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Are the selectors gaslighting Usman Khawaja?

Stephen Vagg Roar Guru

By Stephen Vagg, Stephen Vagg is a Roar Guru

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    Another Test, another omission for Usman ‘bad in Asia’ Khawaja. What does this mean for Ussie’s career?

    Is he banished forever until he learns to bowl medium pace? Will he be picked for the Ashes? If he is and does well, will he ever get another overseas tour? Is he banned from Asia forever? Or is he simply being gaslit by the selectors for their own amusement?

    ‘Gaslighting’ is a form of manipulation that seeks to make someone doubt their own sanity. The term has its origins in a 1938 play (your grandma probably loves the 1944 Ingrid Bergman film version) and has come back into vogue recently, especially in political circles.

    Most of us know someone who is being gaslit, or who’s accused of being a gaslighter: an abusive partner, a dodgy nurse at an old person’s home, a psychopathic co-worker. In trying to make sense of how the selectors have treated Usman Khawaja, I’ve begun to wonder: are the selectors simply trying to drive him insane?

    I don’t think this was the case initially. Act one of Khawaja’s Test career had a trajectory similar to many champion players – he got thrown in the deep end (2010-11), got dropped after six Tests, got back in the team (2013), got dropped again after three Tests.

    He changed states, was caught up in a scandal (homeworkgate) and was publicly berated for being lazy – all very frustrating to his fans, but a lot of batsmen who go on to become legends have similar erratic international beginnings e.g. Dave Warner, Ricky Ponting, Steve Smith.

    The 2015-16 summer was meant to be the second act of his career – when Khawaja finally established himself as an integral member of the batting order for the next few years (followed by act three, where everyone just talks about when he’s going to be dropped all the time). But after a productive home summer and New Zealand tour, the wheels fell off.

    Steve Smith Usman Khawaja

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    On the 2016 tour of Sri Lanka, Khawaja batted poorly in the first two Tests – along with all the Australian batsmen other than Smith. He was dropped for the third game in favour of Moises ‘good against spin’ Henriques, who failed.

    The selectors showed they didn’t hold a grudge by picking him in the ODI side. Then he was dropped from that too.

    Khawaja was back in the Test side over the 2016-17 Australia summer. He survived the big cull after our fifth loss in a row and played extremely well all season, contributing some match-winning innings. “Okay,” figured Khawaja fans. “Maybe last season was part of act one – maybe act two starts now.”

    In January 2017 Australia rested Khawaja from the Chappell-Hadlee ODI series in New Zealand so he could prepare in Dubai for the 2017 India tour. On this tour, Khwaja was overlooked for the sole tour game prior to the Tests in favour of the Marsh brothers.

    “We see Usman as one of our best five or six batsmen,” head selector Trevor Hohns said at the time.

    “He’s included because of that. We would expect Usman to do everything he possibly can to improve his play. He wasn’t great in Sri Lanka – and once again, he knows that and understands that. We want to see him improve his play in those conditions against spin bowling. He’s one of our best batsmen, so there’s no reason why he can’t do the job.”

    Both Marshes scored runs in that tour game and were considered a lock in the first Test for some reason. Lehmann publicly wondered whether Khawaja might partner Warner as opener, despite Matt Renshaw being in strong form.

    In the event Renshaw kept his spot, and Khawaja was dropped for Shaun Marsh, who was “good in Asia” (he’d never played first class cricket in India before the tour) and Mitchell Marsh, who averages 30 with the bat at first class level, but who “batted well on the Sri Lanka tour” (he averaged 27) and could bowl.

    Shaun Marsh reacts with brother Mitchell

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Both Marshes failed in the first Test – Mitchell’s bowling was barely used – but Australia won so they kept their spots for the second Test, where Shaun did half-well and Mitchell failed again, then was injured.

    He was replaced in the side for the third Test not by Khawaja but by Glenn Maxwell – mostly because of Maxwell’s ability to bowl spin. This was an ability so highly thought of by Smith that the captain used Maxwell for a grand total of four overs as India put on 603.

    However Maxwell did score a century so he kept his spot for the fourth Test – which Australia lost due to dodgy batting.

    Khawaja was then overlooked for the 2017 ODI Championship Trophy. He was to captain an Australian A team to tour South Africa, which never happened because of the player strike, but was picked on the two-test tour of Bangladesh.

