Australia has to stop revolving door selection policy

Glenn Mitchell Columnist

By Glenn Mitchell, Glenn Mitchell is a Roar Expert

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    Phil Hughes. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

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    At present being a member of Australia’s top-seven must be a bit like playing musical chairs – when the music stops, grab a seat.

    Or perhaps, more correctly, slump down in the one the selectors have slipped behind you.

    Australia headed to England with major questions over its Test batting line-up.

    It will return home without the Ashes and with about as many questions still unanswered.

    Since the retirement of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey during last summer, Australia’s selectors have tinkered with the batting more than a mechanic would with a dicky engine.

    Usman Khawaja has been discarded for tonight’s final Test at The Oval with Shane Watson to bat at number three while all-rounder James Faulkner will debut and bat at number seven behind Brad Haddin.

    Working backwards, this is how Australia’s top-seven has looked over the past eight Tests:

    The Oval – Rogers, Warner, Watson, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Faulkner

    Chester-Le-Street – Rogers, Warner, Khawaja, Clarke, Smith, Watson, Haddin

    Old Trafford – Rogers, Watson, Khawaja, Clarke, Smith, Warner, Haddin

    Lord’s – Rogers, Watson, Khawaja, Hughes, Clarke, Smith, Haddin

    Nottingham – Rogers, Watson, Cowan, Clarke, Smith, Hughes, Haddin

    Delhi – Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson, Smith, Wade, Maxwell

    Mohali – Cowan, Warner, Clarke, Hughes, Smith, Haddin, Henriques

    Hyderabad – Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson, Clarke, Wade, Henriques

    Some of the changes through those matches were forced through injury – Clarke at Delhi and Wade at Mohali – while Warner was a scratching for the opening two Ashes Tests having been suspended by team management and Watson was infamously omitted for disciplinary reasons at Mohali.

    In the main, however, it has been at the selectors’ behest that the batting order has had so many faces.

    Faulkner will be the third young all-rounder to be blooded following cameos from Henriques and Maxwell in India.

    Across the past eight matches Watson will have opened, batted at three, four and six.

    Skipper Clarke will have occupied three, four and five.

    Along with Khawaja, Hughes and Cowan it means that Australia will have used five players in the pivotal number three spot in the space of just eight matches.

    For anyone who has watched Fox Sport’s coverage of this series you will have been privy to Allan Border’s thoughts on what needs to be done.

    His philosophy is succinct – “pick and stick”.

    Steve Waugh has taken up the same mantra in recent days while Matthew Hayden has also been critical of the chopping and changing.

    With the exception of Rogers (344 runs at 43) and Clarke (346 at 49), there has been precious little to get enthused about – and it needs to be remembered that Rogers turns 36 in ten days’ time.

    Behind that pair, the next best series averages belong to James Pattinson (36) and Ashton Agar (32) – hardly a glowing recommendation for supposedly the country’s best willow wielders.

    Watson has once again shown a serious flaw in his technique with his susceptibility to being trapped in front by the full swinging delivery.

    Hughes returned to the Test arena late last summer with glowing reports on how his newly modified technique would place him in good stead as he looked to restart his career.

    He was made to look inept at times to spin in India and with the exception of his fighting unbeaten 81 in Australia’s first innings of this series his remaining three knocks produced a mere three runs before he was jettisoned once again.

    While few batsmen have done much to enhance their prospects of long term places in the team it is surely time that the selectors anointed a top six plus a ‘keeper and stick with it for a good few Tests.

    The constant changes in the order and the revolving door policy in and out of the team has done little to build some sort of core batting unit.

    Once the home Ashes series gets underway, it is imperative that the selectors have settled on a preferred batting line-up and that they allow it an opportunity to bed down.

    It may be a matter of going beyond the current touring party in order to find the right candidates but whoever they end up being, Border’s “pick and stick” philosophy has a lot going for it.

    Glenn Mitchell
    Glenn Mitchell

    After 21 years as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, since mid-2011 Glenn Mitchell has been freelancing in the electronic and written media. He is an ambassador for mental health in Australia, and tweets from @mitchellglenn.

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    The Crowd Says (95)

    • August 21st 2013 @ 3:02am
      Frankie Hughes said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:02am | ! Report

      I have no clue how we can come to this series with


      Yet come the 5th Test, three of the specialist batsmen aren’t anyway near the side.

