Positives and negatives from the summer of Test cricket

Ryan O'Connell Columnist

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    Australian team members. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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    Another summer of Test cricket is behind us, yet before we look ahead to a tough Indian tour and the much-anticipated Ashes series, it’s time to look back at Australia’s home series’ against South Africa and Sri Lanka.

    I’ve identified three positives and three negatives that caught my eye during the summer, although plenty more could fit into both categories.

    Fear not, for the infamous buzzwords ‘rotation policy’ will be missing from the list. I think we can all agree those two little words have been given far too much airtime.

    Mind you, I would question the wisdom of selecting four quicks for a dead rubber on a traditionally spin-friendly wicket. If there are concerns about the workload of Australia’s fast bowlers, what better time was there to rest one or two of them than in Sydney?

    On that note, let’s start with the negatives.

    Nathan Lyon

    ‘Negative’ is probably a tad harsh, as I’ve actually been a staunch defender of Lyon, but there can be no debating that he had an average summer.

    Leaving numbers aside – and his weren’t attractive – it was his lack of variety, the low level of threat he appeared to be to batsmen and his inability to take wickets on days four and five that will stand out for many observers.

    I don’t think he should be even close to be being dropped just yet, primarily because I think he has some credits in the bank from his strong(ish) start to Test cricket, but also because I think he has potential.

    It’s also worth noting that his keeper didn’t do him many favours, costing him a number of dismissals, but we’ll come to that in a second.

    Additionally, let’s be honest, the spin cupboard is quite bare; there is no one behind him demanding selection.

    However, there is no question that Lyon needs to improve. He must have a strong series in India and put his average Australian summer in the rearview mirror.

    Matthew Wade’s glovework

    I’m no wicket-keeper, and I only performed the task once when I was playing. I actually hated it, and know very little of the intricacies of the position, so I can’t comment with any great authority of Wade’s technical performances behind the stumps.

    But even to this wicket-keeping novice, it’s evident that Wade has some work to do.

    He made a lot of errors during the summer, particularly when standing up to the stumps. In recent times with Australian keepers – from Healy, to Gilchrist, to Haddin – it’s hard to recall the same amount of mistakes happening over the course of a summer from the man with the gloves.

    Wade’s run scoring took some attention off of his bloopers, but like Lyon, he’ll need to improve, because you can be sure such errors will only be more costly in India and England.

    The running between the wickets

    Terrible. Unprofessional. Lacking fundamentals. Lazy.

    These are probably not the words you want to hear when discussing an international team’s running between the wickets.

    Australia needs to work on this aspect of their game, because it’s just irresponsible and unforgiveable to lose your wicket to a run out in a Test match. If there is even one such dismissal in a Test, then it’s two too many.

    Running in a straight line, loud and clear calling, holding the bat in the correct hand, running the first run hard, turning your body to the side of the ground where the ball is; these are fundamentals of cricket.

    The Australian’s were regularly guilty of not executing the above. Some led to run outs, others nearly did, while many went unnoticed and unpunished, but remain examples of poor cricket.

    Stuart Law has apparently passed on the batting coach role. Whoever takes the position would be wise to remember that running between the wickets is an essential part of batting, and an area the Aussies need to improve in.

    Moving onto the positives. . .

    Jackson Bird

    Some pundits claimed before his debut that Bird may lack the penetration required of a Test fast bowler. Those silly people should have known better (*ahem*).

    When it comes to fast bowling, movement is far more important than sheer pace. Bird is certainly capable of getting that movement; both through the air and off the pitch.

    He also has great control and bowls consistently in good areas that ask the batsmen questions.

    As far as speed goes, he bowls at a pace that is consistently above 135kph, hardly pedestrian.

    While he doesn’t necessarily hurry batsmen, there is more than one way to skin a cat. A fact Bird proved with his 11 scalps in two Tests.

    We shouldn’t get too carried away, after all, it was only Sri Lanka. However, the qualities displayed by Bird make me think he should do very well in English conditions, though India may be tough going for him at times. But India will be difficult for all Australia’s quicks.

    Michael Clarke

    It would be easy to simply nominate Clarke’s batting as a positive, as that alone was probably the highlight of the Test summer. Australia’s best batsman continued on with his rich vein of form, and always looked set for a big score.

    For me it was Clarke’s captaincy that really stood out across the two series.

    Intuitive, attacking, positive and pro-active. That’s the type of captaincy Australia is used to, and it’s most certainly what Clarke brings to the leadership table.

    Without knocking Ricky Ponting’s captaincy, which I think was unfairly judged – he was good, but not great – Clarke has taken the leadership of the Australian Test team to a different level.

    Great field placements, positive body language, clever use of his bowlers, impressive in front of the media, no impact on his own batting, and lastly, in what stood out the most for me, some outstanding declarations.

    All these qualities ensure that the Test captaincy is not an area of concern for Cricket Australia.

    The Roar’s cricket coverage

    I originally had “Dave Warner’s surprising consistency” in this section, but after he got a golden duck in Sydney, I thought a re-write was in order, so as to avoid getting savaged by Roarers. Which, in turn, actually highlighted another positive of the summer: The Roar’s cricket coverage.

