Khawaja, Hughes, Starc: the revolving door

David Lord Columnist

By David Lord, David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    Mitchell Starc has broken the 160kmh mark. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)

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    Despite pleas from Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting to pick and stick with Australia’s brittle Ashes batting order, overnight the selectors knifed top order batsman Usman Khawaja, and promoted James Faulkner to bat at seven on debut.

    Makes sense?

    Faulkner’ recognition means 17 of the big 18-man Australian squad have worn a baggy green this tour, Matthew Wade is the only one to miss out.

    Let’s start from the beginning.

    A 16-man Ashes squad was named in April, with Mitchell Johnson, Steve Smith, Moises Henriques, Xavier Doherty, and Glenn Maxwell left out after the ill-fated tour of India,

    Chris Rogers, back after five years in the wilderness, and talented Tasmanian all-rounder Faulkner, were named.

    In June, Smith was added to the squad to cover for Michael Clark’s back, and Ashton Agar to cover for offie Nathan Lyon.

    Then the musical chairs started,

    First Test at Trent Bridge – Watson, Rogers, Cowan, Clarke, Smith, Hughes, Haddin, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, and Agar.

    From the fourth Test in India, Watson from 4 to 1, Hughes from 3 to 6, Clarke in at 4 after injury, Haddin in for Wade at 7, Starc in for Johnson at 9, and Agar for Lyon at 11.

    Second Test at Lords – Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Hughes, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Agar, Siddle, Pattinson, Harris.

    Cowan and Starc dropped replaced by Khawaja and Harris, Khawaja to 3, Hughes from 3 to 4, Clarke from 4 to 5, Smith from 5 to 6, Agar from 11 to 8,

    Third Test at Old Trafford – Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Smith, Warner, Gaddin, Siddle, Starc, Harris, Lyon.

    Pattinson injured replaced by Starc, Hughes dropped for Warner, and Agar dropped for Lyon – Clarke from 5 to 4, Smith from 6 to 5, Warner at 6.

    Fourth Test at Chester-le-Street – Warner, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Smith, Watson, Haddin, Siddle, Harris, Lyon, Bird.

    Starc dropped again for Bird, Warner from 6 to 1, Watson from 1 to 6. Harris from 10 to 9, Lyon from 11 to 10.

    Fifth Test at The Oval – Warner, Rogers, Watson, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Faulkner, Siddle, Starc, Harris, Lyon.

    Bird dropped for Starc, Khawaja dropped for Faulkner, Watson from 6 to 3, Haddin from 7 to 6, Faulkner to bat 7.

    The summation of all that is only Clarke, Haddin, Rogers, Smith, Siddle, and Watson will have played all five Ashes Tests, creating little stability.

    Harris will have played four. Khawaja, Lyon, Starc, and Warner three each. Pattinson, Agar, and Hughes two each. With Cowan, Bird, and Faulkner one each.

    So what does that tell us?

    The pleas of Waugh and Ponting have fallen on deaf ears.

    Rogers will be the only Australian batsmen in five Tests to bat in the same position.

    Rogers, Clarke, Siddle, and Harris are the only Australians deserving of automatic selection, that’s why 17 have been used in the series.

    Khawaja, Hughes, and Starc, arguably the three best of the new breed, have been selected and shunted. Certainly no pick and stick there.

    Hopefully Warner has sorted out his personal problems, and will play a huge role with Rogers in the return series.

    And what to do with Watson? Selectors are damned if they pick him, and damned if they don’t.

    Australian coach Darren Lehmann has warned this Test at The Oval will define future careers.

    Shane Watson will be one of them.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn?t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world?s great sporting spectacles

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    The Crowd Says (134)

    • August 21st 2013 @ 5:19am
      James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:19am | ! 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.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 12:37pm
        Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

        Totally agreed. And people comment about how he needs to be more consistent. The first step to consistency is consistently playing him. The dropping of Starc can’t even be related to performance. Last Summer he was dropped from the Boxing day test despite having just ripped through Sri Lanka with a brilliant performance the previous test. I really feel for Mitch!

