Who could be the wildcards of the Ashes?

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    You can begrudgingly accept through gritted teeth the appearance of an Ace or dip your hat in homage of something regal as represented by a ‘picture’, but when a Joker falls it always turns everything on its ear.

    Its relation to cricket is in the rise of those nondescript players to be difference makers in either a game or a series with them having the moniker of ‘wildcards’.

    These men come out of nowhere to have a profound effect on contests and tip the balance while the ‘greats’ seem to lock horns, trade brilliance and play out virtual score draws.

    Keeping this in mind, here are a few likely wildcards in the upcoming Ashes:

    Brad Haddin (Australia)
    If I were to say to you that it is a certainty that Brad Haddin will improve Australia’s score in a Test match by a 100 runs, you will almost certainly pass me the Dunce Cap and make me sit in the corner.

    Consider this, he has replaced Matthew Wade, who as a rule would mess up two to three chances in a match, which could easily amount to some extra 100 runs I referred to.

    Think of how defining this could be in the upcoming Ashes in bowling conditions where 300 will be seen as a very good score in most matches.

    The ‘wildcard’ nature of Haddin does not end with his safeness behind the stumps; it also translates into a boost to the psyche of Australia’s greatest weapon, their bowling.

    With them knowing that they will be supported by an adequate glove man behind the stumps rather than be pushed to the verge of a mental meltdown like Nathan Lyon felt due to Wade’s missed chances in India.

    Steven Finn (England)
    The focus on the English bowlers will fall on James Anderson and his mastery of swing, and the associated media/fans’ claims of him being comparable to Dale Steyn.

    There’s also the case of the virtual ‘little girl with the curl’ in Stuart Broad and whether he can be very, very good or very, very bad.

    Then there is Graeme Swann, who will be desperate to achieve some Ashes credibility after averaging 40.13 in his 10 previous Ashes Tests.

    It all leaves one feeling very much unloved in Steve Finn, who in no way is guaranteed a place in the XI for the 1st Test with Tim Bresnan neck and neck with him.

    With respect to Bresnan, who is a big hearted and accomplished performer, hopefully sanity would prevail and Finn would be chosen.

    He’s a bowler who has everything in his kit bag to be a devastating spearhead with pace, bounce and the ability to swing the ball as well as make it talk off the pitch.

    I can see him being devastating in the Ashes for the Aussie batsmen will be so much focussed on seeing off Anderson and neutralising Swann that they might, to their demise, have lapses against Finn.

    Steve Smith (Australia)
    You had to feel for this young lad with him being labelled as ‘The Next Warnie’ out of Australia’s desperation to fill an irreplaceable breach.

    Sadly, this desperation led him be introduced to Test cricket when he was no way equipped for it, leading to inevitable failure followed by associated ridicule.

    He sunk without a trace we all thought, only to see him rise once more in 2013 for the India tour.

    When we of the peanut gallery assumed that he would fail again, he left us with eggs on our faces. He had grown and his sheer relentless desire to succeed had stood out amongst all the other Aussies who were so willing to give up.

    He fought and fought, and fought some more.

    He was ridiculously overlooked for the Ashes squad earlier. But now that he has been added, you can almost see him struggling with the standard of the bowling and the difficult conditions in the Ashes, but just finding a way to make a contribution.

    Meaning that he will finish the Ashes not referred to as ‘The Next Warnie’ , but as ‘The First Steve Smith’.

    Jonny Bairstow (England)
    I love the irony with the current Ashes, the example being the spotlight shining bright on one Yorkshire man in Joe Root with all and sundry assembling to already give him a Knighthood.

    Which is indeed justified, for the lad indeed is a fabulous talent.

    But it seems to overlook the presence of another young gem from Yorkshire in the flamed haired Jonny Bairstow.

    He’s a player who has been on the outskirts of the English set up, but now is a certainty in the top 6 with the move of Root to the top of the order and the somewhat unfair axing of Nick Compton.

