Laying down the odds for Hussey’s replacement

Ryan O'Connell Columnist

By Ryan O'Connell, Ryan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    Mike Hussey made a cameo in Switzerland. (Image: AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

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    Australia depart for India in 16 days’ time, yet the make-up of the Test top six is far from settled. While there remain many questions about the batting, the most obvious one still revolves around who will replace Mike Hussey.

    Worryingly, it’s also the question most removed from an answer.

    As little as two weeks ago, the vast majority of Australia would have had Usman Khawaja pencilled in to fill ‘Mr Cricket’s’ spikes.

    That appeared to have included the individuals who count the most – the selectors – as Uzzy was in the Test squad for Sydney, and then chosen in the One Day International team as well.

    However two weeks is a long time in cricket, and the mixed messages from the national selection panel indicate Khawaja is no certainty to fill the vacant spot in the batting order.

    If we’ve learnt anything about the cricket media, it’s that, generally, where there is smoke, there is fire. Keeping that in mind, one simply cannot ignore the growing whispers that Khawaja may not earn a spot in the Australia Test team.

    Combine those whispers with the fact Khawaja was axed from the 50 over team after just one game, and you begin to feel the metaphorical smoke is coming from an inferno.

    That’s not to say Khawaja definitively won’t earn a recall, but it’s clear his selection is far from a fait accompli.

    Who else is in the mix? It might take up less space to list who’s not in contention.

    It seems like almost everyone has a different opinion on who should replace Mike Hussey, and the suggestions have ranged from wise to ridiculous.

    Further increasing his ‘strange’ credentials, Shane Warne even nominated veteran Brad Hodge as a potential candidate. It was yet further evidence Warne doesn’t quite understand the definition of ‘retired’.

    Though it seems he’s not alone, as Hodge announced yesterday he’s contemplating a return to first class cricket in a bid to make the Ashes tour. Yes, I’m serious. Evidently, so is he.

    Proving all those annoying and intrusive gambling ads have infiltrated my brain, I thought I’d list some of the candidates and their odds of Test selection.

    Usman Khawaja
    Despite all the chit chat, and his 50 over axing – sorry, ‘informed player management’ – Khawaja is surely still the favourite. It’s all been said before, but Uzzy has a good technique, a great temperament and looks every bit a Test batsman.
    Odds: 2/1

    George Bailey
    Australia’s T20 skipper has fans in high places, and I don’t just mean Cricket Australia. The Fox Sports commentators, particularly Greg Blewett, constantly push Bailey’s chances, and the media can be extremely influential in such matters. Bailey is a big chance.
    Odds: 3/1

    Glenn Maxwell
    Maxwell is an unbelievable fielder, but I don’t think two of his core cricket skills – batting and bowling – are up to Test standard yet. However, the selectors are enamoured with all-rounders, and the fact Maxwell is a spinning one has him in the frame for India.
    Odds: 5/1

    David Hussey
    At 35 years of age, it appeared as though the junior Hussey’s Test chances had passed him by. Yet ironically, with Australia losing the experience of Ricky Ponting and older brother Mike, David’s negative has become a positive: the Test team could do with a veteran in the middle order. And considering Hussey is one of the best players of spin in the country, it would be a shrewd move to include him on a tour of India.
    Odds: 6/1

    Rob Quiney
    ‘Mr Sheen’ was in the team just four Tests ago, so you’d have to believe he’s still in the selectors’ minds. With Shane Watson making himself available as a batsman only, and Quiney’s bowling (bizarrely) rated, a recall may not be out of the question as a pseudo all-rounder.
    Odds: 8/1

    Alex Doolan
    I’ll be honest, I haven’t watched nearly enough of Doolan to have a solid opinion on him. What I do know is he scored an unbeaten 161 for Australia A against South Africa, which means he’s in the selectors’ minds, and he performed when given his representative chance. That should, and does, matter.
    Odds: 9/1

    Brad Haddin
    The fact he’s injured and a wicket-keeper is far outweighed by how respected he is by people that matter. He’s a legitimate chance to be selected as a specialist batsman.
    Odds: 9/1

