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Stephen Vagg

Roar Guru

Joined February 2014

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A Queenslander never forgets a selection slight.

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My top ten Queensland spinners

The growing skill of Mitchell Swepson in recent years has come as a delight to many: those who instinctively just want a leg spinner in the side no matter what (hi, Warnie), those who predicted Swepson would come good years before he actually did (hi again, Warnie), and most of all… Queenslanders.

Eight not outs!

Why Jimmy Peirson should be Australia's Test wicketkeeper

I should add that Peter Neville should be in the conversation too. I know he’s getting on a bit but he should be talked about as an option.

Why Jimmy Peirson should be Australia's Test wicketkeeper

This is Hartley? Here are his stats. After 2008 he was a solid batter.
2003-04 134 runs at 44.66
2004-05 50 runs at 17.75
2005-06 – 473 at 31.53
2006-07 – 355 runs at 22.18
2007-08 – 349 runs at 23.26
2008-09 – 524 runs at 34.93
2009-10 – 839 runs at 46.61
2010-11 – 377 runs at 29.00
2011-12- 544 runs at 32.00
2012-13 – 510 runs at 28.33
2013-14 – 376 runs at 34.18
2014-15- 522 runs at 37.28
2015-16 – 529 runs at 44.08
2016-17- 535 runs at 76.42

Why Jimmy Peirson should be Australia's Test wicketkeeper

Damn right! 🙂

Why Jimmy Peirson should be Australia's Test wicketkeeper

Love your handle, btw…

Why Jimmy Peirson should be Australia's Test wicketkeeper

Lawson bowled really well in the 1982 tour… that was the making of him as a test bowler, really. (https://www.theroar.com.au/2021/08/14/test-xis-we-should-have-had-pakistan-1982/) Bright was 1980.

Test touring sides we should have picked: Australia versus India 1979-80

Ray Bright did well in Pakistan. But the word was the pitches were doctored to help the local bowlers for the first test, then the second and third tests were on batters’ paradises… to ensure two draws and a 1-0 result for the locals.
I don’t think Lillee would’ve gone that well in India but Greg Chappell would’ve added strength to the batting… and the scoreboard pressure would’ve helped.

Test touring sides we should have picked: Australia versus India 1979-80

I remember Hookes saying that in his memoirs.

It is interesting what would’ve happened had Hookes stayed with establishment cricket. Depends on his form of course – Craig Serjeant was vice captain in 77-78 then dropped, ditto John McLean in 78-79… if either of them had stayed in form they could’ve been captain in 79-80 (I think McLean would’ve done a good job of that).

Hookes is one of the great enigmas of Aussie cricket. What if he hadn’t gone with WSC? Hadn’t broken his jaw? Hadn’t been dropped so early in 85-86? He never really seemed to crack it at test level – even in his best summer, 82-83, he never quite got there. Great player though. So exciting.

Test touring sides we should have picked: Australia versus India 1979-80

I think the selectors liked him, they just liked other bowlers more. It’s interesting though that he was not offered a WSC contact, or picked in 77-78 even without WSC players (Wayne Clark, Sam Gannon, Alan Hurst and Ian Callen were all picked over him).

Test touring sides we should have picked: Australia versus India 1979-80

I enjoyed your thoughts. If they were allowed to take WSC players I’m not sure Ian Chappell would’ve been available, and/or as captain – he captained for Packer but in 75/76 and 79/80 played as just a batter. Yallop’s skill with spin might’ve seen him get the nod as a replacement.

Test touring sides we should have picked: Australia versus India 1979-80

I think Dymock was always very reliable… he was picked for test cricket as early as 73-74… He was just back in the pecking order after people like Lillee, Thomson, and Walker. And in 77-78 for whatever reason the selectors went for other bowlers over him like Clark and Callen.
I think on Aussie selectors preferred faster bowlers. But Dymock never did badly. And overseas, where there’s less help for pace bowlers, his skill would go really well. Generally medium pacers do better than fast bowlers in India.
He had a wonderful season over 79-80… but by 80-81 selectors went back to younger bowlers.
There’s a whole bunch of bowlers like him – reliable, fast medium, never trendy or the hot young thing… Jackson Bird is one, Trent Copeland, John Maguire…

Test touring sides we should have picked: Australia versus India 1979-80

I feel obliged to say in fairness to India, a lot of decisions went our way in 1977-78

Test touring sides we should have picked: Australia versus India 1979-80

I recognise how niche this article was going to be esp just after Australia won a World Cup but I appreciate all the comments!

Test touring sides we should have picked: Australia versus India 1979-80

In India in 2013 when he didn’t bowl he made 99 runs at 16.

How England could win the Ashes

Don’t know much about Saqib Mahmoud. No spinner?

