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What to do about Australia’s side for the second Test in Bangladesh?

Stephen Vagg Roar Guru

By Stephen Vagg, Stephen Vagg is a Roar Guru

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    It’s never easy picking a Test side after a defeat, particularly a defeat that exposed a systemic problem, i.e. how to win in Asia and is right before another big series – the Ashes.

    Do you change a little? A lot? Do you make specific changes for that Test or to look to the future? Do you panic and sack everyone? Do you change nothing?

    Australia’s first Test loss to Bangladesh has thrown up all sorts of questions. Is it worth persisting with Matthew Wade? Do you bring in Peter Handscomb as keeper? Is it worth playing two pacemen? Is it worth persisting with Usman Khawaja in Asia? If changes are made what do they mean for the Ashes?

    Do you bring in Steve O’Keefe? Do you bring in Hilton Cartwright and play three spinners even though Cartwright has taken less than one wicket per game in first class cricket? Do you bowl Mitchell Swepson because he’s young and, hey, he could do anything?

    I do feel for the selectors. Mind you, a lot of this mess is their own doing – they gave Khawaja the boot in India despite strong recent form because he was “bad in Asia”, a tour they didn’t even take Cartwright along on. They tried the Marsh brothers again, and again they failed (with a few useful innings from Shaun it must be admitted).

    They picked Matt Wade as a keeper even though Wade’s mediocre form with the gloves and bat has been apparent to anyone who’s been following domestic cricket over the past few years. They over-looked O’Keefe because (they declared publicly) of his age and one or two poor performances but now seem to have changed their mind.

    Good selectors pick and stick – but they pick and stick the right players. The selectors who helped rebuild Australian cricket in the late 80s – the ones after Greg Chappell, it should be pointed out – knew this. They built the side around a core group of solid stars:Allan Border, of course, but also Geoff Marsh, David Boon, Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, and Merv Hughes.

    They also fast-tracked players back into the side who were obviously match winners (eg Bruce Reid, Tim May), andthey weren’t afraid to call time on a player’s career (eg Geoff Marsh, Dean Jones). They also weren’t afraid to drop them to give them a kick up the backside (eg Steve Waugh).

    They respected unsexy players with good first class records (eg Paul Reiffel) and they weren’t obsessed with all rounders (Australia only got really good when Steve Waugh decided he was a batsman who could bowl a bit).

    Absolutely they made mistakes (eg playing Steve Waugh as a bower in the 91 Windies tour) but Australian cricket never went into a free-fall because the selectors used good solid basic principles.

    Bad selectors chop and change like a panicked drowning rat. The best-known examples are the English cricket selectors of the 80s and 90s, who were probably the worst of all time. If they weren’t changing their minds over who would captain every other Test, they would be anointing new Ian Bothams every other summer, reacting to tabloid newspaper reports, or using what seemed to be a throwing-darts-at-player’s-names-on-a-board approach.

    Our current selection panel aren’t that bad but they haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory either. For every win – fast tracking Matthew Renshaw and Peter Handscomb – there’s been a stuff up – like the treatment of Khawaja, the mysterious never-ending enthusiasm for Mitchell Marsh, the recall of Wade, the omissions of O’Keefe and Jon Holland, the ignorance of Chadd Sayers, the bewildering one-off trials given to Callum Ferguson and Joe Mennie.

    Peter Handscomb of Australia looks at the wicket keepers gloves

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    To help the selectors I’ve prepared a list of some selection principles I believe in that they might find useful. Now I’m aware the selectors get a tonne of unsolicited advice and my cricketing career was well and truly outside the ambit of Darren Lehmann’s “former legends” he’s called upon for help, but I figure that any panel that picked Mitchell Marsh for 21 Tests – 21! –could do with some help.

    Here they are
    1) If you find a good opening combination, stick with it. It’s worth persevering with an opener who isn’t scoring heaps of runs if he’s helping the team get off to a good start. Ditching one half on an opening partner can have a big impact on the survivor: Mark Taylor struggled without Michael Slater and Geoff Marsh.

    Shane Watson was hurt badly by the absence of Simon Katich. Australia had a good combination with Warner and Burns, got bored with that, and threw it away. We’ve got a good team with Renshaw and Warner – can we stick with them, please?

    2) Be careful of chopping and changing batting line-ups
    Picking batsman on a horses for courses basis is foolish. Yes, some batsmen play spin and pace better than others. But it’s not worth stuffing them around. Batsmen are like racehorses – proud, skittish, fragile. Even the worst bowler gets at least six chances per over to take a wicket.

