Is there a place for Hilfenhaus and Harris in the Ashes squad?

Brian Zhang Roar Rookie

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    With the Ashes in just under six months’ time, the issue of which bowlers will make the trip to England looks settled.

    The bowling attack will probably consist of Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon and Jackson Bird.

    But there is a question as to whether the two veterans, Ben Hilfenhaus and Ryan Harris, will be able to force their way back into that side.

    Ryan Harris is only just starting his comeback and is set to captain an Australian Country side in Queensland.

    Harris last played an international match in April against the West Indies, and last played a competitive match during the IPL in which he sustained a serious shoulder injury.

    Instead of having major surgery that would have kept him out of playing for a year, he opted for a quick-fix procedure that would only have him out for three months.

    When Ben Hilfenhaus broke down with a side strain during the first Test against Sri Lanka, Jackson Bird was handed a Boxing Day debut.

    He made the most of the opportunity presented to him: 11 wickets in the two Tests, and most now see him almost certain for an Ashes trip.

    Mitchell Johnson is now back to bowling near his best, something that saw him become the ICC Cricketer of the Year in 2009.

    Peter Siddle has continued to lead the attack in fine fashion and Mitchell Starc has also impressed this summer. With James Pattinson and Pat Cummins also set to make the trip, there may not be room for Hilfenhaus or Harris.

    It was only a year ago when we saw Ben Hilfenhaus recalled to the Australian side for the series against India in which he took 27 wickets at 17 to be the leading wicket taker. Not only was he bowling over 140km/h consistently but he was also swinging the ball both ways.

    Ryan Harris has been considered as Australia’s best fast bowler by many over the last two years, and yet he has only played 12 Test matches.

    He has claimed 47 wickets at a terrific average of 25 with a strike rate of 49, but only on three occasions in his career has Harris been able to play consecutive Test matches. Because of this he has not been able to cement a spot in the Test side.

    In the three Test matches Hilfenhaus played this season he looked like a shadow of his former self. He was down on pace, he wasn’t swinging the ball like he was last year, and looked like he was carrying some sort of injury.

    It was much like his 2010/11 form where he had a horrendous Ashes campaign.

    There’s no doubt that both bowlers, when in form and fit, are strong contenders to be in the best bowling attack for Australia.

    In the 2009 Ashes in England, Hilfenhaus was the best of the bowlers from both sides with 22 wickets at 28. He was able to consistently swing the Duke ball away from the right handed English batsmen and also both ways to the left handers.

    Ryan Harris, in the 2010/11 series, was the best of the Aussie bowlers in Adelaide when Australia were getting trounced, and frequently troubled the English batsman in Perth.

    The selectors are clearly keen to pick young talent to complement an attack led by Siddle and Johnson.

    The question is whether they will gamble with another veteran in Hilfenhaus or Harris, both of whom have been prone to injuries throughout their careers.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • January 14th 2013 @ 7:50am
      Red Kev said | January 14th 2013 @ 7:50am | ! Report

      Cummins should not be picked. He has played 4 first class matches (one of which was a test match) in two years. Send him back to shield cricket and make him bowl, and bowl, and bowl, and bowl some more without getting injured (and see if his figures are actually good after those two seasons at state level). I would expect 6 pacemen so Siddle, Pattinson, Bird, Johnson and Starc leaves one spot open. Harris is he is fit would be great but he is an injury liability, I wouldn’t be gambling on him. Hilfenhaus is just not particularly impressive, but given his last Ashes tour to the UK and his bowling against India last summer might be worth the last spot as insurance. I’d prefer Cutting.

      • January 14th 2013 @ 8:26am
        James said | January 14th 2013 @ 8:26am | ! Report

        Agree on Cummins. Should be no where near the test team.

        Hilfy should go. His 2012 test record resulted in 9 test with 37 wickets at 21. If that doesn’t get you a tour to the ashes but the crap that Johnson and Starc bowl (at a much less impressive record) does then there is something wrong with the selectors.

      • January 14th 2013 @ 1:40pm
        Bayman said | January 14th 2013 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

        Kev,

        It’s only hearsay but I was told by somebody during the recent Sydney Test that Cummins has grown an inch since his Test debut. This may help explain some of his injury worries but it also serves as a warning about his involvement on the Ashes tour. Like you I’d suggest he should be left out to prove his fitness in domestic cricket for a bit more than five minutes before being seen as any sort of bowling saviour. He virtually has not played since his debut so surely he’s no chance for England.