    Australia Test player Glenn Maxwell raises his bat

    Australia’s Glenn Maxwell (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

    The Marsh brothers had been overlooked for this tour, so Khawaja was back in the side at three for the first Test. “I think Usman’s going to be a really big player for us this summer,” said Steven Smith “He’s done incredibly well in Australia over the last couple of years.”

    Usman failed twice in that game, which Australia lost, mostly due to dodgy batting. He was dropped for the second Test in favour of Hilton Cartwright whose ‘medium’ pace bowling gave Smith an extra bowling option in a team with only one specialist paceman.

    Cartwright wound up bowling five overs in the whole game and only scored 18 with the bat. Maxwell didn’t cover himself in glory either and Darren Lehmann is now talking of Khawaja coming back into the side for the Ashes.

    The selectors clearly have some time for Khawaja – at least he’s got to play Test cricket which is more than can be said for, say, David Hussey and Michael Klinger. And he’s had more chances than, say, Joe Burns, George Bailey, or Ed Cowan.

    But it’s also clear they don’t believe in him as much as Warner (who failed a lot in Asia before he came good), or Lyon (who failed a lot in Asia before he came good), or Shane Watson (who failed a lot in Asia before he came good, then went back to failing), or Mitchell Marsh (who failed a lot everywhere and has never really come good).

    He was replaced in various Tests by Shaun Marsh, Moises Henriques, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Hilton Cartwright, none of whom locked down their spots so the selectors have to keep going back to Khawaja.

    For the selectors, it seems Khawaja’s like that girlfriend who they don’t want to marry, not really, so they never get serious about her – but they do like her, and miss her when she’s not around, and keep sleeping with her, and send her flowers every once in a while. And because this is international cricket, Khawaja can’t cut and run – he can’t go off and play for another country.

    So he sucks it up – the booty calls, the fake protestations of love, the mistreatment. He’s stuck in an abusive relationship.

    How is this treatment meant to make him better? Make Australian batting better? Has there ever been a consistently successful Australian side where one of their key batsman was excused from playing in certain continents?

    Is there a top level batsman in the world who would look back on their career and go, “you know what made me a champion? Being hidden from pitches that turned.” Have they not been able to draw a correlation between Australia’s batting to constantly collapse and the fact they keep stuffing around the batsmen who aren’t Smith or Warner?

    If the selectors were serious about Khawaja being an integral member of the Australian side, they would’ve given him a third Test to succeed in Sri Lanka, like they did with fellow failures Warner, Voges and Mitchell Marsh in that series, and at least two tests to succeed in India, like they did with the Marsh brothers, Renshaw, Warner and Handscomb, and a second Test in Bangladesh, like they did with Renshaw.

    They wouldn’t have replaced him with batsmen who are ‘good against spin’ who actually fail against spin, or batsmen who are mainly picked because they can always bowl whose bowling isn’t actually used by the captain.

    Steve Smith Usman Khawaja

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    In fairness, Khawaja isn’t the only Australian player who gets the hot and cold treatment. Others include Steve O’Keefe, who was treated with disdain, then reluctant acceptance, then worship, then disdain, then so much admiration he’s flown into the side mid-series… and that’s just this year.

    Then there’s Glenn Maxwell (“we love him!” “he’s an idiot!” “he’s got X factor!” “his own teammates have fined him!”) and Jackson Bird (who keeps getting selected on tours but who the selectors were so determined not to pick in the actual Test side they flew out a replacement player mid-series in India, and played three spinners in Bangladesh). But with Khawaja they’ve brought it to an art form because his humiliation has been so public and constant.

    The selectors aren’t serious about Khawaja – but they keep saying they are. It may be unintentional, it may come from a good place. But it’s gaslighting. And we’ll be lucky if it doesn’t actually drive Khawaja mad.

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    The Crowd Says (131)

    • September 12th 2017 @ 5:33am
      twodogs said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:33am | ! Report

      After all that Stephen, why did you just not say-
      ‘The selectors are not real good selectors, the the coach is not a real good coach’ and the captain is not a real good captain??

      • September 12th 2017 @ 9:36am
        Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

        Lehman is a good coach and smith a good captain, Trevor hohns was selector on duty every time khawaja got dropped in Asia and he also did the same in the one day series in South Africa when khawaja sat on the sidelines for 5 games even when we had injuries. For some reason he always blames khawaja and if Shaun marsh can get 4 games in a row in India then khawaja can pershaps get a full series in Asia too. Also Stephen I love your humour on the girlfriend you don’t want to marry but keep her around, this is exactly what this is

      • September 12th 2017 @ 9:44am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Well… I like to vary it up a bit 🙂

        My main beef with the selectors is they keep chopping and changing – they don’t have the courage to pick a team (of specialists please) and stick with it. They’re always tinkering.

