Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day January 14, 2012

Australia's opening odd couple

Australia should continue opening with David Warner and Ed Cowan, even when Shane Watson returns to the team
92

David Warner is brash; Ed Cowan is understated. Warner muscles runs where he wants, Cowan milks them where he can. By his own admission, Warner has barely read a book; Cowan has written a fine one. They seem as likely a pair as Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison. That's good for Australia. The Ungar-Madison partnership entertained audiences for five years on American TV. Australian fans would love to see the Warner-Cowan combination last that long.

On the second day at the WACA, they completed a 214-run partnership that placed Australia in a position of domination against India. It was just the second double-century stand by an Australian opening pair since the end of the Matthew Hayden-Justin Langer era. Shane Watson, the most constant thing about Australian opening in the past two years, was never part of one.

When Watson returns from injury, it should be in the middle order. How that affects the balance of the team remains to be seen. On current form, Shaun Marsh would be the logical man to miss out, but given Watson is unlikely to be part of the Test side until the tour of the West Indies in April, much could change in the meantime. What shouldn't be altered in the short term is the Warner-Cowan partnership.

It is early in their Test days, but the signs are promising. Warner has made two contrasting Test hundreds in his first five matches: a composed century full of common sense and ignored impulses on a tricky pitch in Hobart, and a breathtaking 180 at better than a run a ball against India at the WACA. Cowan has two fifties to his name, both so unobtrusive that they risk being forgotten. They shouldn't be.

The best Australian opening combinations in modern times have consisted of one man who dashes and one who dabs - think of Hayden and Langer, or of Slater and Taylor. The primary role of the openers is to negotiate the period of swing and seam, to take the shine off the new ball. As Warner observed after the first day in Perth, he and Cowan both do that, just in different ways.

"I know that Ed's working hard to see the new ball off," Warner said. "That's how Ed plays. It's not going to affect my game at all. With him at the other end soaking up the balls and getting himself in is fantastic, because he's taking the shine off the ball and at the other end I'm doubling that and taking all the lacquer off the ball."

Warner showed in Hobart that he can knuckle down. But at his most outrageous, as he was in the first innings at the WACA, his work can hardly be called Test batting. He said as much himself on Friday night, when he recalled his thought process as he approached triple figures - "this ain't Test cricket, this is something different", he said. The feeling didn't go away on the second day as he racked up 180 from 159 deliveries, including a six over extra cover off Zaheer Khan.

Cowan's style is nothing if not traditional Test play. He nudges and nurdles, pushes and prods, leaves and, ah, leaves again. When Cowan steered a two behind point to bring up his half-century at the WACA, Warner ran down the pitch to congratulate his partner. The crowd cheered politely. It was not him they had come to see. But his role was invaluable: had wickets been falling at the other end, Warner could not have felt as secure in his strokeplay.

Not that Cowan was slow. He still scored at a strike-rate of 61. Eventually, he was dismissed for 74. He walked off slowly, disappointed to have missed such a golden chance for his maiden Test century. He deserves plenty more opportunities. The value of his runs became more apparent when the rest of the specialist batsmen struggled to get past the teens.

Cowan proved himself a perfect foil for Warner. What two such different men talk about at the crease is anyone's guess. But as long as they bat even half as well as they did at the WACA, Australia's opening odd couple should not be parted.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • zenboomerang on January 17, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    @jeauxx... Watson (Ave 38.1) is nothing like Hayden (Ave 50.7) - neither in runs scored or century making partnerships... He has run out his partners more often than any other batsman during his career... His batting average has been dropping alarmingly since being made vice-captain... Averages 1 century every 29 innings - 3 times slower than good Test batsmen... His Test average is just 2.6 runs higher than Haddins... If the team is batting well you need a good batter at no.5/6 for the 2nd new ball - Hussey was an opener during his long SS career & is a good foil at this position as would Watson be in the 'fragile' middle order...

  • zenboomerang on January 17, 2012, 2:49 GMT

    @Itchy... Try looking at Pontings recent dismissals - many lbw's with his head falling over & creeping across his stumps... This time he kept his head up - same result - the ball got through his defenses once again... 1 ton in 2 years is not the sign of a batsman in form... His batting form for last year is about the same as Marshs... Enough said...

  • on January 16, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    Eventual team: Warner, Cowan, Marsh, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Wade, Pattinson, Siddle, Harris, Lyon. Reserves: Hilfenhaus, Cummins, Starc, Copeland, Christian, Johnson, Cutting

  • zenboomerang on January 16, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    @Itchy... Try looking at Pontings recent dismissals - many lbw's with his head falling over & creeping across his stumps... This time he kept his head up - same result - the ball got through his defenses once again... 1 ton in 2 years is not the sign of a batsman in form... His batting form for last year is about the same as Marshs... Enough said...

  • zenboomerang on January 15, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    @Itchy... Try looking at Pontings recent dismissals - many lbw's with his head falling over & creeping across his stumps... This time he kept his head up - same result - the ball got through his defenses once again... 1 ton in 2 years is not the sign of a batsman in form... His batting form for last year is about the same as Marshs... Enough said...

  • Andross on January 15, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    @ jeauxx I completely agree, I think that the old adage 'if it ain't broken, don't fix it' is the operative phrase here. If he's in the side and performing well, keep him at the top of the order, maybe there is a case for him being at 3, but I can't see him lower than that. It's similar to people who say that Clark should bat at 3, my response is 'why--just because he's Captain--does that mean that he should bat at three?' Would you have batted S Waugh at 3 because he was the captain? No, he was a middle order batsman, there's nothing wrong with that, he was just more suited to it. Just as Watson has proven to be at his best at the top of the order.

  • manjulap on January 15, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    I guess they should stick to the same team for the 4th test too! annihilate the Indians and do what ever changes are necessary! my opinion Marsh should go & get in Khawaja. Big question mark over Haddin! Go Aussies and conquor......