How England could win the Ashes

I used to think that but playing all arounders as specialist batsmen never seems to work. They never seem to score the runs they did when they bowl (unless they are basically batsmen eg Kallis, Smith). And when they don’t score runs, they don’t get dropped because they can bowl even when they’re not bowling.
The advantage of picking specialist batsmen means they are more accountable, have a specific job and can be dropped of they are not performing. If Anderson and Broad too injury prone to bowl don’t pick them If Stokes can’t bowl, don’t pick him. I think a lot of damage is done with “spare tyre” selections where we are always covering for players breaking down on the field.
Anyway it’s just my opinion. I can’t imagine England actually doing it but I wanted to flag it as an option.

How England could win the Ashes

Wood was always an average-around-30 type opener – he tended to get centuries or nothing from memory. Good player but I got the sense they always wanted someone better. I don’t think Wood was injured, they just felt Phillips would do better… just like when Wessels came available for selection I don’t think they disliked Laird or whoever he replaced they just thought Wessels would do better.
Also for 83-84 Australian selectors were worried about Qadir and Phillips was a left hander and they thought left handers negated him so they stacked the team with left handers. Hookes was unlucky after a great 82-83 but Yallop was in the form of his life (Yallop was super unlucky to miss out in the 82-83 Ashes) – hard for Hookes to dislodge Yallop, Border, Hughes and Chappell. Hookes wondered if it was his criticism of Hughes’ captaincy in 83 World Cup which hurt him but I honestly think they picked the best batsmen.
I’d never thought of what would’ve happened had Chappell retired in 83 though… You’re right, Hookes would’ve had a home series to bed himself in. Mind you Hookes did get a few chances and he never seemed to be able to quite grab them. If he’d been in the side in 84/85 they would’ve picked him as captain over Border for sure.

Test XIs I wish we’d played: 1984 in the West Indies

He would’ve been terrific in the West Indies. Laird is an interesting case. Many players who went on the 77 and 81 Ashes tours say him not being picked was a key reason why we did badly on those tours.
I think the selectors were very much looking towards the future with Smith and Phillips as openers to partner Wessels but then Wessels was injured, Smith was mostly injured then lost form and Phillips became keeper, so I guess the moral of the story is: you just never know. If he’d stuck around another season he could have well gotten back in the side after the Sth African bannings happened.

Test XIs I wish we’d played: 1984 in the West Indies

I know Hogan was a better batter but think Holland simply had a stronger chance of dismissing teams. The only test Australia won in 1985 Ashes for instance, was when he took a five-for at Lords. For instance a more potent bowling attack and Australia’s first innings of 429 in the third test could’ve won them the game. But like I say, I would’ve picked Hogan in my squad over Matthews, not Hogan, and the tour games would’ve given some indication of Holland’s effectiveness.
Laird was a fantastic player but from memory he retired at end of the 83-84 season.

Test XIs I wish we’d played: 1984 in the West Indies

True. He may have done terribly. But Holland had a better record as a match winner. I also think his stats would’ve been better had he bowled to a specialist keeper who would’ve taken every knick and stumping chance and had a captain sympathetic to spin bowling.

Test XIs I wish we’d played: 1984 in the West Indies

I have read that was Jim Maxwell’s first tour for the ABC I think.

Test XIs I wish we’d played: 1984 in the West Indies

You’re right. You have to be careful picking a bowler or keeper because of the batting. It’s a consideration but it shouldn’t be the main thing. I wish there were stats for catches missed by keepers.

Test XIs I wish we’d played: 1984 in the West Indies

I’ve got a soft spot for Rodney Hogg. He was so entertaining. Good bowler too. He was always overshadowed by his achievements during that 1978-79 summer but he had some good series at home. Less effective overseas – in a lot of countries I feel Australia would be better off picking a medium pacer (eg Hogg was outbowled on the 79 India tour by Geoff Dymock and on the 84 tour by Maguire). He had health issues (asthma, a bad back) that one feels would’ve been far better handled today. Smarter than he was credited for (throwing punches at the captain isn’t great for the image, admittedly). He was vice captain of Australia after Kim Hughes resigned during 84-85. But no surprise he went to South Africa.

Test XIs I wish we’d played: 1984 in the West Indies

West Indies pitches are more conducive to spin than is normally credited. In the first class games over there it’s the spinners who get the bulk of (or at least a lot of) the wickets. In 77-78 tour Yardley and Higgs got 15 wickets each. In 1972 tour Australia used two spinners for most games, and spinners won one of the tests. Jenner took 13 wickets. But I think far too often in the 80s (and even now) Australia thinks of spinners as this thing where you have to have one to give the fast bowlers a break and maybe dismiss people on the 5th day.

Agree about consistency. In fairness there were a few injuries but they chopped and changed the team every game including the batting line up.

Test XIs I wish we’d played: 1984 in the West Indies

Thanks Jeff. I think AB always better down the order than at number 3. He was more suited to fighting rear guard actions than dominating a game.
Impressed that you followed this live. Was it broadcast on ABC?

Test XIs I wish we’d played: 1984 in the West Indies

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