Clarke take note: England has some weak points for Ashes

Luke Doherty Roar Guru

By Luke Doherty, Luke Doherty is a Roar Guru

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    Michael Clarke's performance was bad, but was it bad enough to cancel his citizenship? (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

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    When Australia’s cricketers step off the plane at Heathrow they shouldn’t do so with a sense of impending doom hanging over them.

    The old enemy has painted itself as a side primed and ready to retain the Ashes – about to produce a performance that will send Australian cricket into a spiral of panic and shame.

    Rubbish.

    Yes, Australia’s top order might have more holes than a golf course, but England has some potential weak points that haven’t received as much attention as they should have.

    Their first choice top seven (containing four players born in South Africa) will have two frailties the Aussie bowlers need to exploit if they’re to be competitive.

    Durban-born opener Nick Compton has played just seven Tests while 22-year-old Joe Root from Yorkshire has four Tests under his belt.

    They average 40 and 30.16 respectively and although they’ve both shown signs of promise the cauldron like atmosphere of an Ashes series will be a monumental test.

    Root made 73 on debut against India in Nagpur in December. He has since gone on to record a series of starts without capitalising.

    Compton scored two hundreds in the series against the Black Caps in New Zealand and produced another half century in India.

    Still, it’s two players in England’s top six who have 11 Tests between them.

    Kevin Pietersen, recovering a knee injury suffered in New Zealand, is expected to be fit for the first Test, but will have little to no cricket under his belt before the first ball is bowled.

    The right-hander has just earned the ire of sections of the English press again by tweeting a photo of himself swimming in a pool on a sun-soaked day in Dubai as his team-mates were getting ready to do battle with New Zealand at Lord’s.

    If, for some reason, Pietersen isn’t fit, Jonny Bairstow would be the likely replacement.

    The 23-year-old has played six Tests and averages just 25.62.

    It means England is just one injury away from having a line-up containing three batsmen in their top six who have a combined total of 17 Tests experience and all with modest averages.

    Australia has named a squad packed to the brim with pacemen capable of humbling the best batsmen in the world let alone those short on experience, but as captain Michael Clarke reminded his fellow willow wielders this week, the bowlers need to have something to defend.

    Chris Rogers must play in the first game at Trent Bridge.

    There is no point taking a 35-year-old on an Ashes tour if you’re not going to throw him into the fire.

    That would be a tough call for Ed Cowan to swallow, but selecting Rogers and not playing him makes little to no sense.

    The other question is whether to play Usman Khawaja or James Faulkner with the latter giving Clarke three pacemen (James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and Mitch Starc), one spinner (Nathan Lyon), and two medium pacers (Shane Watson and James Faulkner) to call on.

    It would leave Australia with a long tail with Haddin returning and Starc and Pattinson always a danger.

    A grim picture has been painted before the departure of the side.

    Perhaps, it’s a case of prepare for the worst and hope for the best. A sort of protection mechanism for fans who have witnessed one of the longest re-builds in the history of the game.

    In theory, there’s plenty to be excited about (if you can manage to put the horror of India out of your mind), but what happens in practice remains to be seen.

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    The Crowd Says (48)

    • Roar Guru

      May 18th 2013 @ 12:22am
      nick richardson said | May 18th 2013 @ 12:22am | ! Report

      Wouldn’t call Faulkner a medium pacer, and i would have Bird in for Siddle.
      Nice article i’m watching the New Zealand test and all out for 232 isn’t amazing against a pace attack which is good but not nearly as good as the Aussies. I think the English are over confident.

      • May 18th 2013 @ 11:25am
        Disco said | May 18th 2013 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        I think NZ’s seamers are more disciplined and accurate and swing it more cleverly than Australia’s. Not as fast, granted, but if it was all about pace then Johnson would still be Australia’s ‘spearhead’.

        I don’t suppose the English will be over-confident after that first innings struggle.

