Michael Clarke must move up the order

David Lord Columnist

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    Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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    If Australia’s to regain the Ashes next year, Michael Clarke must bat three in a major revamp of the batting order, with Mike Hussey at four and Shane Watson at five.

    And there’s no better time to start than against Sri Lanka in the three Test series starting at Bellerive Oval on December 14.

    It seems the national selectors have inked in opening batsmen David Warner and Ed Cowan for the long haul and while they are not a Bill Lawry-Bobby Simpson, Mark Taylor-Michael Slater, or a Matt Hayden-Justin Langer combination, they are the best available.

    And both are left handers, which tends to be one of the best ways to put a dent in opposition new ball bowlers.

    But three, four and five in the order have been vulnerable, and after the 309-run hammering by the South Africans and the immediate post-Ponting period, now is the time to revamp.

    Traditionally the best batsmen in an Australian team have been one, two and three. Since World War II, baggy green captains have filled those berths with Don Bradman, Lindsay Hassett, Simpson, Lawry, Ian Chappell and when he retired his brother Greg, then Taylor, and Ricky Ponting.

    There are always exceptions to any rule, with Richie Benaud and Ian Johnson spinners who batted in the late order, and Allan Border and Steve Waugh very effective in the four, five and six berths throughout their spectacular careers.

    So world number one ranked Clarke at three, with the next best Australian batsmen Hussey and Watson to follow. The batting order will take on a formidable look rather being brittle.

    Which will decide what type of batsmen the selectors will turn to to replace the retired Ponting – a number six, with Matthew Wade at seven

    The five-man panel has already shown its hand with Usman Khawaja named captain of the Chairman’s XI to play against Sri Lanka in a three-dayer at Manuka this week.

    Yet Phillip Hughes is better-performed this season. He’s either only regarded as an opening batsman, or out of favour.

    There’s no grey with the 24-year-old who has scored three Test, and 20 first class, tons in his career – far more than any other genuine contender to replace Ponting.

    Khawaja is nearly 26, with 11 first class hundreds, and bolter Alex Doolan (27), who pushed his claims with an impressive and unbeaten 161 against the South Africans for Australia A has five first class tons to his name.

    Whichever way the selectors move to replace Ponting for December 14, it must be Clarke three, Hussey four, Watson five.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (19)

    • December 5th 2012 @ 6:44am
      Christo the Daddyo said | December 5th 2012 @ 6:44am | ! Report

      If Clarke is batting well at 5 (and let’s face it, he is!), why risk mucking that up? It ales more sense to move Hussey up the order as he has both experience and success there – unlike his captain.

      Assuming that Hughes or Khawaja replaces Ponting, we could do a lot worse than pick:

      … and then the bowlers.

      However I think the selectors will stick with Watson at 3 and either pick the new batsmen as a straight swap for Ponting at 4, or move Clarke up to that slot and fit the new boy at 5. Can’t see Clarke moving to 3.

      • December 5th 2012 @ 10:43am
        jameswm said | December 5th 2012 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        I’d put Clarke at 4, and the new guy at 5. Otherwise, I can see merit in pmving Huss to 3 to ease in Hughes/Khawaja, so they can get some scores and confidence before moving up to 3.

    • December 5th 2012 @ 10:25am
      Col said | December 5th 2012 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      100% agree. You dont see Amla and Kallis hiding behind Du Plessis and de Villiers, or Pietersen and Trott (Cook is their best bat but he opens) hiding behind Patel, Morgan or Bell.

      Unless they are openers, new blokes in need to start at 5 or 6. After all, thats where Clarke debuted. Why isnt he affording that to other debutants?

    • December 5th 2012 @ 11:19am
      Train Without A Station said | December 5th 2012 @ 11:19am | ! Report

      He was tried with minimal success at 4 and is now in career best form at 5. Seems a pointless risk to move him. He may be better suited to playing at 4 now, but why take the punt?

      • December 5th 2012 @ 2:33pm
        jameswm said | December 5th 2012 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

        It’s coincidence that he’s been in career best form whilst he’s batting at 5.