    A batsman’s career can end with one unplayable ball. Batsmen need support and clarity. If they don’t score runs, sure, drop them – but give them a go before your do. Giving Callum Ferguson and Moises Henriques just the one Test in the past year was pointless and dumb; dropping Khawaja in Sri Lanka and then in India was pointless, cruel and damaging.

    Recalling the statistically worst number six in Australian Test history (Mitchell Marsh) was insane.

    3) Make sure there are as many sensible players as silly ones in your side
    Prima donnas can win you matches but you can’t have too many of them or the team risks winding up like the Real Housewives of Jolimont Street. Too many Michael Clarkes and Shane Watsons (who for all their many fine qualities were players very much wrapped up in their own games) and you end up with catfights and homework-gate.

    You need some sensible, selfless dependable types in there was well – the sort of people who get given captaincies. George Bailey, Brad Haddin, Bruce Laird and Mike Hussey-type players.

    4) Players in the top six should be able to bat
    If they can bowl as well, awesome – but their main job should be able to bat. Darren Lehmann’s insistence that players who average 30 or less with the bat at first class level have a place in the top six at Test level has been perhaps the most fatal character flaw of his Test career.

    Maybe you can get way with it – just – if your number seven and eight average around 35, like England have done. But that’s a bloody big “if.”

    5) Wicketkeepers are the heart and soul of a side
    You chop and change them at your peril. It’s not getting rid of a dodgy batsman or pace bowler on a spinning wicket. You really should change your keeper once a decade. But….

    6) Wicketkeepers should be able to keep first, bat second
    The main job of a keeper is to keep. Take catches, stop byes, rally the fielders. Runs are a bonus. If they’re a bit rusty at first that’s fine, as long as they improve. If they don’t, then get rid of them. Dropped catches hurt teams more than the occasional failure with the bat.

    Wade isn’t improving. If anything, his nerves are making him get worse. Australia is blessed with many fine keepers at the moment. I’m not sure what the problem with Peter Nevill was, but if he’s still on the nose to the selectors for whatever reason then have a look at the other options out there like Alex Carey and Sam Harper. And let’s do it before the Ashes.

    7) Look after your spinners
    Australia has a rotten track record when it comes to treating spinners well. Lyon’s had a magnificent career – but never forget he’s been dropped for Xavier Doherty and Agar. Australian selectors have shown dogged determination to overlook the stellar first class form of spinners like Stu Macgill (overlooked for key tours in his prime), O’Keefe and Holland. The fact Lyon has survived and thrived is a miracle.

    Australian spinners need TLC when they’re not Shane Warne – which means, every single spinner who hasn’t been Shane Warne. If Australia is serious about being a real world number one they need not just a spinner who wins them matches, but back up spinners who could win them matches. Or else we’ll only ever win at home or in South Africa.

    nathan-lyon-cricket-australia-2017

    (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

    8) First class performances matter
    We have a really good domestic competition. It should be respected. Yes, often players can’t duplicate that form at international level; occasionally they even surpass it (eg Steve Smith). But it’s a pretty good guide.

    Our selectors are getting into a nasty habit of ignoring domestic form lately, and it’s going to hurt them.

    9) Pace isn’t everything
    Fast bowlers are great and the Australian way and all that stuff – but clever medium pacers can win you matches too. And consistent first class brilliances should be rewarded. Chadd Sayers and Jackson Bird should be playing more Tests.

    Pat Cummins is great and everything but since his comeback we’ve lost two Tests and only narrowly escaped with a draw for the third. Pace is not a magic panacea that fixes all your problems.

    10) Captains need good alternate captains on the field
    Someone once said – I think it was Ian Chappell – was the ideal Australian cricket team should hold at least five alternative captains as well as the captain.

    One of the dogged problems in the past decade of Australian cricket has been the lack of senior players who might have made good alternative captains, either through loss of form (eg Adam Voges, Marcus North, George Bailey, Brad Haddin), or silly selection choices (eg Simon Katich, the never-picked David Hussey).

    It’s something always worth keeping in mind, especially with a super green captain like Smith. Extra leadership experience is needed on the field, not in the back room.

    11) Off field people should be more accountable
    David Peever has never been sacked. James Sutherland has never been sacked. Pat Howard has never been sacked. Darren Lehmann has never been sacked as coach. Occasionally an off-field person will get the boot (eg Mickey Arthur) or be allowed to resign without too much sadness (eg Rod Marsh, Greg Blewett) but the people at the top of Australian cricket are fairly unaccountable.

    The next time a disaster hits Australian cricket, maybe we should think about sacking admin or support staff rather than the players? Maybe that’s what’s wrong.

