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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.

Yes the South Africans loved that 1970 series. Can’t say I blame them. Their team of the 70s would’ve been amazing.

Test XIs we should have had: Pakistan 1982

That’s maybe a little rough. They’d certainly given their all over the years. And they started the same season in tests (70-71) it wasn’t that shocking they ended it at the same time.
I think it was the replacements. Lillee didn’t seem to leave as big a hole at first bc Australia had so many good fast bowlers but then a bunch of them went to South Africa and the cupboard suddenly became bare. That’s not his fault. For Marsh, he would’ve kept playing for a bit if he’d been captain, but the selectors made a big mistake not replacing him with Rixon, who would’ve been perfect. Instead they tried to convert Phillips into a keeper. Chappell I think was more affected by the events of 80-81 (eg underarm) than he let on. But Yallop and Hookes looked as though they’d step up to replace him but it didn’t work out that way.
South African defections did more damage to Oz cricket in the mid 80s that Lillee, Marsh, Chappell retirements, IMHO.

Test XIs we should have had: Pakistan 1982

Gilchrist learned how to keep at state level first though. Test cricket is not a good place to learn a whole new skill set.

Test XIs we should have had: Pakistan 1982

Wayne Phillips is a big “one that got away” for me. Exciting, aggressive opening batsman. Slater before Slater. Career wrecked by being a wicketkeeper.

Test XIs we should have had: Pakistan 1982

Australia have a bad track record of simply ignoring a dud overseas tour. Let’s see how often they bring up the recent t20 tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh!

Test XIs we should have had: Pakistan 1982

I do think they had more potential than they were allowed to realise. With more support I think they could’ve achieved more than they did, especially overseas.
Agree about Chapell. I actually don’t begrudge him for taking time out… being captain and the best batsman is super draining. But to give up the captaincy and then take it back (and stay on as selector) was a bit much. So much pain could’ve been avoided if they gave the captaincy to Marsh.

Test XIs we should have had: Pakistan 1982

Yeah I remember they picked the team deliberately with an idea to negate Qadir. Pakistan didn’t have Imran as a bowler that series. Still, they almost won in Adelaide. They weren’t walk overs. They did better over here than we did over there. Great side. Easily second best in the world at the time.

Test XIs we should have had: Pakistan 1982

Just off you tube… It’s utterly fascinating to watch. The commentators speak like they went to Cambridge or something.

Test XIs we should have had: Pakistan 1982

Inverarity being there might’ve really helped Border.

Test XIs we should have had: 1985 Ashes

I did try not to be wise in hindsight which is why I admitted I wouldn’t have taken Smith, which would’ve been wrong.
For David Hussey though I would’ve just taken the punt on him because of his overall career record.

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

No I wouldn’t have dropped him 2009-11. He was great. But apart from that Katich period he only held his position over better batsmen because he could bowl. I didn’t hate Watson. I just think he unbalanced the team when not opening with Katich.
Clarke should’ve been dropped at the end of 2010-11 with Haddin made captain for the 5th test and then Katich to take over for Sri Lanka.
I do love the term “the one true guitar playing genius” though 🙂

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

They seem to have this dream of an ordered transition which never, ever works because life always, always throws up curve balls – whether it’s loss of form, injury, people flaming out like sandpapergate or international things like COVID…

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

Agree good to get in younger players esp fast bowlers (feel it’s more of a mistake with spinners). But think it can be overdone. And too often selectors ignore first class records in the process.

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

My theory was John Inverarity (head of selectors at the time ) was influenced by the success he had at West Australia – where he had a lot of all round cricketers (Ian Brayshaw, Tony Mann, himself). I just don’t think it’s ever worked at test level. I think you’re better off with specialists, if only because you know when to drop them whereas with all rounders it’s tricky i.e. “well they got runs but took no wickets… well they got no runs but took some wickets…” Having said that I love a batsman who can bowl a few overs is always useful just as long as what they’re judged on is the batting.

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

Thanks for the detailed reply. I actually don’t have any contemporary memories for 77-78, 78-79 or 81 it’s all off research!

In response – Katich retired from first class cricket in Oz in 2012, but kept playing first class cricket in England in 2012 and 2013, so was still active in addition to still playing short form in Oz. Even Clarke says in his book he pushed for Katich in the 2013 Ashes.
David Hussey was still playing first class cricket at the time – he retired April 2015. Hussey had a real knack for only not making runs when there were spots open.

I picked Khwaja bc I would’ve gone for him at the time over Smith. I’m trying to be honest, and say who I would’ve picked then and there. Smith hadn’t been great domestically but Khawaja and Hughes had been. I felt at the time Khawaja had more potential than Smith. I don’t think anyone except a few people could imagine Smith would turn into what he became. I don’t know of any other Oz player who improved so much after he got in the test team.

On Jacques, etc I agree… the selectors were hooked on a “youth first” policy at the time, what Jarrod Kimber called “the search for the ten year player”, ie. trying to find champions. It led to them discarding veterans: Hodge, Jacques, Katich, Andrew McDonald. They only picked Voges and Rogers reluctantly. Some players like Quiney and Doolan seem to have scored domestic runs at just the right time.

I understand the importance of bringing in new players but I think in the 2010s they did it to a degree that was just plain silly.

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

I think in 2013 he’d been averaging 26 or something for two years. Post Katich his form really dropped away. He came back a little bit in 2013-14 but the one time he was really great was opening with Katich. I am hard on him but he never got dropped.

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

Two things (a) not playing six batsmen, and (b) playing Johnson and Starc at the time same (both wicket taking run leakers).

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

True. From memory Hughes even tried to change states. Just a shame, that’s all. Would’ve loved for him to end his test career on a better note. By 1988-89 he wasn’t the same batsman.

Test XIs we should have had: 1985 Ashes

Maybe you’re right!

Test XIs we should have had: 1985 Ashes

Border was sublime that series. It was the high mark of Greg Ritchie’s career. Kepler Wessels (an extremely good batsman) had an average series for him. Wood was erratic as Wood always was – highs and lows. Hilditch started strongly then got addicted to the hook shot. David Boon scored mountains of runs in the county games but struggled in the tests – I think they eventually realised he had to bat in the top three. Phillips had some good knocks. I would’ve loved to see him just as an opener.

I do think going out to bat after the opposition has scored 500 must feel debilitating!

Test XIs we should have had: 1985 Ashes

I loved McCurdy as a kid. Rackemann was a world beater who just needed a good physio. Phillips was so talented. For me he was the biggest mismanaged talent of the mid 80s.

Test XIs we should have had: 1985 Ashes

Wellham was super consistent for NSW. I think he got in because of his captaincy as well – they wanted to give Border some help.
From what I gather, Wessels didn’t want to go to South Africa, he wasn’t involved in recruiting, but as the one South African in the test side, everyone pestered him with questions about it so he became de facto involved. But my belief is he wanted to keep playing official cricket for Oz.

Test XIs we should have had: 1985 Ashes

I understand why he went. But I do feel he’d be back in that Oz team in 85-86. Marsh was impatient too. If he’d stayed on another season he would’ve been captain in England.

Test XIs we should have had: 1985 Ashes

Looking at the scorecard again to take England from 1-371 to all out for 464 at least shows some fight. But by then the batsmen were clearly shot.

Test XIs we should have had: 1985 Ashes

Poor old Border would’ve been having major 1981 vibes during that chase. Holland’s final stats from that series are rotten but he won Australia a test and you can’t help think he was underutilised. I wonder how he would’ve gone in tandem with Bennett for a few tests.

Test XIs we should have had: 1985 Ashes

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