With one eye on the Ashes, Australia must change Test lineup

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    Australian captain Ricky Ponting (centre) and wicket keeper Brad Haddin (right). AAP Image/Dave Huntv

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    The tour of India has only gone from bad to worse, and like all armchair experts I have opinions on what we should or shouldn’t have done.

    I think everyone in Australia, except for the selectors that is, believes Steven O’Keefe should have been on tour.

    I also think players such as Moises Henriques, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell should have stayed home.

    However we can’t change the past, so let’s look to the future.

    It is often said bowlers win matches. But batsmen save matches and regardless of how good the bowlers are they need defendable totals.

    Therefore in Test cricket we need to select a top six that can score runs, not select blokes such as Moises Henriques to strengthen our bowling.

    Likewise in Test cricket the four bowlers should be selected on the merits of their bowling alone, not because they can bat a bit.

    Players such as Cameron White and Glenn Maxwell being selected at number eight is ridiculous.

    Players who bat a bit and bowl a bit play a very important role in limited overs cricket, but in my opinion have no place in Test cricket.

    Using this logic the side I would select for the third Test is:

    Shane Watson: He has to open. It would be handy if he would start bowling again, but he should only bowl eight to twelve overs a day.

    David Warner: At the moment he is our second best batsman. I think the selectors should look to the future and also give him the vice-captaincy.

    Ed Cowan: The start of his Test career hasn’t been brilliant but at moment there aren’t many other options. I have only seen a little bit of the current tour but even though Cowan hasn’t made a big score at least he has looked capable.

    Michael Clarke: I think he is best suited to number four. He likes batting in the middle order and number four means there are two specialist batsmen below him.

    Phil Hughes: He has been poor this tour but given he was dominating domestic cricket there doesn’t appear to be a better option. I know it seems ludicrous to select an opener at number five, however I believe he is good enough to make the transition.

    Usman Khawaja: He has to be in the side. We need a genuine batsman at number six, not a keeper or someone only selected because they can bowl a bit as well.

    Matt Wade: Has improved his wicketkeeping and as always is solid with the bat.

    James Pattinson: He is Australia’s number one bowler. I believe he is now the spearhead of the attack, meaning Siddle may not be a walkup start for much longer.

    Peter Siddle: I would keep him in the side for the final two Tests as he can keep it tight allowing Pattison and the spinners more freedom.

    Xavier Doherty: As I stated earlier, I think O’Keefe should have toured instead of him.

    But he performed solidly in the second Test, keeping it tight and cleaning the tail up quickly, something that has been an issue for Australia in recent years.

    Nathan Lyon: I can’t understand why he was dropped. If the selectors were worried about his technique then why was he selected for the tour?

    He is currently our best spinning option in Test cricket and therefore should be selected for every Test he is available for.

    This side may not win the third Test, however I don’t think we have a better side available in India. This would also provide the core of my Ashes squad.

    Of these eleven players I would select nine of them for the first Ashes Test. I would stick with the listed top seven, as there is no benefit in continually chopping and changing the batting order.

    I would also have Pattinson and Lyon in the side for the first Ashes Test. For mine this is a no-brainer as they Australia’s best fast and spin bowlers respectively.

    The other two bowlers I would select for the first Ashes Test would be Pat Cumming and Jackson Bird. I believe these bowlers give Australia the best chance of taking twenty wickets while keeping the bowling tight.

    Therefore my side for the first Ashes Test would be; Watson, Warner, Cowan, Clarke, Hughes, Khawaja, Wade, Pattison, Cummins, Lyon, Bird.

    I believe we should take the traditional number of sixteen players on the touring party. The five extra players I would take are; Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Adam Vodges, Brad Haddin and Steven O’Keefe.

    Siddle and Starc select themselves given their past performances.

    Vodges is an aggressive middle order player who I selected on the back of his outstanding domestic form. He showed in the ODIs he is more than capable of replicating this for on the international scene.

    I think Haddin has to tour. Hughes is handy with the gloves but if Wade was ruled out before a Test started Australia would be far better off with a specialist wicketkeeper touring.

    I selected O’Keefe as the backup spinner just ahead of Nathan Hauritz.

    Hauritz has the advantage of Test experience but if at any stage the selectors want to play two spinners they need someone who turns the ball in the opposite direction to Lyon.

    If the selectors were worried about injuries or not selecting the correct sixteen players, then I think they should mimic Andy Flower’s ploy of taking a backup sixteen players, rather picking a large main touring party.

    If they were to go down this road they could select a backup sixteen such as: Shaun Marsh, Chris Rodgers, Alex Doolan, George Bailey, Steve Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Moises Henriques, Andrew McDonald, Tim Paine, John Hastings, Ben Cutting, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ryan Harris, Michael Beer, Nathan Hauritz.

    By making the right decisions now and putting the right plans in place we will optimise our chance of winning the Ashes.

    Selecting the correct side for the third Test in India will not only gives Australia the best chance of salvaging some respectability in India, but also sets us up with the best chance of starting the Ashes on a positive note.

