Flame-haired legspinner Lloyd Pope has the tricks and temperament to live up to the hype of being Australian cricket’s next great spinner, according to Jake Lehmann.
In the rugby world Michael Cheika is in a good place after beating Six Nations champions Ireland 18-9 at Suncorp Stadium last weekend.
The success saw Australia leapfrog England into third place in the world rankings after the men in white went down 42-39 to South Africa, despite leading 24-3.
It was the first time the Wallabies had beaten Ireland in three starts during Cheika’s coaching career, and as a result he named the same squad in successive weeks for the first time in his 47 internationals.
It was very easy to praise the Wallabies for getting the basics pretty right for the first time in ages, but it would be far more accurate to say it was about bloody time.
Why they haven’t fired before on a regular basis beggars belief with a launching pad of Sekope Kepu’s 91 caps, Rob Simmons’ 83, Michael Hooper’s 80, Kurtley Beale’s 72, Israel Folau’s 63, and Bernard Foley’s 56 accounting for nearly half the side with priceless experience.
The proof will be tomorrow night if they can repeat the effort in the second Test with Ireland making eight changes to hit the Wallabies with everything bar the kitchen sink.
If the Wallabies can wrap up the three-Test series in two that will silence the knockers, and give Cheika positive breathing space to prepare for his next assignment – the Rugby Championship.
And with a current 33-man squad totalling 960 caps, Cheika has a very workable platform.
That’s exactly what newly appointed Australian coach Justin Langer lacks in the world of ODI cricket with a 15-man squad in England totalling 347 caps with Aaron Finch’s 89, Glenn Maxwell’s 82, and Shaun Marsh’s 54 carving out a huge chunk.
Worse than that are the 419 capped automatic selections missing who total more than the current squad.
Steve Smith (108 caps) and David Warner (106) are still under ball-tampering suspension, while Mitchell Starc (72), Pat Cummins (39), Josh Hazlewood (41), and Mitchell Marsh (53) are all injured.
Langer has a huge task with Australia ranked sixth in the ODI world rankings when everyone was available against the world number one England.
But that doesn’t excuse the irresponsible batting at The Oval that saw England win the first of five ODIs by three wickets.
Not one of the Australian top five reached 25, normally a sure fire recipe for defeat.
But Shaun Marsh (24), Marcus Stoinis (22), and Finch (19) all got a start, and didn’t go on with it.
Langer and skipper Tim Paine, must address that failure for the second ODI at Cardiff tomorrow night.
Thumping left handed opener D’Arcy Short was left out first up, so he must be a starter along with the heavy hitters Finch, Maxwell, Stoinis and Ashton Agar.
That’s the top five batting in order, a far cry from the first ODI.
As reckless as it may seem, all five are big scorers on their day, but abject failures on a day off – there’s no grey, it’s simple black and white.
But looking on the positive side, if all five fire Australia would be unbeatable.
Realistically, if two or three fire Australia would at least be competitive, far more so than the pathetic 214 off 50 overs first up.
So tomorrow night holds special interest on both fronts.
It would be uplifting for Australian sport to report two Ws on Sunday, but let’s make it three with the Socceroos first hit-out at the World Cup in Russia.