Friday, February 1, 2013

A good day for bit players

I stopped posting regularly a couple of years back for a couple of reasons. First, my work and life commitments increased. Second, the Argus review filled me with hope that the dark days of inept selections were behind us.

But then this happened. Rejoice, bit-players!

More to come on this squad later, but my first thoughts when I read it are that the selectors have no plan. Off the top of my head, the first choice team right now is probably along the lines of:

  • Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson,  Clarke, Khawaja, Wade, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon.  
And that, is actually a perfectly cromulent starting XI. Sub in Johnson or Bird if you feel the need, your mileage may vary. You might want to play two spinners on a turning deck. In that case, maybe you use an all-rounder at the six spot. For that reason I can fathom carrying Henriques - who completely deserves his chance and Maxwell (although it's a bit more of a leap of faith to see Maxwell batting in the top six of a test team. So, perhaps you end up with a team that looks like:

  • Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson,  Clarke, Henriques, Wade, Siddle, Doherty, Pattinson, Lyon; or
  • Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Watson,  Clarke, Maxwell, Wade, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon.
So, barring my long-standing objection to Mitchell Johnson, you have two very questionable selections.   The first is Xavier Doherty. We know what Xavier Doherty can do, which is probably not enough at test level. Why pick Doherty? The selectors have hitched their wagon to Nathan Lyon, and the unexciting Doherty will be unlikely to inspire a "spinner controversy" in the selection room.  Ideally, you would have seen the selectors groom a legitimate challenger to Doherty (the Colin Kaepernick to Lyon's Alex Smith) but, hey that is what forward thinking organisations do.

The really difficult selection to fathom here is Steve F. Smith.* Looking at the three possible line-ups listed above, it is difficult to see what role SFS would play. As much as I am a fan of Ed Cowan (Ed has his own article coming next week), I understand the need to have a reserve batsman on tour, to either cover for poor form from Cowan or Khawaja - or, I don't know, an INJURY. At the moment, your reserve batsman is Steve Smith. If one of the top five batsmen get injured, get ready for a middle order of Smith & Maxwell at five and six**. That's what this squad sets up. My first choice for the 17th member of the squad would have been Brad Haddin, for his ability to act as an adequate cover for the top six batsmen, and I don't know push/cover Matthew Wade.  Otherwise, take your pick of Bailey, Ferguson, Doolan, D. Hussey or whoever else you want, really.

* Steve Fucking Smith

** Hey, maybe Smith gets lucky and then he's your starting number six in the Ashes. You brought this on yourselves, Australia.

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