    The selectors need to decide which six batsmen are most likely score runs and which four bowlers are most likely to take twenty wickets.

    Let’s hope the selectors make the right decisions and plans now to optimise our chances on winning back the Ashes while being competitive in the final two Tests in India.

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    The Crowd Says (83)

    • Roar Guru

      March 11th 2013 @ 11:20am
      TheGenuineTailender said | March 11th 2013 @ 11:20am | ! Report

      There’s two way we can go about it. We either stick to our guns and continued to develop the current crop with an Ashes side of Warner, Watson, Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, Henriques, Wade, Siddle, Pattinson, Lyon and Bird, which no Englishman would fear.

      Alternatively we can make some big changes, if we’re going for wholesale changes, then we have to turn to players with big first-class experience and/or proven track records. The way I see it, the side in that case should be:

      1. Chris Rogers
      2. David Warner
      3. Michael Clarke
      4. Usman Khawaja
      5. David Hussey
      6. Shane Watson (as a genuine bowling all-rounder who adds a bit with the bat down the order)
      7. Mattew Wade
      8. Steve O’Keefe
      9, Peter Siddle
      10. James Pattinson
      11. Jackson Bird

      Thoughts Roarers?

      • March 11th 2013 @ 11:53am
        Lancey5times said | March 11th 2013 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        I like how in the current crop you’ve dropped Cowan 😉 while I don’t completely disagree, you can’t really call it the current crop.

        In saying that, I’d be more concerned about facing the ‘current’ side you named (minus Watson) in English conditions than the alternative one. David Hussey hasn’t made a run for a year and when Watson makes 16 off 6 balls then breaks down bowling you’re a man down

      • March 11th 2013 @ 11:56am
        Steele said | March 11th 2013 @ 11:56am | ! Report

        I’ve got a nearly identical side to this one, deinately a few more runs in that team and a much tighter bowler unit. Well done.

      • March 11th 2013 @ 12:19pm
        Nihar said | March 11th 2013 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

        I like this side.

      • Roar Rookie

        March 11th 2013 @ 1:08pm
        Kamran Bloach said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:08pm | ! Report

        Good team but why not Starc?

        • Roar Guru

          March 11th 2013 @ 2:15pm
          TheGenuineTailender said | March 11th 2013 @ 2:15pm | ! Report

          He’s in my squad. But a proven record is not something he truly has. I round out my 16 Ashes tourists with Brad Haddin, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Starc as I stated before and Ryan Harris.

          Surely England would be more worried with this sort of touring squad rather than Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, the Big Show, Xavier Doherty etc.

        • March 11th 2013 @ 4:17pm
          James said | March 11th 2013 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

          Possibly because he is completely overrated.

          Averages over 30 in both test and first class cricket.

          There are much better players around

      • March 11th 2013 @ 7:18pm
        chris b said | March 11th 2013 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

        Hussey yes, 3 or 4 years ago, but why on earth would you pick an out of form 35 year old?
        With all due respect to o’keefee he’s not played a test, so I think its a bit rich for him to be regarded as a panacea. He’s a bit like khawaja, a good player no doubt, but his reputation has grown by not being picked (which is not to say either shouldn’t be picked, but I think some are making them out to be auperstars in waiting).

      • Roar Pro

        March 11th 2013 @ 9:46pm
        RMC said | March 11th 2013 @ 9:46pm | ! Report

        TheGenuine Tailender:

        A very valid comment but I think the selectors have left it too late to make wholesale changes. We should have done it against a side such as Sri Lanka, giving the new players a chance to settle.

        The current side may not strike fear in the hearts of the English, but I don’t think an out form David Hussey or an ageing Chris Rodgers is very fearsome either.

        I think Watson has to open. It’s the only position where he has consistently scored runs.

    • Roar Guru

      March 11th 2013 @ 12:11pm
      langou said | March 11th 2013 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

      I can’t see how Henriques wouldn’t currently be in our top six batsmen. He played wonderfuly in our first test and only got one chance in the second test.

      • Roar Guru

        March 11th 2013 @ 12:37pm
        JGK said | March 11th 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

        One first class century in 7 years of cricket is why not.

        • March 11th 2013 @ 1:44pm
          Felix said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:44pm | ! Report


    • March 11th 2013 @ 12:51pm
      Toomsie said | March 11th 2013 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

      On shield and test form over the last two years Mitchell Johnson would be a better option at 4 than Shane Watson, however there aren’t two many options given those on tour. If Haddin gets to India he should bat at 4 even if wade is fit.

      • March 11th 2013 @ 4:33pm
        James said | March 11th 2013 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

        Let’s do since the start of 2010

        Johnson – 19 tests 65 wickets at an average of 35.8, 528 runs at an average of 17
        Watson – 25 tests 39 wickets at an average of 27.6, 1585 runs at an average of 34

        So why would Johnson be a better option at number 4 than Watson? I’m not a big fan of how Watson is performing but I don’t get why Johnson (and Starc) continue to get free passes for underperforming compared to the other bowlers.

    • March 11th 2013 @ 12:57pm
      John said | March 11th 2013 @ 12:57pm | ! Report

      Excellent article. Agree with most points.