    This move, in my mind, is a master stroke, a show of real faith in Bairstow by the team management in the lead up to the Ashes, telling him that the no. 6 position in the line-up is his.

    Don’t be fooled either for this lad can play, and it is not only his talent that appeals but the dexterity of his batting gears with him being able to play a back-to-the-wall gritty innings like his 95 against a brutally great South African attack last year, or hammer home an advantage through his clean and huge hitting.

    Look for him to be an unexpected thorn in the Aussie side in the Ashes.

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    The Crowd Says (69)

    • June 30th 2013 @ 9:16am
      handles said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:16am | ! Report

      Mitchell flipping Starc. I have predicted it here before – he is Terry Alderman in the making. Good without being fantastic last domestic season, but showed enough to have me fearlessly predicting a 42 wicket Duke-assisted English breakthrough season. Here we come!

      • June 30th 2013 @ 9:35am
        Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Starc is about as far a way from Alderman as you get with Alderman a line an length bowler with a bit of swing that bowled stump to stump and could land ever ball on a mark on the pitch- barely if ever rising above 130 kms

        starc is an erratic speedster that if he swings it is lethal, but if he does not is money for old rope

    • June 30th 2013 @ 10:02am
      Simoc said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      I’m hoping Jackson Bird is the man. Going on his Australian and test form he will be our best performer.

      • June 30th 2013 @ 10:06am
        Lancey5times said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        Agreed. And with Boof coaching QLD it may be that he is aware of Bird’s quality more than Mikey due to his outstanding Shield returns.

      • June 30th 2013 @ 10:10am
        Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:10am | ! Report

        Bird is a great choice with him being very old school in his style- hit the top of off with a bit of nibble- but needs to get in the team first. With Australia depth of pace reserves it becomes more apparent every day that to pick Lyon ahead of one would be very un wise

        • June 30th 2013 @ 10:50am
          Nudge said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:50am | ! Report

          Get off the Lyon thing tim. He’ll play. 4 quicks is enough you need variety. Even if it is to break a partnership that the quicks couldn’t which is what Lyon did in the tour game

          • June 30th 2013 @ 10:57am
            Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

            It is my firm belief that to play Lyon ahead of say a Bird would just be insanity Nudge, and last time i look OZ was a free Country, so i am entitled to my opinion ;)…..

            A lot will depend on whether Watson bowls, if he does Lyon will play

            • June 30th 2013 @ 11:23am
              TheSilentProgressor said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:23am | ! Report

              You are entitled to your own opinion. But a bowling attack needs variety if you go in with 4 front-line pacemen your attack becomes predictable. Lyon may not be the best off-spinner in the world and he does have limitations but he is the best slow bowler Australia have at the moment. And he has some good figures already from this tour on pitches that haven’t been conducive to spin bowling.

              People need to accept that Lyon will be in the first test team.

              • June 30th 2013 @ 11:29am
                Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:29am | ! Report

                Good reply silent, but I disagree that lyon will be in the first test team if Watson chooses not to bowl. For trent Bridge is a seamers paradise and 4 seamers would be very wise. Especially when you have such quality pace reserves it would be insanity to chose Lyon for the sake of variety

              • June 30th 2013 @ 11:55am
                TheSilentProgressor said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:55am | ! Report

                See i have to disagree with that. Choosing 4 pace bowlers and no spinner is a recipe for disaster in my opinion. Like i said Lyon may not be the best spinner ever and he certainly has his limitations but i still feel it would be negligent to go in with 4 fast-bowlers. Everyone complains about Lyon not taking enough wickets but his record is still ok for a young spinner don’t forget he is only 25.

                I agree completely that Australia has quality pace reserves, arguably the best depth in the world when it comes to fast-bowlers. But i just feel that if Australia go in with 4 fast-bowlers the attack would be to predictable, and if it is a flat-pitch it really helps to have a spinner.

