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Smith inclusion the obstacle for Khawaja

Alexander Grant Roar Pro

By Alexander Grant, Alexander Grant is a Roar Pro

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39 Have your say

    Steven Smith’s inclusion and Usman Khawaja’s lack of in the Australian party in India is the most questionable thing to come of this series. Forget everything else.

    You can question giving the captaincy to Shane Watson after being dropped from the third Test or the place of Glenn Maxwell in this squad, let alone the side, if you would desire.

    But continuing to deny Usman Khawaja a place in the side, while putting a halt to his domestic duties, must do little for both his technical game and his confidence.

    Put aside for a moment those other things that have arisen these past few weeks and realise that a very promising player is being denied a place in this Test team by a man who has been groomed to fit a limited overs format.

    Originally I didn’t buy into the idea that the selections were ruining the team’s chances of making a real impact on the subcontinent.

    However I’m becoming more and more convinced I should be applying for a job on the selection panel – along with thousands of other Australian cricket fans.

    So why then do I want Khawaja so badly to take Smith’s place?

    Statistics won’t allow you to accurately compare the pair. They’d tell you that Smith has the higher Test average and even an extra Test to his name. Meaningless.

    The real issue lies in their respective backgrounds in different match formats.

    Smith has vast experience in limited overs cricket and much more match time for his country. Khawaja is far less experienced, but until his recent foray into limited overs cricket (which was a bizarre selection to say the least), he was being groomed to play in a style that works in a Test match format.

    Instead he’s getting no experience over in India except getting better at sitting down. Not the most useful of cricket skills.

    Before this series neither man had played a Test match in over two years. Doesn’t logic say if you had to choose between the two you should play the man better suited and, more importantly, the one who has practiced to adapt, to Test cricket?

    Khawaja has also had no chance to prove himself on a turning wicket, having played all his few Tests on lively, pace-favouring wickets in Australia and South Africa.

    He could benefit from a change, as well as gain some crucial experience on a vastly different surface.

    Steve Smith’s 92 in the previous Test is an outlier in an otherwise poor showing throughout his career in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka on said pitches. That’s not just in Test cricket but in all formats.

    If people want to also discuss Smith’s flexibility in the squad due to his bowling, I’d really be hoping Smith wasn’t included in the squad for his bowling in the first place.

    He’s bowled six wickets from nine innings of Test match bowling in Asia. Not even close enough to warrant a future place in a Test bowling attack. Smith has been given the chance to prove himself with both bat and ball in Test cricket and, until his 92, he looked like a horrendous choice.

    Now he’s given himself a safety buffer with that score and pushes Khawaja further away from the first team. But credit where it’s due to Smith for doing so – if you can step up when the pressure’s on, it becomes harder to remove you from a place you’re trying to keep.

    Seeing as these two occupy different roles in a team it may be hard to attempt to compare them.

    But I don’t understand the mentality of the selectors by picking someone they’ve played for so long in game with completely different attitudes to scoring rates and play style. It hurts the more I think about it.

    Don’t think for a moment I’m sour with Smith, I actually feel sorry for the man. He’s got a game suited for one day and T20 cricket but seems lost in the whites.

    Still, I don’t understand how we can expect incredible results from players when you shift them between formats as simply as pawns on a chessboard.

    Expecting great results to follow from limited overs to Test cricket is like asking a union player to adapt to the stop and start nature of league.

    What message is that sending to up and coming players? That their experience in different formats and the time dedicated to learning them counts for absolutely nothing? Not very inspiring.

    At times it feels harsh to put the boot into the selection panel, sitting here behind the safety of a computer screen and my keyboard, but when they continue to make questionable choice after questionable choice it takes the sting out of being so scathing.

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    The Crowd Says (39)

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 8:50am
      Pradeep said | March 23rd 2013 @ 8:50am | ! Report

      I don’t have anything negative against smith, he played well in the third test. Khawaja should come in the team but but not at smiths expense but as a number 6 as we can’t have our keeper coming at 6 when clearly our batting is a issue as seen again yesterday

      • Roar Pro

        March 23rd 2013 @ 9:17am
        Alexander Grant said | March 23rd 2013 @ 9:17am | ! Report

        6 seems incredibly low for Khawaja and while initially I couldn’t see Smith holding 5th place, I think he can handle it well.

        Really is a case of what could have been if Khawaja had not got himself dropped.

      • Roar Pro

        March 23rd 2013 @ 9:23am
        Alexander Grant said | March 23rd 2013 @ 9:23am | ! Report

        Hindsight is a wonderful thing isn’t it? Smith has really held his own these past few innings.

        I saw someone raise an excellent point when I posted this story elsewhere yesterday that Smith could make himself work in this squad if he manages to rekindle his old shield form where his patient cricket was there for all to see. He’s spent that long being developed as a specialist slog artist that it’s become what I’ve seen him be best at. Waking up this morning, I don’t feel any different about my position, but like I said in the piece you must give credit to Smith for making a stand where other’s couldn’t. If he keeps batting in the style he has these last two innings then of course he would become a good anchor at the middle order.

