Monday, 25 November 2013

Australians Rediscover Fire

The most exciting thing that happened this week was that two of Australia's biggest match winners refound their fire and blasted England to smithereens in the first Test. Dave Warner and Mitchell Johnson were the two players we needed most to pull their best out and they did that and then some. A 49 and a century to Warner and 9 wickets to Mitchell Johnson has shaken England to the core and Jonothan Trott has been unable to stand anymore pressure and gone home sick with the anxiety of it all.

Now I know we're all supposed to be very nice and progressively empathetic towards Trott here, but it's also widely assumed that his "stress related illness" is related to the fact that he played like balls in the England home series and has now been horribly exposed in the first test. So let's say it like it is, we've wrecked his confidance and sent him packing for some R&R. Good! We should hope to cripple the mental stability of every player by the time the series is out, that's what we want.

It's not to be mean or anything, so he's mentally / emotionally a bit fragile, know plenty of people like that, still nice blokes, good when their doing well, fall to bits when they're having a poor Trott (see what I did ther... yeah you saw it). But let's face it, exposing the weaknesses of our opposition is what we're hoping to do every time we play someone. It's called competition, Trott couldn't handle the situation so he's run off home. Hopefully Swann and Matt Prior will also be soon contemplating whether they can handle their own failure by the time Boxing Day comes around.

There's still plenty of problems for Australia though. Apart from Warner finding form, and Pup dispensing any rumours of a serious problem against the short ball with his third ton of the year, and Brad Haddin doing tremendously, most of our batsmen again shat the bed.

Chris Rogers it has to be said has hardly asserted himself at Test level yet. He's done fine and got a century in England, but the issue there is that Marcus North, Phil Hughes, Ed Cowan and young Jordan Silk are once again piling pressure on the selectors for an opening spot.

Rogers and Steve Smith are thought to be pretty secure, but they ain't that secure yet. Both made centuries in England, Smith looks to be the future and has done well in Shield so far as well this summer. But happily for Australian selectors there's once again a plethora of first class bats putting their hands up to replace him should he fail too many times.

George Bailey, whose selection I'm still highly doubtful of, looked every bit the one day batsmen in his first appearance, but now that he's picked and we've won a match, he'll be there surely at least until Melbourne regardless of what he does. For completely different and far more valid reasons Shane Watson also can be carried. People are always complaining about his selection and how he gets more chances than others, but of course he does, he's offering more to the side than just his batting and that's not a small matter. He should get more chances than others because of what he offers as a legitimate 5th bowling option.

Of course you could also argue that we wouldn't need a fifth bowling option if we had the best 6 batsmen in the country in the side setting imposing totals allowing the full time bowlers to feel more confidant bowling to opposition batting lineups less confidant that they can chase the poultry totals we've been putting up.  But Watson & Bailey will get at least to Adelaide to play on what seems to be a drop in road and Australia will be riding high on confidence so we'll see how they go there.

The Sheffield Shield is supplying us with some real exciting options too. Dave Warner's got five centuries this summer, three in the Ryobi Cup including the highest score every by an Australian in any 50 over match. My theory on him has been that he does well against the new ball, but that he's never going to be a consistent scorer, so he would be better at 6 or 3 as our Viv Richards blaster. It's going to be hard for me to make that argument with these numbers he's putting up though. At 6 he gets to theoretically face the new ball pretty often, and I liken him to Adam Gilchrist who played at 6 many times.

Marcus North got another century on the weekend to stretch his lead as the dominant Shield batsmen this year out even further. He's got five centuries as a number 6 which could come to mind if Bailey fails, I'd have him opening with Rogers in the next test with Warner at 6 but I can concede the former might be more likely.

Phil Hughes managed a 67, Ed Cowan got 68 and his first century to go along with several half centuries so far this year. I've been really rooting for Ed to do what Marcus North is doing, to make himself unavoidable in talk about who should be in the side. He's averaging plenty but it's centuries that get people talking so it was good to see him get one on the weekend.

Of course he was actually batting at 3 but unfortunately Mark Cosgrove's new found lighter frame has only netted him one half century so far. 21 year old Jordan Silk might just jump ahead of both of them in the queue though, his fourth ton coming in his 9th game. Amazing start to his career. Cosgrove could be looking for another state to play in soon though. Tasmania has Doolan who normally bats at 3, Bailey who normally bats at 4 and newcomer Ben Dunk who's also doing well. James Faulkner has started batting at the traditional all rounder spot of 6 for them now after getting his first century in India. He's pretty far behind Tim Paine as a batsman though, and really not that far ahead of Luke Butterworth.

Travis Head over in South Australia's hit two 90+ scores in the last two matches. Ryan Carter got 154 and 67 for NSW as an opener. Alex Doolan failed for his second match in a row unfortunately for him. Usman Khawaja's started his season disastrously and his career average has fallen away consistently every year. Excitingly Cameron White got his first century, bouncing back after looking fantastic at the beginning of the summer, while Peter Forrest, Chris Lynn and Chris Hartley are in fine form up in Queensland.

So picking a team based on nothing more than form this summer, Dave Warner probably gets the nod over Phil Hughes, but Marcus North accompanies him. Ryan Carters only opened for NSW in the absence of Dave Warner but he's averaging 92 overall. Phil Hughes averaging more than Warner but Warner's overall form can't be denied.

South Australian Travis Head comes in at 3, far ahead of Shane Watson or Alex Doolan, Ed Cowan's been playing at 3 but he's been opening for years and has been coming in early with Cosgrove's poor start to the season.

Michael Clarke sensationally gets the axe as the rest of the top 6 consists of Chris Lynn, Cameron White and Peter Forrest. Brad Haddin beating out Chris Hartley to remain in the side.  Of course you could argue Ryan Carters at 6.

Of the bowlers, Doug Bollinger is doing well, and Steve O'Keefe remains the pick of the spinners.

One more round of Shield games before the Adelaide test. I'm hoping for Marcus North to force his way into the side if Bailey fails this weekend, though I'd be pretty shocked if he came in for Chris Rogers at the top. I don't think there's a chance in hell of any changes being made to the side for Adelaide, but here's my side:

1. Chris Rogers
2. Marcus North
3. Alex Doolan
4. Michael Clarke
5. Steve Smith
6. Dave Warner
7. Brad Haddin
8. Steve O'Keefe
9. Mitchell Johnson
10. Ryan Harris
11. Peter Siddle

No comments:

Post a Comment