    • August 21st 2013 @ 5:26am
      Frankie Hughes said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:26am | ! Report

      We need to sack these joker selectors ASAP.

      We are a team in transition but the selectors are desperate to make us the biggest laughing stock in world cricket.

      Hughes and Khawaja are the top batsmen in the shield, yet are bypassed by Watson(32 year old flop), Steven Smith(isn’t a top 6 batsman in a month of Sundays) and now James Faulkner(another bits and pieces player)

      It’s ludicrous

      • August 21st 2013 @ 5:39am
        James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:39am | ! Report

        Faulkner is no bits and pieces player. He plays as a very successful front line bowler for Tasmania who knows how to handle a bat. Honestly, I would bet that Starc + Faulkner would out bat Khawaja + Bird any day of the week.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 6:20am
          Frankie Hughes said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:20am | ! Report

          Anyone can take wickets bowling on the greentops that Hobart prepares.

          Just look at Bird, averages 19 in first class cricket. Yet in Durham was shown not to be as good as his stats suggest

          • Roar Guru

            August 21st 2013 @ 6:27am
            JGK said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:27am | ! Report

            A bit harsh on Bird.

            • Columnist

              August 21st 2013 @ 6:45am
              David Lord said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:45am | ! Report

              Bird’s problem JGK is not enough cricket. A full-time net bowler goes off the boil very quickly.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 6:43am
            Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:43am | ! Report

            Khawaja took Bird and Faulkner apart on a Bellerive shocker last year. 138 off his own blade when Tassie got rolled for 95.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 9:27am
            James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:27am | ! Report

            3 points
            – Bird takes wickets at a better average outside Hobart than at Hobart
            – Using a single match to justify someones ability is a bit of a stretch
            – Faulkner last year took 39 wickets at 20.33 and scored 444 runs at 34.15. If Hobart is a massive green top which benefits his bowling significantly, then his batting would be impacted negatively similarly. Any way you look at it, that is a pretty good performance for the year

            • August 21st 2013 @ 9:42am
              Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:42am | ! Report

              He’s a bowler, runs aren’t relevant.
              Faulkner:444 runs in 16 innings
              Khawaja: 438 runs in 11 innings
              Hughes 673 runs in 12 innings
              See the difference?

              • August 21st 2013 @ 10:19am
                James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:19am | ! Report

                I don’t disagree. Bowlers are there to take wickets but when people say that Faulkner’s bowling average is massively understated because of the nature of the pitch, then surely his batting average would be massively understated as well.

                I hope he does well as I think he has immense talent, but he should be picked as a bowler who can come in at no 8 and average in the mid 20s. At this point in his career, there is absolutely nothing which suggests that Faulkner is capable of holding down a test batting position

              • August 21st 2013 @ 10:26am
                Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

                I hope Faulkner does well, but the fact is he should be fighting for one of the three fast bowling slots (or four at the WACA) and not being used instead of a batsman.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 10:55am
                James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:55am | ! Report

                Completely agree. For some reason, Faulkner has been tagged as an “all rounder”. He needs to be treated as a bowler who can add a little with the bat. I’m very keen on players being picked for their primary skill and supplementing it with a secondary skill if necessary.

                This of course means that I am at odds with the selectors as I wouldn’t have picked Agar over Lyon to strengthen the batting line up or Watson over anyone else to strengthen the bowling. I also wouldn’t be picking either Haddin or Wade as their keeping is pretty ordinary. Gilchrist was probably the exception where I think his keeping was a little below standard but the average of over 47 made up for the minor drop in keeping performance.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 12:07pm
                Rob Barrow said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

                Wel said Hookin, Khawaja’sinnings at hobart was fantastic, we should have stuck with him for longer.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 5:18pm
                Nate stuck in SA said | August 21st 2013 @ 5:18pm | ! Report

                i see the difference Hughes bats at Adeliade.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 12:16pm
              Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:16pm | ! Report

              Bird is a good bowler. Deserved retention. Replacing Khawaja with Faulkner is nuts. Faulkner for Watson is easier to swallow. No one in their sane mind expects Watson to be a top order bat. Faulkner batting 8 and making a Test ton and taking a Michelle is fine. are we the West Indies? 4 quicks, a spinner AND the passenger Watson. All I ask is why?

