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What Wickets Will Pat Howard Request In The Name Of High Performance?
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What Wickets Will Pat Howard Request In The Name Of High Performance?

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Despite the fact I thought Australia needed to get smashed this summer, I certainly didn’t think it would unravel so quickly.

The Aussies have been so bad for all but day one of the first test that the administration has relaxed their tie policy so they can breathe a bit easier at the desk. I thought we would have enough good days while still getting beat this summer that come the SCG; we would be asking all these questions. The fact that we are in spring clean mode after two tests could be the best thing possible.

We now get four free tests to experiment. Opinions will fly, pressure will be on, but the selectors can now breath easy knowing that they have bowed to public pressure and injected youth. They can sit back for the summer and watch their work.

Selections aside, the question I am wondering most is:

What kind of wickets will Pat Howard request in the name of high performance?

Last year in Adelaide the wicket was left with a few extra millimetres on it to preserve the ball. Both McCallum and Smith agreed that with a small trim that test would have lasted four days.

So from both a cricket and commercial perspective, it would make sense that they would trial the wicket a few millimetres shorter this year.

My concern is, this presents a window to maybe ‘accidently over-correct’ and take a bit more off the wicket than needed. Giving more chance of runs, by having the pink ball deteriorate early with less grass coverage. And with, the obvious bonus of giving our fresh faces a little bit of protection against the rampant South Africans.

As we know, the following test is at the Gabba also under lights. We’re against a Pakistani team armed with quicks that could rip through any batting order, let alone one carrying the baggage of the current Australian team.
Someone by now, in the search for ultimate damage control, would have tabled the idea of flattening the wickets for the final four tests. The best damage control is to get the team winning again. I bet Cricket Australia would rather win or draw on flat wickets then get rolled two home series in a row, and one a genuine chance of a whitewash.

The MCG has been a road for years, so they don’t have to put in a special request there.

For the SCG last year, I thought there was a good chance it was going to have some character over the full five days. Unfortunately, the weather was imminent and forced the curator to accelerate the wicket to suit.

It would be a shame to discourage the curators from getting these distinct personalities back in the wickets around the country. The lack of, has most certainly contributed to our current problems.

While there are glaring differences, I am reminded of the last Ashes tour when the Lord’s wicket was prepared as an absolute road to counter our quicks. Stuart Broad and Co immediately requested some ‘English’ wickets for the rest of the series, and the curators didn’t disappoint.

While counter-productive to the bigger picture, should we get a few ‘Aussie’ wickets for the rest of the summer? It might give us some confidence back and the opportunity to build a plan to implement over the winter.

Or do we keep Adelaide and the Gabba pink-ball friendly and encourage a raging turner in Sydney? Risking major defeats while giving our new recruits a baptism of fire against the best two bowling attacks in the world. Back to back?

Personally, I’d prefer to see what the new kids are made of. Throw them in the deep end and see who swims. We are going to need some tough characters. I’m sure nobody is disillusioned that there could be a rotating door in the Australian top six. So let’s start the auditions, in the conditions we expect them to perform in.
What do you think?

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