        The coach should go. He’s had long enough and the team doesn’t improve.

        Smith might improve. I just wish he’d bowl his part timers more.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 10:31am
          Stephen said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:31am | ! Report

          Guys here are boof’s comments on khawaja, “I would think Usman would play the first test match, although I’m only one of four selectors, Obviously for the make-up of the side we changed it here, but we think he’s a pretty special player and obviously he’s got a really good record in Australia. Lehman has always backed khawaja so he is not to blame for this gaslighting, i also think its Hohns as well and personally i think its unbelievable we treat a class act like him so badly over such a long time. I mean how is he not in the ODI squad right now, he is one of the best opening batsman in the 50 over format full stop.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 11:08am
            Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:08am | ! Report

            Has Lehmann always backed Khawaja though? We don’t know what goes on behind closed doors It’s a guessing game.

            • September 12th 2017 @ 1:22pm
              Stephen said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

              I remember when Arthur was coach Khawaja was lucky even to get a game, it was the worst aspect of his coaching, and then when boof came on board khawaja suddenly got a full series against NZ and even said so that the felt the backing of the coach for the first time so i am sure its not boof mate

              • September 12th 2017 @ 6:40pm
                Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 6:40pm | ! Report

                You’re probably right. I remember Arthur scolding Khawaja’s work ethic during homework gate. We just don’t know for sure.

                Someone’s got it in for him, though…

              • September 12th 2017 @ 11:54pm
                Matth said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:54pm | ! Report

                Khawaja moved to QLD and played under Lehman, so I doubt Boof has anything in particular against him.

    • Columnist

      September 12th 2017 @ 7:00am
      Ronan O'Connell said | September 12th 2017 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      Khawaja has played in four series in which the pitches favoured spin – SL 2011, England 2013, SL 2016 and Bangladesh 2017.

      Across those four series, he played 8 Tests and averaged just 16 with the bat.

      Spin accounted for 10 of his 13 dismissals to bowlers across those series.

      That is plenty of reason for the selectors to doubt his ability on spin-friendly pitches.

      But Khawaja will be back for the Ashes and I think he’ll have a great series and then carry on and do well in SA next year.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 7:16am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 7:16am | ! Report

        I’m aware he is not the strongest against spin – like David Warner – but I do question the tactic of constantly pulling him in and out of the team, and dropping him when he is in strong form. I don’t think it’s ever been done on this scale before and is bound to play havoc with the stability of the side.

        Steve Waugh struggled against fast bowling and came good. Warner struggled against spin and is only now coming good. Doesn’t Khawaja deserve the same chance? Because the tactic of short-term replacements isn’t working either.

        • Columnist

          September 12th 2017 @ 8:30am
          Ronan O'Connell said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

          “I don’t think it’s ever been done on this scale before”

          Mitchell Starc’s first 14 Tests were spread across 12 different stints in the side. I think that is clearly harsher than the treatment Khawaja has received from the selectors.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 9:21am
            Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

            Stephen this is one of the best articles I have read because you have used facts to back your argument and shown the complete picture rather then just throw a few numbers around.
            I agree with you that they just haven’t shown khawaja any faith in Asia and I have noticed that Trevor hohns has been selector on duty in all those tours. His first tour in Asia was Sri Lanka where he played 1 game but was dropped when Ponting returned from the birth of his child and khawaja got a not out score. His second outing in Sri Lanka wasn’t good but like you said all batsman minus smith failed but once again khawaja got the blame. In his third outing in Bangladesh he gets one test after a 7 month break and gets dropped for a all rounder who bowled 5 overs in a match.
            In 2 tours to India he gets no games at all and India is where the real judgement should be made. Can you not see that no player in the world can develop any confidence if he is given one game and just dropped and made the sole scape goat every time, not even smith or Warner would be the players today if we did this to them. Read my breakdown of his games in Asia and you can see Stephen is onto a very strong point that khawaja has been the most unfairly treated player in the last 5 years

            • September 12th 2017 @ 9:48am
              Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:48am | ! Report

              Thanks for your kind words, Ross.

              What makes it especially weird is the long history between Khawaja and Lehmann (Khawaja went to Queensland to play under Lehmann) and the fact Chappell, Hohns and Khawaja are all Queensland based.