      As far as Khawaja is concerned, you can leave him out because his chances of playing test cricket again are practically zero as long as current selection committee is in charge of selection matters. It seems they start every selection meeting with a brainstorming session to come up with reasons for not playing Khawaja and they have been getting away with some of the silliest of those reasons/selection decisions.

      As Khawaja is practically ‘unselectable’ for some mysterious reason, my squad for Ashes would be following:

      1 Watson
      2 Warner
      3 Hughes
      4 Clarke
      5 Wade
      6 Henriques
      7 Smith
      8 Johnson
      9 Starc
      10 Pattinson
      11 Siddle


      • March 11th 2013 @ 1:07pm
        Lancey5times said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

        I don’t know where to start with this one. A gee up perhaps?? I’d say I’m speechless but it’s a website. I’m typeless

      • March 11th 2013 @ 1:33pm
        Nihar said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

        John good team mates but Khawaja is in the current squad and in line to play the next match, really hoping he gets a descent go this time as his ability to play swing bowling will be important for the ashes

        • March 11th 2013 @ 2:04pm
          Rob Barrow said | March 11th 2013 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

          I have to go with Niham on this one

          • Roar Rookie

            March 11th 2013 @ 2:25pm
            Kamran Bloach said | March 11th 2013 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

            But Khawaja has been in the current squad as the next batsman in line for almost 6 months now and this time he is not even the only next in line as Arthur mentioned Steven Smith being considered as well and given that Steven Smith can bowl too, it is very unlikely that Khawaja will be picked. May be another injury between now and Thursday and then Khawaja could get a go!

            • March 11th 2013 @ 6:34pm
              Praveen said | March 11th 2013 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

              Kamran Arthur is a astute coach and knows
              That our batting is the issue, I am sure he will
              Bring khawaja in as he will add stability to the top order

              • March 11th 2013 @ 7:19pm
                Ads said | March 11th 2013 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

                Any reason to not pick Khawaja, 4 players stood down. Pattinson (who would have been rested anyway), Johnson (who wasn’t going to play), Watson (likely to be dropped anyway) and Khawaja (wasn’t going to be picked??). All failed to do their homework, note homework had nothing to do with batting, bowling or fielding. Hmm wonder if these 4 were the players that weren’t going to play in the 3rd test anyway.

              • March 11th 2013 @ 9:25pm
                John said | March 11th 2013 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

                lol .. I told you before hand .. forget Khawaja and move on… he is NOT going to play test Cricket again.. not for this country!!!

      • March 11th 2013 @ 1:34pm
        jameswm said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

        Hughes isn’t scoring that many runs, so push Clarke and Wade up one, and I’m sure you could squeeze Maxwell in there as the spinner.

      • March 11th 2013 @ 2:59pm
        Timmuh said | March 11th 2013 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

        Getting in early I see. 1st April is three weeks away.

      • March 11th 2013 @ 7:21pm
        chris b said | March 11th 2013 @ 7:21pm | ! Report

        Well you can add a new reason to the list now. And they were so desperate to keep him out they sacrificed the vice-cap and best fast bowler to cover it up….
        This is gold for conspiracy theorists

      • Roar Pro

        March 11th 2013 @ 10:19pm
        RMC said | March 11th 2013 @ 10:19pm | ! Report


        Personly I’d like to see our keeper bat at 7 and definitely no higher than 6.

        I’d love to see Steve Smith score a mountain of runs in FC cricket, as I think he would be a brilliant number six for Australia. He could play a similar role to Andrew Symonds in the Test side – chip vital runs at the end of an innings, bowl some handy overs and bring great athleticism and energy to our cover fielding.

    • Roar Guru

      March 11th 2013 @ 1:39pm
      Rellum said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

      So Haddin gets the gig. I think poor Chris can say goodbye to any hope of a test career.

      • March 11th 2013 @ 1:43pm
        Red Kev said | March 11th 2013 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

        Haddin was publicly annointed as next in line behind Wade for the Ashes this summer – I think we were all kidding ourselves that this group of head-in-the-sand boy’s club mentality selectors were ever going to go another way.

      • March 11th 2013 @ 3:32pm
        WhatUsername said | March 11th 2013 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

        It would’ve been a perfect chance to send over a Hartley or a Nevill for experience, but hey, we have to trust what the NSP are doing. Right? Right?

    • March 11th 2013 @ 5:08pm
      Nudge said | March 11th 2013 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

      Seriously guys all you blokes calling it a boys club with the selection of the australian cricket team you can’t be serious. Look I agree the selection of this current Indian tour squad would have to be one of the biggest balls up selection in australian cricket history but to say that they are playing favourites is just wrong. Incompetence sure but that’s what you get when you employ a guy 35 years since retirement instead of an highly intelligent cricket brain who just missed out on the job Tom moody.

      • March 11th 2013 @ 6:20pm
        John said | March 11th 2013 @ 6:20pm | ! Report

        I wish I could agree with you. The reality is that you can’t play for Australia without being in the good books of Michael Clarke.

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