    Lehmann’s been in charge of this side since 2013 and it’s still rebuilding? Still a young side? What’s he been doing for four years?

    Now I’ve got that off my chest, what does this mean for the second Test side?

    Well, I have to admit I’m fascinated by the idea of us going into the match with three spinners, O’Keefe, Agar and Lyon, and opening the bowling with Cartwright. It just has such a 1938 vibe about it, when Stan McCabe used to help take the shine off the ball for Bill O’Reilly.

    Ashton Agar vs Bangladesh

    (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad)

    But it’s a very same-y attack. Cartwright isn’t much of a bowler and I still have doubts about Agar’s ability at Test level. I also really, really like Jackson Bird and feel he should’ve played more Tests and would love to see him have a go.

    His accuracy could do well. In an ideal world, I’d pick O’Keefe over Agar, but after Agar’s first Test efforts that would be extremely unfair.

    Should Khawaja be dropped for Cartwright? I feel that would be unfair too. You can’t hide batsmen from whole continents. Khawaja’s been stuffed around – he deserves another go. If the wheels fall off and his start to the Australian summer goes badly, then by all means drop him and put Cartwright in instead. But drop him for consistent bad form not historical bad form.

    Replacing Khawaja with Henriques and Shaun Marsh didn’t work out so well did it? Cartwright’s weak little dibbly dobblers should not justify messing with Khawaja’s head.

    What about Handscomb for Wade? Wade’s been so unimpressive that I wouldn’t weep if he was dropped. But I worry about Handscomb coming in – either he’ll make a lot of mistakes (people forget that wicketkeeping is hard), or he’ll do really well and the selectors will be encouraged to use him, and wreck his career like they did with Wayne Phillips.

    I think Wade should be allowed to play his last Test in Bangladesh. Then Australia should look at blooding a new keeper during the Ashes – there are a lot of great options out there at the moment.

    When in doubt, I feel selectors should err on the side of conservatism. Wild and wacky selections occasionally throw up something memorable (eg Agar’s 98) but in the long run you’re better off showing faith in the players you’ve picked.

    So second Test team – I think just bring in Bird for the injured Hazlewood.

    But the selectors need to start having the courage to pick and stick the right people. At the moment they’re all over the shop.

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    The Crowd Says (46)

    • September 3rd 2017 @ 7:23am
      Tupiza said | September 3rd 2017 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      How Jon Holland didn’t get on this tour, I’ll never know. The best performed spinner over several seasons – this Aus team under Lehmann just comes across as one big boys club.

      You’re right. Lehmann has been there for 4 years and the side has never looked settled, and doesn’t look like it will be in the near future.

      • September 3rd 2017 @ 9:29am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        The three best spinners in Australia are clearly O’Keefe, Holland and Lyon. I understand the desire to develop new blood like Agar and Swepson but maybe they’d be better of learning their trade on Australia A tours, or playing grade cricket.

        Lehmann hasn’t just been a coach for the past four years he’s been a selector too. This team has his finger prints all over it. At the end of the day, how much better than Mickey Arthur has he been?

        • Roar Rookie

          September 3rd 2017 @ 12:05pm
          Lancey5times said | September 3rd 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

          So Agar and Swepson shouldn’t be playing at this level on the subcontinent until they have learnt how to perform through less important matches yet Khawaja is allowed to use the Bangladesh test matches as a way of developing into an effective subcontinent batsman?

          This screams double standard. You are saying we should pick the best bowlers with the view to getting wickets but batsman are allowed to fail and keep getting picked because they scored runs against the West Indies and South Africa etc

          I know the saying ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it too’ makes no sense because why else would one aquire a cake, but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

          • Columnist

            September 3rd 2017 @ 4:26pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | September 3rd 2017 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

            I agree Holland had earned his chance to tour Bangladesh with fantastic Shield performances the past two years.

            But the reality is Agar had a very good game at Dhaka (one of only 4 Aussies who played well) so he’s justified his selection so far.

            Holland, it must be said, gave a very poor account of himself last year in Sri Lanka – his bowling was all over the shop, he averaged 55 with the ball across his two Tests, and looked like a complete bunny with the bat, making just 1 run from 4 innings.

            Now, two Tests is a very small sample size to judge a player, but I imagine his performances left a bad impression with the selectors.

            • September 3rd 2017 @ 5:31pm
              Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

              Wasn’t Holland flown out as a last minute replacement for O’Keefe in Sri Lanka? Feels a little unfair that he’s judged just on that. And he certainly couldn’t have done more than he did last summer to earn another chance.

              I get the feeling he was overlooked by a combination of his age, erratic batting and the fact he’s not a leg spinner.