              I get the feeling there could be a major split on the panel over Khawaja which is causing all this back and forth though I could be wrong.

              • September 12th 2017 @ 10:00am
                Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:00am | ! Report

                Stephen I don’t think it’s Lehman doing these Chop and changes, if you notice all the Asian tours this has happened on its Trevor hohns who is selector on duty and I think it’s him as Lehman is a good coach who has given khawaja confidence along with other players in the team

              • September 12th 2017 @ 10:33am
                Stephen said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:33am | ! Report

                Boof thinks khawaja is a special player, he is not to blame. “I would think Usman would play the first test match, although I’m only one of four selectors,” the coach said.
                Obviously for the make-up of the side we changed it here, but we think he’s a pretty special player and obviously he’s got a really good record in Australia”. These are his comments so khawaja looks a lock for the ashes and deservingly so

          • September 12th 2017 @ 9:46am
            Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

            I don’t think shoddy treatment of one player justifies shoddy treatment of another.

            Having said that I do think the selectors have a bit more leeway chopping and changing players early on in their career. But they should be treating like an integral part of the side, not an erratic jewel who needs mummy and daddy to protect him.

            • September 12th 2017 @ 10:10am
              Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:10am | ! Report

              Well said Stephen, look if a player is young you can drop them and they just come back stronger but you can’t do that so easily to your best players and that’s exactly what we have been doing to khawaja

            • Columnist

              September 12th 2017 @ 5:20pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:20pm | ! Report

              “I don’t think shoddy treatment of one player justifies shoddy treatment of another.”

              Stephen you’ve shifted the goalposts there.

              You suggested no Australia cricketer had ever been treated as poorly as Khawaja.

              Then I gave you evidence that one of his teammates in Starc had clearly been treated even worse.

              • September 12th 2017 @ 6:52pm
                Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 6:52pm | ! Report

                I think plenty of Australian cricketers have been treated badly. In recent years, off the top of my head, you had Brad Hodge and David Hussey. Going back, Sam Trimble. I never said Khawaja had been treated the worst. He’s gotten the chance to play plenty of tests.

                Khawaja’s case is unique though in that I can’t recall any batsman who had established themselves at test level who was effectively banned from playing on certain continents.

                Also from memory there were different reasons for Starc not playing consistent games – they were resting bowlers, he was replacing someone temporarily etc. (In fairness I could be wrong, that’s what I remember).

              • September 12th 2017 @ 11:57pm
                Matth said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:57pm | ! Report

                Joe Burns springs to mind. And back in the day Stuart Law was unlucky

              • September 13th 2017 @ 3:59am
                Chris Love said | September 13th 2017 @ 3:59am | ! Report

                Ronan, I think in fairness though Starcs initial stints weren’t like he had forced his way into the side and had one bad test and was dropped. He was brought in mostly as injury cover and for specific pitches. There was no expectation early on that he was in the side for the long term. Also remember in those early days he was FAR more erratic with his line and length and was really only beginning to get his control after the blasting from Warnie. It all seemed to come together the very next test after that and he hasn’t looked back.

                UK on the other hand has been treated worse than Hughes was.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 12:24pm
            Kris Rodrigues said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:24pm | ! Report

            That was “rotation” though, rather than being picked and dropped ad nauseam.

            • September 12th 2017 @ 1:38pm
              Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

              You mean “informed player management” dont you? 🙂

              • September 12th 2017 @ 8:33pm
                John Erichsen said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

                Phil Hughes fans were regularly screaming about the mistreatment he received from the selectors. I always felt that early on, Khawaja was stitched up far worse. However, despite being a Khawaja fan, I have to acknowledge that, like Phil Hughes, Usman has, by his own performances, given selectors more than enough reason to doubt.
                I get the point that limiting his opportunity in the subcontinent prevents him from turning things around, and other players may have been handled differently, but he could have made himself indispensable by averaging more 14 in Sri Lanka or scoring more than 2 in Bangladesh.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 8:19am
      Basil said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Conspiracy theories aside, Khawaja is poor against spin. His first Test v Bangladesh was one of the most uncomfortable for a top order bat I’ve ever seen. Australia needed to level the series. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. It is what it is.
      Don’t worry, he’ll come back in for the Ashes and do well.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 9:00am
        jameswm said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

        I’m not so sure he’s that poor against spin, not any more. He certainly was when stuck to the crease against Swann and Harbhajan. I think he’s improved.

