Australia are not ready for Ashes – yet

TheGenuineTailender Roar Guru

By TheGenuineTailender, TheGenuineTailender is a Roar Guru

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54 Have your say

    We may have thumped Sri Lanka, the batsmen may be scoring runs, the bowlers taking wickets and some of the fielders snaffling catches. But the giant elephant in the room remains.

    We are in no way, shape or form ready for the Ashes.

    Ed Cowan continues to speak highly of his increased drive, understanding and comfort in his Test role. However his batting average hovers precariously at 32.66, well below par for any Test match opener.

    Shane Watson, the star all-rounder, has through the media been turned into a poor man’s Jacques Kallis, who doesn’t bowl or score enough runs to warrant his place.

    Michael Hussey’s exit leaves a gaping hole of experience and runs in the Australian middle order. He’s as irreplaceable as any retiring great.

    Matthew Wade’s glove work continues to draw criticism, as names like Tim Paine and Brad Haddin are touted to be hot on his heels.

    Mitchell Johnson appears to have recaptured his best form, at least it looked that way throughout the Perth and MCG tests. Again in Sydney however, when promoted to all-rounder status, he has lacked penetration with ball and runs with bat.

    Our fast bowling contingent is heavily depleted and the injury ward overflowing. Patrick Cummins, James Pattinson, Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus are all part of a group of Test match bowlers to have spent significant time on the side lines recently.

    Spinner Nathan Lyon hasn’t been able to produce the big day five hauls, heroics and match winning efforts which Australians expect of their front line spinner. His is increasingly being criticized for an inability to finish sides off.

    So we have problems, all of them are significant. I don’t know all the answers, but I’ll try solving some for us right now.

    Looking ahead to the Ashes, cricket’s Holy Grail, what do we need to do? A team reshuffle is high on the agenda and will address many issues raised.

    The Australian side lacks balance, consistency, experience and clear player roles, so I have rejigged the side in an attempt to alleviate some of these issues and hopefully bring clarity to team.

    My touring party to India and England will consist of 17 players. My starting XI is as follows.

    1. David Warner
    2. Shane Watson
    3. Phillip Hughes
    4. Usman Khawaja
    5. Michael Clarke (C)
    6. David Hussey
    7. Matthew Wade (wk)
    8. Peter Siddle
    9. James Pattinson
    10. Nathan Lyon
    11. Jackson Bird

    Warner has proven to be highly effective at setting the tone of an innings straight off the bat. He has a world class batting average for Test match openers and can set you flying high towards victory in the first session of a Test.

    The enigmatic and often self-absorbed Watson has his flaws no doubt, however it is undeniable that his quality straight driving and powerful technique provides him with tools to set Australia off to many a solid start. His record at the top of the order is as good as any. His bowling should be approached as a last resort, a luxury and used sparingly.

    Hughes has begun his reincarnation to Test cricket promisingly, with two half centuries. He was often exploited by the brand new ball, and number three protects him slightly from this, however that doesn’t mean he doesn’t possess the ability to handle things at 1-0.

    Furthermore, Hughes is better suited to facing spin bowling than Watson and Warner and thus protects them a bit more if he is the one to bat at three.

    Usman Khawaja is the next most talented batsman in the country. He has a good first class record and is in excellent form. Many believe his inclusion to the Test side is inevitable and I’m happy to have this classy player forming part of the Australian middle order.

    Michael Clarke, enough said.

    David Hussey brings as close to a like-for-like match to his brother as any cricketer in the world – a proper professional with a wealth of experience, particularly in English condition. Hussey has the first class pedigree to prove he is capable at the highest level and has another two good years of cricket in him. Ample time for another young batsman to step up.

    Matthew Wade is on notice. His batting continues to instigate a wagging tail and scoring runs will always be a strength of his. Wade’s glove work has been under immense pressure, but I’m willing to persevere as I’ve seen him play Ryobi Cup and know he is better than he is showing.

    Peter Siddle is one of the first two picked these days and walks straight into the touring party as the spearhead of the attack.