          • August 21st 2013 @ 10:03am
            davros said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:03am | ! Report

            You know Frankie I was trying to draw peoples attention to that fact …but nobody wanted a bar of it…im not trying to put bird down he is a good bowler …but the stats he has returned last season are definitely not a fair representation of the bowler he is …we saw that last test …no real penetration against quality batting

            • August 21st 2013 @ 10:32am
              JimmyB said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:32am | ! Report

              He was given one test. One bloody test.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 12:40pm
                davros said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                yes and I believe there is a better option in starc …and they now will play Faulkner as well …sure starc is not as accurate …but he has the abilty to swing the ball with steepling bounce and take wickets …I agree with the selectors

              • August 21st 2013 @ 12:40pm
                Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

                That is true, but considering Starc has been dropped for every second test despite bowling significantly better than Bird did in the last test, you can’t really argue with bringing Starc back in place of Bird. Starc should never have been dropped for Bird in the first place!

        • August 21st 2013 @ 6:30am
          A Mans Not A Camel said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:30am | ! Report

          Frankie, not sure which series you’ve been watching, Smith has been good enough. I’m not saying he’s set the world on fire, but he’s been better than Khawaja, Cowan, Hughes and probably close behind Watson. Yes, Hughes has the better test average over the 2 tests he’s played versus the 4 Smith has, however, Hughes scored 81* in the first dig (and extremely lucky at that), and scored a total of 2 runs in his last 3 innings. Hardly putting his hand up for more tests. Khawaja’s test avg is under 20.00 in the series. Nuff said. I like both Hughes and Khawaja, and I think they both can be part of the future of Aus cricket – but common, my mum could play Swann’s spin better than them!

          • August 21st 2013 @ 11:02am
            Gippy said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

            Is your Mum available?

        • Columnist

          August 21st 2013 @ 6:33am
          David Lord said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:33am | ! Report

          James, last Shield season Faulkner topped the Tasmanian wicket-takers with 39 at 20.33, and made 444 runs at 34.15 down the order, a very handy cricketer, not all that flash, but better than most head-to-head. Deserves a baggy green chance.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 6:46am
            Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:46am | ! Report

            Replacing Watson…maybe. Being a tailender, he had a few Not Outs. 444 divided by 16?

            • August 21st 2013 @ 9:46am
              James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:46am | ! Report

              First, David – you are wrong. The forgotten man of Australian cricket (Luke Butterworth) topped the Tasmanian wicket takers at 45 wickets at 20.8.

              Actually looking at Faulkner’s performance by match
              – In Hobart – 24 wickets at 17.16 and 289 runs at 36.1 with 1 not out where he scored 76 in Tasmanias 10/448 in response to WA all out for 67. THis includes 46 and 89 in the shield final.
              – Away from Hobart – 15 wickets at 25.4 and 155 runs at 31 with 2 not outs where he was 30 not out and 52 not out and Tasmania declared 5 or 6 wickets down
              – In all 3 not outs, Faulkner was set and scoring runs

              So, if Hobart is a green top, then his 24 wickets at 17.16 needs to be penalised as it is easy to bowl and get wickets, but similarly, his 289 runs at 36.1 needs to be increased as it is hard to bat and score runs.

          • August 21st 2013 @ 12:45pm
            Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:45pm | ! Report

            I have a lot of trouble calling someone an allrounder who’s never made a first class hundred. Handy lower order batsman, definitely, but I’d probably put him in the same category as Starc – a really good number 8, but not a true all-rounder.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 7:03am
          Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:03am | ! Report

          James’s that is because no.7 is so totally comparable to no.3

          • August 21st 2013 @ 9:49am
            James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:49am | ! Report

            Hi Red Kev,
            I don’t quite understand. Clearly no 7 (or in Starcs case no 8) isn’t as hard to bat as no 3 but I haven’t, through my years of cricket watching, ever seen a successful top 6 batsman average 25 or that matter seen a no 8 average over 30.