        He has no trouble against spin in Australia. He has shown signs of getting right forward and back a lot better, rather than just prodding.

        However, he had brain fades in Bangladesh. He lost the plot on one ball in the 1st innings, and in the 2nd seemed determined to sweep for some reason, looking in no trouble (admittedly after only about 8 balls).

        I think Warner is proving that if you persist with him, he will come good. And Ussie is our 3rd best batsman, so there’s a good chance he’ll come good.

        By the way that article was a great read Stephen – the message and the humour.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 9:23am
          Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:23am | ! Report

          Khawaja played spin realky well when shah of Pakistan came here, but that was bexsiee he knew he had confidence of playing the full series, in Asia we always drop him after one game so how can he develop any confidence. This is absurd treatment for one of our best batsman

        • September 12th 2017 @ 9:51am
          Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:51am | ! Report

          Thanks, James… Agree, Khawaja is our third best batsman (though Handscomb may challenge him soon)

        • September 12th 2017 @ 3:58pm
          Shane Warner said | September 12th 2017 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

          of course Koala did well against Pak, it was in Aus, where there is practically no turn, unless its footmarks day 5. Same reason why Warner played well in the 2nd test, it was a flat pitch not a dustbowl like Galle, Colombo, etc

      • September 12th 2017 @ 9:50am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        Was replacing him with Cartwright the solution though? It didn’t work with Cartwright – or Mitchell Marsh, or Shaun Marsh, or Henriques.

        And if he plays well in the Ashes, what next? I guess they keep him in South Africa. If he plays well in South Africa do they try him in England? In India? In UAE? In Sri Lanka? Or is “never to play spin again” marked on his passport?

        • September 12th 2017 @ 10:12am
          Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:12am | ! Report

          See this is my concern too, we replaced him with Hilton who is a good young all rounder but he was not a like for like replacement and he didn’t even open the bowling, we did the same crap in Sri Lanka when we bought in Moises for khawaja who is also a good all rounder but the replacement made no sense, very bad selection decisions here and all they achieved was denting the confidence of our third best batsman

        • Roar Rookie

          September 12th 2017 @ 10:29am
          Lancey5times said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:29am | ! Report

          Didn’t we win the test match?
          If this doesn’t matter then what are we trying to achieve?

          • September 12th 2017 @ 10:36am
            Stephen said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:36am | ! Report

            Lanceymate we won the match thanks to warner and smith and also because this was a flat track for the first 2 days allowing us to score, the decision to get Cartwright as a batting replacement for khawaja was mind blowing but we did the same for Moises for usman in sri lanka. Mike Hussey was right, for class batsman like khawaja we need to show faith and not make short sighted decisions as that hurts us long term.

            • Roar Rookie

              September 12th 2017 @ 1:01pm
              Lancey5times said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

              Out of curiosity, what sort of numbers does Khawaja need to put up on the subcontinent before you would stop referring to him as a class player that isn’t getting a chance? Clearly you can still be a ‘class player’ in all conditions when failing at however many chances he has had over there. How many he has had doesn’t matter here. He should get used to playing cricket with Jackson Bird. I don’t hear anyone complaining about his treatment.

              • September 12th 2017 @ 1:18pm
                jameswm said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

                Lancey Warner had poor numbers over a more prolonged period, but the selecectors persisted with him.

              • Roar Rookie

                September 12th 2017 @ 1:44pm
                Lancey5times said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:44pm | ! Report

                I should have mentioned this in my initial post but it may also be a case of the manner of the dismissals. Warner has looked like making runs and has gotten a few starts while Khawaja has seemed largely without a plan. It shouldn’t be the case but when you don’t roll the arm over and are a weaker fielder I guess it makes these decisions easier for the selectors.

                I don’t disagree with any of the reasons many put forward for Khawaja getting a longer crack over there it’s just that I also completely understand why he is not getting picked. The point I keep coming back to is that as a side we get better results in this part of the world when he doesn’t play. Call it flat tracks, team balance, somebody performing better, whatever you like. It’s just hard to dispute the results and they are what matters when you’re picking a team.

