I’m going to flog a dead horse here, because there are still people talking about it.
In typical Australian fashion, we are in the process of ripping apart every aspect of our national team in search of answers for the debacle over the last two tests in the Ashes.
I have already covered the change of pitch preparation over the last 10 years and the reason behind it in ‘Commercial Pressures of International Cricket’. I’ve also tickled on what the future selections may be for the Australian test team moving forward in ‘If I Were a Selector’. So now I’m turning to the selectors themselves.
Should they stay or should they go?
Straight up, I think they should stay. I personally don’t believe they have got much wrong so far. There will be a mass of people who couldn’t disagree more and that’s great because all things need discussion.
Where to start?
I’m going back to the selection of Adam Voges. At the time of his selection, I was already not convinced that he was an international cricketer. He has had a couple of cracks at the ODI team and couldn’t nail down his position there, despite getting enough chances that nerves and the like can’t be blamed for his results.
The reason I support his inclusion in this team is that it set an example. His selection said that if you are going to average 108 and score more runs in a season than all but three other people have managed in the history of Shield cricket, you are going to get a chance at the test team.
For too long we have been forced to pick random guys on potential without the runs on the board at state level. I felt it was a statement from the selectors saying ‘pile on the runs and you will get a crack’. Hindsight is wonderful and there is no doubt that Voges hasn’t done what he was selected for, but I think it’s hard to say the selectors didn’t make the right choice at the time. I’m also sure everyone was pretty happy when he pulled Australia out of trouble against the Windies to score a debut hundred.
Voges has extensive experience in English conditions and should have been a second Chris Rogers in our middle order. Unfortunately there just wasn’t a worse time to find out that he couldn’t make the step up to international cricket.
If people still believe that Watson and Haddin would have made the difference in this team then that is obviously fine. I don’t agree. Haddin will always be one of my favourite cricketers for so many reasons, but his batting has been on decline (like Clarkes) for 18 months. While we will never know, I find it so hard to believe that he had another series in him like the last ashes. Let’s not forget that he set records in that series. That was above anything he had done before and definitely since. To expect him at 37 to come out and do it again is pretty unrealistic.
The same applies to Watson. People have pointed the fact that his record against England is better than his record against other nations, but I think his record is inflated because two of his four hundreds have come against the Poms. Unfortunately, both of these centuries were under zero pressure. His high score of 180 odd was in a dead rubber. His other century at the WACA was after coming in at 1/200 and something in the second innings out of memory. I think he has room to keep playing in the ODI team at six but his test career would have been over sooner if we had any competition for his spot. Enter Mitch Marsh.
The dreaded fourth test debacle…This is the one where the selectors got it horribly wrong. I can kind of forgive them for looking at Shaun Marsh for the extra batsmen, even if I don’t think he is the man for the job. We needed batsmen. Our middle order was the start of the tail. What I can’t forgive them for is not including Siddle on that wicket. There was the debate; Hazelwood or Starc? I have outlined previously why I think Hazelwood should have been dropped and am happy that Starc came out and took six wickets to prove me right. Again, we will never know if Siddle would have made a difference, but my feelings are if he wasn’t going to be picked to play that test, then why the hell bring him?
Like a few of the batsmen, I think the selectors get a chance to see what they do this summer before getting the heave-ho. There is no way they can be blamed for every batsman in the top six failing. If anything, I would be looking at the batting coach Di Venuto. My question is why all the batsmen out were in the first innings pushing at the ball. Surely they have spent hours and hours under his tutelage letting the ball come onto the bat. Watching the ball come right under the eye-line and then onto the bat. They certainly got plenty of time watching when Root came to crease and said, “Here you go boys, this is how you bat in English conditions” Well played.
Let’s see what their next moves are before taking their heads. The players need to wear this one on the chin and then we will look further.