              • September 3rd 2017 @ 5:46pm
                Don Freo said | September 3rd 2017 @ 5:46pm | ! Report

                Yet you do the same with Agar. This article screams contradiction. Your tips to selectors are as confused as you claim the selectors to be…whichever of “them” have been there since 1980. You seem to infer it has been the same group.

                Anyone claiming the retention of Burns or SOK is guilty of playing favourites themselves.

                I did have to giggle, however, at the mention of Tim May as a match winner.

              • Columnist

                September 3rd 2017 @ 7:45pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 3rd 2017 @ 7:45pm | ! Report

                Stephen it is a little unfair, but this is how Test selections often pan out, players have to grab their chances or they might not get another one.

                And I think you’re right that Holland’s batting probably counted against him as the selectors would have been wary of having 3 absolute bunnies in the tail in Holland, Hazlewood and Lyon.

                We saw at Dhaka that it was only the tail which kept Australian in that Test and that’s why selectors of all countries worldwide do take into account the collective batting ability of their tail.

              • Roar Guru

                September 3rd 2017 @ 8:06pm
                Rellum said | September 3rd 2017 @ 8:06pm | ! Report

                His fitness and fielding might play into it as well.

    • September 3rd 2017 @ 7:30am
      dangertroy said | September 3rd 2017 @ 7:30am | ! Report

      Man, dispense with the myth that Khawaja has been hard done by. You’re advocating not holding his past I against him, but your quite happy to use it as justification for dropping Mitch marsh.
      The only mis-step the selectors have had with him is picking him for the first test. Did you see his dismissals? He looks terrible at the moment and the idea that another test against Bangladesh will give him confidence is laughable. What if he fails again? How does that give him confidence leading into the ashes? If you want to give him confidence, tell him this won’t be held against him and send him home to get himself right before the tests. Slaughtering a few state attacks in the one day cup will do him the world of good.

      • September 3rd 2017 @ 8:15am
        Crispy said | September 3rd 2017 @ 8:15am | ! Report

        I’m pretty sure he was referring to the Indian series where UTK had been in terrific form during the summer but was then dropped without playing a test in India. Now he’s been picked when he hasn’t played any cricket for 6 months.

        • Roar Rookie

          September 3rd 2017 @ 8:37am
          Lancey5times said | September 3rd 2017 @ 8:37am | ! Report

          Surely his effort in the first test and what we saw in Sri Lanka is evidence that the selectors got it right in India by not playing him. It is amazing how evryone acknowledges that it was wrong to persist with Mitch Marsh when he wasn’t performing but to do the same with Khawaja would be unfair.

          And yes it should be horses for courses for batsman in extreme cases like this (lets face it, Usman is a shadow of himself in these conditions and less likely than Nathan Lyon of reaching double figures)

          Aren’t we trying to win over there or losing everything is ok as long as we win the Ashes at home?

          • September 3rd 2017 @ 9:52am
            Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 9:52am | ! Report

            And there is a world of difference between Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Marsh. Khawaja averages 43 at first class level and 45 in tests. He has consistently averaged around 40 at first class level. Mitchell Marsh averages 28 at first class level and 21 in tests. I don’t think Mitchell Marsh’s first class average has ever spent much time above 30 – and I don’t know if many if any players who consistently averaged 30 at first class level then exceeded at test level.

            In Mitchell Marsh’s 21 test career he made a significant contribution to an Australian victory I think twice, in that dead rubber against New Zealand, the first day night game, and against the West Indies in the 2nd test. He is statistically speaking the worst number six batsman Australia has ever had.

            Khawaja made significant contributions to Australia’s victories in the first and second test against Pakistan, the 3rd test against South Africa, (he top scored in the 2nd innings of the first two tests), the 1st test against New Zealand in New Zealand ant at home, the second test against the West Indies, the 2nd test against South Africa in South Africa in 2011.

            If the selectors genuinely think Khawaja is only capable of scoring runs in Australia, they should ditch him altogether and play Cartwright and see how he goes. Or else they should show him some support.

            • Roar Rookie

              September 3rd 2017 @ 11:06am
              Lancey5times said | September 3rd 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

              I agree completely on how poor Marsh was but highlighting Marsh’s failures doesn’t make Khawaja any more likely to scores runs. It was correct not to play him in India and picking him for the second test would be a risk. His record on completely different surfaces has no bearing on this. Nor should it.

              Cartwright is untried yes but Khawaja’s poor output negates the risk of picking him. Usman is not hard done by. A pair of 1’s and his Sri Lankan performance is not good enough.