              • September 12th 2017 @ 1:25pm
                Stephen said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

                Lancey khawaja can’t put up numbers because he doesn’t get more then a game at a time, if we had done the same with warner he would have been dropped after the india series but faith in him showed the dividends there, so not sure why you keep critising khawaja in asia when the bloke gets one game at a time. Just look at all his series, in his first sri lanka series he gets one game and then gets replaced rightly by ponting then he gets 2 games in sri lanka and gets dropped for a flat pitch in the third test for moises who bowled 0 overs in that game, the same happens one game against bangladesh when he is dropped for a allrounder who didn’t bowl, its terrible selection mate and we can’t keep playing with his mental strength like this

              • September 12th 2017 @ 6:55pm
                Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

                I mentioned Jackson Bird briefly in my article, Lancey. The Australian selectors seem really, really keen not not play him – they flew out Cummins mid series to avoid doing it in India and flew out O’Keefe mid series to avoid doing it in Bangladesh. That’s got to be some sort of record!

          • September 12th 2017 @ 11:13am
            Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

            My worry is there’s no long term strategy. There’s a lot of short term thinking.

            And the strategy didn’t work in India – we lost a series we should’ve won.

            We would’ve been better off keeping the bulk of the side that won the 3rd test against Pakistan – Renshaw, Warner, Khawaja, Smith, Handscomb, Cartwright, Wade (if we had to have him in the first place), Starc, O’Keefe, Hazelwood, Lyon. If the batters fail after two tests bring in Shaun Marsh. If the wicket is pace-y play swap a spinner for a fast man.

            At least everyone would know where we stood. Now we’ve got this ad hoc messy situation.

            • September 12th 2017 @ 1:25pm
              Stephen said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:25pm | ! Report

              Stephen Vagg i wish you were a selector, long term vision is missing and blokes don’t know where they stand due to short term scapegoating

              • September 12th 2017 @ 7:03pm
                Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

                Thanks Stephen – my dream job 🙂

                Of course it’s easy to sit on my backside and whinge!

                I do think the selectors do try to be too clever by half at times. If it got them results then sure but it doesn’t seem to. Pick your six best batsmen, best keeper, four best bowlers. If there’s a line call look at things like batting ability for bowlers or bowling ability for batsmen, fielding etc. Show faith in the players and get out of the way.

                There is still lots of work for selectors to do.

                My 1st XI for Ashes would be Warner, Renshaw, Khawaja, Smith, Maxwell, Handscomb, Neville, Starc, Cummins, Lyon, Hazlewood

                Next cab on rank for batters: Cartwright or Head… Pattinson and J Lehmann down the line

                Next cab on rank for spin bowlers: O’Keefe then Holland or Agar

                Next cab on rank for pacemen: Pattinson, Bird

                above subject to injury/major form reversal…

                Play two spinners if it’s a spinning wicket.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 11:01am
          BurgyGreen said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:01am | ! Report

          Cartwright’s selection was a very different situation to the others you’ve mentioned. Cartwright is a guy who made buckets of runs batting at first drop for his state, he’s not a mere ‘potential pick’ like the others. He actually made the runs at domestic level and deserved to be the next batsman in line.

          And he only got one innings (in which he made more runs than Khawaja did in the first Test) so I don’t think you can say that it ‘didn’t work’ with Cartwright. We’ll never know if it would’ve worked because the series was only two Tests and Cartwright will have to wait some time to play his third game.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 11:14am
            Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

            I’m a big fan of Cartwright. Would be happy to see him get a decent run. Just think Khawaja should’ve gotten a decent crack first.

            • September 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm
              jameswm said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

              Yes – but right now he is fighting with Maxwell for the no.6 spot – for the Ashes anyway.

              • September 12th 2017 @ 1:27pm
                Stephen said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:27pm | ! Report

                I also am not questioning Cartwright, he looks like the real deal to me too, much better then Mitch marsh for sure, but you dont’ bring in a batting all rounder for your third best batsman, you tell your batsman that look you have both games regardless of what happens and now show us what you got but everytime we lose in asia khawaja gets dropped for a allrounder and always when the pitch is flat and the bloke may have a chance of getting some runs.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 12:13pm
        Pope Paul VII said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        Tonked Maharraj as well, who’s been one the top wicket takers this year.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 2:54pm
          Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

          Well said Pope

    • September 12th 2017 @ 8:49am
      Don Freo said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      Khawaja, I suspect, is gaslighting cricket fans.

      Are we going mad? I’m sure he looks like a good batsman but every time we need him to perform in the public eye, he is not what he seems.

      What’s even stranger…perhaps maddening…is that when those who claim he is a good cricketer actually defend Ussie, they reference a totally different cricketer; the Marshes or Maxi. This is weird.