      • May 18th 2013 @ 4:23pm
        Nick said | May 18th 2013 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

        I agree Siddle in English conditions is not the best. he bowls a touch too short and his previous numbers are not good. Bird, Harris, pattinson for me first pick. Siddle is on standby and told to pitch it up for when the inevitable injury to Harris or Pattinson occurs. Watching NZ v England we absolutely need Bird in the side. Accuracy on those slow wickets brings wickets not back of a length pseudo hostility.

    • May 18th 2013 @ 1:59am
      Bertie said | May 18th 2013 @ 1:59am | ! Report

      Robson
      Cowan (with the option of dropping him for Klinger or Maddinson if he’s not the goods)
      Rogers
      Khawaja (with the option of being replaced by Doolan or Burns)
      Clarke
      Warner (with the option of being replaced by Doolan or Burns)
      Haddin
      Starc (or Siddle)
      Pattinson
      Bird
      Lyon (or Siddle)

      Robson, who is one of the best batsman in the County Championship and better than Cowan or Warner, will have to wait for ages for an England gig with Cook, Root and Compton there. But he should be able to walk into the Australian Test XI and potentially hold down the opener spot for the next decade. Who cares if he hasn’t played in the Sheffield Shield, the County Championship suffices. No Hughes. Has no technique and no footwork. Is a walking wicket against swing and the short ball (because he can’t block and moves his body weight towards square leg for cuts/cover drives). It now turns out he’s a walking wicket against spin. He’ll be one of those batsmen who does well in first class cricket but as soon as he steps into the Test arena, his weaknesses are painfully exposed. No Watson.

      • May 18th 2013 @ 11:29am
        Disco said | May 18th 2013 @ 11:29am | ! Report

        “Robson, who is one of the best batsman in the County Championship…”

        This season so far, perhaps, but we’re not even halfway through yet. He’s still very inexperienced.

        Otherwise, I like your side, based on who’s in the touring party, though I’m not sure Haddin brings anything positive besides being a good bloke off the field.

        • May 18th 2013 @ 7:16pm
          Bertie said | May 18th 2013 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

          Disco

          ‘ “Robson, who is one of the best batsman in the County Championship…”

          This season so far, perhaps, but we’re not even halfway through yet. He’s still very inexperienced. ‘

          Robson isn’t very inexperienced. He has played about 4 or 5 County Championship seasons. He has over 3000 County runs. He is as experienced as Root (in terms of first class experience). That’s more than enough experience. It’s not like he has just come out of nowhere. Following County Cricket for a while, I had heard about him a year or two ago. I just never realised that he is Australian.

          • May 19th 2013 @ 12:22am
            Disco said | May 19th 2013 @ 12:22am | ! Report

            Okay, fair enough, perhaps saying *very* inexperienced was exaggerative. I just meant that compared to, say, Cowan, he’s inexperienced. And bear in mind, Robson’s played a lot in Division Two. He may have overtaken Chopra in the minds of England’s selectors, but I’d imagine he’s behind Carberry and Comptonl and experience and consistent performance is the reason for that. Root is a freak, temperament-wise, who seems to have improved by making the step up to international level; no moronic sledging and tweeting from him.

      • May 18th 2013 @ 9:40pm
        St Mark W said | May 18th 2013 @ 9:40pm | ! Report

        Not a bad side, looks more solid than most sides recently selected Australian sides.

        Robson almost certainly wouldn’t accept selection, even if it was offered, because it would void his current, very comfortable, County LOCAL player contract. The same reason Phil Jacques is no longer an Australian selection option, even though he has previously played for Australia.

        • May 20th 2013 @ 2:12am
          Bertie said | May 20th 2013 @ 2:12am | ! Report

          St Mark W

          “Not a bad side, looks more solid than most sides recently selected Australian sides.”

          Cheers, mate.

          “Robson almost certainly wouldn’t accept selection, even if it was offered, because it would void his current, very comfortable, County LOCAL player contract. The same reason Phil Jacques is no longer an Australian selection option, even though he has previously played for Australia.”