      Smith was an extra addition and now Faulkner is deemed a better batsman than Hughes Khawaga and Cowan. Faulkner’s never even made a 100…

      • Roar Guru

        August 21st 2013 @ 4:25am
        JGK said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:25am | ! Report

        Totally agree.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 4:26am
        Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:26am | ! Report

        “Faulkner is deemed a better batsman than Hughes Khawaja and Cowan”

        Panic. Utter panic. Picking a player who scored 444 from 16 outings with the bat as a replacement for a dropped batsman is farcical. I’d love to know what hold Watson has over the selectors, thats getting kind of spooky. But Clarkey says its not a charity so its all good.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:51am
        Sideline Comm. said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:51am | ! Report

        Stark (Pattinson if/when fit),
        Harris (if/when fit),

        Pick and stick as everyone’s saying. No Watson, no Cowan.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 12:53pm
        Straight Ball said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

        Here’s the clue – the selectors have no confidence in Cowan, Hughes or Khawaja. Neither does much anyone else (leaving aside the irrational Khawaja-lovers). The selectors can see the way those 3 are conducting themselves and are unimpressed. The chances have been given. Faulkner gets a chance, I say good on the selectors for giving him that chance, and I hope he does well. I have really no doubt that he will be more useful to team than Khawaja. He is likely to score more runs. He will provide a greater challenge to Swan, and he adds to the bowling attack. Australia have more chance of a win with Faulkner than Khawaja. The selectors have shown some guts……I am hoping the players follow, the captain sounds like he is.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 2:02pm
          rl said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

          I reckon you’ve just about nailed it right there. Shane Warne, despite his many faults, seems to have a good eye for cricketing talent and is a big wrap or Faulkner. Now we get to see if he’s right.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 2:04pm
            Christo the Daddyo said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

            Not so sure about that. Remember Warnie waxing lyrical about Michael Beer?

          • August 21st 2013 @ 2:09pm
            Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

            Remember Warne’s manifesto? Here is his list of Test players:
            1. Warner, 2. Watson, 3. Marsh, S 4. Clarke (C), 5. Ferguson, 6. Wade, 7. Faulkner, 8. Coulter-Nile, 9. Siddle, 10. Pattinson, 11. Lyon, 12. Hughes P, 13. Maxwell, 14. Starc, 15. Khawaja, 16. Harris R, 17. Henriques, 18. Jackson Bird.
            I don’t think I’m trusting his judgement.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 2:27pm
              rl said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

              too true!! and yes, I remember Beer!!

              • August 21st 2013 @ 6:35pm
                Straight Ball said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

                Have some while Faulkner makes a difference.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 7:22pm
          TJ said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:22pm | ! Report

          Faulkner – 130 odd wickets at less than 23 at FC level, with big performances in shield finals deserves a chance. Even if he isn’t one of those players of ‘significant potential’ from NSW.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 6:37pm
        BK said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:37pm | ! Report

        But he’s a right hander – that’s all that counts for now

    • August 21st 2013 @ 4:13am
      buddha9 said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:13am | ! Report

      Glen you’re spot on — I don’t think the treatment Kawaja has received is fair and I wouldn’t think its fair or competent no matter who it happened to.

      Also I can’t grasp why they’ve dropped a batsmen for a bowler — it doesn’t make the tail shorter — and the attack is not the problem

      This is a revision to India in terms of selection — another all rounder when a batsmen is needed FFS

      thank god I can now forget about a the cricket and watch Chelsea — Mourinho never does anything this stupid.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 4:25am
      Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:25am | ! Report

      I refuse to believe your selectors are stupid, they just can’t be. They have to know this hokey cokey approach cannot work and isn’t working, yet it continues.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 5:07am
        Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:07am | ! Report

        Stupid is a funny word. Invers loves his own opinion, comes from his unchallenged authority as a school headmaster at a private school. Marsh was a prick when he was younger, thought he’d changed. Bichel never had a rep as the brightest bulb on the tree. Still you’d think commonsense would prevail….