      Is Ussie for real?

      • September 12th 2017 @ 10:17am
        Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:17am | ! Report

        No he is a figment of our imagination much like the matrix movie haha

      • September 12th 2017 @ 12:32pm
        twodogs said | September 12th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

        Totally agree DF. Maybe, just maybe, he is not quite up to it. Mentally at least. If there were no doubts in his ability he would have been almost a veteran by now. One thing for certain is that if he gets first crack at the ashes and blows it, there’ll be no more chances.

        • September 12th 2017 @ 1:28pm
          Stephen said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

          Khawaja will be our best batsman in the ashes

        • September 12th 2017 @ 1:40pm
          jameswm said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

          So you and DOn are saying he’s mentally fragile and fails when we need him to score?

          Let’s look at last summer:

          – 1st test v SA – 1st innings he comes in under no pressure (1st wicket lost at 1523( and fails. 2nd innings he comes in for Warner at 1-52, then Marsh promptly also gets out with the score on 52. He holds the innings together, being the 6th man out and scoring 97. Nevill held the lower order together (after a patient 23 in the 1st innings with wickets crumbling around him).

          2nd test – 1st innings everyone fails apart from Smith. 2nd innings he comes in at 1 for 0 and scores 64. He gets out and we lose 8 for 32.

          3rd test – he has to open because Warner had been off the field, and promptly scores 145. 2nd test with the test almost won (easily), he fails.

          1st test v Pakistan – 1st innings he comes in after a decent 1st wicket partnership, and fails. 2nd innings under little pressure he scores a fluid 74.

          2nd test – 1st innings under scoreboard pressure (Pakistan scored 443) he comes in at 1 for 40 and puts on 200 with Warner, scoring 97. We won by an innings.

          3rd test – comes in after a big 1st wicket stand and scores only 13. 2nd innings setting a target scores 54no. part of a 71-run opening stand in 8 overs. Yes Warner went a bit nuts.

          You see the pattern – his failures were with less pressure on him, not more.

          So what the 2 of you said – is not backed up by facts.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 2:26pm
            Don Freo said | September 12th 2017 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

            Don’s not saying that. Don is saying he is a ‘gaslighter’, sneakily forcing cricket fans to question their sanity.

            Stats don’t address that idea.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 2:57pm
            Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

            Wow James what a summary champ and surely showing that khawaja is the man you need under pressure , fantastic breakdown champ

          • September 12th 2017 @ 7:04pm
            Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 7:04pm | ! Report

            good breakdown James
            He was a bit of a rock last summer…

            • September 13th 2017 @ 4:05pm
              John Erichsen said | September 13th 2017 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

              A rock last summer at home doesn’t mean much for series In India and Bangladesh. I like Khawaja but have to admit he continues to give selectors plenty of reasons to look elsewhere when we tour the subcontinent. As for the “Warner gets more chances” thoughts, It’s true, He does. But he saves 30 to 40 runs a test in the field alone so that carries some weight. Khawja’s fielding isn’t as asset.

    • September 12th 2017 @ 8:59am
      peter chrisp said | September 12th 2017 @ 8:59am | ! Report

      Ronan in regards to Khawaja can’t quite recall the last time he played a test, with the recent non selection to the Bangas i think there are 4? 20/20 games against India beginning on the 17th of this month it will be interesting to see who they will include whether it will be exactly the same during The Bangas tour? As the Ashes series is a few weeks away, is Khawaja an automatic selection?

      • September 12th 2017 @ 9:01am
        jameswm said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:01am | ! Report

        He played the 1st test in Bangladesh – that’s pretty recent.

        • Columnist

          September 12th 2017 @ 9:07am
          Ronan O'Connell said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

          Peter I think Khawaja is definitely an automatic selection for the Ashes, he will be a crucial player because he is such a fine player of pace bowling.

          He’ll also be a key player for the following Test tour of SA.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 9:25am
            Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

            Yeah I also think he will be a key player in the ashes and it’s good he gets the matador cup and 3 shield games to get some cricket in his legs after 7 months off

          • September 12th 2017 @ 9:55am
            Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

            But what happens after that? We tour Pakistan in 2018 and 2019… is Khawaja automatically disqualified from those tours? Is he automatically ruled out of the 2019 Ashes? Any future tour of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh? Any test where the pitch looks like it will take spin?