  • TheLoneStranger on January 15, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    I stick by my comments regarding Ponting's dismissal. He played a millionaire's shot on a pauper's score. Any grade batsman in form could have kept that delivery out. Ponting played all over it. The comment by the ABC radio commentator was that it was "an expansive shot". I thoroughly agree. I didn't suggest Ponting be dropped, merely chastised for an injudicious shot at a time when he should have been consolidating. I also stick by my assessment of Haddin's and Clarke's dismissals. They played the wrong line; and in fact Haddin need not have played at all; the ball was clearly outside off and not going to trouble him had he shouldered arms.

  • Meety on January 15, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    @jeauxx - you seem to be analysing as if it were an ODI batting lineup, which nobody is wanting Watto to drop down. Watto's conversion rate is poor. Yes he was one of our better batsman up until the Ashes last year, since then he has been off the boil. Watto is not a natural opener, & I would argue that #6 is a place he would ultimately master, for the time being I think he would do well @#3 or #4 depending on Punter.

  • Okakaboka on January 15, 2012, 3:40 GMT

    The only movement of Haddin in the batting order is completely of the score card...err...out of the team. This Hack should be number 11 if he is played as a keeper!!!! Watson will replace Marsh......and Wade MUST replace 'can't bat..can't wicket keep' Haddin.

  • zenboomerang on January 17, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    @jeauxx... Watson (Ave 38.1) is nothing like Hayden (Ave 50.7) - neither in runs scored or century making partnerships... He has run out his partners more often than any other batsman during his career... His batting average has been dropping alarmingly since being made vice-captain... Averages 1 century every 29 innings - 3 times slower than good Test batsmen... His Test average is just 2.6 runs higher than Haddins... If the team is batting well you need a good batter at no.5/6 for the 2nd new ball - Hussey was an opener during his long SS career & is a good foil at this position as would Watson be in the 'fragile' middle order...

  • zenboomerang on January 17, 2012, 2:49 GMT

    @Itchy... Try looking at Pontings recent dismissals - many lbw's with his head falling over & creeping across his stumps... This time he kept his head up - same result - the ball got through his defenses once again... 1 ton in 2 years is not the sign of a batsman in form... His batting form for last year is about the same as Marshs... Enough said...

  • on January 16, 2012, 5:31 GMT

    Eventual team: Warner, Cowan, Marsh, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Wade, Pattinson, Siddle, Harris, Lyon. Reserves: Hilfenhaus, Cummins, Starc, Copeland, Christian, Johnson, Cutting

  • zenboomerang on January 16, 2012, 4:38 GMT

    @Itchy... Try looking at Pontings recent dismissals - many lbw's with his head falling over & creeping across his stumps... This time he kept his head up - same result - the ball got through his defenses once again... 1 ton in 2 years is not the sign of a batsman in form... His batting form for last year is about the same as Marshs... Enough said...

  • zenboomerang on January 15, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    @Itchy... Try looking at Pontings recent dismissals - many lbw's with his head falling over & creeping across his stumps... This time he kept his head up - same result - the ball got through his defenses once again... 1 ton in 2 years is not the sign of a batsman in form... His batting form for last year is about the same as Marshs... Enough said...

  • Andross on January 15, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    @ jeauxx I completely agree, I think that the old adage 'if it ain't broken, don't fix it' is the operative phrase here. If he's in the side and performing well, keep him at the top of the order, maybe there is a case for him being at 3, but I can't see him lower than that. It's similar to people who say that Clark should bat at 3, my response is 'why--just because he's Captain--does that mean that he should bat at three?' Would you have batted S Waugh at 3 because he was the captain? No, he was a middle order batsman, there's nothing wrong with that, he was just more suited to it. Just as Watson has proven to be at his best at the top of the order.

  • manjulap on January 15, 2012, 6:16 GMT

    I guess they should stick to the same team for the 4th test too! annihilate the Indians and do what ever changes are necessary! my opinion Marsh should go & get in Khawaja. Big question mark over Haddin! Go Aussies and conquor......

  • TheLoneStranger on January 15, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    I stick by my comments regarding Ponting's dismissal. He played a millionaire's shot on a pauper's score. Any grade batsman in form could have kept that delivery out. Ponting played all over it. The comment by the ABC radio commentator was that it was "an expansive shot". I thoroughly agree. I didn't suggest Ponting be dropped, merely chastised for an injudicious shot at a time when he should have been consolidating. I also stick by my assessment of Haddin's and Clarke's dismissals. They played the wrong line; and in fact Haddin need not have played at all; the ball was clearly outside off and not going to trouble him had he shouldered arms.

  • Meety on January 15, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    @jeauxx - you seem to be analysing as if it were an ODI batting lineup, which nobody is wanting Watto to drop down. Watto's conversion rate is poor. Yes he was one of our better batsman up until the Ashes last year, since then he has been off the boil. Watto is not a natural opener, & I would argue that #6 is a place he would ultimately master, for the time being I think he would do well @#3 or #4 depending on Punter.

  • Okakaboka on January 15, 2012, 3:40 GMT

    The only movement of Haddin in the batting order is completely of the score card...err...out of the team. This Hack should be number 11 if he is played as a keeper!!!! Watson will replace Marsh......and Wade MUST replace 'can't bat..can't wicket keep' Haddin.

  • on January 15, 2012, 2:38 GMT

    and yet another batting collapse...i dont think this series is any indication of the standard of the Australian batting lineup. Its quite obvious when you look at India's bowling, they have barely ever bowled 2 balls in the same spot in a row. And yet still there have been a number of collapses and mini- collapses. Suddenly the collapses against NZ, SA, ENG have all been forgotten.

    Watson should be in there, Kwaja has the termperment to play quality bowling. Either Ponting or Hussey should still go. Both were pathetic yesterday. I sincerely hope that both their Sydney innings hasnt bought them another Ashes series...cos that would be the worst thing for Australian cricket.

  • sidzy on January 15, 2012, 2:35 GMT

    @ RandyOZ I am with u for sometime mow i hav been doubting justin langer place as bating coach, aus really need a change their.

  • potofazherbaizan on January 15, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    "When Watson returns from injury, it should be in the middle order." You're calling Watson IT.

  • on January 15, 2012, 2:15 GMT

    Jeauxx

    I'll give you two reasons.

