How will our Ashes squad shape up?

Lisa Sthalekar Columnist

By Lisa Sthalekar,

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68 Have your say

    The Sydney Test is a special occasion for the players and spectators. The Australians have retained the Warne-Muralidaran trophy and I’m looking forward to watching them send off Hussey on a winning note, something that they weren’t able to do with Ponting.

    Invariably, the excitement which builds with the Tests being played at this time of year leads to everyone starting to speculate over the most important series the Australians play – the Ashes.

    So I thought I would join in the fun and speculate on the likely 13 to make the trip.

    But first, let’s look back for a moment at the 2010/2011 squad that played against the Poms:

    • Ponting – Retired
    • Clarke – Will lead the new squad
    • Katich – Retired
    • Watson – Will play a key all-rounder role
    • Hussey – A shock retirement
    • North – Has missed his chance at this level
    • Haddin – Not currently seen as the number one Test keeper
    • Doherty – Now seen more as an ODI specialist
    • Smith – Hasn’t been seen in the Test team for some time after coming back to domestic cricket with a big thud. Also, now viewed as more of a T20 ODI player
    • Johnson – Has fought hard to be back in the mix; might be part of the touring party
    • Hilfenhaus – Will be there unless injuries continue. Has struggled in Ashes years
    • Siddle – Has grown into the back bone of the Australian pacemen; will be the leader amongst the young group
    • Bollinger – On his way out, even though he is performing well in domestic cricket

    In my view, most of this squad won’t be considered this time around and I can only see three players that pick themselves. So it’ll be a young side full of enthusiasm.

    If I was selecting the squad in batting order, it would look something like this:

    1. Warner – Not yet the mould of a traditional Test opener, so even though he doesn’t have the consistency, he does have the capacity to win you a match. That X-factor is hard to leave out.
    2. Cowan – has proved that he is vital cog in the batting line-up and provides the perfect opening partner to Warner as he is the stable, more reliable player.
    3. Hughes – since the retirement of the great Ricky Ponting, Hughes has been given a chance. He has just come off a successful English summer and would be used to the conditions that he would face in July/August 2013. The question is – will his performances hold up through the Test series in India? That will determine his place in the team.
    4. Clarke – should slot into this position due to his wonderful performance over the last calendar year and would provide some stability to the top order as that seems to be an area of weakness based on our last series against South Africa.
    5. Watson – with the revelation of him wanting to remain a Test player, and being seen as just a batsman, he will work extremely hard and his experience might get him over the line with such a young batting line up.
    6. Johnson – the No. 6 position should be held for the genuine all-rounder, and at the moment, that seems to be Johnson. His effort with the ball has recently been effective.
    7. Wade – is now seen as the number one wicket-keeper and has done a relatively good job behind the stumps. He also adds to the batting as an explosive hitter.

    The next three spots become harder due to the amount of fast bowlers that have been injured this season.

    This Boxing Day Test will see our seventh fast bowler used this summer.

    The combination that I would like to see for the Ashes is:

    8. Siddle – the spearhead and work-horse of the team.
    9. Starc – showed in the last Test what he is capable of if he gets it right and gives a point of difference as the only left-arm quicky.
    10. Pattison – has performed extremely well when fit and will be part of this Australian side for years to come.
    11. Lyon – despite some criticism over his last few Tests, Lyon is still a relatively young spinner who has only played close to 50 First-Class matches. He will continue to develop his art and get better in assisting Australia finishing teams off.

    Of course, an Ashes series means a long tour.

    So Australia will take a larger squad than it usually carries at home and other players that will be considered will be Hilfenhaus, Cummins, and Hazelwood, with a possible dark-horse in Faulkener, who has impressed at the domestic level.

    It would be remiss of me not to mention newcomer Bird, who performed extremely well on debut and has already encouraged comparisons with Glenn McGrath, something that this Australian team has missed since his departure.

    He will put a lot of pressure on Hifenhaus to hold his spot.

    The back-up keeper will be Neville, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Khawaja is taken along to be part of the set-up.

    So how will they go?

    With the loss of Ponting and now Hussey, it exposes a very young batting line up.

    There is some stability with our bowling line up, and at the end of the day, in order to win a Test match, you have to bowl out a team twice.

    Australia can call upon a number of fast bowlers to do the job.

    A lot can happen in the next six months. If Cricket Australia can reduce the amount of injuries amongst their young fast bowling brigade, Australia will be in a very good place to win.

    But cricket is a funny game.

    Have Your Say



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    The Crowd Says (68)

    • Roar Guru

      January 1st 2013 @ 7:23am
      peeeko said | January 1st 2013 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      i dont know if i would call Cowan as “stable and more reliable” than Warner. He has a lower average and has reached 50, 6 times in 20 test innings compared to Warners 7 in 24 (3 centuries compared to 1) i think the word is slower

    • January 1st 2013 @ 7:36am
      Stuee said | January 1st 2013 @ 7:36am | ! Report

      M Johnson at 6??
      It’s worse than I thought. This isn’t going to end well.
      Seriously. No one else? Shaun Marsh?