              • June 30th 2013 @ 12:29pm
                Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

                If it is a flat pitch then Lyon must play, but then if it a atypical English pitch that suits seamers his place is in question. For you have to give your side the best chance to win- meaning a class seamer over a so so spinner is the option

          • June 30th 2013 @ 11:03am
            Disco said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:03am | ! Report

            I recall on the last tour Australia left out Hauritz when his variety would’ve been handy, so I suspect they’ll be loathe to go into too many Tests without a spinner.

            That said, if the identity crisis Watson is opening and not bowling much he’s not a frontline quick, is he? So Lyon will be getting picked ahead of two of Pattinson, Harris, Starc, Bird and Siddle.

            • June 30th 2013 @ 11:16am
              Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

              Yes, that is the catch with Watson once again influencing events. If he decides to bowl ( not as though he is representing his Country or anything and should do anything for it ) then Lyon plays. But if he does not bowl would you chose Lyon over say Bird?

              When you know that the English will just treat Lyon with disdain

              • June 30th 2013 @ 2:09pm
                Disco said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

                Yeah, see, this where that name ‘O’Keefe’ pops back into my head.

            • June 30th 2013 @ 2:18pm
              Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

              O’Keefe would have balanced the side out more being the same bowler in pedigree as Lyon, but adding leadership and a useful bat to the Team

              • June 30th 2013 @ 3:31pm
                davos said | June 30th 2013 @ 3:31pm | ! Report

                I like the look of agar….way to early yet I know …lyon has a lot of supporters ….but I just feel he had several ops to bowl us to victory on 5th day pitches and just couldn’t deliver…if it was a real seamers wicket I would have no problem leaving him out

              • June 30th 2013 @ 3:32pm
                Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 3:32pm | ! Report

                It seems Agar is the future Davos- so lets hope. But as a pure spinner that leggie from NSW- Zampa I think his name is looks ok

              • June 30th 2013 @ 4:25pm
                davos said | June 30th 2013 @ 4:25pm | ! Report

                yes for sure like the look of him too …very warne like ….hated myself for saying that but you can see similarities in his delivery ..there the 2 I like best agar and zampa …..the new paki guy I have not seen yet …much hype and pressure on him atm…also agar very stylish and composed batsman..him and Hogan denied my redbacks a shield final this season gone

          • July 4th 2013 @ 11:50pm
            JMW said | July 4th 2013 @ 11:50pm | ! Report

            I just wish Lyon did provide variety. He has no obvious competition given Professor Ratbaggy’s obvious distaste with Steve O’Keefe.

            I also wish old looking Nate could dismiss the odd batsmen who walks in above number 8 in the order…just saying.

    • June 30th 2013 @ 10:07am
      Tasman said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      If given a chance Steve Smith. I especially look forward to him and haddin being in the middle together. The two in India did very well together and I suspect we may see a repeat.

      • June 30th 2013 @ 10:11am
        Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        I was one of the many who labelled Smith a joke, but credit where credit is due, he has hit back hard and has a real unrelenting spirit. Haddin is just a warrior which the Team needs rather than an incompetent show boat like wAde

        • June 30th 2013 @ 10:49am
          Praveen said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:49am | ! Report

          I also see Watson ad khawaja performing very well under boof as he will bring the best out of hem and don’t be surprised if Hafdin has an amazing tour

          • June 30th 2013 @ 10:52am
            Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 10:52am | ! Report

            Watson, i have all but given up on. Not because he has not got talent, but I think he lacks the desire/commitment to succeed. Khawaja should have been in the team for the SL series before Hughes after his brilliant century in the Shield against tassie. Then Haddin, automatically he makes the team better with his safe gloves

            • June 30th 2013 @ 12:54pm
              John Edgar said | June 30th 2013 @ 12:54pm | ! Report

              Agreed Tim, UTK should have been our number 3 after Punter, and then replacment for Hussey who Huss also endorsed as, but uncle Arthur couldn’t accept that, i am hoping now he finally gets his chance and he is going about it the right way with top score yesterday.

