Australian cricket facing Ashes predicament

Dinny Navaratnam Roar Guru

By Dinny Navaratnam, Dinny Navaratnam is a Roar Guru

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    This week's 2013 Ashes dates announcement has brought back bad memories (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

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    Most of the Australian cricket world’s attention is on the Ashes. But if Australia gets outplayed in the upcoming India series, there could be negative consequences on the team that’s taken to England.

    The most worrying issue is the spin position. Nathan Lyon is the best spinner in the country, but that’s not saying much. Even Clarke’s strong captaincy skills won’t be able to protect Lyon against a team that always plays well against slow bowlers.

    The off-spinner will have to be on top of his game to succeed in India. That seems unlikely based on his record this summer.

    Further hurting his chances will be Wade’s keeping skills. The pitches in India don’t have true bounce, making keeping to Lyon a nightmare. Dropped catches and byes will be more common than they were in Australia unless Wade improves considerably.

    If India’s batsmen treat Lyon with disdain, then he almost certainly will lose his spot as the first spinner in England. Many have been disparaging of Lyon’s ability, but considering the available alternatives the offie is still the best choice.

    Going into England though, it’s likely another inexperienced player will be picked. It could be Michael Beer if he’s fit, but otherwise Xavier Doherty or Steve O’Keefe will be played despite not being close to Test standard.

    Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell would love to see any of those bowlers in the line-up…

    Many have cast doubt on Wade as keeper, but his batting form will mean he’s undroppable for England. Australia’s weak batting means a batsman/keeper is more important than a keeper/batsman.

    The glovework of Haddin before he was dropped from the Test team was poor and Paine isn’t exceptional behind the stumps either, so Wade should survive the Indian tour.

    The batting line-up will be seriously tested in the subcontinent and Ed Cowan isn’t good enough.

    His domestic form has been at a career-high for the last two seasons but his record as an Australian opener is worse than Watson’s. Neither can run between the wickets or play spin especially well but Watson has a ton in India and three 50s in England, so he should get the nod to partner David Warner.

    Usman Khawaja has to come in at four. Clarke is consistent at five so to change anything in his routine and risk losing output would be ridiculous.

    Also, he’s the best player of spin in the team and should come in when the turners are dangerous. This will help protect Khawaja from Graeme Swann, who will turn the ball away from Khawaja.

    Playing him in India will give Khawaja a good lead-up to the Ashes, rather than throwing another player to the wolves as happened with Rob Quiney.

    Phil Hughes has established himself at first drop so will stay there. With Michael Hussey’s retirement experience is needed in this side. Brad Haddin should therefore play at six solely as a batsman.

    He has been one of the form batsman in the Sheffield Shield this year and has played in India before so will know how to deal with the conditions. The maturity he showed when he wasn’t selected for the first Test against South Africa proves he will be able to deal with playing in the same team as Wade.

    He is one of the better players of spin in the country so he will be able to retain his place through the India series.

    Australia’s batting line-up needs to be as settled as possible going in to England if there is any chance of Australia winning the Ashes.

    While it’s almost inevitable that Lyon will be dropped going in to England, the selectors need to play a top seven of Warner, Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Haddin and Wade if there’s any chance of Ashes success.

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    The Crowd Says (12)

    • January 29th 2013 @ 4:47am
      lou said | January 29th 2013 @ 4:47am | ! Report

      I can’t see that it matters which spin bowler has a shot in India. If the pitches are turners, Wade – or Haddin for that matter – won’t be able to take the chances on offer.

    • January 29th 2013 @ 4:48am
      AndyMack said | January 29th 2013 @ 4:48am | ! Report

      Sorry, why is S O’Keefe “not close to Test standard”…?? FC average of 27 is very good for left arm orthodox, and he has been around for a good 6/7 years so knows his game pretty well. Throw in the fact he would be a pretty handy #8 (FC batting average of 32 is almost good enough to have him mentioned in the same breath as Ferguson and Bailey..)

