After another lost Test series questions are being asked of the Australia cricket team, not that they weren’t already!
The Australian selectors are used to a situation where the team needs little changing, a team where the only changes are when a player gets injured and there is a ready made replacement that is called upon. For example, when Adam Gilchrist was injured Brad Haddin would step in. Now that Haddin has the keeping position, if he is injured Tim Paine steps in. That is one positive for the Australia team, we have always had a very capable wicket-keeper/batsman.
However, back to the original point. The selectors are finding themselves in strange territory with the fact that they don’t want to change the team because the team can win, and when it does it wins easily. On the other hand, they need to change the team because players aren’t performing and currently, they flat out aren’t winning. So where do things need to change, well take a look:
He is the first player that needs to be booted out of the team. He either scores decently or he scores a donut, there is no in between for North. Before his timely 128 in the last Test against India, his previous six innings returned scores of 0, 20, 16, 0, 0 and 10. I could go on further but I’m sure you can see where I’m heading with that, he is clearly a man that deserves to be in the Test team. He was also brought in as an all-rounder sort, however he bowls 8 overs a match if he’s lucky (don’t quote me on that one, didn’t check!). So obviously he is in the side for his batting and at the moment with that failing him, he is in the side for what reason.
Get this kid in the Test side! He has performed at ODI and T20 level for Australia and has also shown glimpses in his couple of Test outings so far. Those glimpses can turn into constant events, he only needs experience. It is one thing I’ve noticed with the Australian team compared to every other Test nation in the world, our team has majority 27yo + players, opponents when they come to Australia are playing 1,2 or even 3 players under the age of 22. These other countries are blooding their talented youth and by the time they are 25 they are hitting their prime on the international stage and flourishing because of it. Get Smith into the team as a batsman to begin with, let him know the pressures that occur in the middle of the ground, bowl him 5-15 overs a Test, then once he has played a few Tests give him more responsibility with the ball. Then watch the kid shine with both bat and ball. But the Australian selectors need to start giving the younger, talented hopefuls a go instead of bringing in 30yo’s like Marcus North to replace an injured player, or vacated position.
I have to admit that I am a Hauritz fan. While I don’t argue with the fact that he can lose his way and throw many a pie down to the batsman, he can bowl and just needs the confidence to do so. Confidence, not just from himself, but from his captain and teammates. In the first Test, when the game was on the line, Ponting threw the ball to North instead of his front-line spinner in Hauritz. That would absolutely shatter his confidence, plus ruin his morale for the next time he was given the ball. If you have a front-line spinner and you want wickets, you need to use him. Not a part-time bowler who rarely bowls. Overall though, Australians need to realise that we are not going to have another Shane Warne, Hauritz will never match up to Warne, but he is a good spin bowler that serves his country well. People need to stop comparing him to Warne, because it just doesn’t make sense to do that in the first place.
Another change I would make is to bring in Phil Hughes, this is in line with what I said earlier about youth. If the selectors aren’t going to bring Smith in to replace North than they do one of two other things. A) Bring Hughes in to replace North straight up, or B) Bring Hughes in to open the batting with Katich and slide everyone else (either behind Ponting or even Watson to the 3, I don’t really care) down the order.
It’s time we saw some changes made to the Australian team, it’s time we saw some youth given an opportunity and not just those from NSW, from all of Australia (yes I do realise that my two examples above are NSW, but I’m sure people get the idea). Thats another thing I’m slightly ticked about, but that is for another time.