              • September 3rd 2017 @ 1:49pm
                Ross said | September 3rd 2017 @ 1:49pm | ! Report

                There you go again Lancy on khawaja case, he had one run out and you were on his case, cut the champion batman some slack mate

              • Roar Rookie

                September 4th 2017 @ 7:28am
                Lancey5times said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:28am | ! Report

                My apology coming any time soon?

            • September 3rd 2017 @ 5:47pm
              Don Freo said | September 3rd 2017 @ 5:47pm | ! Report

              How about Ussie’s bowling? Compare those figures too.

      • September 3rd 2017 @ 9:36am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

        I was referring to India – and also now. Khawaja had a form wobble in Sri Lanka, was given the boot for that giant against spin, Henriques. He got back in the side, played extremely well… then got given the boot for that other giant against spin, Shaun Marsh. If he’s going to be a proper long term batsman for Australia he needs to be able to bat in all conditions – and also he needs to be rewarded for good form. We can’t go to him “right you’re obviously bad in Asia but that’s okay you can play in Australia” – has that sort of approach ever worked?

        Warner had a terrible record “in Asia” but came good in the last test. Khawaja has the potential to do this too.

        I think our selection policy has messed with his head. They should have given him at least two tests in India – then if he’d failed they could have dropped him fairly. I don’t think batting selection on the basis of horses for courses has ever worked. They are overcomplicating things to a disastrous degree.

        • September 3rd 2017 @ 12:47pm
          dangertroy said | September 3rd 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

          I can see your point about it being a bit unfair to miss out in India after the summer he had, but we were not watching him in training over there where the selectors obviously saw that he wasn’t coping with the conditions. His previous 4 matches in Sri Lanka were obviously also taken into account. The issues is that he doesn’t play spin very well, and no amount of runs on Australian pitches will give you enough credit if you have a known weakness.

          Lets not forget that he hasn’t covered himself in glory in England either. In fact he’s made the bulk of his runs in Australia or New Zealand. He averages 19.25 form 9 matches outside those 2 countries. Perhaps you’re right he shouldn’t be thought of as a horses for courses selection at home – perhaps his record outside Australia should count against his selection here. Please note I wasn’t advocating selecting him for the Ashes, just that it would be better for his confidence to be sent home than put through the wringer again. However, if the selection policy is going to mess with your head, then perhaps you’re not cut out for test cricket.

          In regards to Warner, I do feel a bit similar about him, however he atleast looks like making runs in foreign conditions – he just keeps finding ways to get out. His hundred in the 4th innings is great, but he needs to be a lot more consistent to silence the critics.

          • September 3rd 2017 @ 1:04pm
            Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 1:04pm | ! Report

            I know he’s struggled against spin. I just don’t know of a single top rank test batsman who was only picked to play on certain wickets. Bob Simpson loathed playing fast bowling but he learned. Steve Waugh had a weakness against fast bowling but he learned. Doug Walters had consistent bad form in England – eventually they dropped him from the side.

            If the selectors can’t see him making a go of it everywhere I think they should give his spot to someone else.

            PS appreciate your conscientious and polite response even though we disagree 🙂

            • September 3rd 2017 @ 1:50pm
              Ross said | September 3rd 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

              Khawaja would be a great player in Asia if like Shaun marsh he can get 4 tests in a row there but wait he needs to change his last name to marsh or Anderson to be able to do that

              • September 3rd 2017 @ 5:32pm
                Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 5:32pm | ! Report

                Anderson?

              • September 4th 2017 @ 7:24am
                Don Freo said | September 4th 2017 @ 7:24am | ! Report

                It’s not often that Shaun got 4 tests in a row. Maybe one series ever.

            • September 3rd 2017 @ 1:58pm
              dangertroy said | September 3rd 2017 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

              Thanks Stephen, Isn’t it nice when we can disagree in a civilised manner?

              I think we’re in partial agreement anyway – if he can’t make a go of it everywhere the selectors probably should be looking elsewhere. It’s true that the mark of a true great was that they were consistent no matter where they played – if you can’t do that, then you’re probably not going to be in the team long term.

              This summer will be make or break for him. regardless of where he plays in the second test or not, I suspect he will have a good few shield rounds and get picked for the Gabba. But I think that if he doesn’t have a blockbuster, he’ll be out of the side, likely for good. If he succeeds against England, then he’ll have a chance to tour South Africa and hopefully build some credit for future Asian tours.