    I felt that some of the articles posted, comments made, and discussions had on The Roar during the summer of Test cricket were nothing short of sensational.

    Some insightful pieces were written, and they generated some passionate, intelligent and articulate responses.

    Hats off to everyone involved, because I truly feel that reading people’s opinions – even if I vehemently disagreed with them – added to my enjoyment of the Test cricket played this summer.

    Ryan O
    Ryan O'Connell

    Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.

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    The Crowd Says (137)

    • January 9th 2013 @ 5:43am
      saad said | January 9th 2013 @ 5:43am | ! Report

      We cannot get rid of Cowan because he is backed by those persons who like him. David Hussey and Chris Roger has no background so they could not get a place in team. Players need a rich background 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 @ 7:42am
        WW said | January 9th 2013 @ 7:42am | ! Report

        utter nonsense

      • January 9th 2013 @ 9:12am
        Jason said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        Doesn’t David Hussey have the same background as Mike?

      • Columnist

        January 9th 2013 @ 9:51am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        Um. . . there is actually no mention whatsoever of Cowan in the piece, let alone any suggestion he should be dropped?!

        • January 9th 2013 @ 10:12am
          Matt F said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

          I’m pretty sure he’s said the exact same thing, almost word for word, in 5-10 articles this week alone. It’s relevance to the article seems to have no bearing

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:13am
        TheSilentProgressor said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:13am | ! Report

        This is the second time i have seen this comment today. Don’t just copy and paste your stupid comments into cricket articles.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 8:08am
      Red Kev said | January 9th 2013 @ 8:08am | ! Report

      I think you are Harsh on Lyon. I too thought he lacked variety and threat but it is worth remembering that Wade’s wicketkeeping cost him at least 5 wickets, his summer would look a lot better with those scalps added. He needs to slow down his overs and the ball in flight, but he is still a long way ahead of anyone else.
      Wade’s keeping is a problem, which is why Haddin’s selection is a concern, he has been poor with the gloves too in his most recent tests. Paine should be in the ODI side putting pressure on Wade.
      The fast bowlers are an issue, we need to be able to keep them fit or we have no real idea of who makes up the best attack.
      The biggest negative is the ineptitude of the NSP. Being caught unawares by Ponting’s rerirement; the absurd resting of bowlers; the Quiney debacle; the lineup for the SCG.

      • Columnist

        January 9th 2013 @ 10:05am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        The slight concern with Lyon is that most experts and commentators want him to slow down and give the ball some flight. Yet his captain wants him bowl quicker. At times during the summer, you could hear Clarke yelling from first slip ‘Good pace Gazza’ after he had bowled a dart. He makes you wonder if he’s just following orders. And then wonder, why the request for flat, fast deliveries?

        I’m in the minority, but I don’t have an issue with Haddin being the reserve keeper, especially for the Ashes. If Wade should struggle to the point of having a negative impact on the team, I don’t want to bring a rookie into the pressure cooker that England will be (the circumstances, I certainly don’t mean the English weather!). I’d prefer a veteran to come in, and someone who has two Ashes tours under their belt.

        I considered giving the NSP some airtime, in terms of negatives, but I wanted to keep even my negatives slightly positive (if that makes any sense!), so I identified areas of improvement, rather than areas of outright frustration. . .

        • January 9th 2013 @ 10:30am
          Red Kev said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:30am | ! Report

          Paine has already kept in the pressure of an Indian tour, and scored a century in tests when needed. Haddin’s two Ashes series were losers.

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

            You might want to check Paine’s stats again RK. He hasn’t scored a test century, though his top score of 92 isn’t too far away

            • January 9th 2013 @ 10:58am
              Red Kev said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              Sorry – thanks for the correction – I was going off memory of other posts (I didn’t see any of that series).

          • Columnist

            January 9th 2013 @ 10:45am
            Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:45am | ! Report

            In fairness to Haddin, he didn’t even play a Test on his first Ashes tour. Not sure that should count against him.

            • January 9th 2013 @ 10:57am
              Red Kev said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

              Then you can’t cite it as experience either – so he’s not a veteran of two Ashes series.

              • Columnist

                January 9th 2013 @ 11:03am
                Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:03am | ! Report

                Of course you can, mate! An Ashes tour is like no other in terms of media scrutiny, fan interest, number of games, pressure, etc, etc. Having had a beer with Graham Manou on the last tour in 2009, I can assure you that it’s tough environment for the whole touring squad, regardless of whether they play a Test.

                If Wade was keeping well, I think Paine would have gone for the learning experience. As it stands, it will be a learning experience for Wade, so they clearly want the back-up at least to have experienced an Ashes tour.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 11:14am
                Red Kev said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:14am | ! Report

                That is the same nonsense the NSP have been peddling regarding “presence” from the non-strikers end lifting the other batsmam.
                Pick the best professional cricketers, expect them to perform, for mine Haddin is not one of the two best candidates for the keeper spot in the country.