    James Pattinson has impressed many with his aggressive brand of fast bowling. He brings the in-your-face mentality many of us love. Pattinson will need to cage some of that energy and focus on ripping the pegs out of the ground but his short Test career has demonstrated he has a canny ability to get wickets.

    Nathan Lyon’s confidence has taken a shot of late but a tour to India might be the perfect thing for him – rank turners are expected to be a major feature of the landscape on the sub continental tour. Lyon still has far and away the best Test match record of any Aussie spinner since the retirement of Shane Warne and will continue to grow in the role as time progresses.

    Jackson Bird has risen quickly from Sydney club cricketer to Test match bowler. He has dismantled the Sri Lankan line-up in two Tests already and has a year and a half of first class dominance under his belt. Bird adds a huge amount of balance to the side – his consistency is something that has been lacking a lot lately and will prove invaluable against a world class batting line-up like England.

    I have left out Ed Cowan as I believe he really isn’t up to the standard of Test match cricket. His record is poor and he never displayed the first class dominance in the Sheffield Shield that indicates he would be successful at the highest level.

    The remainder of my touring party consists of Alex Doolan – as the in-form, next in line spare batsman – Tim Paine the reserve keeper, Michael Beer as a second spin option who brings the variety of left-arm orthodox to the fore and the fast bowling contingent of Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus.

    The two Mitchells miss out on starting positions because of their tendency to leak runs and inconsistent form. If an injury occurs they will slot in nicely but I don’t consider them among the top three fast bowlers in the country at the moment.

    And for the record, Johnson is as much an all-rounder as Matthew Wade is a fast bowler. He’s a good number eight, nothing more.

    Ben Hilfenhaus has a solid record in England and will come in almost seamlessly if required.

    So there we have it. The reshuffle is complete and I believe we now have a balanced side as ready as possible to take on India and England.

    There have been upsets aplenty in the World Cup so far, so be sure to check out our expert tips and predictions for South Korea vs Sweden, Belgium vs Panama and England vs Tunisia and get the good oil on who to tip tonight.

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    The Crowd Says (54)

    • January 7th 2013 @ 3:51pm
      Dan Ced said | January 7th 2013 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

      I’m not going to post a realistic 12, mine is quite close to the one in the article but, here’s my wishlist of fit players.

      D Hussey
      Ferguson 12th man.

      I really want to put Putland or Richardson from the Redbacks in, but Cutting has to go there ahead of them for batting.
      People will criticise my choices of Klinger/D Hussey due to their age, but I like their style.
      Disclaimer: I haven’t paid attention to as much shield cricket this season as I might usually.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 6:19pm
        TheGenuineTailender said | January 7th 2013 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

        No Peter Siddle?

        • January 7th 2013 @ 9:55pm
          Dan Ced said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:55pm | ! Report

          I like Siddle, and his workhorse nature. He could probably fit into my wish list there in Cutting’s place.

    • Roar Guru

      January 7th 2013 @ 4:29pm
      Redb said | January 7th 2013 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

      I hope Starc stays fit he is going to be a handful in England.

      Our batting is the worry. Apart Clarke it lacks real class.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 6:05pm
      Fidel said | January 7th 2013 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

      It’s interesting how quickly Pat Cummins has fallen from people’s memories.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 6:20pm
        TheGenuineTailender said | January 7th 2013 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

        It might help if he could add to his tally of first class matches.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 7:02pm
        TheSilentProgressor said | January 7th 2013 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

        Until he can consistently play First Class Cricket he shouldn’t be considered. At the moment he is possibly one of the most talented bowlers in the world. But that is all it is talent. I watched his bowling performance from last year against the Proteas and he has the talent to become an absolute star. But he needs to prove he can string together more than one first class game at a time.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 7:00pm
      TheSilentProgressor said | January 7th 2013 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

      My touring party for India and looking forward to the Ashes.