            Surely if the position is so important on their performance, then this would be something that is seen regularly.

            Please note that I am not advocating the decision to drop Khawaja.

            • August 21st 2013 @ 9:52am
              Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 9:52am | ! Report

              Then you haven’t watched much cricket, go and look up the first dozen tests of some good test match cricketers, you’ll be very surprised.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 10:13am
                James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:13am | ! Report

                Mate, stop being so aggressive and attacking people. I do understand that you are a big fan of Khawaja and that he has been unfairly treated by the selectors. I also understand that Khawaja’s performance to date isn’t too dissimilar to Steve Waugh but he hasnt done himself any favors.

                I agree that Khawaja shouldn’t have been dropped. Yes he hasn’t performed well enough through the series but replacing him with a bowler (which is what Faulkner is) is ridiculous. As ridiculous as dropping our best performed spinner over the last few years for Agar or dropping and reinstating Starc 5 times in 12 tests.

                Personally, I really don’t think that either Hughes or Khawaja are up to test cricket standard but neither of them are being given the opportunity to show whether that is true or not. In addition, there is no one else as can clearly be seen by the talk of bringing in Wade as a specialist batsman.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 10:22am
                Red Kev said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

                Quote – JamesP
                “…I haven’t, through my years of cricket watching, ever seen a successful top 6 batsman average 25…”

                Quote – JamesP
                “…I also understand that Khawaja’s performance to date isn’t too dissimilar to Steve Waugh…”

                Your second post I have no problem with, the first I do. I understand why Khawaja was dropped too, even if I disagree with it.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 10:25am
                James P said | August 21st 2013 @ 10:25am | ! Report

                Ok, perhaps I should have clarified 25 over a career …

                Waugh was kind of lucky as he was in the position where there was no one else and the team was in a rebuilding phase. Unfortunately, Australian cricket doesn’t seem to realize that we are in the same phase. I really expected Khawaja to get at least 6 or so tests on a row through these 2 series

              • August 21st 2013 @ 12:24pm
                Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

                James P what about Boon and Ian Chappell? Want to compare Khawaja with them in their first 9 tests?

              • August 21st 2013 @ 12:49pm
                Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

                Steve Waugh was also originally picked as an allrounder and his bowling was an equally big part of his game as his batting. This probably bought him more leniency with the bat in those early years. A bit like Watson who would have been out of the team ages ago except that both Clarke and the selectors really like having that extra bowling option there, so they don’t want to replace him with a pure, non-bowling batsman.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 1:29pm
                Gr8rWeStr said | August 21st 2013 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

                The last time Steve Waugh had a career avg < 25 was at the end of his 10th Test.
                The last time David Boon had a career avg < 25 was at the end of his 10th Test.
                The last time Ian Chappell had a career avg < 25 was at the end of his 12th Test.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 12:06pm
          Rob Barrow said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

          I am sorry but its a disgrace to see Khawaja not picked after only 3 tests, he top scored at Lords, got a howler in Manchester and so soon gets dropped. How are we going to build a world class batting lineup if we don’t show faith in our young batting stocks. Same goes for Bird, he didn’t do much wrong, he should have got more games as he reminds me so much of Mcgrath.

      • August 21st 2013 @ 11:34am
        Paul E said | August 21st 2013 @ 11:34am | ! Report

        Agree. The selectors need to be scrutinised more closely for their poor performance. The rotation policy was ridiculous: time for THEM to go. Sutherland too – he’s a pretender.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 12:29pm
          Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

          I understand that the selectors don’t attend most Shield games. Invers and Marsh are occasional appearances at the WACA, Bichel at the Gabba. Disgraceful.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 6:08am
      Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:08am | ! Report

      Tut tut David, reading my posts and not crediting me? 😉

      I did exactly the same exercise on a thread earlier! Amazing, isn’t it? Now I know what it was like for you watching us all those years.