    One: there are promising signs for this partnership, and it should be given a chance to develop. It's hard to drop either one at the moment, since ideally you want one aggressor and one more solid player. Neither can play down the order- Watson can

    Two: Watson is actually, when his body allows it, an incredibly astute and effective bowler. He has plenty of variations in his deliveries, he's accurate and he has an uncanny knack for taking key wickets. You probably don't want one of your key bowlers to also open the batting. Over the past year, when he's taken on more responsibility as a bowler, his batting has noticeably suffered.

  • on January 15, 2012, 1:51 GMT

    I think Clarke/Ponting should now say that the Indian attack is "ordinary".....they do not have the ability to take 20 aussie wkts...... :D.......what goes around come around...........right Sehwag??...

  • on January 15, 2012, 1:24 GMT

    Australia is already an excellent team. Just imagine how much stronger it will be if Marsh and Haddin are replaced by Watson & Paine. Run rate matters in modern test cricket. So, both Warner and Watson should be in the team. Warner at the top and Watson in the middle will not give any respite to the opposing teams. A sure fire way of scrambling the brains of opposing captains and demoralizing the opposition's fielders. By the way, when is the next ashes? Waiting to see this Oz team taking on the " international" team of England!

  • Busie1979 on January 15, 2012, 1:09 GMT

    What happened to Australian standards?

    Watson has been a failure as an opener. Only two hundreds and a few 90s in his career. He does not convert starts into big scores. Time to stop making excuses for him. Whether it is confidence or concentration or some technical flaw, you need more than 20s, 30s and 40s out of openers. You need 100s and 150s. Put him at number 6 and open with Hussey - get him bowling more. He would not make previous Australian sides as a batsman alone. He needs to bowl.

  • johnnycash on January 15, 2012, 1:04 GMT

    Shane Watson's average of 24 as opener in tests in 2011 suggests he should go down the order. If an opener averaged 24 for a year of test cricket his position would be under threat.

  • timmyw on January 15, 2012, 1:02 GMT

    @ jeauxx - I'll explain why. By his own admission, he can't concentrate on batting after bowling. He has been in terrible form since Australia got him to start bowling more, and that is the reason why, he finds it difficult to start batting straight after he has been bowling. This is the reason most all-rounders sit in at number 6. Having someone who cannot concentrate on batting and have him opening is not what we want. An opening Batter's main attribute is the ability to concentrate. If he cannot do that there is no way he should be in the opening slot. Either that or get him to stop bowling, which after witnessing what he's done with the ball lately is probably not an option.

  • on January 15, 2012, 0:53 GMT

    To TheLoneStranger. mate you obviously no nothing about cricket. firstly Wade Townsend isnt a wicket keeper. dont know where you thought he would get haddins job. Khawaja hasnt done much more then Marsh. forget marsh's total 1st class ave, just look at his ave over the past 3 or 4 seasons. if you look at his total ave where his first half of his career he ave 20 then his brother mitch would never play test cricket because he has started his career at a very young age similar to shaun. The only change i would make is faulkner for starc. if watson was 100% fit then maybe swap him for marsh. infact i think watson's best position could be 3.

  • on January 15, 2012, 0:28 GMT

    I believe the Aussies should stick to the same team at Adelaide with a 3-0 lead in their bag which is very much in the cards, so that Marsh has yet another chance to get his confidence back.Let us not worry about Watson now.A left right opening combination is always good and on his return he will bat at the top.Either Cowan or Warner drop down to no. 3. And players like Hughes,Khawaja,Ferguson and Christian are always there to take the place of ageing Ponting and Hussey. They can surely make any changes in the bowling squad if required depending upon how the wicket looks like.

  • Naresh28 on January 15, 2012, 0:18 GMT

    AGAINST India with bad bowlers and fielders they will look GOOD openning pair, but I have my doubts against a good pace attack like SA on the fast Oz and SA pitches. Only time will tell. Though Warner and Watson as openers would be a good pairing.

  • on January 14, 2012, 23:05 GMT

    India are very overrated , they are poor outside the sub continent. India's plans are play as many home series as possible and win to take a short cut to the number 1 ranking.

    They never deserved that number 1 ranking

  • trumpoz on January 14, 2012, 22:48 GMT

    Forget about Watson opening. Drop Marsh, send Ponting back to no. 3 and slot Watson in at 4. When Pontin retires/is dropped for good then Khawaja, an in-form Marsh (or someone else?) to come in to replace him.

  • JustIPL on January 14, 2012, 22:47 GMT

    Aussies have a clear agenda that is to win this test as quickly as possible. They batted at quick pace around 5 runs per over and wanted to finish on the second day. Yadav and others got wickets in that process. Yadav went for close to 5 runs an over so just wickets are not important.

  • americanFan on January 14, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    Maybe Matthew Wade could be given temporary NSW citizenship so that he qualifies for Australian selection. We need him to replace Haddin.

  • bombay4u on January 14, 2012, 22:25 GMT

    Not everything has gone wrong from India during this tour, if you look at the bowling especially Yadav has been impresive and so has been zaheer, while Ravichandran Ashwin has been really safocating to help the rest of the bowerls except in Sydney. I belive Indians dropped wrong guy, he scored more runs then the batsman , the problem is bad pitches in india, they need to get more bouncy and sporty then we will have better players who can play bounce. I grew up in india and played in highschool on the pitches that offers absulute no assistance to the bowers, its a disgrace how docile they are. Now in America i play club cricket on bouncy concrete pitches all the time and it no issue, you have to get used to little extra bounce, who enjoys cricket if the bounce is below the waiste any way.Note Most picthes in usa are concrete. BCCI Wake up and improve the pitches in india. More young cricketers should be allowed to tour other contries and couching should be provided

  • Claydo78 on January 14, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    Totally agree that the Cowan, Warner opening combination should be given every chance to prosper. But there's no way Watson should bat at 6, he doesn't have the game or mental approach to bat with the tall. He will end up like dhoni, who doesn't trust the tail and just swings the willow at the ball! Besides watson shouldn't be bowling more overs, being injury prone it would be the worst thing for Watson and Australia! He shOuld be an impact bowler who only bowls 3 over spells max! haddin must be dropped for the next test whether we win lose or draw this test! Wade should be given his baggy green come Adelaide!