              • Columnist

                January 9th 2013 @ 11:20am
                Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:20am | ! Report

                To be fair, the selectors never said any of that, I did.

                What the selectors did say is that they regard Haddin as the second best wicket-keeper in the country, so if Wade is to be rested, Haddin takes his spot. And that’s what has happened.

                Now you may disagree with their belief that Haddin is the second best wicket-keeper in the country, and that’s fine, but they’re following the recipe that you outlined.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 11:37am
                Red Kev said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:37am | ! Report

                True, I just don’t trust the judgement of the NSP. Quiney, Marsh, the incessant hunt for an allrounder, hiding Hughes from SA, rotating fast bowlers, four quicks at the SCG.

              • Columnist

                January 9th 2013 @ 11:45am
                Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:45am | ! Report

                Yes. . . well . . .um, no comment?

        • January 9th 2013 @ 2:56pm
          Timmuh said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

          As a purely personal point of view, I don;t mind oif his stock ball is high-80s. His job seems to be to keep it tight as much as to get men out. (That is disappointing, but seems to be the team heiracy’s plan.) I would like to see the slower, flighted one more often though. Keep it tight for a while, then ask the batsman to go after a few when they might be getting frustrated. Particularly if Sidlle, Bird or Hilfenhaus are on at the other end and runs haven’t come for a few overs.

          It must be hard to decide you want to drag a batsman down the itch and beat them in flight when you have no confidence that if you beat the bat with the keeper will actually take the ball.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:21am
        TheSilentProgressor said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:21am | ! Report

        Lyon is still the best spinner we have in Australia today. And i really think he has the potential to become a very good bowler. He just needs to slow it down a bit and give the ball some flight. Because those are really the major weapons of a finger spinner, who isn’t going to be able to rip the ball as much as a wrist spinner. But if you go back and watch his first match against the Sri Lankans in Galle you will see what he is capable of. With his first ball in test Cricket he removed Kumar Sangakarra with an absolute beauty of a ball, tossed it up a little and spun and got the outside edge. Thats what he needs to get back to doing.

        There is no denying that Wade needs to improve his glovework but he is still only 25 and will obviously improve given time and the right coaching and guidance, Healy and Gilly will be giving him tips im sure. But his batting is a real positive. Showed that he can dig in and score runs when they are really needed. But he can also get runs quickly at the tail end of an innings before a declaration or before the tail is gone. Wade is here to stay for a long time i hope. And i’m actually happy that Haddin has been selected he has been batting well this season and he deserves his chance. He will be taken along on the tours of India and England as much as a batting replacement as a backup wicket keeper.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:32am
        Mick the Clown said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        If Lyon is the best spinner we have in Australia today then we are better off without a spinner. Go with the 4x pace attack.

        – He failed to bowl us to victory against SA – twice – Admittedly one of these was at the WACA, which is non spin friendly which begs the question of why was he chosen? (MC Secection)

        -on the final day of the 1st test match against SL. – he bowled over 30 overs for 0 wickets. – On the final day at Belreive. – Before MC replaced him and he did not bowl in the final session and we won. –

        -We persist and take him to Melbourne and Sydney where he didn’t threaten and his only wickets came from tail enders or batsmen going for big aerial slogs.

        Nathan Lyon, should not be in the team. He is a joke. He is poor at what he does and unnbeleivably immature. – Think when Mitch Johnson got stranded on 91, what was Lyon’s job as the number 10 batsmen? – to stay in. – What did he do? hooked it to mid wicket.

        Cant bowl, cant take wickets on the final day. Cant build pressure and is selfish in his attitude.

        Against Sri Lanka he played and bowled every innings and took a grand total of 7 wickets. in 6 innings of bowling. And you are not calling for him to be droppped? Seriously. – Do you think this is OK, on the 3 most spin friendly pitches in Australia?

        Why did we take 4x quicks into the Sydney test? – Because we had to cover for Lyon’s incompetance, and inability to take a wicket.

        He now leads the team song so he cant be dropped but should be. Immediately.

        • Columnist

          January 9th 2013 @ 11:10am
          Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:10am | ! Report

          Australia took 4 quicks into the SCG because they had no idea who to rest and chickened out and picked all 4. Their selection had zero to do with Nathan Lyon.

          Brett McKay counted 10 missed opportunities off Lyon’s bowling during the summer, primarily from Wade. Even if 70% of them had been taken, suddenly Lyon’s summer looks a lot different, no?

        • January 9th 2013 @ 11:48am
          TheSilentProgressor said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:48am | ! Report

          No Australia is definently not better off going in with 4 pacemen and no spinner. Lyon is a good bowler and will only improve. The two times against South Africa one was at the Wacca and Australia were a pacemen down, and the other one was at Adelaide and the pitch was offering nothing. Bellrieve never offers anything for the spinners either. He bowled fairly well in Sydney and without any luck.

          Give him time and he will come good. Who do you propose plays instead of him? and 4 pronged pace attack is very predictable and would not work in bowling many teams out. I think it would also lead to more injuries as Lyon can bowl lots of overs and give the pacemen a break.