      1 – Warner – Has rapidly improved this summer, his temperament has really impressed me he showed in his last two matches at Hobart he has the ability to make a big score on a tough batting pitch. Also his leg-spin could prove handy as a second spin option.

      2 – Watson – His best batting performances in recent seasons have been at the top of the order. He is a powerful man and despite his struggles Australia desperately need his experience so any talk of dropping him is ludicrous. Also he is a good slip-fielder something that Australia needs after the retirements of Ponting and Hussey. He should not be bowling though, or if he is should only be bowled very sparingly.

      3 – Hughes – Has shown enough in his return that he has the ability to bat at number 3. Good pro-active batting against the spin will also help in India and against Swann and/or Monty. One of the most naturally gifted run scorers Australia has produced in the last few years, and with an adjusted technique and minor mental changes he looks likely to take his game to another level.

      4 – Khawaja – Should be given the opportunity of an extended run in the test team. Apart from Hughes he has been the other player in the Shield this season to score runs consistently. He has the experience of playing tests in the past and made a promising debut. He has a fantastic technique, just needs to capitalise on some good starts.

      5 – Clarke – Because he is simply the best!

      6 – Maxwell – Number 6 is the position i’ve had the most trouble choosing. Maxwell seems to be a very talented cricketer his first class average of 46 from 13 games is enough for him to get selected as a batsmen who can bowl a bit. I don’t think his off-breaks will ever be up to all-rounder material, but who knows maybe he will improve rapidly. I think it is worth taking the chance on him in India.

      7 – Wade – His keeping still needs to be improved but i’m sure he will iron out those technical deficiencies given time and experience. His batting is very valuable in this team. He has made runs for Australia when they have badly needed them and with an experienced team like this that is a trait that will be needed over the next 14 incredibly tough test matches.

      8 – Siddle – He is the heart and soul of the Australian pace attack, and is the second player picked in the team every time.

      9 – Pattinson – He is the fire in the pace triumvirate, bowls with good control but also brings in aggression, pace and movement. Has all the skills to become a really good bowler, just needs to remain fit.

      10 – Lyon – He is the best spinner Australia have at the moment and has a tidy average. Yes he probably does bowl a bit fast but he is improving. He will benefit from a turning wicket in India. He has the potential to improve, watch the video of him making his debut where he took 5 at Galle. Give him time. He is not Shane Warne, there will probably never be another Shane Warne, it is time Australia gets out of the habit of comparing its spin bowler to Warne.

      11 – Bird – He has shown enough in his first two tests to convince me that he has the necessary skills to succeed in Test Match Cricket. He consistently bowls the nagging line and length just outside off with a bit of movement. He is exactly what Australia need to complement Pattinson with the new ball.

      The rest of the touring party.

      12 – Starc – If a pace bowler breaks down (inevitably) or is rotated Starc should come in, yes his line and length can be inconsistent but he has the raw ability to get batsmen out. he can swing the ball, bowls good pace and has that lethal yorker.

      13 – Johnson – Mitch’s problem is going to be his consistency. This Australian team cannot afford a Mitchell Johnson that is going at 4.5 runs an over.

      14 – Hilfenhaus – Should no longer be considered to be among the best 3 pace bowlers in Australia, but if a bowler breaks down he can come in a do a job when required.

      15 – Haddin – Has the experience to step in for Wade as the wicket keeper, or even as a batsmen should any of the batsmen get injured. Yes he is 35 but he is probably still the best keeper in Australia and his batting for NSW this summer has also been handy.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 8:06pm
        Sydney Kiwi said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:06pm | ! Report

        I like this side but with just one change- Sub maxwell out for David Hussey- they need an experienced campaigner for the Ashes and Husseys bowling can hold an end up better than Maxwells. An ideal side would have Starc/Johnson AND Bird but Australia needs a reliable bat at 6 and 7. Perhaps we may see Lyon subbed out of a few games in England when a seamers wicket is predicted.