        • August 21st 2013 @ 3:54pm
          Simoc said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

          But they don’t pick the team. On tour it is the coach, a touring selector and was the captain until recently. I’m glad Faulkners playing but Bird should be in there to. They stuffed up not starting him in the first test.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 4:33am
      Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 4:33am | ! Report

      I posted on the other thread all the changes Australia had made in this series, not just in personnel, but in position too. It’s crackers:

      5 changes from the fourth Test in India to the first Test in England, then….

      2nd Test
      Cowan dropped, Khawaja in, Hughes moved from 6 to 4, Clarke down to 5, Smith down to 6,Agar up to 8, Siddle down to 9, Starc dropped, Harris brought in

      3rd Test
      Clarke back up to 4, Smith up to 5, Hughes dropped, Warner brought in, Agar dropped, Siddle up to 8, Pattinson out (injured), Starc brought back, Harris up to 10, Lyon brought in

      4th Test
      Warner moved up to open, Watson down to 6, Starc dropped (again), Harris up to 9, Lyon up to 10, Bird brought in

      5th Test (so far known)
      Khawaja dropped, Watson up to 3, Bird dropped, Starc in (again!), Faulkner in, Haddin moved to 6…..

      Utter, total chaos.

      England changes (whole series).
      Finn dropped, Bresnan brought in. Bresnan injured, replacement unknown to come in.

      • Roar Guru

        August 21st 2013 @ 6:31am
        JGK said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:31am | ! Report

        This all reminds me of the same stuff we used to laugh at England about in the 90s.

        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2013 @ 6:57am
          TheGenuineTailender said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:57am | ! Report

          We just need to add Glenn Maxwell to the side and the transformation to a team of bits and pieces cricketers will essentially be complete.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 7:08am
            Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:08am | ! Report

            We’ll be the West Indies. 18 years of domination followed by 21 years as a Test speed bump.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 7:37am
              Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:37am | ! Report

              Yeah that is my worry, the selectors seem determined to take us down that route.
              I wonder…England then SA the Pakistan, if we lose them all do we fall to fifth in the test rankings? Have to be in the top four to take part in the ICC Test World Championship in 2017.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 8:48am
              Sideline Comm. said | August 21st 2013 @ 8:48am | ! Report

              My biggest fear Hookin’. I’m hoping a better economic position will stop that from ever happening.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 9:30am
                JimmyB said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:30am | ! Report

                I’m not sure that you’re allowed to buy your way in to the test championship, if you’re going to, probably best not to advertise it.

              • Roar Guru

                August 21st 2013 @ 2:14pm
                Simon said | August 21st 2013 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

                He is obviously talking about money for investment and infrastructure.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 7:23pm
                JimmyB said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:23pm | ! Report

                It’s called a joke Simon.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 5:40am
      James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:40am | ! Report

      Going back further, Starc will now have been dropped and recalled to the team 5 times in 12 tests. Whatever you think of his performance and potential, this is ridiculous.

      That said, I’d bet on Starc + Faulkner out scoring Khawaja + Bird any day of the week.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 6:17am
        Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:17am | ! Report

        Really? All our great No3s started out at 5-7. Play Faulkner at No3 by that logic.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 7:02am
        Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:02am | ! Report

        That’s because coming in at 7 or 9 means you can throw the willow without consequence

      • August 21st 2013 @ 9:22am
        Nick Inatey said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:22am | ! Report

        I’d bet on Khawaja + Bird taking more wickets though.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 6:19am
      Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:19am | ! Report

      So Clarke says that “this isn’t a charity tour and the selectors can’t pick and stick if players aren’t performing”
      Of course he neglected to mention that the rule doesn’t apply if your name is Shane Watson who hasn’t performed in two and a half years because he has blond hair, a firm jaw and a wasps background that Inverarity finds reassuring.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 10:34am
        Christo the Daddyo said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:34am | ! Report

        The charity also seems to extend to the selectors and coach. If we applied the same criteria to them as they do to the players, they would have been sitting on the plane back to Australia a couple of weeks ago.

        I wish there was a word stronger than farcical. I’d be using it right now.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 3:57pm
          Simoc said | August 21st 2013 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

          The old gutless copout. Blame the selectors. They can’t pick the right players. When they do it is at the wrong time.
          Luckily they are hell of a lot smarter than writers on here who all sound like whinging Poms.

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