        Still can’t shake the feeling the Usman is being wasted on the sidelines

      • March 23rd 2013 @ 9:42am
        Vivek said | March 23rd 2013 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        I have to go with Pradeep, bottom line is that most of our top order struggling Khawaja deserves to come in, he has earned it and would be a good long term test batsman for us. Also agree that Smith has played well so far.

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 9:27am
      Red Kev said | March 23rd 2013 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      The obstacle is the obstinance of the NSP of only playing 5 batsman.
      Starting test players begin at no.6. Joe Root is still a potential opener, but he is starting at no.6 in tests for England.
      Assume our top four remains the same, Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Clarke.
      Khawaja and Smith at 5 & 6 is fine. Sooner or later Cowan or Warner will get the boot and Hughes will open while Usman leapfrogs to no.3. Then you bring in a new guy at no.6 like Burns.

      Of course this assumes that the selectors are smart enough to send Watson packing.

      • March 23rd 2013 @ 9:43am
        Vivek said | March 23rd 2013 @ 9:43am | ! Report


      • March 23rd 2013 @ 10:33am
        Disco said | March 23rd 2013 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        Khawaja’s been Australia’s best No.3 for three years. Shame the likes of fading Punter, Marsh, Watson, Hughes, Quiney and Clarke (for one ball) have been favoured in that role.

        • March 23rd 2013 @ 1:00pm
          Pradeep said | March 23rd 2013 @ 1:00pm | ! Report


        • March 24th 2013 @ 12:39am
          Peeeko said | March 24th 2013 @ 12:39am | ! Report

          I think punters shield form has shown that he was still the best number3

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 10:08am
      TedS said | March 23rd 2013 @ 10:08am | ! Report

      The truth is that many (99% of us) know a management consultant like Arthur and a corrupt manager like Clark from our day to day jobs, and we do not trust these guys. They will go to any extent to benefit themselves at the expense of the broader group. Shame.

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 10:20am
      Matt F said | March 23rd 2013 @ 10:20am | ! Report

      Have you ever watched Steve Smith play? He’s not a slogger, he’s never been a slogger. He can slog if he has to but he’s always been best when compiling an innings. Unfortunately he’s been mismanaged by the NSP for years. He’s a batsman who can bowl occasionally yet they picked him against England as a front line spinner, simply because he was blonde and bowled leg-spin. What did they think was going to happen? He’s consistently been picked in the ODI side as a bowling all-rounder and made to come in at 7-8 when he’s actually a batsman who is best in the Top 5.

      Should he have played so many games for Australia? No, but that’s not his fault. Keep in mind he’s only 23 years old so still has plenty of improvement left.

      NSW know how to use Smith and he does well at state level. His record reflects that. He consistently bats in the top 5 for NSW in all formats because that’s where he plays his best cricket. The reason why he’s failed so many times for Australia is because he’s not a 7-8 batsman who is supposed to come in late in the innings and hit quick runs at the end. That and he kept being picked on “potential” even when he wasn’t in great form for his state. Who would have thought that playing a young and out of form player in an unfamiliar role would fail?

      I’m not saying that he’s better than Khawaja and I’m not saying that he’ll have a long and successful test career, as we can never predict how anybodies career will go, but this article is rife with misinformation

      • Roar Rookie

        March 23rd 2013 @ 11:13am
        Wilson Flatley said | March 23rd 2013 @ 11:13am | ! Report

        Maybe this is why he has stopped bowling basically, he wants to be seen as a top order batsman not an allrounder. At the moment he is doing quite well, he should stick to not bowling.

      • March 23rd 2013 @ 11:16am
        Red Kev said | March 23rd 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        To be fair in the last two years Smith has worked very very hard on his technique and developed a much more rounded and correct game. He still play some slogs but before (2010) that was all he played.

        • March 23rd 2013 @ 1:19pm
          Pradeep said | March 23rd 2013 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

          Yes smith looks good, khawaja shouldn’t come in au his expense but as part of a 6 batsman lineup with Watson bowling

      • Roar Pro

        March 23rd 2013 @ 11:53am
        Alexander Grant said | March 23rd 2013 @ 11:53am | ! Report

        I acknowledged his rekindling of shield form and style in my comment above, as an addition to what I said.

        I think you become used to seeing a batsman play a particular role for so long it becomes them, regardless of whether it suits or not. Like you said, his use at State level is showing his capabilities, but it takes a long time to readjust to something when been expected for so long of something else. A good coming of age for him?

        Also, would anyone here keep Smith in the squad in exchange for removing Watson? Just a thought I had this morning.

        • March 23rd 2013 @ 12:30pm
          Matt F said | March 23rd 2013 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

          Funnily enough, I was watching a bit of NZ/England this morning and the commentators were actually saying something very similar in relation to Monty. When he started playing for England his fielding was woeful and he essentially became a cult figure because of this. However since then he has really improved his fielding. It’s still not great but it’s at least competent. However many people still remember him as being a woeful fielder and hence he is still, probably wrongly, perceived as such.

