They are the tournament’s underdogs, but you just love to see it.
A few years ago we were lamenting our bowling stocks, and now we seem to have too many! So how can we revitalise our batting stocks to give us too many talents to choose from?
Our bowlers are now competing for just a few spots. We have Pattinson, Siddle, Starc, Johnson, Harris, Cummins, Bird and Hilfenhaus in the mix, not including the often injured Watson.
Craig McDermott has been credited with the bowlers pitching it up and making batsmen play. But obviously the stocks are there and just needed polishing.
Now how can we turn the batting around as quickly?
The competition for batting spots 10 years ago (short period of time culturally in cricket) was massive: Hodge, Law, Love, Maher, Did Venuto, Rodgers etc could not get a game for Australia, despite piling runs on year after year.
How can we get six batsman in the Test team and another 15 Shield batsman of similar quality ready to go again?
I believe the stocks are there, but the mental side could be honed; Justin Langer is talking about this with Western Australia.
The other approach is to have a clean out at Shield level. For example, Cameron White is not a top four batsman; he can bat at seven or just play Ryobi and Big Bash, while a young promising player can learn to bat all day. Keep experienced longer format players like Rodgers for them to learn from.
I worry that like the English we will have too many Mark Ealhams – good County/Shield cricketers that bat and bowl well and are handy at Shield level, but not so practical at the next level – White, Smith, Henriques, Maxwell are examples.
Any ideas on how Australia can replenish its batting stocks in the years to come?