              • June 30th 2013 @ 1:22pm
                Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

                I seriously could not fathom that move at the time john, it just was truly bizarre

              • June 30th 2013 @ 5:31pm
                Praveen said | June 30th 2013 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

                Under Arthur khawaja was never going to get a chance, I think most UTK fans are just glad he will get his well deserved shot now

              • Roar Guru

                June 30th 2013 @ 5:43pm
                Tim Holt said | June 30th 2013 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

                the non selection of khawaja was embarrassing bordering on………..

          • July 4th 2013 @ 11:52pm
            JMW said | July 4th 2013 @ 11:52pm | ! Report

            Hafdin (sic) did he come out here with Fawad?

        • June 30th 2013 @ 11:09am
          Disco said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:09am | ! Report

          Haddin wasn’t too flash in his last Test and was quite appalling with bat and gloves in the year before Wade got picked, so I’m not holding my breath.

          • June 30th 2013 @ 11:13am
            Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:13am | ! Report

            Compared to Wades Keystone Cops show…………anyone is better and improves the Team automatically

            • Roar Pro

              June 30th 2013 @ 11:46am
              aggregated drupe said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:46am | ! Report

              Haddin is just as bad as Wade at keeping Tim

              • June 30th 2013 @ 11:53am
                Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:53am | ! Report

                I doubt that very much Drupe- but in hindsight Hartley or Paine would have been better options. With Haddin getting in as Vice

              • June 30th 2013 @ 11:55am
                Nudge said | June 30th 2013 @ 11:55am | ! Report

                If Haddin was proved to be just as bad of keeper as wade ill go live in Pakistan

              • June 30th 2013 @ 12:15pm
                Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 12:15pm | ! Report

                +1 nudge

              • June 30th 2013 @ 2:10pm
                Disco said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:10pm | ! Report

                He certainly needs to do better than he did when India toured.

          • July 4th 2013 @ 11:54pm
            JMW said | July 4th 2013 @ 11:54pm | ! Report

            True…and his tendency to throw his wicket away recklessly has only been exceeded by Warner in recent times. He was obviously picked to play though so we’re stuck with him for now.

        • Roar Pro

          June 30th 2013 @ 1:16pm
          Alexander Grant said | June 30th 2013 @ 1:16pm | ! Report

          Ditto. I wrote an article here criticising his inclusion for the place of someone like Khawaja, but he did indeed step up.

        • June 30th 2013 @ 4:32pm
          Tasman said | June 30th 2013 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

          well said tim. Haddin has much more presence than Wade but I guess age and experience may have something to do. He certainly has something in him.

          • Roar Guru

            June 30th 2013 @ 4:58pm
            Tim Holt said | June 30th 2013 @ 4:58pm | ! Report

            Haddin is what players donning the Baggy Green used to be- Warriors….Though he has dropped off a little bit now- especially in his batting he is still Australia’s best option. And i think will be a real difference maker

    • June 30th 2013 @ 1:35pm
      Brian said | June 30th 2013 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

      How is haddin a wildcard he is about 36 and a proven failure under pressure. If we have a wildcard its Watson. Hard to acknowledge but either Watson fires or the urn stays in England.

      • June 30th 2013 @ 1:39pm
        Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

        Did you read my rationale on why Haddin is one Brian?

        • June 30th 2013 @ 2:22pm
          Brian said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

          Yes and it focused on Wade mistakes and how a safe gloveman would improve the team . But Haddin is no allan Knott and he averages less than Wade. His performance in his last year in the team was terrible with both bat and gloves

          • June 30th 2013 @ 2:29pm
            Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:29pm | ! Report

            But no one is Allan Knott Brian 😉 (my hero Knotty )….I can see your point on Haddin, and admitedly he is in the side primarily to even out the leadership issue. But he is a decent gloveman when compared to Wade. But a player like Hartley would have offered a better one

          • June 30th 2013 @ 2:30pm
            Broken-hearted Toy said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

            Yes, it’s a shame that the selectors are so fixated on the batting of the wicket-keeper that they brought back a player who isn’t a particularly good keeper. Wade makes anyone look an improvement.

