In a rare double, the Australian cricket selectors Trevor Hohns, Greg Chappell, Mark Waugh, and Darren Lehmann can be complimented and criticised in virtually the same breath.
Complimented for maintaining the status quo for today’s MCG Test, so under the pump batsman Nic Maddinson will play in the most sought after Test of the summer for the first time.
There’s no greater Christmas present for a baggy green.
So the same X1 that beat South Africa by seven wickets in Adelaide, and scraped home by 39 runs in a nail-biter over Pakistan at the Gabba will go for three in a row.
More credence to the old saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
But the selection panel can by criticised for the way they’ve treated Zimbabwean born Hilton Cartwright twice.
When Rod Marsh was chairman, Cartwright was a bolter in the Australian ODI squad to meet the Kiwis, but he was sent home before the series began to play Sheffield Shield.
After the Gabba, Cartwright became the 13th man for the MCG on standby for the pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Jackson Bird had bowled 157 overs between them.
Cartwright was there with his ‘teammates’ at the Melbourne Christmas party, then released.
It begs the question why did the selectors dangle an international carrot in front of a 16-game Sheffield Shield player, then twice dump him?
Selections can be brutal, but this was a double whammy that could have been avoided with some tact.
To be so close to national selection and twice denied isn’t the Australian way.
It also begs the question how was Hilton Cartwright selected in the first place.
In those 16 games he’s scored 890 runs at a very healthy 44.50, but taken only 15 wickets at 41.93 – the latter hardly worthy of an Australian cap to relieve pace.
This summer Cartwright has scored 330 runs at 36.66, but his four wickets have cost a whopping 74.95 apiece.
So Cartwright will return to the west to pick up the pieces of being so close yet so far, but among his peers he’s rated and will, no doubt, return.
The perfect answer to Maddinson’s No.6 batting berth would be an in-form and consistent Mitchell Marsh.
Don’t be surprised if the selectors return to Marsh if Maddinson fails again.
But Maddinson is a far better batsman than a duck, one, and four off 23 deliveries, and hopefully that talent will surface over the next five days.
There are three strange side issues to this MCG Test.
David Warner averages 47.58 from his 58 Tests, but that’s nearly cut in half at the MCG with just 218 runs from eight digs – averaging 24.22.
The explosive left-handed opener will look forward to correcting that stat.
Mitchell Starc has played 32 Tests since he debuted in December 2011 at the Gabba, but he’s never played a Test on the MCG.
He got close in 2012, but was rotated out of contention.
His replacement was Jackson Bird on debut.
It’s an even bigger day for Warner’s opening partner Matt Renshaw who has never played a game on the MCG, even for Queensland.
So there’s a lot happening, and a lot of history about to be made at the biggest cricket ground in Australia over the next five days.