    • September 3rd 2017 @ 9:26am
      John Erichsen said | September 3rd 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      Firstly, let me say that I am a big Khawaja fan and thought he has been hard done by more than by the selectors. However, not being selected for the Indian series was not one of those times. In 5 tests on the subcontinent, Khawaja averages 14 and looks less like making a score now than when last in Sri Lanka. Yes, his confidence may have taken a hit by being overlooked for India, but if he is that fragile, test cricket isn’t for him. Gettign dropped should make a player hungrier to improve so that success must come. Look at Matt Hayden for example. Michael Clarker, even. Yes, Khawaja was coming off a great summer in Australia and may have carried that form to India. He was in the squad remember as was Shaun Marsh, on the back of previous test success in the subcontinent. Clearly, Khawaja didn’t do enough in the lead-up to get the nod. Too many outdoor setting chairs in the wrong places, if i recall. It would have been great to see Khawaja selected in India, make a bucket load of runs and dispel those ‘cant play on turning pitches’ theories, but he wasn’t because he didn’t do enough when he had the chance. This week he had another chance when selected in Bangladesh and did nothing but give selectors strong evidence to never consider him for a subcontinental test ever again. At some point, Khawaja and those of us who rate him highly, have to face the reality that he could have done much more to make dropping him from some sides impossible. He had good success against Pakistan earlier this year, but on home pitches and even against a world class spinner, those runs don’t remove the doubts.

      • September 3rd 2017 @ 9:57am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

        Let’s look at Khawaja’s replacements though – in Sri Lanka, Henriques failed twice. In India, Shaun Marsh made 16, 0, 66, 9, 2, 53, 4 and 1. That is not a successful tour. He helped Australia save the third test, sure – and helped set up victory in the second test. He contributed to our defeat by failures in the second and fourth test.

        Horses for courses batting selection is really selectors being too clever by half. Give him another test, if he fails then he’s dropped for Cartwright.

        • September 3rd 2017 @ 12:55pm
          dangertroy said | September 3rd 2017 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

          It’s pretty easy to be an armchair selector. The player they leave in the dressing room always looks like a better pick if someone fails.
          There is no way to know what Khawaja would have done in India. Marsh was coming off a century in Sri Lanka. He didn’t have a superb 1st test, but australia did win that match, so there was no pressure to drop him. He top scored in the first innings of the second test and helped us salvage a draw in the third. He had a shocker in the 4th test, so the selectors have dropped him.

          Marsh also made a century in the tour match, Khawaja didn’t bat in that match If Khawaja was batting the house down in during training, then you would have thought that he at least warranted a chance in the tour match.

          • September 3rd 2017 @ 1:13pm
            Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 1:13pm | ! Report

            I guess I feel it’s more fair that if you’re the established batsman, you deserve the chance to prove/redeem yourself. Khawaja was the stablished batsman – I felt it would have been fair if he got two tests in India, then Shaun Marsh as next cab off the rank. And while I feel O’Keefe should have played over Agar in the first test in Bangladesh (I wouldn’t have taken Agar at all), I think Agar had a good game and deserves to be kept on in the second test and it would be unfair to drop him for O’Keefe.

            I admit I’ve become super wary of tour matches every since Mitchell Marsh would routinely get good scores in them – and then fail to duplicate that form in tests.

            Absolutely it is easier to be an armchair selector – that’s part of the fun! I do get the impression there is a split within the selection panel – it feels like there’s a lot of inconsistency. One off trials given to Mennie and Ferguson for example feel like they were trying to make someone on the panel happy.

            I also feel that selection panels maybe could look at history more – Australia has never had an extended period of success where the number six averaged 30 runs with the bat. Even after all these years, that insistence that somehow Mitchell Marsh (sorry to keep bringing him up, but 21 tests) would turn into something he so patently wasn’t amazes me.

            • September 3rd 2017 @ 1:50pm
              dangertroy said | September 3rd 2017 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

              I think your definitely on the right track with the selection panel split. To be fair to the current selection panel, Mennie and Ferguson were the picked by the previous panel, the head of which stepped down after that match.

              I was a critic of M. Marsh in the top 6 for most of that period of time. Previous to the Mitch Marsh selection was a period where Michael Hussey was batting at 6 – that’s a pretty notable step down in batting quality. We also had Brad Haddin still keeping with a decent average at 7. The combination of Marsh and Nevill was too big of a drop for us to manage – it was the loss of roughly 30 runs an innings in average between the two of them.

              I understand why they persisted with Marsh for a while – he does have ability, but I don’t think he’s a top 6 batsman. If he concentrated on his bowling, he would make a great 3rd seamer ala Chris Woakes. But Australia have too many bowlers ahead of him for him to get a look in as a bowler, so the selectors tried to convert him into a batting allrounder. Alternatively, if we had a keeper that could bat at 6, Marsh would make a good number 7. Right now, we don’t have that keeper, and Cummins looks more than able with the willow if he could keep fit, as do Starc and Pattinson.