      I would be taking him to India, we should learn from Englands tour there, they played 1 spinner in the first test and were found short, then Monty and Swann won the series for england bowling in tandem. Surely it must be done.

      • January 29th 2013 @ 10:12am
        Disco said | January 29th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        Spot on. O’Keefe’s first-class record suggests he’s as much Test standard as Lyon who has struggled in the Shield.

      • Roar Guru

        January 29th 2013 @ 10:18am
        TheGenuineTailender said | January 29th 2013 @ 10:18am | ! Report

        O’Keefe is probably the best spinner in the country, ahead of Lyon, if we’re being honest. Lyon should remains the number one option though. With SOK being the second spinner in India and England.

        • Roar Guru

          January 29th 2013 @ 12:38pm
          Dinny Navaratnam said | January 29th 2013 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

          I’ve always liked Steve O’Keefe but the fact is left-arm orthodox doesn’t seem to succeed at international level. Other than Dan Vettori, not too many have been successful in Test matches. Plus I like Lyon because he’s still inexperienced and should improve significantly over the next couple of years.

          • January 29th 2013 @ 12:54pm
            Red Kev said | January 29th 2013 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

            That would be the same slow left arm othodox that Rangara Herath bowled as the leading wicket taker in the world last year?
            Regardless of it it “rarely succeeds” SOK is the best domestic spinner, that earns him the international call up surely.

    • January 29th 2013 @ 10:13am
      Disco said | January 29th 2013 @ 10:13am | ! Report

      Khawaja should have played in the last series against India. He should play in the forthcoming one.

      I fully expect him to be thrown to the wolves in England and then dropped. The selectors don’t like him anyway, so they won’t be much bothered.

    • Roar Guru

      January 29th 2013 @ 10:20am
      TheGenuineTailender said | January 29th 2013 @ 10:20am | ! Report

      Brad Haddin as a specialist at six? What a backward step that would be. We’ve got a couple of young guns showing solid form in Joe Burns and Doolan. Why not get them in there. Especially Burns. He’s as a good as any other batsman next in line in the country. Bite the bullet now selectors. Get them in there and persist with them. Give them an extended chance to cement a place, build their confidence and grow into their roles.

      • January 29th 2013 @ 10:40am
        jameswm said | January 29th 2013 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        Agreed. Haddin’s “experience” hasn’t helped him much when playing grossly irresponsible shots in the past.

        Pick a proper batsman, or one of the two test-standard batting all rounders we have (Watson and Ronnie).

        • Roar Guru

          January 29th 2013 @ 11:31am
          TheGenuineTailender said | January 29th 2013 @ 11:31am | ! Report

          The moment Haddin walked down the pitch and tried to whack Steyn over point when Australia was 5-26, his career should have ended. (I’m not sure if it was actually Steyn or what the score was, but you get the picture)

          • Roar Guru

            January 29th 2013 @ 12:58pm
            Dinny Navaratnam said | January 29th 2013 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

            Joe Burns is promising but has only been averaging 30.5 in the Shield this year. People could argue that the GABBA isn’t conducive to scoring runs (in domestic cricket especially) but Ben Cutting has scored 43 more runs than Burns this season from two less innings.

            Alex Doolan has been in really good form and is only 27. Plus it’s harder to score runs in Tasmania so I’m willing to overlook his poor first-average of 39.16. My issue is if Australia is to have any chance of winning the Ashes or playing well in India some experience is going to be needed. The team should have been rebuilt a long time ago. Now it’s too late to rebuild and the selectors have to try to beat England.

            Haddin cops a lot of flak for that shot against South Africa but he’s not the only batsman who performed poorly that day. He played a dumb shot but he’s the type of player who backs himself and will look silly if it doesn’t go to plan. I don’t think he should be forgotten when no-one else could play a ball on that pitch.

            • Roar Guru

              January 29th 2013 @ 1:59pm
              TheGenuineTailender said | January 29th 2013 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

              There’s a difference between performing badly and not having a go. Haddin just shrugged his shoulders, thought to himself ‘this is too hard’ and then threw away a test match wicket. That’s not the sort of player Australia should want.

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