        Likewise Harris who simply does not have any track record for the last year except watching from the grandstand. If rotation is continued in England – and we must assume it will be otherwise why are we doing it now – then, presumably, at least six fast bowlers will be in the squad. Siddle, Bird, Pattinson and Starc, I think, will be four of them. Johnson may well go presuming he and Starc will be rotated – there can then always be a leftie if necessary – which leaves one more. Like you I’d take Cutting for the experience which means five of the six can also bat which I reckon might come in handy given our top six.

        Perish the thought that our bowlers get picked on their batting ability but these are uncertain times in cricketing terms and it just so happens that several of our up and coming quicks can handle a blade.

    • January 14th 2013 @ 8:33am
      Atawhai Drive said | January 14th 2013 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      You have to pick bowlers in the reasonable expectation that they will go right through the series without breaking down.

      On that basis, Cummins, Harris, Hilfenhaus and Pattinson are risky selections.

      • January 14th 2013 @ 9:16am
        Jason said | January 14th 2013 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Pattinson is worth the risk.

        • January 14th 2013 @ 10:13am
          Matt F said | January 14th 2013 @ 10:13am | ! Report

          Agreed. If we’re taking a squad of 6 fast bowlers (which seems the most likely option right now) then you could take one or two of those players. I’d take Pattinson before any of those bowlers. The other three can fight it out for the other spot, if it’s even available

          • Roar Guru

            January 14th 2013 @ 11:53am
            TheGenuineTailender said | January 14th 2013 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            I rate Pattinson our best bowler at the moment. Hard to argue he shouldn’t be a first choice fast bowler.

            • January 14th 2013 @ 1:12pm
              Matt F said | January 14th 2013 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

              Yep he’d be in my first XI with Siddle and Bird

    • Roar Guru

      January 14th 2013 @ 9:33am
      Turnover said | January 14th 2013 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      I think its time for Cricket Australia to tell Harris that he doesn’t have a test match future. There are enough other bowlers of a similar standard to him. Theres no point taking the risk.

      I have reservations about an ashes team that has a fast bowling attack of Pattinson, Bird and Starc. I think its important that one of the bowlers has a plethora of test experience. Based on that, and I’ll get shot down for this, I would have Bird, Siddle and Starc at this point. Essentially, having a left armer to provide something different is something that shouldn’t be passed up and I think Siddles experience should have him in the team. Birds accuracy gets him in the team, so there is no room for Pattinson.

      I realise we were talking about the squad, but thought I would my thoughts in on the line up.

      • January 14th 2013 @ 9:56am
        Matt F said | January 14th 2013 @ 9:56am | ! Report

        I don’t think we need a left-armer just for the sake of having one. Pattinson, Bird and Siddle are all different enough and are all probably better than Starc at test level, though Starc should be in the squad. That being said the recent news about Starc’s ankle injury, and CA’s plan to deal with it, is a worry

      • January 14th 2013 @ 11:26am
        TheSilentProgressor said | January 14th 2013 @ 11:26am | ! Report

        I agree that a left-armer offers good variety, especially Starc who can consistently swing the ball back into the right handers unlike Johnson. But at this stage he is not in the top 3 fast bowlers. The attack should be Siddle, Pattinson, Bird, Starc (12th Man). I am a massive supporter of Starc and i really like what he brings to the team but he needs to improve his control and accuracy before he is considered before Bird or Pattinson.

        Just on Cummins quickly. I really like him I think he is probably the most naturally talented bowler Australia has at the moment to be doing what he has done at 18 – 19 is incredible. But until he can prove that he can play more than 1 FC match before breaking down he should not be considered for the test team.

        Harris I still believe is one of the best bowlers Australia has unfortunately he shouldn’t be included because he is even more injury-prone than Watson.

        The 6 bowlers i would take would be

        1 Siddle
        2 Pattinson
        3 Bird
        4 Starc
        5 Hilfenhaus
        6 Johnson

        • January 14th 2013 @ 1:37pm
          jameswm said | January 14th 2013 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

          That’s who I expect they will take.