    Shaun Marsh
    Unquestionably talented, highly rated by influential people, and with a tremendous Big Bash tournament, Marsh has come back into reckoning for international honours. Yet one would hope his terrible Sheffield Shield season also comes into consideration.
    Odds: 12/1

    Adam Voges
    Talented, no doubt, and his T2O selection is proof he has not been forgotten. But if the selectors want experience, there are better candidates. Conversely, if they’re seeking potential, Voges, surpringly, is now 33 years old.
    Odds: 15/1

    Callum Ferguson
    Elegant and stylish, ‘Fergy’ is a joy to watch when in-form. He still lacks the big scores and gaudy average that absolutely demand selection, but I have no doubt he’s up to Test cricket. However, he does seem to have fallen down the pecking order.
    Odds: 18/1

    Joe Burns
    I’m an unabashed fan of Burns. I think he has a good technique, excellent footwork, all the shots, and oozes class. I’d love to see the selectors take a chance on him, or at least get him around the Australia set-up, but I think he’s at fairly long odds to replace ‘The Huss’ outright.
    Odds: 20/1

    Marcus North
    Peter Roebuck once stated North was a ‘worse starter than pea soup’, such was his propensity to lose his wicket early. However, North does have five Test centuries to his name, so if the selectors want experience, he’s a definite option.
    Odds: 30/1

    Michael Klinger
    Klinger’s temperament, technique and maturity are made for Test cricket, but as a career opener, I don’t think he’s seriously considered as a middle order option, nor is he a spring chicken.
    Odds: 50/1

    Brad Hodge
    You’d have to travel far and wide to find a bigger Brad Hodge fan than me. To say he was treated unfairly by Australian selectors is an understatement on par with saying Miranda Kerr is not ugly. But Hodge is 38 years of age. It’s just not going to happen.
    Odds: 10,000/1

    So, ladies and gentlemen, place your bets.

    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 (147)

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 5:21am
      AndyMack said | January 22nd 2013 @ 5:21am | ! Report

      Hi ROC

      The sad part is I (and prob most people) can come up with reasons why each of these guys is not good enough for Test cricket.

      The fact that the 2nd favourite in your list cannot even average 40 in first class cricket highlights this.

      UTK should be a walkup, and I think maybe Burns could be an option, especially with ashes series coming up, he might do OK.

      • January 22nd 2013 @ 9:39am
        Jake said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        Michael Clarke averaged 37 in FC before he was selected for Aus over his first 4 seasons.

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2013 @ 10:28am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:28am | ! Report

        Very true Andy, but there is no one averaging 50+ and dominating Shield cricket who is an automatic selection. Desperate times call for desperate measures, and that may mean selecting someone with a sub 40 first class average.

        • January 22nd 2013 @ 7:05pm
          AndyMack said | January 22nd 2013 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

          Yes I agree. Just pointing out it is sad.

          And Jake, Pup was about 22/23 from memory, with a truckload of potential, not sure bailey is in the same category, he is the wrong side of 30 to be picked on “potential”.

        • January 23rd 2013 @ 9:41am
          Common sense said | January 23rd 2013 @ 9:41am | ! Report

          D Hussey averages 55 – and is officially the player with the highest FC average outside of India never to have played a Test

          • January 23rd 2013 @ 9:52am
            Red Kev said | January 23rd 2013 @ 9:52am | ! Report

            Unfortunately for you mr common sense, D Hussey is averaging 17 this shield season and has a known weakness against the short ball (beautifully exposed by Malinga last match – it is the perfect and almost guaranteed way to get D.Hussey’s wicket – push him back in the crease with chin music then bowl him a full wide one and get him to chase it for an edge behind). He might be an acceptable stop-gap for the Indian series but he would be a liability in the Ashes, selecting him would be very poor planning.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 8:09am
      jamesb said | January 22nd 2013 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      Hey Ryan

      Australia may need to look for a replacement for someone like Cowan as well, which means out of that group of players you listed, Australia may need to select two batsman, instead of one.