            • June 30th 2013 @ 2:31pm
              Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

              +1- but to a large degree they are forced on this point so as to support a top 6 that is diabolically bad

              • Columnist

                June 30th 2013 @ 3:57pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | June 30th 2013 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

                If Haddin is brilliant with the bat like he was in the past two Ashes it will make a huge difference to Australia. They need every extra possible run they can scrounge together. Haddin’s batting form on this tour has been very good as it was in State cricket last summer.

              • June 30th 2013 @ 4:07pm
                Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

                his glove work is more important Ronan

              • June 30th 2013 @ 5:19pm
                Bearfax said | June 30th 2013 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

                If Australia continue to play five batsmen and a wicket keeper, I would suggest Haddin’s scoring will be just as important as his glove work and his experience

              • Roar Guru

                June 30th 2013 @ 5:23pm
                Tim Holt said | June 30th 2013 @ 5:23pm | ! Report

                The sad reality about the Aussie batting Bearfax is that aside from Clarke who would u currently class as Test Class?- I would suggest none….Meaning the lower order has to contribute for them to be competitive. But on the subject of Haddin, his glovework is just as crucial for with all the chances WAde fluffed it was killing the bowlings effectiveness too

                To be frank with Wade behind the stumps , Australia started every Test match -100 before a ball was bowled

              • June 30th 2013 @ 5:27pm
                Bearfax said | June 30th 2013 @ 5:27pm | ! Report

                I would suggest that that the lower order batsmen are not champion players like Clarke…..yet.

      • June 30th 2013 @ 2:07pm
        Nudge said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:07pm | ! Report

        I agree Brian Watson is the wildcard if he fires we are a big chance. Say 350-400 runs at 40 to 45 and maybe 15 wickets at 25. But if Haddin wasn’t there and wade was take 1 wicket off Watson 2 off all the other quicks and 6 off Lyon which results as Haddin as a defaulted wildcard. Wouldn’t surprise if Haddin scores the second most runs for us either like the last ashes series

        • June 30th 2013 @ 2:31pm
          Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:31pm | ! Report

          Watson could be anything Nudge, but always lets himself and others down…..hard to have faith. You read my rationale on Haddin, and also i think he could do well with the bat for he is a warrior- very gritty

    • June 30th 2013 @ 2:14pm
      davos said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

      Smokey from left field …Sayers …theres your Terry Alderman late swing type bowler…don’t know why he should be a smokey ..he was only the leading wicket taker in the shield…..and bowled predominantly on the flat Adelaide deck…his late swing was devastating…can’t imagine why that might work in England

      • June 30th 2013 @ 2:20pm
        Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

        Sayers is a very good talent, and as a bowler gets greater dues for gets wickets on the batting paradise that is the Adelaide Oval. But a fair way down the pecking order and no chance in this Ashes

    • June 30th 2013 @ 3:08pm
      davos said | June 30th 2013 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

      I have a feeling that Haddin is going to have a big impact with the bat this series…he has often shown glimpses of brilliance and has posted some very respectable scores in the past… he also brings the experience level almost of a Hussey or a Katich …but just recently last year or so I have detected his batting going almost to another level as often happens with classy players when they reach mid thirties and they start to know there games inside out…as for his keeping I wont comment wether he is better or worse than wade because im no expert on keepers… for what its worth I think payne should be next in line after haddin …but don’t expect many to agree with that

      • June 30th 2013 @ 3:12pm
        Tim said | June 30th 2013 @ 3:12pm | ! Report

        Paine would have been Aussie Captain now if not for a freak injury

      • June 30th 2013 @ 4:37pm
        Tasman said | June 30th 2013 @ 4:37pm | ! Report


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