          They also said the same about Mcgrath’s batting. While he never became anything more than an OK number 11, he did improve to the point that he could hang around for a while and let another batsman score runs, however his batting was always remembered for his early days when he was almost at Chris Martin’s level.

          First impressions tend to hand around for a while.

          • March 23rd 2013 @ 11:16pm
            ryan said | March 23rd 2013 @ 11:16pm | ! Report

            well said

        • March 23rd 2013 @ 12:37pm
          Matt F said | March 23rd 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

          As for your question re Watson – At the moment I certainly would. If Watson starts bowling again then it may change but as pure batsmen I’d rather see how Smith goes. At least Smith has time on his side. Watson will be 32 when the Ashes comes around so it’s hard to see him getting any better, and his batting isn’t good enough right now

          • March 24th 2013 @ 3:14am
            Sydney Kiwi said | March 24th 2013 @ 3:14am | ! Report

            I do feel Smith deserved another go to see more after his inning, reward good results. However one of the others could have given way for Kahwaja to see what he is made of, its crazy he does’t get a game even when Clarke is injured, I guessing unless there is a change in selectors and management it may be the last time you see Khawaja in the Green and Gold.

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 11:20am
      TedS said | March 23rd 2013 @ 11:20am | ! Report

      Even if Smith is a great test player and deserves a place in the test team, Khawaja still is the superior player. So in fact if Smith makes the team and Khawaja doesnt, you got something wrong.

    • March 23rd 2013 @ 11:21am
      Brendon said | March 23rd 2013 @ 11:21am | ! Report

      As much as I hate to say it, Khawaja bought it on himself. If he’d have done the homework assignment, whatever you think about it, he’d be playing right now.

      As it is, Smith has exceeded everyone’s expectations and deserves to retain his spot.

      Usman should be playing instead of Watson, not Smith, but who am I kidding, Watson’s there until he retires. They could have played him instead of the big show and bowled Smith as a part timer, why Maxwell’s in the aide is beyond me.

      • March 23rd 2013 @ 11:32am
        Red Kev said | March 23rd 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

        I disagree – the selectors brought it on him – why was he not played in Sydney? He was injury cover for Clarke in Melbourne and then in Sydney Watson had to pull out with injury, why wasn’t he played? We have played a 5-batsman lineup since Sydney and it defies belief. If the selectors were serious about Khawaja he would have been playing in Sydney and Chennai and Hyderabad and would have had something to write about for the homework assignment. Or even if he still forgot he would simply (as per Pattinson) been suspended for one match and reinstated.

        • March 23rd 2013 @ 11:44am
          Atawhai Drive said | March 23rd 2013 @ 11:44am | ! Report

          Rightly or wrongly, Khawaja is still perceived to have problems with his attitude and discipline. He’s just a bit too casual _ a sort of David Gower, but with less talent. It may not all be his fault, but if you rub too many people up the wrong way then the only way into the Test team is to score a mountain of runs.

          As many Roarers have pointed out, it’s difficult to score mountains of runs, or any amount of runs, when you’re not actually playing.

          • March 23rd 2013 @ 12:02pm
            Red Kev said | March 23rd 2013 @ 12:02pm | ! Report


          • March 23rd 2013 @ 2:25pm
            buddha9 said | March 23rd 2013 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

            Yeah but these excuses about Khawaja are pathetic too — I mean he’s not tough enough? What, not tough enough to lose three tests in a row? Not tough enough to fail miserably like hughes? Not tough enough to slog a full toss down a fielders throat when he’s 6 and the team is 126/5 like Maxwell? I mean give me a break — it’s starting to appear the only thing he’s not enough is white enough — sorry but there you go -its getting hard to come up with any other reason.

            • March 23rd 2013 @ 3:50pm
              pope paul v11 said | March 23rd 2013 @ 3:50pm | ! Report


        • March 23rd 2013 @ 12:44pm
          Brendon said | March 23rd 2013 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

          I agree with you in regards to Sydney, was more talking about this tour specifically, it’s a massive shame that he didn’t get a go in the fourth test against SL and the selectors decision to play the four quicks ranks up there as one of the worst decisions I’ve seen by this inept NSP, along with Perth

        • March 23rd 2013 @ 1:22pm
          Pradeep said | March 23rd 2013 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

          Red kev is right, Arthur had been making excuses since the Sri Lanka series against UTK, now there are no more excuses, get the kid in

      • March 23rd 2013 @ 11:41am
        TedS said | March 23rd 2013 @ 11:41am | ! Report

        Ummm no… are a vitcim of the official spin, of the management story, of how they would love to have all of us in the team but they must layoff people. You are buying the official story, drinking the koolaid, enjoying your neck buried in the proverbial sand. I do not believe one word of the official story. If Khwaja says he needs to go to the bathroom, he is not committed, if he poops his pants, he is taking away from the morale of the team. Khwaja is slowly but surely being annihilated.

        • March 23rd 2013 @ 12:38pm
          Matt F said | March 23rd 2013 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

          And you are making up your own story

        • March 23rd 2013 @ 1:25pm
          Pradeep said | March 23rd 2013 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

          TedS I share your frustration mate

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