  • Mitcher on January 14, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    Geez I just shake my head in astonishment when people call for the likes of Rogers, jaques, cam white etc to return to the team. We're trying to move forward, not pick over the hill players who couldn't cut it when they were younger (admittedly jaques had a good run, but hasn't done much since injury). And some of the Mickey Arthur bashing might be a bit less absurd if it hadn't started before he even took the reigns.

  • willmot on January 14, 2012, 22:01 GMT

    Why Indian bloggers so unusually quiet?

  • platypusman on January 14, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    I would like to see Mathew Wade come into the side. He seems to score hundreds consistantly at state level. When Watson comes back if they were not going to bowl him then he should go back to opening and warner going to first drop. I think Warner is going to be one of the best batsmen of all time. (Bit early to call that one eh?)

  • platypusman on January 14, 2012, 21:13 GMT

    Would Warner make a good no. 3.?

  • BlueyCollar on January 14, 2012, 21:02 GMT

    Cowen's style of batting is essential to a batting line up prone to collapsing against quality attacks. Due to Paine not being fit Wade should replace Haddin to give the middle order more resolve. Prefer Kawaja to Marsh and Watson should play if fit at the expense of Ponting or Hussey. Need to pick the best 4 bowlers in the country so at the moment a spinner shouldn't be picked in a test any time soon. You don't pick the 10th best bowler in the country just because he is the best spinner.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on January 14, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    Simple. Watto comes in at #3 in place of Marsh. Or, Cowans will bat at #3. Can't keep either of them out.

  • on January 14, 2012, 20:35 GMT

    @Rajat Andy Bedi - Yeah yeah we all know India rock at home and suck abroad. So what's new ? Indian fans over-hype their cricketers more than any other. Australia is rebuilding and two of their new players have just shown some real promise. Of course the aussies should be optimistic.

    Watson's gotta come in at 3 for me. He is a new ball player and is wasted lower down the order. I say push Clark and Hussey up to 4 and 5 resp. and have Ponting bat at 6. Ponting used to bat at 6 at the start of his career and he is not in Australia's long term plans anyway (neither is Hussey but he fits in better at 5). Clark should definitely bat at 4 now.

  • NostroGustro on January 14, 2012, 19:47 GMT

    One good partnership and the plaudits begin. Good grief give me strength. The current Indian bowling lineup will make any batting side look good. Stick with the two for a while and then make a call. I predict that the big runs will be blips between long periods of cheap dismissals, such is the makeup of these two. Then watch the knives come out. You heard it here first.

  • on January 14, 2012, 19:18 GMT

    Aus should look towards the future, and I believe Khawaja is the one who will replace Punter once he hangs his boots. And give Marsh some time, he is the one who might replace Hussey after Hussey retires. My test 11 would be: 1) Cowan 2) Warner 3) Watson 4) Clarke 5) Ponting/Khawaja 6) Hussey/Marsh 7) Paine 8) Siddle 9) Harris 10) Pattinson 11) Hilfenhaus

  • Ponting_the_best on January 14, 2012, 18:52 GMT

    Watson should open the innings. If Warner can cement his place, australia could back to hayden/langer days cracking 120+ in the first session of a test match consistently.If one of the two get a quick 60 or 70 that not only removes the shine of the ball but also the lacquer off the ball. If the opposition comes back hard, middle order can drop the anchor even if they don't score quickly; if there is a collapse like in Perth today, Australia still end up getting a decent total. Putting aggressive players like Watson at 6 just demotivates them when the crisp and firm drives get only 1 or 2.

  • ushak1 on January 14, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    They are doing great because of current lousy inconsistent indian bowling. How will this odd couple do against south africa and england bowlers?

  • ushak1 on January 14, 2012, 18:03 GMT

    Umesh yadav is impressive. If india have 3-4 fast (150 kmpH) bowlers who bowl good length and line they will do great overseas. But for mostly lousy indian bowlers, it will be interesting to see how this "odd couple" do against quality bowling from south africa and england in fast bouncy piches.

  • JustIPL on January 14, 2012, 17:50 GMT

    It is still too early unless they perform against some top class team specially england. the world champions.

  • oneill on January 14, 2012, 17:43 GMT

    @jeauxx: I must disagree. Watson does not have the ability or tenacity for big runs so is entirely unsuited for #3 or even opener. He appears to have the technique of an opener, but it seems exagerated and unnatural - if not pretend. Granted, he has proven to be able to see off the new ball but I expect an opener to at least be able to go beyond that and pile on runs afterwards. He is a 6/7/all-rounder at best, and if his body cannot handle bowling sufficient overs, he does not warrent a place in the test team - only ODI's and T20's. It husts to say that as a QLDer that has supported Watto through the tough times, but that is the reality.

  • eyballfallenout on January 14, 2012, 17:06 GMT

    @ jeauxx, tend to agree with you there, but what do you think about 4 for watson, if these two openers can prove themselves and stay then pointing back at 3 clarke 5 huss 6. when pointing retires maybe one of the marsh kuwaja act can fill 3.

  • on January 14, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    Busie1979, you say that this is Cowan's first good first-class season - not quite! We only need go back to the 2009-10 season when he scored 957 Sheffield Shield runs at an average of 53.17 for Tassie. It's fair to say Ed has the runs on the board (pardon the pun).

  • mensan on January 14, 2012, 16:48 GMT

    I don't see Cowan as a long term prospect. Seems not very talented; just hard working. He is yet to face a good bowling attack.

  • Nampally on January 14, 2012, 16:44 GMT

    Out of the Aussie total of 369, 254 were scored by Warner & Cowan. The rest of the team managed just 115 runs between them. The 3 centurians from Sydney managed just 30 runs between them. If only Kohli had held on to the catch of Warner, the Aussie might have been dismissed for under 300 total. But poor batting by the Indian top order once again put India on the back foot. It is an uphill task now to even save the innings defeat in <3 days!.Dravid & Kohli are good batsmen capable of scoring centuries. But as it always happens India does not have a strong fighting spirit. If this was a Test played in India, it would have been a sure bet that the batsmen will go in with a firm mind set saying" No one beats us on our soil".If India plays with such firm resolve, they may be Down but Not Out yet! I don't know why this gumption does not exist in overseas Tests. Past is the best predicter of the future.Can India prove me wrong & rise to the occasion?A 400 total will win the Test for India.