        • January 7th 2013 @ 8:39pm
          TheSilentProgressor said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:39pm | ! Report

          Yeh, i was really tossing up between Maxwell and Hussey, in the end I think either would do the job. And i agree now Hussey probably would be the better option given he is more experienced. And yep I would love to have Starc in the team as well but it’s just to hard to have him with Pattinson,Siddle and Bird all performing well and at the moment he just tends to leak a few to many runs for my liking, but if he can tighten up his economy rate he could really be a world class bowler.

          I don’t think we will really see that many seamer’s wickets in England with Swann and Monty bowling well i think we will see pitches that will be fairly favourable to spin. But you never know its England we could get a couple of green tops, here’s hoping we do!!!

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 8:07pm
        TheGenuineTailender said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:07pm | ! Report

        If we took that team overseas I’d be happy.

      • January 8th 2013 @ 1:03pm
        sittingbison said | January 8th 2013 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

        the problem is you have two all rounders in the top six! I understand The argument he is a batsman who bowls a bit, but he is not really a genuine batsman, and neither is Watson.

    • January 7th 2013 @ 7:02pm
      Nick said | January 7th 2013 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

      Straight up, my starting 11

      D. Warner (VC)
      E. Cowan
      P. Hughes
      U. Khawaja
      M. Clarke (C)
      S. Smith
      M. Wade (WK)
      P. Siddle
      J. Pattinson
      M. Starc
      N. Lyon

      For everyone’s bagging of Ed Cowan, he has a better average as “batting superstar and specialist” Shane Watson. Dave Warner has proven himself as an appropriately aggressive player at Test level, and I personally believe that specialist opener Cowan is a fittingly calmer partner. Cowan has scored more international centuries than anybody who wants to challenge his position in the team. Warner to replace Watson as Michael Clarke’s deputy.
      Usman Khawaja must recieve as much of a go as Phil Hughes did when he struck poor form before being dropped. He has shown in recent times that he can still score first-class runs and between now and the tour of India/Ashes tour will have gained enough first-class experience to put himself back into contention for selection. Definitely an impressive batsman who will without a doubt see more time in the Test team.
      Captain Clarke to stay at number 5 where he became 2012s most impressive cricket player. Scores runs easier than ANY other batsman in the world at the moment, and even on odd occasions can find a way to score when it looks a bit harder to score.
      Steve Smith to come in as the all-rounder, a handy lower order batsman and leg-spin alternative to contrast Lyon. Another young player who will probably see himself in future Test teams regardless of whether he is picked in the up and coming tours. He has had experience against England in England.
      Next is Matt Wade, someone who I have only just started to find respect for on and off the field, and I feel he is an excellent long term Wicket-Keeper. I still believe Brad Haddin is a great short term option, and the only replacement needed for an unexpected injury to Wade. Wade can learn a lot about both his batting and keeping from the experienced Haddin.
      Nothing needs to be said about Peter Siddle, he is now undoubtedly the leader of our pace attack and is a character on and off the field. His partner-in-crime and now close mate James Pattinson is also a mandatory selection.
      Despite being occasionally way-ward and not always extremely economical, Mitchell Starc is a wicket taking machine, and is something the Australian team is often short of: someone who will take a lot of wickets all the time. Players like Hilfenhouse could bowl long winded spells for only 1 or 2 runs an over, but this was not effective as he was taking no wickets. Australia tends to find itself in situations where the team can afford to take a few runs, as long as they strike and take a wicket, and this is something Starc is very good at. Only one left-handed pace bowler is needed, as I am positive the selectors will be scared of going to England with 2 left-handers that will rough up the perfect side of the pitch for Graeme Swann to spin the ball into (Swann bowls into the rough created by left-handers gripping the crease at the opposite end).
      Nathan Lyon remains my pick of the specialist spin bowlers. Not only as the new team song leader, he has proved himself at times as a handy spin bowler but must learn to bowl slower, as his quicker balls tend to get smashed. He must be the product of a turbulent time in Australian spin post-Warne, and we cannot go back to chopping and changing our spinners all the time. Sticking with Lyon is the key to long-term success, and his off-spinners could contrast well with Smith’s leg-spinners.

