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Don’t Panic: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Australian cricket

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    That Australia will lose the first Test against India, let’s be honest, wasn’t completely unexpected.

    India have three players in their side with over 100 Tests each (Sachin Tendulkar with 195 of his own); Australia have Michael Clarke with 90 Tests, then Shane Watson and Peter Siddle with just under 40 each.

    India went in with three genuine spinners; Australia with one on a pitch that wouldn’t look out of place at Roland Garros.

    All in all it looks pretty bleak for Australia – yet salvation is at hand if we follow the advice of an Englishman (not an English cricketer mind you).

    In Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, the eponymous book is adorned with the words ‘Don’t Panic’.

    Australian selectors would do well to heed those words when they sit down to select the team – and here’s a few reasons why:

    Moises Henriques

    Anyone picking Henriques as the only Australian batsman to hit two 50s in the match should be every punter’s new best friend. The all-rounder with the first-class batting average of 30 has shown his better-credentialled team mates how to play on dusty, turning wickets.

    For sheer grit and determination his efforts are akin to Steve Waugh’s back in 1996, when he too managed to drag Australia away from an innings defeat and back into respectability.

    Messrs Cowan, Hughes and Wade would do well to take note.

    MS Dhoni

    Seems odd to include the man who scored a magnificent double-century against you here, yet the Indian captain’s innings is definitely a reason not to panic.

    Dhoni came in with the score 4-196 after Lyon bowled Tendulkar. Had Australia snaffled another quick wicket, India would have been well over 100 behind with only five wickets in hand – a very useful situation to be in.

    That they didn’t is full credit to Dhoni and Virat Kohli, but the Indian batsmen aren’t as infallible as some would have you believe.

    Young, smart bowlers

    For all the collective gnashing of teeth about Nathan Lyon’s efforts, let’s not forget he’s only 25. To use a contemporary example, Graeme Swann was only 20 when first called up to the English side.

    More famous for his poor attitude and soaking his fingers in urine than his off-spinning, Swann only came good after moving from his home county of Northamptonshire and learning to listen. Lyon, thankfully, is known to listen and tends to improve over the course of a series.

    Likewise James Pattinson, who made a mockery of the slowness of the pitch by pitching it up and bowling fast. Both will need to fire for Australia to come back; don’t bet against either.

    India’s team is unbalanced

    Can anyone tell me what Bhuvneshwar Kumar does? He’s bowled 13 overs, hasn’t looked like taking a wicket and contributes less than a dead man does to a conversation.

    Harbhajan Singh hasn’t bowled that well, and India can’t keep relying on Ravi Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to take every single wicket. Dhoni needs more options lest the Australians start following Henriques’ lead and working out their own ways of playing the spinners.

    The best players are playing

    Of the XI that played this Test, can a strong argument be made that someone better’s waiting in the wings?

    If Cowan gets dropped for Watson, then Australia don’t lose much by Khawaja coming in; likewise if Mitchell Johnson replaces Mitchell Starc. But would spinners Glenn Maxwell or Xavier Doherty be a better bet, more incisive than Peter Siddle? I think not.

    So if we’re not to panic, what next? Given the news that Jackson Bird is heading home for scans on his back, the only definite change I’d bring in would be swapping the Mitchells around, with Johnson’s experience in India making him the better option for now.

    Given the English cricketers came back from 1-0 down not so long ago, it’s important to heed that other Englishman’s advice and Don’t Panic.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • February 26th 2013 @ 8:18am
      Black&Gold said | February 26th 2013 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      It begs the question: why wasn’t the best spinner(and a handy batsman) in the country not picked? O’Keefe.
      There are so many frailties in the batting lineup when the 1st wicket falls.
      Then the lack of wicket taking ability against quality batsmen.
      The writing has been on the wall for a while but nothing has been tweaked for a long term gain.
      I think we can kiss the Ashes goodbye… Both series back to back.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [].

      • February 26th 2013 @ 8:38am
        AndyMack said | February 26th 2013 @ 8:38am | ! Report

        Wouldnt write off the ashes just yet, diff conditions. But i agree on ur comment on SOK. Should have been in the team from day 1.