            • September 3rd 2017 @ 1:52pm
              Ross said | September 3rd 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

              I am agreeing with Stephen on this, you guys jump on khawaja when he always gets dropped after 1 bad test in Asia, the guy is a world class batsman but in all honesty we as a nation are still not comfortable having a migrant fill the all important number 3 spot, i would go by Mike Hussey who is supporting khawaja saying we must give class players like him time and stop chopping and changing

              • September 3rd 2017 @ 2:46pm
                dangertroy said | September 3rd 2017 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                Ross, my comments on Khawaja have nothing to do with where he was born, but more to with his performance. The idea that anyone in Australia would be questioning his place in the side because he wasn’t born in Australia is abhorrent to me. He’s an Australian, pure and simple.
                He’s definitely got the talent to be a world class batsman, but currently not the record outside of Australia to back that up.

              • September 3rd 2017 @ 4:05pm
                Basil said | September 3rd 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

                Chadd Sayers continually gets overlooked despite performance and he’s of Anglo-Saxon origin. Is that discrimination?

              • September 3rd 2017 @ 4:02pm
                Basil said | September 3rd 2017 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

                Enough with the accusations of racism! The point is, is that Usman is rubbish in Asian conditions.

              • September 3rd 2017 @ 4:11pm
                Nudge said | September 3rd 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

                Exactly Basil, over your racism card the last week Ross. I rate Khawaja extremely highly outside of Asia, in fact he’s third batsman picked for the ashes. But I have no problems rating him rubbish in Asia, and should never tour there again unless he scores runs tomorrow. Let’s hope he can pull something out of the hat second test.

              • September 3rd 2017 @ 5:40pm
                Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 5:40pm | ! Report

                Im not sure it’s because Khawaja is a migrant – the selectors seem to be colour blind when it comes to overlooking people eg Holland, Sayers, O’Keefe…

        • September 4th 2017 @ 8:24pm
          John Erichsen said | September 4th 2017 @ 8:24pm | ! Report

          Given how illogical our selectors have been in the past few years with some of their selections, i find it hard to criticise them when they make a choice they has some logical basis to it, as was the case with Shaun marsh for the Indian tour. Usman might have felt hard done by and may feel so again now that he has, once more , been dropped, but he could always score some runs in the subcontinent and make the case for dropping him weaker. He didn’t then and he hasn’t now. That’s not the selectors fault. Nor is it their fault if Cartwright doesn’t make a stack of runs. Its a terrible shame that Khawaja hasn’t delivered over there as he is one of the classiest players in Australian cricket. on a side note,I am sure he and Callum Ferguson could have a chat about who has been ripped off the most??

          • September 6th 2017 @ 4:38pm
            Stephen Vagg said | September 6th 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

            Don’t forget he also had to make way for Mitchell Marsh because of Marsh’s ability with the ball – and Smith barely bowled him. Then he had to make way for Glenn Maxwell because Maxwell can bowl – and Smith barely bowled Maxwell. Now he’s had to make way for Cartwright because Cartwright can bowl – and Smith has barely bowled him.

    • September 3rd 2017 @ 9:26am
      nickbrisbane said | September 3rd 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      Pity the selectors ignored Chris Hartley until he retired

      • September 3rd 2017 @ 9:58am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        He was a great keeper great fighter. I don’t know why he never seemed in favour at all with the national selectors. Queensland keepers have a very good track record (eg Ian Healy, Don Tallon, Wally Grout) – mind you I’m a Queenslander so I’m biased.

        I think Neville was very harshly dealt with but maybe Smith likes having Wade around?

    • September 3rd 2017 @ 9:29am
      Liam said | September 3rd 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      On one hand, I can completely understand the issues here; we’ve an absolutely shocking record on the subcontinent, and on the face of it it seems like the players themselves lack the application or the will to improve their performances.

      On the other, come on. All of this angsting over what is a single defeat – by twenty runs – when absolutely everything went right for Bangladesh and we’d not played any cricket in six months. I understand that the media has to overreact to things, but this is absurd. If we lose the second test, that’s when there’s an actual issue, but for me all this does is confirm several things; one, Usman Khwaja struggles on the subcontinent have gotten in his head, and two, match practice trumps anything off-field, even at international level. Smith went out dumb both knocks, due to a lack of match practice; hopefully he’s better for the run.

      • September 3rd 2017 @ 10:09am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 3rd 2017 @ 10:09am | ! Report

        I think it’s more that Australia was in such a strong position to win the game at several points and choked so badly. So many of our batsmen got starts and couldn’t go on with them.