            • September 12th 2017 @ 10:18am
              Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

              I think at the moment he is a key player of all tours except for Asia which is not right as he is a complete batsman who just needs some faith shown to him

              • Columnist

                September 12th 2017 @ 5:07pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 12th 2017 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

                “We tour Pakistan in 2018 and 2019… is Khawaja automatically disqualified from those tours? Is he automatically ruled out of the 2019 Ashes? Any future tour of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh?”

                Australia don’t tour against Pakistan in both 2018 and 2019, only once – in 2019. That’s Australia’s only Test tour of Asia in the next 3 years.

                I wouldn’t play Khawaja in the UAE against Pakistan but, form permitting, I’d play him everywhere else, home or away, over the next three years.

                Australia’s challenge over that period will come from pace, not spin, and Khawaja is a very good player of pace bowling.

              • September 12th 2017 @ 7:06pm
                Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

                Ronan there’s an ODI/t20 tour of Pakistan/UAE down for 2018.


                And I haven’t forgotten you championed Mitchell Marsh at six in India!

    • Roar Guru

      September 12th 2017 @ 9:33am
      Edward L'Orange said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      I don’t understand why people have such an issue with dropping players when the conditions don’t suit their strengths.

      It’s the same reason Bird wasn’t didn’t play in Bangladesh, and why they pick more spinners. It just suits their game.

      Why must we expect every batsman be able play every surface when it’s not expected from bowlers.

      We need to move with the times, and it’s nothing against any certain player.

      • September 12th 2017 @ 9:59am
        Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 9:59am | ! Report

        Because I don’t think the method you suggested has never worked i.e. playing batsmen according to conditions.

        And Khawaja’s replacements aren’t covering themselves in glory. Khawaja was replaced with Henriques because apparently Henriques was better at spin – and he failed. He was replaced by the Marsh brothers – Mitchell failed, Shaun had some successes but overall failed. He was replaced by Cartwright who failed.

        I think Khawaja deserved a chance to turn things around – the potential upside was massive if he did (look at Warner and Lyon now they’ve had successful trips in Asia) but he really wasn’t given one.

        • Roar Guru

          September 12th 2017 @ 10:58am
          Edward L'Orange said | September 12th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          Thing is, as Ronan says a lot, Khawaja has had chances against spin, and failed so far. Whether or not he has been given as much time as other random examples is debatable, and I would actually argue it is more the manner of his dismissals, rather the dismissals themselves.

          But the point is, it’s easy to argue that Henriques and the Marshes failed, and therefore Khawaja didn’t deserve to be dropped, because it’s looking at the situation in hindsight. What if Henriques, for example, has succeeded? This argument would not exist.

          You have to try to pick the best team, and until they are tried, it is essentially impossible to know if a player will fail or succeed. When Khawaja was clearly struggling, and there is a player in waiting who is thought to be better at spin, I think it is completely understandable to replace them.

          If that player then fails, maybe it looks silly in hindsight, but it doesn’t negate the original logic.

          I think we are too romantic about batsmen. They should be as interchangeable as bowlers when it comes to conditions, particularly when the pitches around the world are becoming less sporting.

          Also, bit rough on Cartwright who has played all of one innings in asian conditions.

          • September 12th 2017 @ 11:18am
            Stephen Vagg said | September 12th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

            I just feel the whole process should be simplified and the selectors shouldn’t try to be too clever.

            Pick the six best batsman. If one of them loses form, drop them… give someone else a go.

            It’s entirely possible Khawaja would have failed if given an extended run. My point is though I don’t feel the horses for courses approach works for batsmen.

            I agree it wasn’t fair to give Henriques, Ferguson, and Cartwright one-off trials. Someone like Nick Maddinnson got a fair trial – three goes. Feel players deserve at least two tests.

            btw appreciate the polite way you disagreed! 🙂

          • September 12th 2017 @ 1:30pm
            Stephen said | September 12th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

            Edward you make fair points but would you replace a bowler with a allrounder that doesn’t bowl or would you replace warner with say hilton or mosies, you just wouldn’t because it was our batting that was weak in game 1 not our bowling. Then we bring in a allrounder who doesn’t bowl, so why would you not leave a class act like khawaja on a flat pitch when you know he is capable of making big runs. Guys like Hussey and Taylor don’t backup khawaja for no reason, they are saying that we need to leave class batsman in because thats how they become champions on all surfaces but for whatever reason khawaja is always the one picked on whenever we lose a game

            • September 12th 2017 @ 2:59pm
              Ross said | September 12th 2017 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

              Stephen great examples

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