      • February 26th 2013 @ 11:38am
        matt h said | February 26th 2013 @ 11:38am | ! Report

        That is the opposite of don’t panic! don;t kiss the Ashes goodbye back to back just yet. Anderson might step on a ball in the warm up.

        Seriously though, I like the tone of this article. This is one test loss from a generally successful team in terms of results since Clarke took over the captaincy. Even our best teams rarely win in India. If this team even wins one test that will be a pretty good tour given the lack of experience.

        Don’t change the batting. Watson leaving after the second test will force a change then. No point dropping osmeone for one match and then bringing them straight back in. Let them get used to the conditions.

        One or two changes to the bowling possibly. If the decision is taken to try two spinners, then Doherty for Siddle or Starc. And consider whether Mitch Johnson’s stamina and extra pace would be useful.

        But do not panic

        • February 26th 2013 @ 12:08pm
          Scifi said | February 26th 2013 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

          The South Africa series showed Australia were wanting in grit and determination. We could not finish a weakened South Africa that was on the mat in Adelaide and we crumpled in Perth under excellent fast bowling, Ponting should not have been in the team mind.

          Sri Lanka were pretty close in Tasmania, a few more runs, less dropped catches and they could have won that match. The injury to Kumar meant the rest of the series was over and the scoreline flattered our trundlers.

          Day 3 and Day 4 show where Australia is. MS Dhoni took the game away from us and we had nothing in our kit bag to get him out. Day 1 and 4 showed most of our batsmen aside from Clarke and the gutsy Henriques could not play spin, their mindset or technique is simply not up the pressure.

          Given we are vulnerable to swing bowling and excellent fast bowling (South Africa) and spin (India) we are in for a world of hurt if England turn up sober. If you want England not to win every match start praying for rain!

      • March 5th 2013 @ 2:38pm
        Hairy McClary said | March 5th 2013 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

        Selector dont like SOK, that’s why! They said at the outset that Doherty got the nod ahead of him as a leftie.

    • February 26th 2013 @ 8:27am
      Disco said | February 26th 2013 @ 8:27am | ! Report

      I wonder if you’re in denial as to the flaws of this current team.

      • February 26th 2013 @ 8:39am
        AndyMack said | February 26th 2013 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        Are u suggesting we do need to panic…???

        • February 26th 2013 @ 9:41am
          Disco said | February 26th 2013 @ 9:41am | ! Report

          No, but pointing out flaws in other teams’ players doesn’t make the likes of Cowan, Lyon and Watson better Test cricketers. Wasn’t the Argus Report supposed to achieve something in the way of improvement in selection transparency, skill levels?

          • February 26th 2013 @ 9:45am
            Sunil said | February 26th 2013 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            Cowan needs to be dropped, it doesn’t get simpler then that, Watson and Warner look alot better with Hughes, Clarke and Khawaja to follow.

            • February 26th 2013 @ 11:13am
              James said | February 26th 2013 @ 11:13am | ! Report

              yes lyon is only 25 but swann being 20 when he first arrived i dont see the favourable comparison. 5 years is a huge amount of time in addition to swann always being at least a great talent that lyon just is not.

              • February 26th 2013 @ 2:23pm
                mick the clown said | February 26th 2013 @ 2:23pm | ! Report

                yes Lyon is 25, but when a player fails to perform for 7 tests in a row, then the time has come. – Look back over the SA and SL series, Lyon did not play a significant hand in any victory.

                He may have potential, but 7 games in a row of sub par performances means we would be better off not playing him. – Having etched his name at no. 3 on Australian bowling performances for most runs allowed, I have genuinely no idea what is required from him to be dropped/rested/rotated/player managed.

                If, by some miracle he plays test 2 and takes 3/200 is that enough to drop him? – What is?

          • February 26th 2013 @ 2:42pm
            AndyMack said | February 26th 2013 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

            selection transparency?? i still have no idea why people are in the team, and i have been following this aussie team since mid 80’s….