  • HawK89 on January 14, 2012, 16:35 GMT

    @jeauxx, exactly what i was thinking, but the way things are going for AU, they don't even need watson to bowl. So him batting at 3 or opening shouldn't be a problem.

  • Peterincanada on January 14, 2012, 15:52 GMT

    @jeauxx I totally agree Watson would be an ideal #3. I think our bowling is stronger now so I don't think we will need too many overs from him anyway. I see him getting two or three overs at a time to try and break a stand much like S. Waugh and D. Walters.

  • 9-Monkeys on January 14, 2012, 15:50 GMT

    Jeauxx, my problem with Watson as an opener is that he just doesn't go on with it. He has scored only two Test centuries and good openers (for Australia think Hayden, Langer, Taylor and Slater) score hundreds, and big hundreds. With Watson's technique and ability to change gears - he can thrash like he does in the T20 or show a steady hand like he has as a Test opener, he is an ideal Test #6, i.e. someone who can score quickly like a Gilchrist to build on an advantage or alternatively restart an innings and nurse the tail if he comes in with the side in trouble. For now (if they are all fit) give me Warner, Cowan, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Watson. ... Jared, yes. You are completely insane. Cameron White is not the answer.

  • on January 14, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    I have an observation on the Aus middle order to share. By my quick reckoning (stats are not my thing, so may not be accurate to the nth degree, but good enough to make the point) Ponting, Clarke and Hussey have had 33 knocks between them against SA, NZ, and India. They only managed 10 scores of over 50 between them. Ponting got 5 from 11, Clarke got 3 from 11 and Hussey got just 2 from 11 knocks. Against SA they only managed 2 scores over 50 between them from 12 knocks. This is a seriously unreliable middle order. Australia may be lording it over a weak Indian side who have become the whipping boys of world cricket, but they are far from being a good side yet. There may be selection issues at the top of the order, but some attention is required in the middle too. The aging RP is the most reliable of the three so should not be the first out. Clark needs to realise that inbetween big hundreds, hard earned 50s are required of the skipper, and the selectors need to drop MH.

  • on January 14, 2012, 15:27 GMT

    jeauxx - I agree with you regarding Watson's quality in the batting. To me though he needs to be picked primarily as a batsman or as a bowler but not both. If he is expected to bat in the top order then his bowling load has to be reduced and if he is there as a strike bowler then he needs to drop down the order.

    As for continuing with Warner and Cowan as the opening pair well only time and a variety of oppositions and batting conditions will tell. It's too early to judge either way. The middle order collapses are still a problem and though they made centuries in Sydney Ponting and Hussey's places in the side need to be questioned as what future do they have in the late 30's? If they aren't making runs then they are taking up a spot that a kid could take and make his own for the next 10 years and even if they were they would only be delaying their own retirement.

  • on January 14, 2012, 15:19 GMT

    It's very early days for both Warner and Cowan. Watson was real a revelation when he was promoted to open. One of the best openers in test cricket for a few years. Unfortunately before his injury his form dipped, and following injury there's no guaranteed return to form. In my view Hughes was a terrible selection for Australia, at least Warner has some technique which should help him against a decent attack. I can't help feeling though that Cowan is the real find for the years to come. Arthur clearly favours Marsh, but there comes a point when looking stylish at the crease is not enough. Having said that, I bet England are glad they persevered with Bell. I'm not an Aussie, but I think their strongest line up when Watson returns would be Cowan, Watson, Clarke, Ponting, Warner, Kuwaja.

  • on January 14, 2012, 15:07 GMT

    i would keep watson at 4..... Pnting bck to 3 until he retires.... I would replace marsh with hussey(he is another marcus north) once ponting n hussey dparts oz top 7 would be like... 1)warner 2)cowan 3)khwaja 4)watson 5) clarke 6) ferguson 7) wade or paine .... I dnt thnk marsh dserves a spot...!

  • TheArmChairCritic on January 14, 2012, 14:56 GMT

    Too early to say about this opening pair. Indians have not bowled as well as the Aussie bowlers. Whenever they have, the top 3 have been found wanting. It applies to the rest of the Aussie lineup as well. They have not been thoroughly tested by the Indian bowling.

  • rolandjhearn on January 14, 2012, 14:43 GMT

    Come on people, a swallow does not a summer make. 46, 13 and 8 are their other openning scores. It's a good stand but it doesn't make them the best openners since Hayden/Langer. Give them a year and see where they are. They may then have a chance at the title but right now it is just a good innings. If Watto is going to bowl regularly, something I think he would be advised not to do, then he should move down the order if not he should be given the choice of openner or first drop and move the order around him. He has been the best thing in aussie cricket through the worst period since the mid 80's. Let's try and live beyond the moment shall we.

  • landl47 on January 14, 2012, 14:42 GMT

    Oh, please! This pair has had 4 opening partnerships. The previous three have been 46, 13 and 8. Now they have a good partnership against a demoralised Indian side and suddenly they're being compared to Hayden and Langer? Cowan's a career journeyman and Warner, as his record shows, is an all or nothing player, with nothing making up the majority. If they play together for a couple of years and make consistently good starts (that means seeing off the new ball, not belting a quick 30 and getting out) then it'll be time to start celebrating a winning combination. As of now, failing three times out of four isn't even adequate, let alone bearing comparison with great opening pairs.

  • Snick_To_Backward_Point on January 14, 2012, 14:31 GMT

    I thought this might happen. The first time the Aussies face a fairly persistent bowling effort utilising good lines and lengths they crumble.Am amazed at how quickly they've recovered on the bowling front but their batting is SERIOUSLY WEAK and will be found out by the top boys.