          You’re spot on about the implications of Robson accepting a Baggy Green and it would seem that Robson would prefer to play for England. But, at this stage, that doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t accept a Baggy Green. With Cook, Root, Compton (and theoretically Carberry and Chopra) about, Robson will have to wait until his late, late 20s to get a regular gig in the England team. So with that in mind, I think (even with the County implications being considered) Robson would accept a Baggy Green in the Ashes and the opportunity to tie down the spot of Australia’s opening bat for the next decade. I can’t be sure that he would. But I think common sense would prevail over allegiance to a country he loves and moved to as an adult (well legally as an adult).

          Basically, if you have any persuasive skills at all, and the power of CA, it wouldn’t be difficult to say to Robson “Mate, you’re gonna wait a long time to play for England, it’s that simple. You may well become an England player, but only when you’re older, which means a shorter international career. We, the country you were born and brought up in, are offering you an Ashes Baggy Green and the opportunity to become an Aussie opening batsman for a long, long time to come. Now this will jeopardise your Middlesex position, but you’ll become NSW opener for starters. Moreover, a player of your calibre and with your County experience will not struggle to pick up the position of overseas player at one of the other counties (probably even in the County Championship). In fact, given Chris Rogers, as a 35 year old, won’t be playing for Middlesex for an indefinite period of time, you may well be able to play full time for Middlesex and NSW, while being Australia’s opener. If you join us, you have everything to gain”.

          I’d find that a fairly compelling argument, I don’t know about you. It still might not work, but I’d wager it would convince most players.

    • May 18th 2013 @ 2:10am
      Bertie said | May 18th 2013 @ 2:10am | ! Report

      Oh and while Root and Compton may be fairly new, Root has been averaging about 200 in the County Championship and has absolutely perfect technique. With the exception of Clarke and Rogers, nobody in the Aussie team comes anywhere near. While Compton has been playing County cricket successfully for years and already has a couple of centuries against New Zealand’s bowlers (who are very good).

      England definitely have weaknesses in the batting, but the Root/Compton aspect isn’t the main one (although it’s worth mentioning that they are less experienced). Bell, and to a lesser extent Trott,, have had some very lean spells.

      If we pick the squad I suggested above, we are a shot at beating England. But we probably won’t pick that squad. It’ll be Hughes, Watson, etc. and we’ll get slaughtered. Australia’s real opponent is not England, but dodgy selections. They just need to realise Hughes is a waste of space.

      • May 18th 2013 @ 7:56am
        Mitcher said | May 18th 2013 @ 7:56am | ! Report

        Interesting on Robson. Haven’t heard too much about him previously. They’ll want to get him at least in a state setup soon before he qualifies for England.
        I’m not one who makes a habit out of defending Hughes. But I think it weakens your position to throw up names like Maddinson and Klinger as potential selections, both of whom have pretty rubbish mid 30s first class averages.
        The selectors have certainly made some poor calls lately but none of the myriad batsmen in the Shield who can’t even put together a good record for more than one season can really complain a out being overlooked.
        If you pile on the runs for a good few yrs then they have to pick you in the current climate. If not, you leave it up to their (often questionable) whims.

        • May 18th 2013 @ 7:35pm
          Bertie said | May 18th 2013 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

          Mitcher

          “Interesting on Robson. Haven’t heard too much about him previously. They’ll want to get him at least in a state setup soon before he qualifies for England.”

          No, we can’t afford to do that. For one thing, Sam Robson is already much better than Warner, Cowan, Hughes and Watson and we desperately need a good opener now. Who cares if he has played County cricket instead of the Sheffield Shield? He’s still an Australian. Also, the only way he will play for Australia is if he is given a Baggy Green. He won’t play Sheffield Shield cricket because it means he can no longer play for Middlesex as a British citizen, and he has a really good thing going there. Given that Middlesex’s overseas player is their captain Chris Rogers, if Sam Robson isn’t playing for MIddlesex as a British citizen, then he won’t be able to play for Middlesex full stop. So there’s no point in Sam playing in the Sheffield Shield (unless he is already Australia’s opener).

          On the other hand, given that he will have to wait indefinitely to get into the England team, with Cook, Root and Compton there, it’s unlikely he’ll turn down a Test cap (and the opportunity to cement opening bat for the next decade) from the country in he was born and brought up.

