Australian selectors to blame for ODI carnage

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (87)

    • June 21st 2018 @ 4:47am
      tim said | June 21st 2018 @ 4:47am | ! Report

      I think a large part of the issue lies in the fact that you only offer one suggested replacement in James Faulkner. Selectors presumably concluded that the series was going to be lost, whether they went with newbies or players who they had seen, but were not impressed by. The hope would’ve been to establish a pecking order for the back-ups. Faulkner would be ideal for the World Cup, but his cards appear to have been marked.

    • June 21st 2018 @ 4:58am
      Justsaying said | June 21st 2018 @ 4:58am | ! Report

      You have again put your bias in ronan and not addressed the main issue which is our batting. No mention of your favourite finch who has failed this series and shown how much he struggles against spin bowling whereas previously you said he plays spin well, one reason why he has had 7 failed IPL campaigns. For what it’s worth I believe he should be opening with Khawaja but finch ha failed this series. No mention of head or short both who also have to raise their game too. And your answer to stopping the carnage is to include Faulkner who is a good all rounder but has been terribly out of form in the last few years, you haven’t addressed any issues in your article but just put the blame on the bowlers whereas our batting is more to blame

      • June 21st 2018 @ 8:30am
        Brian George said | June 21st 2018 @ 8:30am | ! Report

        I really prefer your Ross, Rossie, Rosso and Stephen nicknames – Justsayin is too generic for me.

        • June 21st 2018 @ 8:57am
          George said | June 21st 2018 @ 8:57am | ! Report

          There is a solid point here, first Ronan said that there are positives in the loss and now it’s the bowlers fault but let’s not blame the batsman ie finch or head or short or even stonis but instead put all the blame on the bowlers, another article hiding Ronans favourite players and frankly we need to focus on the reason we are getting smashed and stop trying to make excuses

          • June 21st 2018 @ 7:39pm
            Marshall said | June 21st 2018 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

            Surely when the opponent gets 480 its not the batsmen’s fault?

      • Roar Pro

        June 21st 2018 @ 9:37am
        Bakkies said | June 21st 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        What do you expect when the selectors move the form opener to number 5 in the order.

        • June 22nd 2018 @ 1:16am
          ozinsa said | June 22nd 2018 @ 1:16am | ! Report

          Exactly. Moving a world class operator to accommodate less talented alternatives was dumb. I like Paine as a bloke and his contribution in tests last summer was immense but if this side was picked on form (as opposed to the repair job we are deemed to need) he’d be a long way from a start – there are 3-4 keepers with better white ball form (one actually in the squad). I now see we’ve dropped Maxi to squeeze Carey in and retain Paine.
          Not sure there were many different bowling options but our selection logic for batting has been muddled at best

        • June 22nd 2018 @ 1:29am
          ozinsa said | June 22nd 2018 @ 1:29am | ! Report

          And now Agar at 6. Is Langer throwing darts at a board?

      • June 22nd 2018 @ 9:47am
        Perry Bridge said | June 22nd 2018 @ 9:47am | ! Report

        #Justsaying

        re Finch

        from 2 Jun 2017 to now (that takes us back 12 months and a couple of weeks to include the 3 games Finch played in England last June)

        in England, 8, 19 and 68 as opener.
        In India, where he got left out initially – 124, 94 and 32 as opener
        In Aust, 107, 106 and 62 as, you guessed it – opener.
        So – in the 12 months prior leading into this series we have a guy with 620 runs from 9 knocks at avg of over 68, with 3 centuries, a 90 and 2 60s. All as ….. an opener.

        And we decide after a first match 19 to push him down to #5 in the order – – – in a team missing Smith and Warner.

        How the heck was that ever a good idea.

        Finch now has 739 from 11 hits as opener since June 2 2017 with 4 centuries, a 90 and 2 60s. Can we just accept that he is first selected and bats where he wants!!!! (so long as that is as an opener).

        I just don’t see how – when something isn’t broken (Finch as an opener) that the selectors thought moving him out of that slot was at all a good idea. Who does that???