      No Michael Klinger or Dave Hussey. Despite being long-time fans of both players (long before their recent Twenty20 success), I can safely say that the boat has sailed straight past these exceptional players, who maybe in a different time would have both had long and prosperous Test careers. Not doubt though that both should be included in Australia’s One-day and Twenty20 sides where they can hand some of their First-class experience to the younger players.
      Also no Mitchell Johnson, whilst I have nothing against him personally, he is far too inconsistent unfortunately we do not see those match winning qualities day-in, day-out as we would expect.
      No Shane Watson. Not in Australia’s top 6 batsmen, and only made it into the team as an all-rounder. He isn’t Jacque Kallis!! He averages around 30 with the bat, not Test level material. I also have serious doubts over Patrick Cummins, who after Watson, is probably the most injury prone player in Australia (not his fault I admit!). He is a young gun who has to make sure he is not peaking early in what seems will be a long career. Needs more first-class experience to become more accurate and better match fit.

      Back-up players: Ben Cutting- Wow, what a player. Definitely could qualify as an all-rounder after the performance of the selectors in picking touch-and-go Johnson as an all-rounder. A definite option if an extra paceman is needed. Lets see how he copes with international pressure in the one-day series.
      C. Ferguson- With Khawaja, Pattinson, Hughes, Smith… will one day see a revival at test level. Only a replacement now till he has achieved more success at domestic level and become a truly professional cricket player, like Michael Hussey had to.
      Jackson Bird- Although being successful at domestic level, playing one series against a poor Sri Lankian side does not give you the egde needed to take on a powerful English side in an Ashes Tour. Despite this, another long-term option who will play a lot of Test cricket.
      Also Josh Hazlewood and Nic Maddinson, both future Test starters.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 8:19pm
        TheGenuineTailender said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:19pm | ! Report

        You’re lost. Watson has a better average than Cowan. And he has more test hundreds than Cowan. Why you would argue Cowan is better than Watson, or any other contender is beyond me.

        Steve Smith is a batsman. In fact he’s so disgruntled with his bowling that he has begun bowling off spin. He’s certainly no all rounder, and he’s certainly not up to test cricket.

        At the end of the day, the bowler with the best bowling average should get first look it. You win matches with runs, so if you concede more per wicket than your opponents, you’re going to lose.

        Cutting and Johnson are no where being all-rounders, the fact people keep touting them as such is laughable. They’re good number 8s, Absolutely no more.

        Back to Watson, where you’re getting teh idea he averages 30 is lost on me. He avergaes 37.02 with 21 test scores over 50 with the bat in test cricket and 43.67 as an opener. Well and truly above Ed Cowan, also better than Khawaja and Hughes.

        Josh Hazelwood and Nic Maddinson are perfect examples of average first class players built up by the Sydney media as future test stars. Yes they’re both talented youngsters, but until they actually prove they have the ability to achieve anything in Shield cricket, their names should be kept well and truly away from any hypothetical test side.

        • January 8th 2013 @ 1:09pm
          sittingbison said | January 8th 2013 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

          Watson averaged 23 over past two years since 2010 Boxing Day test – 12 tests. Averaged 24 as an opener in 2011. No centuries. 21 fifties and 2 centuries speaks volumes about his limitations as a pure batsman compared to an allrounder.

      • January 7th 2013 @ 8:21pm
        WW said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:21pm | ! Report

        steve smith?…. i was in a north london pub with a bunch of english when he first made his appearance in england. i’ve never been so embarassed to be an australian….. he looks worse than most grade cricketers when he bats.

        swap cowan for watson

        and find a spot for Bird

        cummins if fit will be there also

    • January 7th 2013 @ 7:05pm
      CDR87 said | January 7th 2013 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

      Dave Warner
      Shane Watson
      Phil Hughes
      Michael Clarke (c)
      Usman Khawaja
      Brad Haddin
      Matthew Wade (wk)
      Peter Siddle
      James Pattinson
      Jackson Bird
      Nathan Lyon