  • inefekt on January 14, 2012, 14:07 GMT

    @Jared Hansen, no you don't sound completely insane. I liken White to Andrew Symonds, a brutish, attacking middle order batsman who can bowl a bit. Unfortunately for White he has been pigeonholed as a failed specialist leg spinner after making his test debut in that role, even though he hardly bowls in domestic cricket these days. But he is one of only a handful of batsman at domestic level who are under 30 and average over 40 in first class cricket (disregarding those that have played less than 20 innings). He's also captain of his state so he brings a wealth of experience and maturity. It wouldn't hurt to give him another go, this time as a specialist middle order batsman.

  • AvidCricFan on January 14, 2012, 14:06 GMT

    The Indian total in both innings may not reach the highest individual Aussie score. The writing is on the wall. Most Indian players are no good on bouncy and pacy wickets. THe one that managed to score in the past are now spent force. Its time to rebuild the Indian side just like how Aussie has been doing. VVS needs to be dropped immediately. Tendulkar and Dravid should seriously plan our their exit in the next 6-12 months. Dhoni should not be persisted in the longer format. Bring in a wicket keeper who can bat in this condition. Gambhir and Shewag are quickly getting to a point to needing top order replacement. They will do good in subcontinent, but outside they would struggle. This makes 5-6 players needing replacement.

  • TheLoneStranger on January 14, 2012, 13:53 GMT

    The reason Arthur should get into Ponting is because he played a millionaire's shot on a pauper's score! The coach is there to coach, and part of coaching is correcting and chiding where necessary. I'm not saying he should be dropped, but he certainly should be taken to task for playing an appalling shot at a time when he should have been consolidating. Clarke and Haddin could both have left well enough alone, but didn't. Both players have been dismissed the same way all too often in the past. You could forgive Clarke, coming off a huge score in the last test and perhaps not quite being there mentally, but Haddin's dismissal was inexcusable, as was Marsh's. If neither perform in the second dig, they should be rissoled, although Haddin may not get another chance, given the fragility of India's batting at the moment.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on January 14, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    Australia and India are two middle ranking teams playing an average series. Warner 180 was exciting, but even Australians are admitting that he was bowled a load of dross for the last session yesterday. No wonder Ponting, Australia and India's batting isn't really the headline today, there's nothing much there to talk about.

  • NALINWIJ on January 14, 2012, 13:34 GMT

    The ridiculous thing is that Cowan and Warner has done what everyone expected Gambir and Shewag to do. Watson should replace Marsh when fit. I have not given up on Khawaja who is a wonderful talent and Hughes may come back if he learns to leave the ball outside off till he scores 30. India has more batting talent outside the current test team than Australia has. Where is Rohit Sharma, Pujara and Raina?? Selectors need courage. India became number one on their batting with limited support from bowlers. They need to rebuild their batting but they also need more support from bowlers and fielders.Was this opening partnership wonderful or did the indian bowlers lose the plot??

  • jeauxx on January 14, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    All those who are calling for Watson to move down the order: Can you please explain why?

    Watson is the strongest opening batsman we've had since Hayden. He plays with a very straight bat and is most comfortable coming in against pace. 6 is not a spot for leavers and drivers like Watson, it's for grafters and pushers like Hussey, Ferguson or Bevan, or sloggers like Symonds, White or Gilchrist. Sure, it would give him more time before bowling, but it would mean more bowling in general, and it's in the extra bowling that you'll find more injury, not in the extra batting.

    I like the idea of Watson at #3 personally, if Cowan can earn his spot. You need your big scorers at #3, and Watson can certainly be that. Plus he has the technique, as I said.

  • Itchy on January 14, 2012, 13:15 GMT

    @TheLoneStranger: Ponting's appalling dismissal! Yadav bowled a good ball that nipped back off the pitch - I suggest you watch the highlights (or see an optometrist)!

  • on January 14, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    Look guys, This is the best time for batsmen to get into form. Maybe we need to push Haddin up the order. I don't think this Indian bowling unit will be much of a bother for him to play. Ponting was under pressure last test - he got a 100, we were talking about dispensing Hussey, - he got a 100. Give Marsh another go at this Indian bowling. He too may make a 100. There is no interest left in this match. The only excitement will be whether India can reach 180 - Warners score.

  • on January 14, 2012, 12:51 GMT

    Ok lets see what these Aussies have to say in a few months time about this opening pair.....jumping to conclusions too early..they have forgotten the time they were down a few weeks ago...Wait and watch..not saying India is playing good cricket ...but ....

  • Mary_786 on January 14, 2012, 12:45 GMT

    Shaun Marsh has scored 4 runs at 3.50 this series, averages 37 in shield cricket, surely he can't stay in the team simply because he got a 100 on debut on a flat Sri Lankan wicket, bring Khawaja or Watson back in for Marsh.

  • AidanFX on January 14, 2012, 12:43 GMT

    @ Steve Gregory - couldn't agree with you more regarding Hughes

  • on January 14, 2012, 12:37 GMT

    I said it from day 1, the Indian bowling attack is a good one,even with Ashwin in the team. The Indians bowled well today. As I was always said, the openers r the problem, no one else. No not even MS. In this article the journalist clearly defined the role of the openers, & the Indian openers should learned the definition by heart. Bat for 30-35ovs even at 2.75/ov & yr team will be so happy. Then the other boys can do their thing. The lack of a proper opening pair is the reason WI r not at #3 or 4 in wrld cricket today. The position is vital in test cricket. U need 20wks to win & runs on the tin to draw a match.

  • LillianThomson on January 14, 2012, 12:31 GMT

    So far in this series the number 11 (Hilfy) has made more runs than either Shaun Marsh or Brad Haddin. But the problem for Australia is balance. We know that in general they will play 3 quicks and a spinner, but Cummins and Pattinson have stress factors from overwork. The clear message is that the 3 quicks need to bowl short, high intensity spells, with Watson bowling 20 overs in the first, second or third innings. But that means he has to bat at six, rather than open.Which means that the batting line-up for the next few years is going to be Warner + Clarke + Watson + 3 others, of whom Ponting and Hussey are short-term prospects and Cowan and Marsh's advanced ages and low First Class averages show that they, too, are just stopgaps.

