Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Daily Telegraph manages not to completely lose its sense of perspective

Australia's disappointing 320 run loss to India has brought a few things to light about the Australian tilt. One: the batting looks very thin when Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey are out of form. Two: We lack a quality spinner. As much as the selection of Siddle over Bollinger and Bracken has copped some serious flack, he looked the best of the very punchless Australian attack and that is a problem. 

In a series like this, carrying injured and out of form players has been a massive issue for the Australian team, as such the Daily Telegraph has called for the addition of another. Andrew Symonds, of whom the author is a massive fan is not the answer to the Australian teams woes in India. Whilst the Telegraph has surveyed Australian cricket fans on the streets of Lakemba and found 70% in favour of shipping Symonds to India and even manufactured a Qantas boarding pass to India to make their case even more obvious, one must argue that this has been poorly thought out. Andrew Symonds in form is a match winner. His off spin may provide some use against an Indian side that seem to be weak against off spin. His bat would at its best provide a counterpunch that could put Australia on the front foot.

In saying all of this, Andrew Symonds is not in form. Andrew Symonds out of form is one of crickets most heartbreaking sights. Out of form Symonds lives in two worlds, either dancing down the track first ball and throwing away his wicket or doing his best poor mans Katich and looking lost. Either way he won't help in this state. Yet Mike Whitney, the Brett Kenny of Australian cricket (ie. the retired player who always has something incredibly stupid to say to the press) thinks it is a fantastic idea, and so does Barry from Lakemba. Australian selectors, make this happen.

From this authors perspective, the signs of Australia's demise in India this year have been glaring from a long way out. India in Australia last season probably felt unlucky to not have come away with more. With the best batting lineup in world cricket right now, and ever improving pace and spin bowling this was always going to be a fight. Australia's lack of desire to pick a team suited by Indian conditions and the general aging of its batting lineup was always going to make matters worse. 

Just as Australia made a break from tradition a decade ago and marked some of its players with a bright red T for test and O for one day, now might be the time to do the same for subcontinent specialists. One man whose game is ill-suited for the flat tracks of India is Brett Lee. Anywhere else in the world he is the first bowler to be picked and rightly so. In India, bowlers like Nathan Bracken should be given the opportunity to prove their worth. Whilst the Indians struggled with Shane Warne, this should not be confused with struggles against wrist-spin. The Indians face better leg spin than the stylings of Cameron White in the nets. Curiously, finger spin has always been more successful in India (non-Shane Warne division). 

It may be that some of the batting simply requires a freshen. Sending home a few of the struggling batsmen such as Hussey and Hayden and seeing what the backups have got for the remainder of the tour could be a forward thinking move. Hussey can certainly rebound, though he looks in dire need of some time off. Hayden could be done. A 37 year old in his kind of form rarely gets a long time to rebound. As for the bowling, a look at a pace attack of Siddle, Bollinger and Bracken would give the overused Johnson and the unsuited Lee a nice freshen before the summer series in Australia. 

These changes aren't likely to turn the teams fortunes in India around in a hurry, but it has at least as good a chance as the current group. And if nothing else, it gives the selectors a glimpse of what kind of depth is available. Certainly, it is more forward thinking than the ostrich like move of adding Symonds and assuming that everything else will be alright.


Dan said...

Hmmm... I think you're being a tad harsh on Hussey. A century in the First Test, a half-century in the Second. A bit rough to call him out as a weak link.

Hayden, sure. Man doesn't know what he's doing. He seemed to be trying to chase down 500 in one session the other night. Which was entertaining, but always unlikely to succeed.

Captain Carnage said...

Hussey is the least of our worries...One wonders who Ashley Noffke, who has the potential to be a genuine ALL-ROUNDER, has to root to get a gig. Have never understood the labelling of Bracken as a one day bowler only. I believe he's in the top two in the rankings (or was recently) in one day cricket...what a shame that there's no way that form could be converted to Test form. Not with that great big "ODI" label slapped on his forehead.

Professor Chaos said...

Yeah.. Hussey not a problem by any stretch.. more some quick writing and my thought that the guy looked tired and I want him in full swing when the summer starts...

Professor Chaos said...

The search must start for a grinder down the other end from Katich. Break the Indian hearts at 0/150 after the first day!
Or even better 0/90...