          We took 4 quicks into the Sydney test because they all bowled well in Melbourne and didn’t deserve to be dropped, but they had also said they were going to play Starc, also the injury to Watson allowed them the opportunity to play the 4 quicks and without dropping anyone.

          So in short Lyon should not be dropped and he will be around for a long time to come hopefully.

          And as for him getting out. He is a tailender his job is to stay there for as long as possible but not much is expected of him. I think you are just trying to have a go at him over nothing.

          Mick the Clown is an understatement!!!

          • January 9th 2013 @ 12:33pm
            jameswm said | January 9th 2013 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

            How many wickets did Lyon get at the SCG, a spinner’s gold mine?

            • January 9th 2013 @ 1:01pm
              Red Kev said | January 9th 2013 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

              How many wickets were denied him by Australia’s poor fielding?

              • January 9th 2013 @ 2:23pm
                Christo the Daddyo said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

                I think Lyon is OK – not great, or even very good, but not poor either. And he must be getting disheartened by the poor catching support by his team-mates. Particularly Wade.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 4:30pm
                jameswm said | January 9th 2013 @ 4:30pm | ! Report

                I’m certainly not arguing on Wade Kev. He’s got a long way to go. Clarke from memory missed one he should have snaffled, didn’t seem to pick it up. How many missed stumpings were there? Two? Both off Lyon? Both in those two tests? I’m not so sure.

                I don’t really count dropped wicky catches off a spinner, they either stick or they don’t. Unfortunately for Wade, it’s more don’t than stick, and I think it’s because he snatches.

            • Columnist

              January 9th 2013 @ 2:34pm
              Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

              It wasn’t really a spinner’s gold mine this summer though, to be fair.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 4:26pm
                jameswm said | January 9th 2013 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

                Only because our spinner isn’t very good!

                Herath looked suitably dangerous there.

              • January 9th 2013 @ 4:43pm
                Matt F said | January 9th 2013 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

                While I don’t think that Nathan Lyon had a brilliant series you seem to be forgetting that Herath has probably been the number one spinner in the world for the last 12 months, at least statistically. We’re probably asking abit much for any Australian off-spinner to reach that level.

                There’s also the issue about how Sri Lanka’s batsmen grow up playing spin while our batsmen (Clarke aside) are quite hopeless against it

            • January 9th 2013 @ 7:03pm
              Rob from Brumby Country said | January 9th 2013 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

              jameswm, please oblige me. I’ve got a raging headache, and the only cure for it is for you to go and look up the best ten bowlers by average at the SCG and to come back and tell me how many of them were spinners.

          • January 10th 2013 @ 9:28am
            Mick the Clown said | January 10th 2013 @ 9:28am | ! Report

            I love the sheer number of excuses made for Lyon.
            – he needs more games
            – he needs more time
            – the Waca did not spin
            – the SCG was too green
            – Wade kept putting down chances
            – we need the variety
            – he has potential.
            etc.

            The reality is 7 wickets in 6 innings (when 4 of these were tail enders and the other 3 were batsmen going the slog), is plainly unacceptable for a top line bowler. especially following a series against SA where he could not bowl us to victory on the final day.

            Make all the excuses you want but he bowled poorly and the team is better off with him not there

            • Columnist

              January 10th 2013 @ 9:58am
              Ryan O'Connell said | January 10th 2013 @ 9:58am | ! Report

              You make a strong case against Lyon and I respect it.

              But it’s worth noting that ‘excuses’ can also be ‘reasons’.

              Dropping Lyon may or may not be the right decision – that’s somewhat subjective. But if you’re are going to drop him, you’re neglecting his otherwise solid to good performances before this summer. That’s fine and your choice – Marcus North had a strong start to his career too, and we all know what happened there.

              However, by dropping him, you’re also advocating promoting another spinner who has no stronger credentials than Lyon, or suggesting we go with a four pronged pace attack in India and England. Personally, I think either of those options are madness.

              • January 10th 2013 @ 11:00am
                Mick the Clown said | January 10th 2013 @ 11:00am | ! Report

                “reason is just sppin for “excuse”. And th eold adage that so many people have forgotten:

                NON PEFORMANCE + EXCUSE PERFORMANCE

              • Columnist

                January 10th 2013 @ 11:12am
                Ryan O'Connell said | January 10th 2013 @ 11:12am | ! Report

                Mick the Clown, that’s not an old adage, you’ve just made it up yourself. And it doesn’t make any sense either.

                Nor have you offered a solution if you were to drop Lyon.

        • January 9th 2013 @ 2:23pm
          matt h said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

          Apart from anything else every team needs a spinner these days for the over rates. The days of the Windies bowling 12 overs an hour are gone.

          • Columnist

            January 9th 2013 @ 2:34pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

            Whilst that should never be the reason you pick a spinner, it’s valid point nonetheless.

        • January 9th 2013 @ 4:44pm
          Rob from Brumby Country said | January 9th 2013 @ 4:44pm | ! Report

          This bizarre idea that the spinner has to take the wickets to finish off a team late in a Test match is uniquely Australian. The rest of the world have not had the luxury of employing two leg-spinning maestros over the same decade. Perhaps that explains why they do not share our last-innings fixation with spin bowlers?