  • CarwynThomas on January 14, 2012, 12:11 GMT

    @Busie1979, totally agree with your comments. As an England supporter, and with an Ashes series in England not too far in the distant future I think that players like Jaques and Rogers would provide stiffer competition in English conditions than the likes of Marsh and Khawaja. Granted you can't fill the whole team with old duffers but Jaques is only 32 and has a lot of experience of county cricket and Rogers has played a lot of cricket in English conditions. Players like Phil Hughes, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja and in my opinion David Warner (although his innings at Hobart under difficult conditions was excellent) will get exposed in English conditions. Also Ponting, Hussey and Haddin are generally showing signs of decline and aren't as consistent now a days. The best pool of batsmen for the future of Australian cricket is in my opinion Cowan, Warner, Jagues, Rogers, Clarke, Watson and Paine as wk.

  • Meety on January 14, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    @jkaussie - saved me the trouble, well said!

  • RSBali on January 14, 2012, 11:53 GMT

    Its not over till its over. I have a nasty feeling that Indian fortune will turn on day 3 of the Perth test.

  • on January 14, 2012, 11:52 GMT

    At the risk of sounding completely insane, I think Cameron White is worth a go as #3 since there's a bit of an opening there. He's done all his best international batting there, including a fine century against England captaining Australia A - which was actually one of the best knocks against England in that horrible Summer. I think he could find some form against the weak Indian attack...

  • on January 14, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    watson should definitely be in the middle order, because it strengthens it. atleast have him before haddin because with haddins current form it makes the tail seem more vulnerable.

  • jkaussie on January 14, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    @TheLOne Stranger - what a ridiculous comment. You take away all of the credit from the bowlers for these dismissals. Zaheer Khan got Michael Clark with a great delivery, one that came in a touch then straightened to take the edge - that's actually playing the right line but being done by the bowler's skill - Haddin's was little different (tho I do concede that he is not batting well). Why would Arthur get into Ponting? If that is the way you would coach a proven performer then thank goodness you're not coach! The fact is no side in the world is consitently making big scores in test cricket at the moment because the tracks have a bit more in them and the bowlers have worked harder on plans to take wickets.

  • on January 14, 2012, 11:19 GMT

    An unconvincing Australian batting display, one that should have them analysing why they couldn't capitalise on the start provided by Warner and Cowan. 369 is certainly going to prove enough, or even more than enough, aginst current opposition, but for the rest of the team to fold for 155 after the openers have put on 214 is very un-Australian. Oh, long-term Australia need both Marsh and Khawaja to weed the gremlins out of their game and take the step up. It's not a case of one OR the other, it's BOTH.

  • Busie1979 on January 14, 2012, 11:08 GMT

    Marsh and Cowan both average under 40 at first class level. They are average first class players. This is Cowan's first good first class season. He is not a seasoned performer and shouldnt be in the side. Mike Hussey should take responsibility and open.

    Hughes and Khawaja are the only young guys with a genuine case for test selection at first class level, but haven't performed when picked.

    Older guys like Hussey, Jaques and Rogers average between 48 and 55 at first class level over many seasons. Jaques is a proven test player (although he can't get a game for NSW at the moment). These guys NEVER seem to be under serious consideration - but on career performance, they are EASILY the best available batsman outside the team.

    Can someone at Cricinfo please interview current and former test selectors to explain why proven performers like D.Hussey, Jaques and Roger are never on the selection radar, while lesser performers like Marsh, Cowan and Marcus North get picked?

  • on January 14, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    Khwaja has rightly got the BOOT of the selectors, he is fit for nothing. As regards Ponting it shows he is still not in his elements, his stump got uprooted today.

  • on January 14, 2012, 10:50 GMT

    Watson will have too prove his spot again.He should not just come in,not any more.As for Haddin i'm sorry to say his spot is safe until after the Windies tour because everyone else is in the BBL,I'll be very surprised if he does get dropped for Adelaide or Windies tour tho he does deserve too be dropped.As for Warner an Cowan they complement each other which i've already stated before in earlier comments (thanks for all the friend requests afterwards). But here is a thought,if an it's ONLY an if P Hughes was left alone with his technique how would he go batting with Cowan he batted with Warner before an they were very much both dashers an Hughes did fail unfortunately,it's just a thought tho.

  • oze13 on January 14, 2012, 10:47 GMT

    That Australian top order is still as brittle as bakerlite. Brad Haddin cracks under 'no pressure'! India's performance like in England is a joke!

  • AidanFX on January 14, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    If the Aus selectors are consistent - Marsh goes whether Watson is available or not - They gave no extra time to Hughes or Khawaja both of whom also had scores prior to the NZ series, Hughes more so - although Khawaja had more consistent double figure scores. Marsh is a walking wicket - what's worse he comes in at #3.

  • RandyOZ on January 14, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    @shariefs, could not agree with you more. It is disgraceful that such a flakey and unrelaiable player like Marsh is in the squad for Khawaja. Arthur has not only bought a choking attitude into the team but one that stinks of cliques and favouritism. Yet another batting collapse and yet again Langer escapes all criticism. McDermott is getting plenty of accolades from journos and commentators (rightfully so) but how on Earth is Langer escaping scott free? It's time to get past the fact he is Justin Langer and realise he is not performing in his job.

  • AidanFX on January 14, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    Cowan and Warner is a good opening couple - They are a good fit; one player who plays strokes all around the wicket; the other who is able to occupy the crease and values his wicket. For mine Marsh is the weak link; at the very least he should be dropped down the order. If the selectors and coaches just think it is a case of him recovering injury and finding his feet; well drop him down to 5 or so. But really Watson comes in for him when he is fit. I believe Watson should be the # 3 - Warner and Cowan is a good mix to open. Watson has expressed doubts about his ability to be an all-round opener. Well I think 3# is a good compromise; the guy has learnt to play the new ball so he can come in early - is an attacking player perfect for it. It also means he will often get a decent rest before he bats. Hence he can continue bowling his important cutting seamers for the team.

  • VAS4 on January 14, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Honestly hope this is the last time we see Laxman and Sehwag in Indian test team outfit!