          So we have to throw him straight in. It’s that simple.

          “I’m not one who makes a habit out of defending Hughes. But I think it weakens your position to throw up names like Maddinson and Klinger as potential selections, both of whom have pretty rubbish mid 30s first class averages.”

          No, it doesn’t. We, right now, are in a similar position to that which England was in in about 2000. But they had no form among their batsmen. But they put in place a strategy whereby they favoured technically strong batsmen (even if they haven’t got the most runs on the board) over those who were technically crap but were scoring big in County cricket. Michael Vaughan wasn’t the best County batsman going around. But the coaches and selectors really worked with him and gave him proper opportunities (because he had the technique and the talent). Low and behold, he became one of the best batsmen in the world (for a time, at least).

          Nic Maddinson may have a lower average than Phil Hughes. But the fact remains that Nic Maddinson, and Usman Khawaja, has excellent technique and talent. Obviously that’s not enough on its own. It’s also the case that he has played for a few seasons, scored about 2000 first class runs and had a good end to the last seeason. Phil Hughes is the opposite of Maddinson (at least technically). This means that, regardless of how many Sheffield Shield runs Hughes amasses or how few Maddinson scores, whenever they step into the Test arena Phil Hughes doesn’t have a chance. His game is so full of wholes, which aren’t exposed at Shield level, but at Test level will be easily exposed by the likes of Anderson. Whereas Nic Maddinson, while not ideal, has the skills and just enough experience (and is in form), so he’s a better option.

          Klinger is having a blinder captaining Gloucestershire.

          “If you pile on the runs for a good few yrs then they have to pick you in the current climate. If not, you leave it up to their (often questionable) whims.”

          That is the attitude that will make Australia rubbish. Yes, it’s not ideal picking somebody like Maddinson. It would be better to have a 25 year old player with perfect technique, with 6 Shield seasons under his belt and a first class average of 50. But we don’t so we have to settle for the technical superiority of players other than Hughes.

          • Roar Guru

            May 18th 2013 @ 10:27pm
            nick richardson said | May 18th 2013 @ 10:27pm | ! Report

            Wow mate that comment is longer than all my articles put together. Try writing articles instead of writing articles in others articles. Love to read some of your articles,

            • May 19th 2013 @ 12:03am
              James said | May 19th 2013 @ 12:03am | ! Report

              i think the fact that robson has not played for australia at senior level means that he has already made it very clear he wants to play for england and not australia. the notion that someone with his stats has not already been offered a baggy green is almost impossible, i guess they have offered, its been rebuffed and he only wants england.

              • May 20th 2013 @ 1:58am
                Bertie said | May 20th 2013 @ 1:58am | ! Report

                James

                “i think the fact that robson has not played for australia at senior level means that he has already made it very clear he wants to play for england and not australia. the notion that someone with his stats has not already been offered a baggy green is almost impossible, i guess they have offered, its been rebuffed and he only wants england.”

                Nah, mate, you’re wrong there, I reckon. That’s highly unlikely. The notion that someone with his stats (in the Sheffield Shield!) has not already been offered a Baggy Green is almost impossible. But the notion that someone with his stats in County cricket has not already been offered a Baggy Green is plausible and probable. The Australian selectors much prefer players who have developed in the Australian domestic competition. They should be smart and humble enough to accept that Robson’s feat in County cricket. It’s very parochial and stupid, and I hate it. But that just the lines along which they think. I’m hoping they change.

                Besides Robson himself has said, I think recently, that it is highly unlikely Australia would ever court him.

                I think Robson would prefer to play for England. But unless he’s even more stubborn than Ryan Giggs (with regard to Giggs choice of Wales over England), which is unlikely, AT THIS STAGE, he’d accept a Baggy Green in the Ashes and the opportunity to tie down Aussie opening batsman position for the next decade. With Cook, Root, Compton (and even Carberry and Chopra) he shall probably have to wait till he is in his late 20s to get a regular gig with England. But, if the Aussie selectors can shelve their pride (unlikely proposition), he can walk into the Aussie team now and be a key player for years to come.