      Reserve players:
      Ed Cowan
      Mitchell Johnson
      Ben Hilfenhaus
      Mitchell Starc
      Glenn Maxwell
      David Hussey
      Tim Paine

      That’s who I’d have for India, you could substitute certain players for the Ashes dependant on form/injury. Watson goes back to opening where he has a better average and should bowl much, much less. Cowan out. Warner is looking better and better so deserves to stay. Hughes at 3, looking better also and will hopefully continue his form. I have Clarke at 4 due to his form and experience, he doesn’t want to go to 3, fine, but I’d rather he go to 4 and protect Khawaja at 5. I have Haddin as a specialist bat/Hussey-replacement. I’m not a big fan of his at all but if you want someone who can bat and has experience, then I’d go with him. He just doesn’t need to be stupid and throw his wicket away playing dopey shots. Wade to continue at 7. Siddle, Pattinson, Bird and Lyon as the main bowling attack. Siddle is an automatic selection and Pattinson is a lock. I’ll take Bird over Starc for Bird’s ability to swing the ball, but Starc could easily come in otherwise. And Lyon should stay, he’s not going to get better by being dropped and Australian Cricket wont be better off having to blood yet another new-spinner post-Warne.

      Cowan is in my list of back up players though, so is D. Hussey in case of injury or poor form to any of the batsmen. I’m not a Johnson fan at all, but I like how he’s been hurting people and that could come in handy. Hilfenhaus would probably bowl better in England than India, and I have Maxwell in case we need 3 spinners for any match in India. Paine is the back up keeper to Wade.

      • Roar Guru

        January 7th 2013 @ 8:23pm
        TheGenuineTailender said | January 7th 2013 @ 8:23pm | ! Report

        David Hussey has first class run-scoring pedigree and a wealth of experience in English conditions. Why you would go for Haddin as a specialist batsman over Hussey under the parameters you’ve specified I don’t understand.

        Mitchell Starc is a genuine swing bowler, to say you pick Bird over Starc because he swings the ball doesn’t make sense either. A better argument is that he is plain and simply a better bowler.

        I also don’t understand why you would select a back up keeper in your squad if you’re going to have Brad Haddin there as a batsman anyway?

        • January 7th 2013 @ 9:00pm
          CDR87 said | January 7th 2013 @ 9:00pm | ! Report

          I go for Haddin over D Hussey due to experience playing for Australia and in an Ashes test in England, both things Haddin has over D Hussey county-cricket aside (Haddin averaged 46.33 in the 09 Ashes for the record). I think Bird swings it more than Starc, you could play either one, but I think Bird’s looked to be a dangerous prospect for the Poms, he swings the ball and keeps the runs tight. Starc can swing and has the left arm variation, but I don’t think he has the ability to keep the run rate down when bowling and I’d rather have a guy whose shown that he can bowl economically and consistently AND take wickets. And I simply don’t want Haddin in as a keeper in any capacity, even as a back up, if he’s going to play it should be as a specialist batsman only IMO given his experience and that’s what Australia need following Hussey’s departure. Tim Paine has had potential to play for Australia for a long time now and barring injuries he probably would be right now, I think he’d deserve another opportunity to do so if the situation arose where he needed to, that way Haddin can continue to play as a batsman without the extra responsibility of keeping. This is all hypothetical anyway, but that’s my opinion. Inverarity though has stated that Wade and Haddin are the two keeping options for the upcoming tours away, but I don’t like the idea of having Haddin keep, the role is now Wade’s or should be whoever would be the next long-term keeping option, and that would most likely be Paine.

          • Roar Guru

            January 8th 2013 @ 1:20am
            TheGenuineTailender said | January 8th 2013 @ 1:20am | ! Report

            Australia doesn’t primarily need experience. The main thing we need is our six best batsmen, our best keeper, our three best fast bowlers and our best spinner.

            Brad Haddin doesn’t fit into any of those categories. Especially not specialist batsmen.

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