          The English, for instance, generally look to James Anderson when they want to finish a team off – not Graeme Swann. You don’t have to take my word for it, but I’m pretty sure the stats will back me up on this if anybody can be bothered to look them up.

          And the South Africans certainly don’t look to Robin Peterson or Imran Tahir to get the job done. Why on earth would they? They’ve got Vernon Philander, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. It would be sheer stupidity to rely on even a competent spinner when you have got much more effective bowlers in the team.

          And yet both of these teams carry the spinner regardless… Why is this?

          Because a spinner is NOT there to take 5 wickets on the last day. More power to them if they can do this, but the reality is that most spinners are not Shane Warnes or Muttiah Muralitharans. They are there to provide the kind of variation that plays on the batsman’s mind and gets them out – either against the spin or against the seamer coming in from the other end.

          The player who is supposed to take 5 wickets in the last session to win a match is (and always has been) the team’s best bowler. That does not necessarily mean a spinner.

          Now Nathan Lyon certainly needs to improve his third- and fourth-innings performances, but I think overall he has done his job well. The problem isn’t with him, it’s with people like you who seem to misunderstand the role of the spinner.

          And just quietly, it wouldn’t have surprised me one bit if the reason for his faster bowling late in the game is because that is what Clarke has instructed him to do. If he can get through his overs quickly, it means more overs for Peter Siddle or whoever Clarke thinks his strike bowler is. This isn’t a tactic that I necessarily agree with, but I can understand why Clarke would employ it on Australian pitches.

          • January 10th 2013 @ 11:07am
            Mick the Clown said | January 10th 2013 @ 11:07am | ! Report

            Hey Rob, you make a good case that Lyon is rubbish when bowling in the second innings. – Let’s have alook at his first innings against SL.

            Hobart 2/76
            MCG 2/23 (BATSMEN 9 AND 11)
            SCG 1/69 (Thirimane going for the lofted slog)

            There were more “free” runs given when Lyon was bowling than i have seen from an Australian spinner. – He also lacked any ability to stifle and choke and build pressure on a batsmen.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 8:24am
      Chui said | January 9th 2013 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      Love the *ahem* regarding Bird.

      Agree whole-heartedly about the columns and responses about the cricket this summer. There are some exceptions, but mostly it’s like sitting around with a few people talking sport.

      Whilst at the ground watching the first day in Sydney, I was alarmed at the Australian’s over rate while the seamers were on. It just didn’t look like they would get anywhere near the day’s requirment. Then along comes Lyon and the over rate improved markedly. I know this is often the case with a mixed attack, but I wonder if there is pressure on him to get through his overs sometimes to make up lost time.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:26am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

        I’m glad you picked up on the *ahem*, Chui. It was due to me wiping egg off my face. . .

        • January 9th 2013 @ 9:21pm
          Sydney Kiwi said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:21pm | ! Report

          Egg from ‘The Bird’ 😉

    • January 9th 2013 @ 8:27am
      TJ said | January 9th 2013 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      Ryan,
      Here are my three negatives:
      – the lack of a succession plan to replace Mike Hussey. Yes his retirement was surprise but his age and feelings should have been obvious. Should UTK or Joe Burns or even Maxwell (given they selected him) been developed somehow with the squad this summer and given an opportunity at some point. They could have moved Hughes up to open or ‘rotated’ one of the quicks in SYD.
      – the continued decline of Shane Watson. I originally had question marks around Watson when he first started. Selectors were just trying to find our Flintoff/Kallis when we might not have the talent to do so. But then he came good. Was solid opening, without big centuries but made regular fifties that were still important and was taking important wickets. Now he is both Glassman and the Riddler.
      – the re-emergence of Mitchell Johnson. There already has been a few articles on here and in the main press about this being dangerous for Australia and England secretly happy. I agree. He did nothing at first class level to warrant re-selection, ahead of say, James Faulkner. He took wickets, a few cheap ones, against a weak foe, SL. And end of the day the wickets this summer came at an average near his ordinary test average level, he was expensive and at key times made life for the bowler at the other end difficult because he leaks runs. Starc, Siddle, Bird and Pattinson all had better bowling averages if my memory serves me correct from reading the SMH earlier in the week. A more disciplined batting like up like England, will lap him up.