        And Khawaja…yep, go back 2 years ago and he made his highest ODI score of 98 the day Finch managed a golden duck v the Windies. Alas, since that moment, Khawaja produced 17, 14, 0 (#3), 6 (#3), 82* v Ireland, 17, 9 and 30. 175 from 7 outs with only one score over 30.

        He was ordinary in the Ashes series (where we expected him to perform on his favoured flat Australian tracks – where he normally looks so polished).

        So – there wasn’t a major argument for him – OTHER than the absence of Smith and Warner.

        I’d suggest this 5 match series is seen as a chance to give the next generation a bit of a crack at it. The bowling line up is very raw, okay for a BBL outing but a 50 over game in England – they’re coming up well short of the mark.

    • June 21st 2018 @ 5:17am
      KenoathCarnt said | June 21st 2018 @ 5:17am | ! Report

      Squad without injuries

      Finch
      Khawaja
      S.Marsh
      Gotch (wk) (good against spin)
      Stoinis
      Maxwell
      Agar
      Nair
      Starc
      Cummins
      Coulter Nile

      • June 21st 2018 @ 5:48am
        Justsaying said | June 21st 2018 @ 5:48am | ! Report

        You have a good squad there and you have put finch Khawaja and marsh as the top 3 which is what we need as our top order needs to deliver, so far this series the top order keeps failing putting pressure on the middle order

        • June 21st 2018 @ 5:31pm
          KenoathCarnt said | June 21st 2018 @ 5:31pm | ! Report

          Yea how Khawaja wasnt included baffles me, but I think he adds solidarity at the top. Head and Short just seem like wildcards atm. This squad also includes 2 spinners and plenty of batting depth.

          • June 21st 2018 @ 10:47pm
            Stephen said | June 21st 2018 @ 10:47pm | ! Report

            How many chances will we give head, khawaja got 10% of these chances

          • June 22nd 2018 @ 11:34am
            Perry Bridge said | June 22nd 2018 @ 11:34am | ! Report

            How many chances for Khawaja?

            Well……you gotta produce something. I’m not saying I’m convinced by Head – but Khawaja stank it up in South Africa and only saved face via a big knock in the final Ashes test. His ODI form doesn’t provide a compelling case.

            The only reason I would’ve thought to include him was that Warner and Smith weren’t there.

            However – the benefit of this meaningless 5 game series is to throw in guys for the experience.

            So – don’t take Khawaja being overlooked as too big a deal. The selectors have often picked a bit of a speculative ODI squad rather than purely basing it on earned merit.

    • June 21st 2018 @ 6:07am
      Brasstax said | June 21st 2018 @ 6:07am | ! Report

      Ronan I agree with you, but England are not as far ahead of us as it seems at the moment. I would wait till the end o their 3 ODIs against India before making a final judgement. I think the Poms will be brought down to earth by the Indians.

      • Columnist

        June 21st 2018 @ 4:18pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | June 21st 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

        India are clear 2nd favourites for the World Cup in my opinion, after England, so it’ll be fascinating to see how they go against England next month.

    • June 21st 2018 @ 6:12am
      peeko said | June 21st 2018 @ 6:12am | ! Report

      my thoughts exactly, you think they would have learnt from picking those guys in SA recently

      • June 21st 2018 @ 8:36am
        jimbo said | June 21st 2018 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        ditto

    • June 21st 2018 @ 7:11am
      Swampy said | June 21st 2018 @ 7:11am | ! Report

      What series is this? Wasn’t aware there was one on….

      Probably best keep it that way – I’m sure the England media are also largely focussed elsewhere than on another meaningless ODI series.

      • June 21st 2018 @ 4:56pm
        Zozza said | June 21st 2018 @ 4:56pm | ! Report

        You’re head is in the “swamp” mate. Like it or not – and I hate it – Test Cricket means less and less these days, and short form results do matter commercially. Combine that with the fact the WC will be in England next year, then this series is pretty damn important.

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