              • May 20th 2013 @ 1:58am
                Bertie said | May 20th 2013 @ 1:58am | ! Report

                James

                “i think the fact that robson has not played for australia at senior level means that he has already made it very clear he wants to play for england and not australia. the notion that someone with his stats has not already been offered a baggy green is almost impossible, i guess they have offered, its been rebuffed and he only wants england.”

                Nah, mate, you’re wrong there, I reckon. That’s highly unlikely. The notion that someone with his stats (in the Sheffield Shield!) has not already been offered a Baggy Green is almost impossible. But the notion that someone with his stats in County cricket has not already been offered a Baggy Green is plausible and probable. The Australian selectors much prefer players who have developed in the Australian domestic competition. They should be smart and humble enough to accept that Robson’s feat in County cricket. It’s very parochial and stupid, and I hate it. But that just the lines along which they think. I’m hoping they change.

                Besides Robson himself has said, I think recently, that it is highly unlikely Australia would ever court him.

                I think Robson would prefer to play for England. But unless he’s even more stubborn than Ryan Giggs (with regard to Giggs choice of Wales over England), which is unlikely, AT THIS STAGE, he’d accept a Baggy Green in the Ashes and the opportunity to tie down Aussie opening batsman position for the next decade. With Cook, Root, Compton (and even Carberry and Chopra) he shall probably have to wait till he is in his late 20s to get a regular gig with England. But, if the Aussie selectors can shelve their pride (unlikely proposition), he can walk into the Aussie team now and be a key player for years to come.

            • May 20th 2013 @ 2:14am
              Bertie said | May 20th 2013 @ 2:14am | ! Report

              nick richardson

              “Wow mate that comment is longer than all my articles put together. Try writing articles instead of writing articles in others articles. Love to read some of your articles,”

              Thanks mate, you’re too kind. I’m sorry about my lack of concision, it has always been a weak spot. I’m not sure I’d be any good at writing articles, they’d be way too long-winded, hahaha.

    • Roar Guru

      May 18th 2013 @ 9:37am
      nick richardson said | May 18th 2013 @ 9:37am | ! Report

      Who is loving the English getting embarrassed by the Kiwis not so good after all.

      • May 18th 2013 @ 10:23am
        Tanami mehmet said | May 18th 2013 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        +1

      • May 18th 2013 @ 11:40am
        Disco said | May 18th 2013 @ 11:40am | ! Report

        Who’s not good – the kiwis? I think you underestimate them. I’d venture to say they’re a stronger side than Australia; you know, the side that lost three Tests by an innings the last time England toured, the side that was thrashed 4-0 recently?

        NZ just managed to draw three Tests against England, and have the better of two of those, so they’re in rather good shape at the moment.

        As for embarrassed, let’s see what happens for the rest of the match/series, eh? And if NZ end up on top then Australia will need to replicate that performance to claim any Trans-Tasman bragging rights, especially as NZ won the last match played between the two.

        • Roar Guru

          May 18th 2013 @ 2:56pm
          nick richardson said | May 18th 2013 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

          love the way you say just managed to draw. England where dominated in the first and last tests of that series. Australia are by far a better side than New Zealand, but New Zealand are looking good both Australia and the Kiwi’s will be amazing test teams in the next 3-4 years when junior players reach mature ages. England are no where near as good as they think.

          • May 18th 2013 @ 5:08pm
            Disco said | May 18th 2013 @ 5:08pm | ! Report

            I think Australia are fortunate not to be playing right now… Either against Nz or England.

            • Roar Guru

              May 18th 2013 @ 5:11pm
              Tim Holt said | May 18th 2013 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

              agree Disco- the kiwis would beat this current Aussie Team

      • Roar Guru

        May 18th 2013 @ 5:11pm
        Tim Holt said | May 18th 2013 @ 5:11pm | ! Report

        You certainly have a abstract definition of ‘getting embarrassed’ Nick….

        with this Test between the Poms and kiwis showing a battle between a good Team with one of its best players out ( KP ) and a good young Team with a potentially brilliant bowling attack. And one that would have been added too with Bracewell’s inclusion

        Plus last time i switched the Test on- it was at a virtual stalemate with the Kiwis shading it…but a good third morn with the poms dismissing the kiwis for under 200 and it all changes- hold that thought for the kiwis lower order is not too clever….