      My top three to be selected would be Khawaja, Bailey and Dussey. Although knowing Invers, he’ll probably select Maxwell Sheffield, or pluck someone like Mark Cosgrove or Luke Pomersbach. Pity Mr Cricket retired. Imagine Huss and Cosgrove running between the wickets together. LOL

      Quiney, North, Hodge,Klinger, Ferguson no chance. Ferguson is prone to been bowled or LBW. S.Marsh did make a century and a 80 against Sri Lanka on sub continental deck, so I haven’t ruled him out completely with Australia touring India.

      Doolan and Burns need more time and runs on the board. Burns IMO, is one player to look out for. Voges is the dark horse. Has a chance in a Shield game starting this Thursday with NSW taking on WA, while SA play Vic.

      Last but not least, Haddin. The way Wade keeps, maybe have Wade as a specialist batsman at 6, and have Haddin as keeper.

      PS: Is Miranda Kerr still with Orlando Bloom?

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2013 @ 10:29am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        If Watson takes Cowan’s opening spot, then yes, two of the above batsmen will be selected. I think it then gets VERY interesting.

        Kerr and Bloom are having some troubles. She popped over last night, shoulder to cry on, etc, etc.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 8:17am
      Christo the Daddyo said | January 22nd 2013 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      What I would love to know is why Khawaja is on the nose with the selectors. It’s one of the great mysteries of Australian cricket.

      Why was he rotated out of the ODI team after just one game when others (e.g. Henriques) have been given multiple games?

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2013 @ 10:29am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:29am | ! Report

        He was also run out in that game, if I’m not mistaken, so it’s not exactly a fair analysis of his form.

        • January 22nd 2013 @ 11:45am
          Christo the Daddyo said | January 22nd 2013 @ 11:45am | ! Report

          Yes, and that run out was only partially his fault!

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 8:25am
      A1 said | January 22nd 2013 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      At those odds I’ll have 50 bucks on Uzzy. 10 on Maxwell and 1 on Hodge. But I’d take Uzzy if I was a selector.

      And why have you called Quiney “Mr Sheen”?

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2013 @ 10:30am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Think about it, A1.

        (Hint: How was one of Quiney’s innings’ described?)

        • January 22nd 2013 @ 11:07pm
          A1 said | January 22nd 2013 @ 11:07pm | ! Report

          I’m an idiot. Nice one. Very polished.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 8:55am
      Red Kev said | January 22nd 2013 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      The fact the selectors need to consider this decision is worrying to be honest, Khawaja is head, shoulders and wang length above the other candidates for test cricket. The only thing on the selectors’ minds should be if they want to take Watson for the first two tests before he goes home or give him the entire Indian tour off.

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2013 @ 9:16am
        Cameron Rose said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        Your first sentence sums it up perfectly Red Kev.

        The second sentence was pretty good too!

    • Columnist

      January 22nd 2013 @ 9:12am
      Cameron Rose said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      For a start, as many have said in these pages, it has to be Khawaja. If he isn’t picked, it will merely confirm that the NSP is made up of people with multiple personalities.

      Firstly, he’s the best option. Secondly, he was the reserve batsman in the test squad for Melbourne and Sydney to cover for Michael Clarke, so what sort of message does it send if the player who was identified as the man to cover the best batsmen in the country is then ignored when a real replacement is needed.

      Outside that, if we’re going to pluck another player, err on the side of youth. Therefore, Joe Burns should be the option. Bailey, Ferguson, Quiney, Doolan – these guys have been around long enough and haven’t knocked down the door. D.Hussey has missed the boat unfortunately for him. Haddin – no.

      As for Maxwell, I was trusting the selectors instincts and judgement when throwing his name around. Hmmm.

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2013 @ 10:31am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        Nothing the NSP does surprises me anymore!

        In fact, that’s an outright lie from me. Almost everything they do surprises me!

        • Roar Guru

          January 22nd 2013 @ 4:34pm
          sheek said | January 22nd 2013 @ 4:34pm | ! Report

          Ryan – “Almost everything they [NSP] do surprises me!”

          I like that…..

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