      Positives:
      – Peter Siddle confirming himself as the leader of the pack. Before this summer the constant comments, particularly here in SYD, was Peter Siddle is nothing more than a trundler, despite the numerous five fors (one in every six tests he plays now) that he had taken over his relatively short career. We need real talent like Starc, Hazlewood or Cummins was the cry. At the end summer even SOME of the most ardent non-Siddle believers are saying he should be the first bowler selected.
      – No Brad Haddin. Matt Wade’s glovework to Nathan Lyon has been very ordinary. I didn’t watch every minute of the summer but I think his only miss off the quicks was standing up to Hilfenhaus, which I would debate is a chance. If your captain instructs you to stand up at the stumps he knows he is taking away the caught behind to encourage the LBW. Wade’s match in SYD was below standard from a keeping perspective. However, to argue Ryan’s point, over the summer he missed two easy stumpings and two catches off Lyon plus that comical run out. People seem to have forgotten the number of dropped catches and regulation catches Haddin didn’t even get across to last year off the quicks plus the missed stumping. So did Healy and Gilly ever make this many mistakes in a summer, no, but Haddin yes. Matt Wade has made two centuries in matches where no other Aussie made a century. Overall Haddin only has three centuries and I was reading in one of the major papers that all three came in innings where other Aussies plundered runs. I can’t remember the source so I stand to be corrected.
      – The selection of Jackson Bird. So many players are selected based on some secret profile never communicated to the public. The so called NSP ‘earmarked’ as a player of enormous potential. And to be fair the previous selection committee were the same. Players with ordinary recent first class records being selected ahead of performing shield players. Jackson Bird only got his chance because injuries meant we were down to bowler number 8 or so. His record, along with James Faulkner’s may I add, has been ‘Philander’ (brilliant FC record over 70 matches before RSA finally decided to pick him as he was judged not quick enough for test cricket) like but he was clouded with the myth that taking wickets in Tassie was easy despite taking wickets all around the country. His selection was one based purely on performance at the feeder level, which is what we ask of our FC players based on the structure, and they should be rewarded. And look at his test performance and just even the way he bowls suggest he is test quality.

      I didn’t include Michael Clarke as that is obvious and he will receive much better recognition than just a positive from me! And his batting hasn’t just been a positive from this summer but since he has been captain.

      • Roar Guru

        January 9th 2013 @ 10:04am
        Cameron Kellett said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:04am | ! Report

        Tj I will continue to read your points after I comment on your view about MJ.
        You said “He took wickets, a few cheap ones, against a weak foe, SL. And end of the day the wickets this summer came at an average near his ordinary test average level, he was expensive and at key times made life for the bowler at the other end difficult because he leaks runs.”

        First point – he took 9 wickets in 2 matches to be exact, call them cheap but that’s nine more than you!
        Second point – you don’t call Jackson Bird’s 11 wickets in two matches cheap!
        Third point – Siddle must have got 15 cheap wickets in 3 matches as well – everyone we have no hope for the Ashes, God help us!
        Fourth point – starc in this series didn’t have a better average and pattinson didn’t even play.
        Fifth point – (now this one really annoys me!!!) – MJ, 2 tests, 50 overs, 6 maidens, 171 runs with 9 “cheap” wickets @ an average of 19.00 with a strike rate of 33.33, best figures of 4/63 with an economy rate of 3.42.

        I won’t make any more points nor will I read whatelse you wrote.

        Now before anyone else wants to ridicule MJ, know what you are talking about instead of acting like sheep which you have for the past few months.

        • Roar Guru

          January 9th 2013 @ 10:16am
          Cameron Kellett said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          By the way Tj these stats refer to Sri Lanka matches. He only played one other test but i’m more than happy to add these stats in if you want to assume. By the way siddle, hilfenhaus, bird didn’t play so the result was never a true indication of our potential as we had played extremely well in the last 2 tests before that. SA test was not easy and his stats were actually slightly better but I’ll let you figure that one out.

        • January 9th 2013 @ 10:46am
          TJ said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:46am | ! Report

          Hi Kellett;
          Given your response, I put in a little effort into the cricinfo stats filter. I stand corrected, his stats over the summer (I meant the whole summer not just SL) are better than his career averages and on par with the other bowlers. So I’m not sure what the article was highlighting the other day. If I remember vaguely it had Bird and Siddle all taking wickets in the low 20’s, Starc in the mid-20’s and Johnson at 29. I do stand by my ‘did nothing to justify’ re-selection in terms of FC performance before that. And even if it perception, I still stand by the fact that his bowling hasn’t improved enough to consistently suggest he will be any more consistent against England. His overall test average is not good enough for Australia, but I take your point that if continues to improves upon on that based on his most recent statistical performance this summer then fair enough. Again, it’s my subjective opinion on this occasion to be judged during the Ashes.

          Good response with some facts and numbers, which I will say is always good, as there are many non-factual based claims on the Roar. Would appreciate your view on the other points.

          • Roar Guru

            January 9th 2013 @ 11:16am
            Cameron Kellett said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

            Tj, in regards to Shane Watson I honestly don’t know what is going on, but what I do know is (imo) he is batting in the wrong position.

            Throughout his time in the national team he has played 38 tests since 2005. In 7-8 years that is pretty bad but he honestly is the best all rounder we have in Australian cricket.
            I don’t think even he knows if he wants to be a batting all rounder or a bowling all rounder..in his early days I believe he was utilised as a bowing all rounder but when moved to opener he, was in his prime but lacked one key component – mental strength.

            Stats – 69 innings, 19 50’s, 2 100’s, high score of 126 with 2,481 @ an average of 37.03.

            Opening – 45 innings, 15 50’s, 2 100’s, 1878 @ an average of 43.67.