          However I don’t think you can go for 2 loose Mitchells. Remember Perth. And I’d take Harris even if he’ll only be good for 2 tests.

    • January 14th 2013 @ 10:10am
      Matt F said | January 14th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

      Assuming that everybody is fit for the Ashes you’d think that Siddle and Bird would be the first two chosen. Pattinson, Starc and Johnson are probably also going to the Ashes and are probably ranked in that order. That probably leaves one spot for a fast bowler.

      I could see them gambling on Hilfenhaus given his bowling should suit the conditions. If he bowls like he did against India (pushing 140km/h and swining it late) then he’ll be a real handful but if he bowls like he did this summer and two years ago (struggling to his 130km/h and swining it too early) then he will be a wasted selection.

      Harris is probably a very slim chance now. He hasn’t played since the WIndies and there won’t be enough Shield matches to prove his fitness for India. He’ll need to end the Shield season very, very strongly, and probably have one or two bowlers fall over, to get a spot. he’s outstanding when fit but he’s probably slipped well back now.

      The other contender for that 6th spot would probably be Cummins, though his body clearly isn’t ready for a test series and I’d rather him spend some time in domestic cricket and hopefully county cricket to build his body up. Given his injury history we need to be very careful managing him. We don’t want his career to falla part because we mismanaged him and CA’s recent injury management record is woeful. He’s a chance to be picked because the selectors love his potential.

      So right now I’d say Hilfenhaus is more likely followed by Cummins then Harris. Though perhaps someone like Faulkner, Hazelwood or Coulter-Nile could be a bolter if they have a great end to the domestic season.

      • January 14th 2013 @ 10:22am
        Matt F said | January 14th 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        I should have added Cutting to the list as well. He’s down the pecking order but I think he would be a great selection and could easily slot into Siddle’s first change role if needed

    • January 14th 2013 @ 10:19am
      jameswm said | January 14th 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

      Let’s assume we take 6 quicks.

      On that basis, you can afford a couple who are an injury risk. Have another couple playing County cricket.

      Siddle, Pattinson and Bird are automatics. Pattinson might get injured a bit, but he’s our best bowler when fit.

      I’m not so sure about taking both Mitchells. You can’t play both in the same team as tey leak too many runs. Starc now has a more lethal wicket-taking ball, but is looser than Johnson. Johnson’s lost that blinder delivery a bit, but is much more consistent in the areas he bowls. It’s a toss-up for me, but for one spot.

      If Harris has shown form and fitness and can play say 2 tests, I’d take him. I know many would disagree, but he’s as good as Pattinson when fit, bowling fast, heavy outies.

      That would leave one spot. Sorry, Hilfy isn’t good enough right now. Cummins, well, he’s got to show some proper red ball form before you consider him. If he plays no Shield cricket this season, I don’t see how you can pick him.

      Who else is there? Hazlewood, coming back from injury, Qld’s Cutting, and Tassie’s Faulkner, NCN, Putland, Bollinger, Copeland, McDermott, Hastings (how can someone who played a test not be mentioned?), Butterworth.

      For mine that’s a toss-up between Cutting and Faulkner, both young, consistent fast bowlers, with the added bonus of being handy bats. Cutting showed good game sense last night.

      What they will take
      Pattinson
      Siddle
      Bird
      Starc
      Johnson
      Cummins

      What I would take
      Pattinson
      Siddle
      Bird
      Johnson/Starc
      Harris if some fitness shown
      Cutting/Faulkner

    • Roar Guru

      January 14th 2013 @ 11:51am
      TheGenuineTailender said | January 14th 2013 @ 11:51am | ! Report

      My squad has 17 players. Warner, Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, David Hussey and Doolan/Baily/Cowan as the spare batsman (dependant on shield form). Then Wade and Haddin as the keepers. Lyon and Beer as spinners. And Siddle, Pattinson, Bird (as preferred fast bowling attack) with Starc, Johnson and Hilfenhaus as reserves.

      There’s still time for Harris to push a claim with some shield cricket, but age is well and truly against him. Hilfy has shown he can be dangerous in England and was Australia’s leading test wicket-taker last year. Picking Cummins, Cutting or other players looks a recipe for disaster to me. Go with the proven guys in a big series like this. No need for senseless gambles.

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