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The Indian series will be drawn, not won

Justin Ware Roar Rookie

By Justin Ware, Justin Ware is a Roar Rookie

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    Michael Clarke is faced with a huge challenge this year, mainly the back to back Ashes series, but first the Indian tour beginning in late February.

    I have outlined a few key points that are worth noting for in the upcoming series and my own personal predictions for the tour.

    Ed Cowan cannot play spin bowling
    Poor Ed, I was one of the many that pushed for his selection last year after the demise of Phil Hughes (who has recovered brilliantly in his most recent reincarnation).

    I backed him on the basis of impeccable Shield form, which could not be ignored, however it has been slim pickings for Cowan since his debut.

    In 13 Tests, Cowan has knocked up a mediocre 722 runs opening the innings at an unsatisfactory average of 32.81. One century and five scores between 50 and 100 clearly outlines that Ed cannot get the job done.

    He has an infuriating habit of doing the hard yards, seeing off the new ball and getting out without going on and getting a big score.

    To further compound the problem, Cowan looked all at sea on the final day of the SCG test against Sri Lankan tweakers Rangana Herath and Tillakaratne Dilshan. Cowan is not a natural sweeper of the ball and uses minimal footwork to spin.

    Unfortunately I foresee the Indian tour as Cowan’s last in the baggy green, if he is even selected for the tour.

    If Cowan is dropped, Shane Watson is not the answer at the top
    Shane Watson averages 43 at the top of the order, and understandably so. He has a good solid technique and plays with a straight bat, often looking to hit through the line of the ball and pierce the gaps early in the innings.

    However, Watson is quite like Cowan in his dilemma against spin bowling. He is heavy on his feet as a batsman, and during his short stint against Herath in the Sri Lankan series, he looked unsure whether to come to the pitch of the ball or to play off the back foot.

    While in the Boxing Day Test Watson used his feet relatively well against Herath, he is far from being the answer in the Indian tour to open the batting, as he shares several traits with Cowan, including his uncertainty against spin bowling and his inability to put together a big score once getting in.

    Stay down Wadey
    As I predicted not so long ago, Matthew Wade has all the elements to become one of the greatest wicketkeeper-batsmen Australia has ever produced.

    In nine Tests, Wade has chalked up 510 runs at 43 and already has two centuries to his name (more than Cowan, who has played 14 Tests, and the same as Watson, who has played 38 tests).

    His ability to play different types of innings or change his approach mid-innings is a rarity, his raw hitting ability is scary and I see no reason why he can’t be somewhere near as good as Gilchrist with the bat if he enjoys a successful Test career over 10 plus years.

    However his keeping to Nathan Lyon over the summer was somewhat of a concern – he kept well to the pace bowlers but missed three or four chances off our first-choice spinner over the summer.

    He is a tough character and will work hard between now and India to rectify the issues. Wade has a bad habit of shot watching when keeping up to the stumps, resulting in his head being too far over the ball and having to ‘feel’ for the ball with his gloves.

    Wade must be drilled super hard to stay down for as long as possible and watch the ball all the way, this applies in the extreme to India where the pitches have minimal bounce and spin a hell of a lot.

    If he can do this, he is going to be one of the greatest wicketkeeper/batsmen Australia has ever had, mark my words.

    Is Clarke burnt out?
    Michael Clarke enjoyed a Bradmanesque year in 2012, but I am already concerned the golden run has come to an end.

    He looks a tired man when batting, a product of having to carry the entire innings on his bat on occasions over the past 18 months.

    In the SCG Test he reverted back to the old Clarke with a skied slog sweep on 50, and didn’t quite look his elegant self in the second innings to Herath.

    I hope I am wrong, but I think Clarke may have a disappointing series in India. He has given so much to the team for so long now that emotionally he may have a bit of a downer in India.

    Let’s hope not, as he is Australia’s finest player of spin.

    Will the bowling have any penetration?
    I really am concerned about the bowling attack for the Indian series and beyond.

    Peter Siddle is an obvious first choice selection. While he doesn’t garner much movement, he hits the deck hard and toils away, the perfect bowler for India.

    Jackson Bird showed that his pinpoint accuracy and swing will be a great weapon in English conditions, but he won’t find India a paradise. Does he have enough tricks to take consistent wickets?

    Both Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson are erratic at times and leak runs with relative ease. They will both go with the touring squad, but playing them in the same side, as shown in Perth and now Sydney, is not a good idea. Do either Starc or Johnson have enough movement or tricks to take early wickets against India on flat decks?

    However the most concerning point in the Australian attack is spin bowler Nathan Lyon, who’s bowling average seems to climb with every test. To be fair to Lyon, Wade, as mentioned above, has missed a few chances off his bowling, but Lyon simply does not have enough variation or flight to take wickets when the batsmen aren’t attacking him.

    It will be interesting to see, but don’t be surprised if you see both captain Clarke and David Warner ripping out their part timers to compensate for Lyon, who’s bowling this summer has been pretty one paced.

    My prediction: The series will be tied Australia 1 – India 1
    India are a rabble at the moment, as seen when England won away to them in their recent Test series. Perhaps there is speculation that Australia should inflict a similar fate on the Indians when we tour there beginning in late February.

    However, it is worth remembering the Indians were dismissed with relative ease by both Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann, and Alistair Cook and Kevin Pietersen combined at pivotal moments in the game to put away MS Dhoni’s dwindling Test side.