            I will not bother to round out the other statistics but I believe his position is beat suited to an opener who bowls 10-15 overs per innings.

            Matthew wade – I too noticed his lack wicket keeping skills – due to inexperience, nerves I don’t know? But with time I believe he can do the job and Clarke will provide the leadership required to aid him.

            Siddle is our most consistent but I truely believe bird and Johnson are the ideal combination.

            Lyon is the most consistent and reliable spin bowler at the moment and isn’t doing to bad currently.

            I did not see Hussey retiring whatsoever. And perhaps he didn’t feel a need to communicate, or if he did perhaps usman khwaja was already pencilled in as a replacement.

            Whatever the case I believe Australia may not reclaim the Ashes but if they do it will signify another era of dominance of Australian cricket. I do see us returning to no. 1 in the near foreseeable future.

      • Columnist

        January 9th 2013 @ 10:12am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        Thanks for the post, TJ. Some excellent points.

        Just on Haddin, if you’re referring to the piece I also saw about when he made his runs, then it was a little misleading. It stated that of his 3 Test centuries, they were all scored when someone else scored a hundred. The inference being that they were never made under pressure. That’s just absolute rubbish.

        First of all, just because someone else in the team scored a ton, it doesn’t mean that yours was easy. Secondly, Haddin scored a hundred at the Gabba in the first Test of the last Ashes series in Australia when the team was in big trouble at 5 for not many. He and Hussey put on a big partnership that rescued Australia. It was a gritty performance from both of them, but just because each scored a hundred, that doesn’t make it ‘easy’.

        Stats can be misleading!

        Also, I think you’re forgetting the mistakes Wade made in the South African series as well.

        • January 9th 2013 @ 10:52am
          TJ said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:52am | ! Report

          Thanks ROC. Fair enough on Haddin. We just differ on subjectivity. I will never forget the double hundred he made on the flat Adelaide over against NZ after Daniel Flynn dropped a sitter when Haddin was on only on 6. At that stage Haddin was under some pressure as he hadn’t made runs in his test career till then and had the enormous pressure of filling Gilly’s shoes. I’m probably just biased against him.

          And in regards to Wade’s mistakes yes I did include the two missed stumpings and the ‘dropped’ catch standing up to Hilfy from the RSA series.

          • January 9th 2013 @ 11:00am
            Justin said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            where the hell do you get your stats from? Haddin has never made a double hundred in his life

          • January 9th 2013 @ 11:03am
            Matt F said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:03am | ! Report

            It must be very hard to forget his double hundred as it never actually happened….

          • Columnist

            January 9th 2013 @ 11:06am
            Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:06am | ! Report

            I think you mean his 169 versus the Kiwis?

            It’s slightly strange that you mock that innings score and infer it was an easy knock, whilst also saying he was under pressure!

            • January 9th 2013 @ 11:08am
              Justin said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:08am | ! Report

              I think what he’s actually trying to say is that Wade given time will be a far superior player, he is already a far superior batsmen, his glovework to the fast bowlers has been great, to spin not so much, but I don’t think it would take much to fix his issues

              • Columnist

                January 9th 2013 @ 11:13am
                Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:13am | ! Report

                They’re all fair enough points, Justin. I think Wade should be the first choice keeper. But I have no issue if Haddin is still deemed to be number 2.

            • January 9th 2013 @ 11:21am
              TJ said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:21am | ! Report

              Sorry Lads, yes his 169. My memory is becoming vague with age, and I don’t have the time to always cricinfo filter. ROC, he was under individual pressure to perform, but the match situations is a separate sort of pressure that was being referred to in the other article, which you have already argued against. And given all your fair responses to the criticism of my stats (I believe in stats as always good rationale) and I even had a look back at the commentary of that match and he was actually dropped on 72 not 6! He was actually given not out caught behind on 7, which was possibly his lucky escape that I was probably trying to remember back to.

              ROC – to your early ‘positive’. The only thing missing from these good roar cricket discussions is a beer in hand at the pub.

              • Columnist

                January 9th 2013 @ 11:30am
                Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:30am | ! Report

                Yep, that’s a fair point on pressure, mate.

                And totally agree about beer in hand!

          • January 9th 2013 @ 2:57pm
            Lee said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

            And Wade was dropped 3 times at least against Sri Lanka, plus survived two referrals.

        • January 9th 2013 @ 12:08pm
          Ian M said | January 9th 2013 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

          I agree with Haddin’s selection as 2nd wicket keeper for the Ashes tour as he will bring some mental strength that I think the test team are short of but I think you give him too much credit for his performance at the ‘Gabba. He came in after 50 overs with Australia less than 150 runs behind England’s 1st innings total on a road of a pitch where 2 wickets fell for 600+ runs in the combined 2nd Innings’.

          It’s not like the situation in SA where Australia were 20 odd when he came in and shuffled back to the sheds a few minutes later.

          Positives for me
          – Clarke’s batting and captaincy in both series, the test teams greatest strengths
          – Siddle’s effort at Adelaide, unfortunately in vain but showed he has the fortitude and stamina to step up and lead an inexperienced attack
          – Dismantling of Sri Lanka at the MCG, the opposition where poor and injury ravaged but Australia were relentless and showed a glimpse of the killer instinct associated with the better Aussie teams of the past.