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-roar/id327174726?mt=8].

      • January 2nd 2013 @ 1:02am
        richard said | January 2nd 2013 @ 1:02am | ! Report

        Shaun Marsh..!?

    • January 1st 2013 @ 8:13am
      Cameron said | January 1st 2013 @ 8:13am | ! Report

      Why do Australian fans seem compelled to want (need) a “genuine all rounder” anyway?

      Why not just pick a specialist bat at 6? Johnson is too unreliable with the bat to be at 6 surely.

      Me thinks if he didn’t make 70 odd last innings the author would not be kneejerking him into a spot that high in the order.

      • January 1st 2013 @ 9:34am
        Jm said | January 1st 2013 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        Agreed!
        Australia currently don’t have any decent all rounders – Watson included.
        So pick six specialist batsmen! And the best wk and best spinner and 3 best quicks. We need to stop trying to create players/all rounders.

      • January 1st 2013 @ 12:01pm
        Timmuh said | January 1st 2013 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

        Absolutely. This all-rounder hunt because Flintoff tore us apart is as bad as England’s all-rounder hunt for the 1 years between Botham and Flintoff. Led to disaster.
        Six batsmen, and if some can bowl then great – even more important given that apart from Clarke out batting line-up is very brittle.
        The best gloveman you can find, probably Hartley; and the best mix of four bowlers available (no rotations) for the conditions and opposition.

        There can occasionally be exceptions. Watson was one I was prepared to live with because, though his batting was not top six material heading into Melbourne (and injury) his short bursts of bowling has been important.
        If Joihnson has to be picked, and I fail to see the reason why he should be, it has to be as a bowler. He might bat ahead of Wade when in top form, but top six is certainly not.

        All that said, Lisa has played – and succeeded – at high levels and I have not so her opinions are based on experience of paying, whereas mine are only based on viewing from the outside.

        • January 2nd 2013 @ 8:23pm
          Timmuh said | January 2nd 2013 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

          Sorry, another typo (I am the typoking) – that should have read ” England’s all-rounder hunt for the 15 years between Botham and Flintoff”

    • Roar Guru

      January 1st 2013 @ 8:17am
      Atawhai Drive said | January 1st 2013 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Lisa, with respect, you should have a look at Kersi Meher-Homji’s excellent piece this morning on all-rounders.

      Mitchell Johnson is no one’s idea of an all-rounder. He is a specialist bowler who occasionally comes good with the bat. He normally bats at 8 and should never come in any higher than that.

      I can’t really argue with your batting selections, although Khawaja will surely come in for Hussey. Watson has been the incumbent all-rounder, but he’s crocked yet again and is thinking of giving bowling away. Which raises the question of whether he deserves a spot as a specialist batsman _ plenty of ability, but where in the order does he truly fit in? Probaby as an opener, but I’m not sure the selectors now see him that way.

      Gavin Maxwell will take the injured Watson’s spot at the SCG on Thursday. He might prove to be the answer.

      The ideal bowling attack would be Pattinson, Cummins and Siddle, plus a spinner. But Cummins won’t be considered until next summer and Pattinson has proved fragile.

      Spin is a real weakness. Nathan Lyon is the incumbent but he hardly sets the world on fire. He seems incapable of bowling teams out on the fifth day of a Test. No other spinner has done anything much over the years. Adam Zampa (again) and Cameron Boyce are being touted in the SMH this morning as possible leg-spin bolters for this year’s tours. But with no first-class cricket being played, they only have the BBL to hone their skills. Zampa bowled one fairly good over for the Thunder on Sunday night but then Chris Rogers, his captain, seemed to lose the count (suggested by the commentators) and Zampa languished in the field.

      It’s not a vintage Australian squad and Hussey’s sudden retirement has shaken things up. I can’t see us winning in India, on their tracks, and I’ll be amazed if England don’t retain the Ashes at home.

    • January 1st 2013 @ 8:19am
      adsa said | January 1st 2013 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Clarke is not going to be displaced from no.5, he is a rip roaring success there so why shift him to 4, his figures batting at 4 are poor. Hughes with a few more run outs might struggle to hold his place.

      • January 2nd 2013 @ 4:21pm
        Mango Jack said | January 2nd 2013 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

        Will it really make that much difference? Clarke invariably finds himself at the crease within 20 overs anyway, because our top order is not stable enough. It make sense to get him out there earlier so he can bat for longer.

    • January 1st 2013 @ 8:41am
      pope paul v11 said | January 1st 2013 @ 8:41am | ! Report

      Lisa, the selectors, including the nearly sainted Clarkey, are happy to ignore Khawaja. Please don’t you do it too?

      If Ando, Finn, Tremlett are fit Australia will struggle but no matter, pick your best batsmen, Khawaja is top six. No question.

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