        Also you point to the previous series in Kiwi land, where admitedly the kiwis were on top most series, but the english never gave up and duly fought out what was a miraculous and respectful draw.

        Showing them as a good Team for they are so hard to beat

        • Roar Guru

          May 18th 2013 @ 5:31pm
          nick richardson said | May 18th 2013 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

          It was a joke guys i understand Australia cricket is not at their best at the moment. But you raise the point Australia would get beaten by New Zealand and you are probably right, New Zealand are a great team at the moment.

          • Roar Guru

            May 18th 2013 @ 5:41pm
            Tim Holt said | May 18th 2013 @ 5:41pm | ! Report

            I would not classify the Kiwis as a great Team, more so a rising Team that plays the game right and in a very disciplined manner. Whereas Australia probably at present has more ability, but struggles with application, and the extent that is demanded for Test success

            • Roar Guru

              May 18th 2013 @ 5:46pm
              nick richardson said | May 18th 2013 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

              Australia can be put in the same boat as New Zealand. It is a rising team that has very young personnel and when they mature the team will benefit.

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2013 @ 5:57pm
                Tim Holt said | May 18th 2013 @ 5:57pm | ! Report

                The best thing they did recently was take the VC off Twatto, and installl Haddin in the role. Who will be a perfect support for Clarke. Next they need to give twatto the flick for he is a Cancer in the team

              • Roar Guru

                May 18th 2013 @ 10:24pm
                nick richardson said | May 18th 2013 @ 10:24pm | ! Report

                Watto needs to go and the side needs to be all-rounder free, unless that player is good enough to hold his place in the team for either batting or bowling. 6batsman 1keeper(who is there cause of keeping skill) and the best four bowlers. If one of these can do the other discipline that is a bonus but we shouldn’t pick bits and pieces players it is suicide.

              • May 19th 2013 @ 12:05am
                James said | May 19th 2013 @ 12:05am | ! Report

                new zealand are actually a really good team but whats happened this morning goes to show that you really dont know what a good score is until the second team bats again.

            • May 19th 2013 @ 12:10pm
              Disco said | May 19th 2013 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

              NZ also have less selection issues, with a smaller pool from which to choose and seemingly a selection panel not given to favouring T20 specialists.

    • May 18th 2013 @ 10:49am
      Osmond said | May 18th 2013 @ 10:49am | ! Report

      If England’s weak point is that an injury to Pietersen means they’re forced to play three less experienced batsmen whose first class records suggest they’d walk into the Australian team, I’d argue it’s not much of a weakness.

      • May 18th 2013 @ 11:43am
        Disco said | May 18th 2013 @ 11:43am | ! Report

        Quite.

        When Bairstow replaced Pietersen for a Test against South Africa last summer, he made scores of 95 and 54 against the world’s No.1 side. Dreadful 23-year-old player, clearly.

      • Roar Guru

        May 18th 2013 @ 5:05pm
        Tim Holt said | May 18th 2013 @ 5:05pm | ! Report

        +1

    • May 18th 2013 @ 11:53am
      Disco said | May 18th 2013 @ 11:53am | ! Report

      England will be concerned that Ian Bell (batting in a key slot) regularly seems to look a million dollars and then find a soft way to get himself out once he’s got a start; and that Broad’s batting is a shadow of its former self and thus the side has more of a tail than it did a couple of years ago.
      Outside of that, I think England’s weakest area relates to Finn and Broad’s respective struggles to bowl consistent line and length, coupled with the fact that their pace seems to vary from match to match. (Bresnan would appear to be next cab off the rank, though I’m not sure why Onions doesn’t receive more selectorial backing in home conditions; perhaps because he can’t bat at 8 or 9?)

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