Wow haven’t the armchair experts come out in force this week; after the carnage in Cape Town last week, every man, woman and child I’ve talked to had an opinion on what needed to be done to right the ship.
“Johnson’s had too many chances get rid of him.”
“Ponting’s too old.”
“Get Cummins into the side.”
“Hughes can’t bat terrible technique for an opener, and not up for the fight.” (How do you quantify whether someone is up for the fight?)
“What was Haddin doing, worst shot I’ve ever seen.”
Whether you believe any of the above quotes to be true or not there is no denying that all of the above statements have been at the forefront of discussion and had been trotted out on the back pages and editorials in newspapers around the country well before last week’s capitulation.
However a close friend of mine viewed the situation as an even greater disaster than anyone else, as he trumped all the above generic statements with.
“Drop ‘em all bring in a fresh 11 players”
Gee harsh words, I pumped him for more info on what the side would look like in terms of batting order, do you go with 4 paceman or 3 and a spinner but he wasn’t elaborating. Like many Australians who love their cricket team (as I do) the warmth of a blanket statement is too comfortable and does not bear closer examination.
So I thought I would give it a shot; pick an Australian Test team, devoid of any current members of the squad in South Africa, with an emphasis on current form. I’ve tried to steer clear of players who have featured in the test side before so the likes of Simon Katich (who is probably the best spinner in the country at the moment!), Marcus North, Chris Rodgers etc miss out.
It also means that I could not find a place for a spinner, as not many are really putting their hand up with big hauls at the moment.
The team also doubles as an early season indicator of Shield form. I’m not trying to predict future Australian debutants just merely highlighting who has started the season well. Where possible I’ve kept batsman to the position they’ve held in the order so far this year; from 7 down things get a little skewed in comparison to state batting order but overall the order is not too far way from what you would see in reality.
1. Ryan Broad- Queensland
2011/12- Avg: 41.66 Runs: 250 Highest Score: 135
His 135 for Queensland against Western Australia, earlier this month, earned him a man of the match award and included 25 boundaries. Also very impressed by his 56 scored on a Gabba green top ,against a Ben Hilfenhaus led Tasmanian attack, in October.
2011/12- Avg: 56.37 Runs: 451 Highest Score: 135
Liam Davis has been in fantastic touch throughout the early part of the 2011/12 season; 2 centuries and 2 half centuries have him close to 500 runs in 4 matches. His highest score of the season came against Tasmania; but it was 108 in Western Australia’s pursuit of 365 against Victoria last week that was the standout innings. Very small sample size, I know, but it’s a great time to be making runs; and with so much uncertainty surrounding the top 2 spots in the Australian test team Davis could put his name right in the mix with a continuation of his current form.
2011/12- Avg: 36.80 Runs: 184 Highest Score: 74
Alex Doolan sneaks into the side due to a poor return from all eligible number 3s around the country. Doolan has got starts in his 4 innings this season with his 74 against Victoria the only decent return, cashing in on those scores in the 20-30 range are essential but show that technically he is equipped to make bigger totals.
2011/12- Avg: 82.60 Runs: 413 Highest Score: 203*
Had the kind of game most players dream about against New South Wales; game scores of 98 and 203*ensuring that South Australia avoided defeat on what was, in reality, a flat Bankstown Oval pitch. Has occupied the crease, for moderate returns in all of his innings so far this season bar 1 score of 0 against Western Australia. A hard hitting middle order bat, who has represented Holland in 18 ODI’s but is still eligible for Australia.
2011/12- Avg: 38.85 Runs: 272 Highest Score: 116
Number 5 is another position that is light on for runs in the domestic competition so far. George Bailey gets the nod for a near match winning 116 against Western Australia; Tasmania falling just 25 runs short in their pursuit of 408. He has been quiet since the game against the Warriors, but with the position bereft of runs, Bailey’s knock and the added bonus his captaincy would bring ensures a spot.
2011/12- Avg: 63.28 Runs: 443 Highest Score: 150*
At 31 years of age the ship might have sailed on Adam Voges international hopes, but with an unbeaten 150 against the Tasmanians in Perth, along with 3 scores of 50 plus, he is displaying career best form. He has still managed to fit 2 ducks into his season so far and will hope to move away from the “feast or famine” inning type he has been known for in the past. When in full flow there are not many better batsmen to watch on the domestic scene.
2011/12- Avg: 55.60 Runs: 278 Highest Score: 108
With Brad Haddin struggling with the bat and assumed successor Tim Paine suffering from a finger injury, Wade has shown he will not miss an opportunity to put his name in the selector’s minds. 108 in the 1st innings against Tasmania earlier in the month his highest score for the year; but it was the 80 he scored out of a Victorian total of 190, in a spiteful 2ndinning, that demonstrates to me some of the qualities needed in a test match keeper. His work behind the stumps is still a work in progress and is the 1 knock on his game, but the bat is legitimate and out of the whole team would be the most likely to go on and represent Australia in test cricket this season.
2011/12- Avg: 20.66 Runs: 124 Highest Score: 58
Bowling Avg: 15.94 Wickets: 19 Best Bowled: 5/43
Cutting is the leading wicket taker for surprise leaders Queensland through the early part of the season. His devastating spell of 5/12 off 37 balls, against the Warriors, ensured an outright for his side; the final figures of 5/43 his best for the season. Decent hauls against Victoria and Tasmania adding to an impressive haul of 19 wickets so far. His late order big hitting has also provided some highlights. A career high 58 off just 51 balls against New South Wales yesterday included 44 coming in 4s and 6s.
2011/12- Bowling Avg: 27.30 Wickets: 20 Best Bowled: 5/79
Tattoos, Dennis Lillee headband and erratic with line and length Jade Herrick is the anti-cricketer and I rate him. He picked up his maiden 5 wicket haul against New South Wales earlier in the season and contributed 7 wickets in the game against Tasmania. This was his 1st full pre season with the Victorian squad and his fitness is showing with 154 overs bowled so far, the second highest workload in the country. Can struggle with consistency and will go for runs but he is taking wickets at the moment and that’s all you can ask for out of a bowler.
2011/12- Bowling Avg: 27.00 Wickets: 17 Best Bowled: 5/36
It would seem that the likes of Nathan Copeland and Patrick Cummins have replaced George in the minds of the national selectors. But with his height and awkward bounce he can be, at times, a very difficult proposition for any batsman. The game against New South Wales was a reminder of the skill set that enabled him to earn a baggy green in India last October; taking care of Katich, Hughes and Khwaje on the way to season best figures of 5/36.
2011/12- Bowling Avg: 26.40 Wickets: 20 Best Bowled: 5/30
20 wickets for the season, valuable contributions in every game and a body that can stand up to high over counts; Michael Hogan has been as productive player for his State as any in the competition. His 5/30 against Tasmania in the 1st game of the season turned the match on its head as he took charge of an attack missing Mitchell Johnson through injury. He was also impressive against South Australia as the 32 year old looks to be in supreme form.