        An aside… I’ve always been intrigued by what might’ve happened if Australia had toured Bangladesh in 2015… off the back of their terrible Ashes series. Remember the squad:

        Steve Smith (c)
        Adam Voges (vc)
        Cameron Bancroft
        Joe Burns
        Pat Cummins (became injured)
        Andrew Fekete
        Usman Khawaja
        Nathan Lyon
        Mitchell Marsh
        Shaun Marsh
        Glenn Maxwell
        Peter Nevill
        Stephen O’Keefe
        Peter Siddle
        Mitchell Starc
        James Faulkner

        Cameron Bancroft was set to be Australia’s opener because of Warner’s injury. The team was super inexperienced. Ryan Harris, Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin had all just retired.

        I think the line up would have been (1) Burns (2) Bancroft (3) Smith (4) Voges (5) Shaun Marsh (6) M Marsh (7) Neville (8) Starc (9) O’Keefe (10) Siddle (11) Lyon

        Maybe Bancroft would’ve established himself. Maybe Faulkner might’ve gotten a go. What the hell happened to Fekete? I think we could’ve lost that series.

        A great “what if”…

    • September 3rd 2017 @ 5:44pm
      Davros said | September 3rd 2017 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

      You talk about “unsexy ” players in the past like Paul Reifel …but almost in the same breath u bag out a selection like Joe Mennie ..who lets face it got half a test to push his case because the batsman couldnt bat ! He didnt even get the second innings to bowl !
      Him and ferg were dropped because Sutherland s..t his gear …when a reporter asked if HIS job was on the line after Tassie rout …so he decided to sack R Marsh instead .

      Back to Mennie who was selected on his solid leading wicket taker form for the shield season and when they gave him a go in the south africa A series …he took 2x five fas ..in both games to defeat the south africans and scored a 50 not out batting against Rabada etc

      They sent him to one day series where he makes his oz debut at the bullring against dekock and devilliers and amla etc …it didnt go well …but next game he bounces back taking amla and dekok stumps out of the ground to post best figures of any bowler for the tour !

      imho opinion he got a real rotten deal and was in the wrong place at the right time !

      Now all the know it alls are pushing another leading shield wicket taker in sayers …and the selectors are nongs because they wont give him a go …so which is it ?

      What the selectors know is that sayers allways gets the new ball with the wind in south oz set up …yes thats right the slowest pace bowler in shield cricket gets the new rock …and he bowls about 132 k at his best in his opening spell .

      Hes hardly going to get the new rock in the ozzie set up …wait tilll you see him trundling hard with the old ball into the wind on a flat deck …he will, be lucky to break 125 k …dont get me wrong he is a good bowler when he has things in his favour …but according to your article Mennie should never have got a go …but sayers should ? .

      and thats just one of the inconsistencies that stood out to me .

      • September 4th 2017 @ 4:42am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 4th 2017 @ 4:42am | ! Report

        I bagged the fact Mennie and Ferguson only got given one test.

        I personally don’t think either man should have been selected, but feel they should have gotten at least two tests.

        I would’ve picked Bird over Mennie.

        I’m a fan of Sayers through sheer results. He just takes so many wickets I feel he should get rewarded for that, if only via some tour selections.

        • September 4th 2017 @ 12:09pm
          Davros said | September 4th 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

          again ill draw your attention to Sayers getting the new ball …if he started as change bowler into the wind …i doubt his stats would stack up against Mennie ( he aint getting the new rock in the oz set up ..one wouldnt think ?) …
          fair enough call about Bird …i see bird any mennie as fairly equal …Bird just shades mennie for pace …but when they gave Mennie a go in the A set up against quality South Africa opposition not only did he take 2 5 fas he scored 50 no out ..hence marsh mentioning his batting (didnt he get crucified for that ? )…and i think he second top scored in his first and only test behind steve smith . Also the test where he was first selected before Siddle came back too early and busted himself was the Wacca …Mennie has a very very imposing WACA record..so i understood the sel;ection …because i actually go and watch a lot of shield cricket and i watched the south africa a series as well …unlike most of the opinionated on here !

          Youll probably get your wish cause so many are on the Sayers bandwagon …if conditions suit he may go well …maybe we shall see ?

          • September 4th 2017 @ 6:39pm
            Stephen Vagg said | September 4th 2017 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

            Good on your for supporting Shield and A games. I used to love going to them until I got too time poor with a toddler, but I still follow the games eagerly.

            With the determination the selectors have to not play Bird I can’t see Sayers or Mennie getting a game anytime soon! 🙂

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