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Australian selectors to blame for ODI carnage

Australia's bowling attack was toothless. (Photo: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Expert
20th June, 2018
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2803 Reads

Australia’s record 242-run thrashing by England was no surprise given the insanely-inexperienced bowling unit that its selectors picked for this ODI series.

The Australian selectors made the extraordinary decision of choosing for this series a six-man bowling unit which had played an average of just six ODIs each.

Australia had no choice but to play without their injured pace guns Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. But that didn’t mean they had to pick a bowling unit which was so incredibly green.

The reality is that Australia’s seven best 50-over quicks are not involved in this series – Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Jason Behrendorff and Chris Tremain.

Mitchell Starc celebrates a wicket

Mitchell Starc (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The likes of Kane Richardson and Michael Neser are not even in the top ten one day bowlers in Australia, while 21-year-old Jhye Richardson and 23-year-old Billy Stanlake are greatly talented but raw.

Richardson and Stanlake have only played ten and five one-day matches for their states, respectively – they are utter rookies.

Having two such inexperienced bowlers in the same ODI attack is crazy. But it is pure lunacy to open the bowling with that same pair, away from home on the world’s highest-scoring ODI pitch against the most powerful batting line-up going around. That was a recipe for catastrophe.

Trent Bridge has become a famously batting-friendly ground, where ODI bowling attacks have been butchered repeatedly in recent years.

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In the previous ODI match at the ground England broke the world record by piling up 444 against a full-strength Pakistan attack.

That Pakistan attack included Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz and Hasan Ali yet it was powerless to halt England on the mega-road pitch at Trent Bridge.

It was a similar story two matches before that when an experienced New Zealand attack gave up 3-350 from 44 overs. England probably would have made 430-plus had they been able to complete their full 50 overs in that match, but they had already won.

So, if England piled up monstrous totals against Pakistan and New Zealand on this same flat deck, is it any wonder they annihilated an Australian attack vastly less experienced and accomplished than those Kiwi and Pakistani units?

No, it’s not. The writing was on the wall from the moment Australia’s wonky squad was announced, as I wrote in this piece for The Roar six weeks ago.

As I noted at the time, the bowling unit Australia picked was eerily similar in its lack of experience and achievements to the dire attack they selected for the doomed 2016 ODI tour of South Africa, where they lost 5-0.

Before that series in SA I argued that it was Australia’s worst-ever ODI attack.

Billy Stanlake of Australia celebrates

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That turned out to be correct. Daniel Worrall, Scott Boland and Joe Mennie – all bizarre selections – were duly scorched by the SA batsmen, with only Tremain putting up resistance.

The lack of respect for that series shown by the selectors came back to haunt them as Australia suffered their first-ever 5-0 ODI whitewash.

The selectors’ negligence helped send the once-mighty Australian ODI team into a steep downward spiral.

Since the start of that farcical series in SA, Australia have won just nine of their last 31 ODIs. To put that in context, Australia won a whopping 23 of their previous 31 ODIs prior to that series in SA.

That series, and the incompetence of the selectors, was a tipping point for the Australian ODI team. The selectors toyed with the side and it’s since fallen apart.

You would think the selectors would have learned from the folly of picking a green crew of bowlers for that series in SA but, no, they did not.

They repeated the same mistake here in England. Australia’s current ODI attack has no leader, no cricketer with sufficient experience in big international matches to guide the team’s bowling rookies.

This is why it’s so strange that Australia did not pick left arm quick James Faulkner, a man with 132 wickets for Australia in limited overs internationals.

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Faulkner will be playing in England very soon – but not for Australia, instead for Lancashire in the T20 Blast. The 27-year-old Tasmanian has recovered from a knee injury he suffered last summer and is raring to go for Lancashire, according to a recent interview.

Faulkner has been ignored by the Australian selectors for almost a year now, despite having taken 28 wickets at an average of 26 from his last 15 ODIs.

What’s more is that Faulkner has a brilliant ODI record against England, averaging 24 with the ball and 45 with the bat from his 13 ODIs against them.

Beyond the generous experience he could have added to this current Australian attack, he also would have provided much-needed variety with his left-arm angle, and boosted Australia’s tail-end batting.

Faulkner was also omitted from the series in SA which prompted Australia’s descent into the ODI basement. Would Faulkner have helped Australia win this current series, or prevent England from scoring 400-plus on Tuesday?

No, he would not. But he would have at least given Australia some attributes they have sorely lacked and taken some of the responsibility off the shoulders of rookies like Richardson and Stanlake.

The Australian selectors, either through arrogance or ineptitude or both, have ridden the ODI team into the dirt.