make sense for the team you, and probably the selectors, will choose. Still think Hughes should be our No 1 opener with Warner and Watson down the order at 5 or 6. Paine (or Neville) and Burns and Doolan as back ups make sense, though I’d keep an eye on Cosgrove if he fires for the rest of the Shield season. Still young enough and has a good first class average.

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