    • February 26th 2013 @ 9:48am
      Christo the Daddyo said | February 26th 2013 @ 9:48am | ! Report

      I’m getting a little sick of all this talk that we should be loading up on spinners on this tour. It ignores two facts:

      1. We don’t have any quality spinners.
      2. James Pattinson took five wickets in the first innings, proving that if you’re a good enough bowler you will get the returns. Doesn’t matter whether you’re fast, medium or slow. Quality counts.

      • February 26th 2013 @ 10:14am
        Matt F said | February 26th 2013 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        And Ashwin took 12 proving that if you’re a mediocre spinner you can get wickets. Don’t forget that Harbajahn, Aswin and Ojha all have similar averages to Lyon (admittedly Harbajahn’s average has probably risen due to the last few poor years and would have been lower at his peak) and presumably play a lot more matches on spin-friendly tracks. Of course classifying Doherty and Maxwell as mediocre is probably being a bit too kind

        • February 26th 2013 @ 11:15am
          James said | February 26th 2013 @ 11:15am | ! Report

          so your argument is that pattison took 5 wickets but this ignore the fact that the opposition made over 500 runs. thats not a great return.

          • February 26th 2013 @ 2:24pm
            mick the clown said | February 26th 2013 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

            yep but 200 of those were off Lyon, and another 100 were off part time spinners required because Lyon was hopeless.

        • February 26th 2013 @ 11:12pm
          Timmuh said | February 26th 2013 @ 11:12pm | ! Report

          “And Ashwin took 12 proving that if you’re a mediocre spinner you can get wickets.”

          Sure. If the batsmen can’t play spin. Put Maxwell or Doherty up against Indian batsmen, even in those conditions, and more often than not the result would be even worse.

      • February 26th 2013 @ 2:45pm
        AndyMack said | February 26th 2013 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

        I must say, living in the Uk and watching and listening to cricket commentators the world over, there is only a handful of people, such at Christo, that think it is ok to have just the one spinner, everyone else thinks its laughable…..

        • March 5th 2013 @ 2:39pm
          Hairy McClary said | March 5th 2013 @ 2:39pm | ! Report

          He’s the son of god, he must know his stuff!

    • February 26th 2013 @ 10:34am
      Pope Paul VII said | February 26th 2013 @ 10:34am | ! Report

      The record stand for the last wicket in test cricket is 151. 0nly 95 to go boys. If they do somehow manage to get 150 ahead or even 120 it will hopefully be a nervous chase. Not likely though as India will come out fresh.

      There is no underestimating the effect of 10 or more hours in the field. The Aussies were knackered. While I think the Aussies should have gone with 6 bats and should still do so the redoubtable Moises has cemented a batting spot so that’s not gunna happen. Khawaja should come in but with so many favourites, Cowan actually being more useful than a couple of team mates and Watto legging it after the next test, he probably won’t. Must say again, it was monumentally stupid not to play him at Sydney when the batting needs strengthening.

      So a matter of whether they bring in Doherty and Johnners and drop Siddle and Starc perhaps?

      Anyway they haven’t lost yet so maybe all will be forgiven.

    • February 26th 2013 @ 11:17am
      Osmond said | February 26th 2013 @ 11:17am | ! Report

      I reckon Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy must be turning in his grave!

      • February 27th 2013 @ 11:26pm
        Robert said | February 27th 2013 @ 11:26pm | ! Report

        He doesn’t have one, the Earth was destroyed by the Vogons (or was it the NSP):)

    • February 26th 2013 @ 11:41am
      graham White said | February 26th 2013 @ 11:41am | ! Report

      we got over 600 runs which is more than par in india, especially considering its only the 1st test in india which is very difficult conditions. If our bowlers can improve a fraction we’ll be ok. I think dropping a pace man for a spinner and asking watson to bowl 10 overs an innings would be sufficient or I’d be also happy to keep the squad the same.

      I think this is enough of a good performance to say we are right in this series – its only the first test and touring sides in australia (which i less of a change for most of them) usually get trounced on the first game and take a while to get into the series

      • February 26th 2013 @ 12:24pm
        kid said | February 26th 2013 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

        Absolutely agree Graham. Batting was par, bowling needs just slight improvement but even so, without MS Dhoni’s magnificent innings australia would be looking to defend 250ish on a potato field. Its not all doom and gloom.

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