        If he can bat 5, he can bat 4. There’s very little difference between the two.

    • December 5th 2012 @ 11:21am
      Seano said | December 5th 2012 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      Hussey at 3, Watson at 4, Clarke at 5, Usman at 6, then go look Hughes an quinney in the eye an tell them try are playing for Eds spot, that way everything looks good.

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      • December 5th 2012 @ 1:49pm
        Armchair Supercoach said | December 5th 2012 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

        Why is Cowan’s spot up for grabs? If you ask me, Warner should be the one under the pump. His first innings dismissal is a perfect example of why! All he had to do was work his way through the first 45 mins and definitely not get out before Lyon! His dismissal was effectively 2 as Lyon wasn’t going to last very long in those conditions. Cowan does not to convert his starts to bigger scores but much prefer his ability to hang around and take the sting out of the ball. Clarke to stay at 5, Watson 4 and Quiney 3. He was the best option 3 tests ago and would prefer to see Uzi and Hughes put together a solid season, not half a season before possible selection for Ashes.

        • December 5th 2012 @ 2:34pm
          jameswm said | December 5th 2012 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

          Look at their test averages supercoach.

          • December 5th 2012 @ 5:02pm
            Armchair Supercoach said | December 5th 2012 @ 5:02pm | ! Report

            Looked at averages and yes Warner gets him there, however, the ball faced stat backs up my point. Warner 12 test, 21 innings, balls faced 1082 compared to Cowan 10 tests, 17 innings, balls faced 1342. Warner’s s/r is 73.56 while Cowan’s is 43.66. Rather telling statistic if you ask me 300 more balls faced or roughly 50 more overs faced from 4 digs less. Like I said above, Cowan needs to convert more of his starts to bigger scores but like the way he hangs around to take a little shine off the ball.

            • December 5th 2012 @ 6:16pm
              Bearfax said | December 5th 2012 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

              That’s why Warner is better. He scores quickly, upsets the bowlers pattern, and takes the shine off the new ball with his big hitting. Cowen occupies the crease, which would be OK if he was consistently scoring 50+, but getting out early after occupying the crease with little to show for it just puts pressure on lower order batsmen. Warner may get out cheaply a lot but you know he’s been there. It shows on the ball

              And David, I thought you were an expert. How on Earth can you suggest that Cowen, alongside Warne is the best opening pair in the game. Hughes was sacked for a test average like Cowen presently has and has gone away and made efforts to address that problem. He’s a far better opener than Cowen, and if the selectors ignore his claims they should be sacked.

    • Roar Guru

      December 5th 2012 @ 11:58am
      Mantis said | December 5th 2012 @ 11:58am | ! Report

      For the Sri Lankan tests id like to see

      Watto down at 6 because his conversion rate of 50s to 100s is terrible, meaning he is not likely to stick around for long. Give Clarke and Hussey, both who have proven they can last long periods, more time at the crease with some support behind them in the order. That and he may be more likely to bowl a few more overs if he knows hes got a rest come batting.

    • December 5th 2012 @ 12:40pm
      Jason said | December 5th 2012 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

      You play your best No 5 at No 5. That is Clarke.

      Moving him up the order weakens us down the order and weakens Clarke.

      It really isn’t that hard.

      • December 5th 2012 @ 2:36pm
        jameswm said | December 5th 2012 @ 2:36pm | ! Report

        Clarke’s your best no.4 and probably your best no.3 too. Heck, he could be the best opener there too. He;’d definitely be your best no.6.

        Odd comment. You bat people where best suits the team. It’s time to move up to 4.

        • December 5th 2012 @ 5:40pm
          Jason said | December 5th 2012 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

          So you’d move him from 5 where he is performing at a Bradman level and elevate him to 4 where he has failed in the past.

          How does that suit the team?

      • Roar Guru

        December 5th 2012 @ 5:03pm
        The Barry said | December 5th 2012 @ 5:03pm | ! Report

        True Jason – but you pick your best no 3 and best no 4 before you even get to your best no 5…

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