    Australia is a team with huge potential, but in need of development.

    The Indian series will be drawn, not won, but it will give us a better idea of who is a Test cricketer and who is not.

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    The Crowd Says (28)

    • January 9th 2013 @ 3:04am
      Johnno said | January 9th 2013 @ 3:04am | ! Report

      Nathan Lyon , really bowls to fast. I love the sir lankan spinner who put so much drift and loop, and slowed the bowl down, that was a lesson in spin bowling.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 4:23am
        saad said | January 9th 2013 @ 4:23am | ! Report

        We cannot get rid of Cowan because he is backed by those persons who like him. David Hussey and Chris Roger has no backing so they could not get a place in team. Players need a rich backing to get a permanent place in team. Cricket Australia is culprit of David Hussey and Chris Roger. We could defeat South Africa if NSP gave a chance to David Hussey and Chris Roger on the place for Edward Cowan and Rob Quiney.

        • January 9th 2013 @ 10:44am
          Paul said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:44am | ! Report

          If only D Hussey and Rogers had half the backing Cowan has had, 13 tests and still hasn’t been able to prove himself. Now lets hope Khawaja gets the same chance or even half the chances Cowan has had.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 8:19am
      Frankie Hughes said | January 9th 2013 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      India, whilst being terrible at present, had allowed DRS they would’ve won the series with ease.

      Cook was LBW in both Ahmedabad and Mumbai, but no DRS and he luckily bagged hundreds. He was also dropped in Mumbai on 17 and got 190. He was the backbone of their run scoring.

      We don’t have spinners to threaten India, so India will win the series.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 9:07am
      Dadiggle said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      Where are they playing in Australia?

    • Roar Rookie

      January 9th 2013 @ 9:35am
      Justin Ware said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      Johnno – Yep spot on mate. You’ve hit the nail on the head, Herath had magnificent variation in the series, he was often around the 78km mark and then ripped in an armball here and there and used flight to the best of his ability. Lyon could learn a thing or two there.
      SAAD – Hey saad, I’m sorry but unless he really digs in and makes a big score in a crucial innings (if he even makes it to the Indian series) the Indian series will be his last in the baggy green, I can see Hughes and Warner opening with Khawaja at 3.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:42am
        Paulie said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:42am | ! Report

        Agree wit Justin, i see Warner and Hughes opening and Khawaja at 3, Khawaja will be a long term batsman fo us and looks in great form at the moent. Give him half the chances Cowan had and he will prove himself. The Indian tour will also be career defining for Lyon

        • Roar Rookie

          January 9th 2013 @ 10:52am
          Justin Ware said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          Spot on Paulie

          • January 9th 2013 @ 9:39pm
            James said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:39pm | ! Report

            Well said Paulie. Hughes and Warner to open and Khawaja to come in 3, this will be our best top 3.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 10:04am
      Brian said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:04am | ! Report

      Its a good thing India are a rabble because so many of the batsman will be playing their first test series there. Clarke aside have any of them proven themselves great players of spin.

      If India keep their current crop of once-good now below average stars – Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulker, Yuvraj, Z Khan than Australia should be a good chance to win 2-1. Alternatively if they bite the bullet and regenerate with new players I predict India 3-0.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:19am
        Frankie Hughes said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

        Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh have already been axed from their Test side.

        Virender Sehwag has been axed from their ODI/T20 side, the end of his Test career isn’t that far away, unless he’s been pensioned off in the background.

        I’d guess Gambhir will be axed if he fails in the ODI series against the Poms. He hasn’t scored at Test hundred in 4 years!

        Sachin Tendulkar is done, but can’t seem to bring himself to hang up the willow.

        They do have talented young players. Kohli and Pujara are fantastic batsmen.

        Rohit Sharma maybe India’s best waste since Vinod Kambli…

        Guys like Ashwin, Yadav and Jadeja are promising.

        Could be an exciting series if India axe their dead weights and Australia’s subcontinent rookies excel!

        • January 9th 2013 @ 12:07pm
          Matt F said | January 9th 2013 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

          Gambhir hit a century in 2010, albeit in January against Bangladesh, so it’s not quite 4 years. It’s still a long drought though. He’s only averaging 31-32 over the last 3 years which puts him in Ed Cowan territory

          • Roar Rookie

            January 9th 2013 @ 3:22pm
            Justin Ware said | January 9th 2013 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

            NOW that is bad news for Gambhir, I have always seen him as a quality player. It is interesting to note he hit all bar a few of his centuries in the span of 12 months or so! Now days he seems to get himself to 60 or 70 and can’t go on with it (Shane Watson syndrome). He still averages 42 opening the innings though, much better than Ed.

    • Roar Rookie

      January 9th 2013 @ 10:06am
      Justin Ware said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:06am | ! Report

      Brian – Again very good points, which I did not really consider. A few of the batsmen had experience in the West Indies last year which are similar type of pitches to Indian conditions, but as you stressed we are underprepared. The one thing I truly believe is that we are in no way a certainty to win the series with the ease that England recently did.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:22am
        Brian said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Yes the team in India just 2 seasons ago was
        Bollinger (replaced by George for 2nd Test)

        At most 3 out of that team will now tour?

        • January 9th 2013 @ 3:03pm
          matt h said | January 9th 2013 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

          That’s scarey, until we remember that we lost that series anyway