      • Columnist

        August 21st 2013 @ 6:49am
        David Lord said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:49am | ! Report

        Don’t know what your drift is Chris, but I did those stats a week ago waiting until the fifth Test team was named.

        • August 21st 2013 @ 7:29am
          Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:29am | ! Report

          Just teasing, don’t worry. We were obviously thinking the same thoughts, and great minds and all that. It’s so astonishing I’m surprised it hasn’t been discussed more widely.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 6:10am
      Robert said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:10am | ! Report

      Agree that Starc has been messed around with in terms of consistent tests but i dont rate him in the top 7 Australian bowlers.As for Usman,i feel for him in a sense that before his first Ashes test,he spent 6 months as a tour guide around Australia then India then the early parts of England and not getting match practise.Oh for him to have the same selection luxuries afforded to Watson and Cowan

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • Roar Guru

      August 21st 2013 @ 6:11am
      Tim Holt said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:11am | ! Report

      Time to sack ‘Boof’…..oh oops, he was just put in, and promised change, only to uphold the status quo

      • August 21st 2013 @ 6:34am
        A Mans Not A Camel said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:34am | ! Report

        Sad comment Tim. I thought you of all people would be aware that he is not a sole selector (so has a say, but can be outvoted in team make-up), and that he had zero say in the touring party. Perhaps you meant it as a ‘jibe’ at all the sack Arthur’s comments a few months back? Either way, come the Aus leg, that is the time that Lehmann will get his choices in the squad. That will be the series to judge where he is going.

        • Roar Guru

          August 21st 2013 @ 6:42am
          Tim Holt said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:42am | ! Report

          yes, it was a flippant line, but behind it, what has ‘Boof’ changed, and granted to a large extent his hands have been tied by decisions made before him

          But, I believe he and Inverarity are the Selectors, and the decisions they have made have smacked of incompetence culminating in this 5th Test side with Haddin at 6, 3 all rounders, and only 4 specialist batsmen in a Team , whose weakness is batting

          • August 21st 2013 @ 6:47am
            Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:47am | ! Report

            Rod Marsh is selector on duty.

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2013 @ 6:53am
              Tim Holt said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:53am | ! Report

              as well as Lehmann and Inverarity, or solely?

              • August 21st 2013 @ 6:58am
                Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:58am | ! Report

                CA claims its Marsh and Boof. Invers on a tie break.

            • Roar Guru

              August 21st 2013 @ 7:00am
              Tim Holt said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:00am | ! Report

              So Boof has had a say in the farcical selections………………

              • August 21st 2013 @ 7:03am
                Hookin' YT said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:03am | ! Report

                He did wield the axe in the media.

              • August 21st 2013 @ 7:05am
                A Mans Not A Camel said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:05am | ! Report

                Boof had a say. But Marsh and Inv can over-rule. As I said, await summer and see what Boof does then, when he can be over-ruled still, but, has more choice on makeup of squad.

              • Roar Guru

                August 21st 2013 @ 7:09am
                Tim Holt said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:09am | ! Report

                yes, that has been a huge issue in Australian Cricket of late- all wield the axe in the Media

              • Roar Guru

                August 21st 2013 @ 7:09am
                Tim Holt said | August 21st 2013 @ 7:09am | ! Report

                And you are right Camel, his judgement will be the return Leg

              • August 21st 2013 @ 12:55pm
                Chris said | August 21st 2013 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

                Actually, when back in Australia, Boof’s only input on the team is who to make 12th man. When on tour, the selectors pick the touring party, but the final team is then picked by the selectors on duty, which include the coach. In Australia, the team for each test is picked by the selectors (generally only choosing 12 players unless someone has possible health concerns and they want cover) and so the only part of selection Boof would be involved in would be who carries the drinks.

    • August 21st 2013 @ 6:11am
      Jeremy said | August 21st 2013 @ 6:11am | ! Report

      They’ve lost the plot.

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