          Negatives
          – The timing of the series, would love to see how Bird would go against the SA batsmen. A shame that the SA series was not the pinnacle of the Test summer
          – Injuries and poor selections, Australia never really got their best XI on the park all at the same time.
          – The size of the crowd for the Hobart Test. Sri Lanka aren’t the biggest draw admittedly but the crowd size is a depressingly accurate window into the state of health of Test Cricket.

          • Columnist

            January 9th 2013 @ 2:38pm
            Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

            Perhaps I do give him too much credit for that innings, but from memory the pitch was far from a road at that stage. It flattened out late in the match, but at that stage there was still some life in it, plus Australia were in trouble.

            In any case, my point was that it’s massive exaggeration to say Haddin only got un-important runs, that was the point I was trying to make. (Geez, I’ve been made to sound like massive Haddin supporter today!)

            Yep, I concur fully with your list of positives and negatives.

      • Roar Guru

        January 9th 2013 @ 10:49am
        langou said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:49am | ! Report

        A succession plan?

        What on earth does that mean ?

        Surely when someone retires, you look at the Sheffield Shield and pick the next best person for the job

        • January 9th 2013 @ 10:58am
          TJ said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          Agree langou. I wish the selectors picked like that more often, who is the best performing at Shield level. To that point they could have anticipated Hussey’s departure or even made a call after he made his announcement by picking someone from the shield to play in SYD.

          A succession plan is what all good businesses have to manage structural change to key personnel. I’m not suggesting we treat the team like a business, far from it, as CA is already far too corporate conscious. But given the lost of Ponting and Hussey, and the absence of Watson, three key personnel, we now finish a summer and in leading up to perhaps the most important series in a long time (Ashes In ENG) without knowing who is best to replace those three.

          • January 9th 2013 @ 11:11am
            Red Kev said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:11am | ! Report

            It means you can’t afford to be surprised if you lose a player, be ready with the next guy. The NSP openly admitted to not even considering the team without Ponting. Given his age and form that is diagraceful.
            As for picking from the Shield. The Shield hasn’t been on for over a month, hard to judge on FC performances when no FC cricket is being played.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 8:44am
      sledgeross said | January 9th 2013 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      Agree Ryan. Excellent points as usual mate!
      Saad, I agree with you somewhat. I would like to see Hussey replaced with an experinced, battle-hardened FC player, if only for the next two tours. I would nominate DHuss, Rogers or Maxy Klinger.

      And Ryan, especially agree with the quality of opinions and posts here at the Roar, really enjoyed your opinions and your burgeoning bromance with Brettles! Cheers guys.

      • Columnist

        January 9th 2013 @ 10:15am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        I’m not sure how burgeoning it is, but thank you anyway, sledger!

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:20am
        Paulie said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:20am | ! Report

        Mate D Hussey is averaging 15 in shield this year, Rogers has looked out of form too, take a look at his batting in T20, not the best indication of test form but you can get a good indication of how a player is travelling by looking at his form there. Also why would we pick players who will be both 36 by the time the ashes rolls around

        • January 9th 2013 @ 11:44am
          sledgeross said | January 9th 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

          LOL Rogers is averaging more than the allegedly dominant Khawaja in the shield this year.

          Why pick him? Because Australia should pick the best team available. Ill guarantee you pick Rogers in the Test team as Cowans replacement and at age 35 he’ll beat Cowans test average. We are lacking experience up the top and also now the middle order, we need some old heads in there.

          • January 9th 2013 @ 3:38pm
            Praveen said | January 9th 2013 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

            Rogers had his time but at 35 he is not scoring like he used to. Khawaja has been among the best batsman in shield and Ryobi this year and deserves his chance. His fielding and running looks sharp too and he is ready for the next level, just give him half the chances Cowan had and he will do well.

        • January 9th 2013 @ 12:03pm
          TheSilentProgressor said | January 9th 2013 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

          Rogers is an opener and has been all his career. Why would you replace Hussey who bats at number 6 with an opener?????

          Yes i know Hughes has come in at number 3 after being an opener, but he is younger and has batted there before. I think there are only a few players who can takeover from Huss. I think Usman is the most likely but other batsmen like Hussey, Ferguson and Maxwell are also in with a shout. But Rodgers, no!

          If Cowan struggles again in India, I think Shane Watson will takeover as opener (hopefully they make the change for the Indian tour), his experience will be required in England, so there is no doubt he will be there in some capacity.

          • January 9th 2013 @ 12:45pm
            sledgeross said | January 9th 2013 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

            I never said replace him in the order, just that we need experience. Its quite obvious the order is a shambles as it stands. Selections dont have to make sense lol

    • January 9th 2013 @ 8:50am
      A1 said | January 9th 2013 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      I know a lot has been said about the selectors already but I dont know how you could leave them out of your negatives. They were the biggest negative IMO. Theyve got no idea what their doing!

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