  • KingofRedLions on January 14, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    Importantly, I think they have a lot of time for each other.

  • shariefs on January 14, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    What makes Marsh so much better than Usman Khawaja that he's got coach, captain and selectors' full support? Evidently, there appears to be some favoritism or entitlement as noted from from their performance numbers. Marsh last few Test outings 11, 0, 3, 0, 0, 44 while Khawaja, 23, 7, 0 (n.o.), 38, 65, 12. Marsh good scores were on flat pitches in Srilanka while Khawaja played a tough series in South Africa.

  • gjando on January 14, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    Lets hope the selectors leave well alone and leave this pair in place for sme time...they clearly are an odd couple that is working. When Watson comes back, i agree with Vivek...drop Marsh, push the captain to number 3, Hussey up to five and Watson to six.

    On another note, why would you open your gob when you are not performing...i just don't think Haddin is that smart....can't bat, can't keep...he is on borrowed time until Paine is fit again.

  • rohanbala on January 14, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    It is the middle order which is the cause of worry for the australians until the selectors decide to bring down the axe on brad haddin and shaun marsh. The return of watson is likely to strengthen the team but only if he starts to bowl. Players like Usman Khawaja should be given another chance particularly because of the failure of Shaun Marsh who appears nowhere near test standard.

  • TheLoneStranger on January 14, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    Well, Australia all out after yet another batting collapse by the top and middle order. Marsh and Ponting played atrocious shots, and Clarke and Haddin played the wrong line for feeble defensive shots to get caught behind. Siddle and Starc showed the middle order how it should be done. At least Sids was done by a terrific delivery. Marsh has now proven conclusively that he's not the answer at number three. I hope Arthur tore strips off Ponting for his appalling dismissal, but I doubt it. Perhaps number three is Watson's niche, or maybe Ed Cowan's......? Perhaps it's time to give Wade Townsend a shot at Haddin's job....? Perhaps Katich should be brought back....? Stay tuned for another episode of "Selection Chuckles."

  • boehj on January 14, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    A pretty good call. It's certainly a tempting option. It's been lovely to see an opener leave some balls outside off. However, it must be said though that Watto can play with the straightest of bats at 1 or 2. Tough call for the selectors.

  • on January 14, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Completely agree, they complement each other just like langer and hayden did, watson still has a place at 6 for mine, and clarke should move up to 3. huss move up to 5. when ponting and huss retire, usman and marsh/christian can slot in. but it is ever important that these two stay together.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on January 14, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Completely agree, they complement each other just like langer and hayden did, watson still has a place at 6 for mine, and clarke should move up to 3. huss move up to 5. when ponting and huss retire, usman and marsh/christian can slot in. but it is ever important that these two stay together.

  • boehj on January 14, 2012, 7:32 GMT

    A pretty good call. It's certainly a tempting option. It's been lovely to see an opener leave some balls outside off. However, it must be said though that Watto can play with the straightest of bats at 1 or 2. Tough call for the selectors.

  • TheLoneStranger on January 14, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    Well, Australia all out after yet another batting collapse by the top and middle order. Marsh and Ponting played atrocious shots, and Clarke and Haddin played the wrong line for feeble defensive shots to get caught behind. Siddle and Starc showed the middle order how it should be done. At least Sids was done by a terrific delivery. Marsh has now proven conclusively that he's not the answer at number three. I hope Arthur tore strips off Ponting for his appalling dismissal, but I doubt it. Perhaps number three is Watson's niche, or maybe Ed Cowan's......? Perhaps it's time to give Wade Townsend a shot at Haddin's job....? Perhaps Katich should be brought back....? Stay tuned for another episode of "Selection Chuckles."

  • rohanbala on January 14, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    It is the middle order which is the cause of worry for the australians until the selectors decide to bring down the axe on brad haddin and shaun marsh. The return of watson is likely to strengthen the team but only if he starts to bowl. Players like Usman Khawaja should be given another chance particularly because of the failure of Shaun Marsh who appears nowhere near test standard.

  • gjando on January 14, 2012, 8:34 GMT

    Lets hope the selectors leave well alone and leave this pair in place for sme time...they clearly are an odd couple that is working. When Watson comes back, i agree with Vivek...drop Marsh, push the captain to number 3, Hussey up to five and Watson to six.

    On another note, why would you open your gob when you are not performing...i just don't think Haddin is that smart....can't bat, can't keep...he is on borrowed time until Paine is fit again.

  • shariefs on January 14, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    What makes Marsh so much better than Usman Khawaja that he's got coach, captain and selectors' full support? Evidently, there appears to be some favoritism or entitlement as noted from from their performance numbers. Marsh last few Test outings 11, 0, 3, 0, 0, 44 while Khawaja, 23, 7, 0 (n.o.), 38, 65, 12. Marsh good scores were on flat pitches in Srilanka while Khawaja played a tough series in South Africa.

  • KingofRedLions on January 14, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    Importantly, I think they have a lot of time for each other.

  • VAS4 on January 14, 2012, 10:15 GMT

    Honestly hope this is the last time we see Laxman and Sehwag in Indian test team outfit!

  • AidanFX on January 14, 2012, 10:32 GMT

    Cowan and Warner is a good opening couple - They are a good fit; one player who plays strokes all around the wicket; the other who is able to occupy the crease and values his wicket. For mine Marsh is the weak link; at the very least he should be dropped down the order. If the selectors and coaches just think it is a case of him recovering injury and finding his feet; well drop him down to 5 or so. But really Watson comes in for him when he is fit. I believe Watson should be the # 3 - Warner and Cowan is a good mix to open. Watson has expressed doubts about his ability to be an all-round opener. Well I think 3# is a good compromise; the guy has learnt to play the new ball so he can come in early - is an attacking player perfect for it. It also means he will often get a decent rest before he bats. Hence he can continue bowling his important cutting seamers for the team.

  • RandyOZ on January 14, 2012, 10:35 GMT

    @shariefs, could not agree with you more. It is disgraceful that such a flakey and unrelaiable player like Marsh is in the squad for Khawaja. Arthur has not only bought a choking attitude into the team but one that stinks of cliques and favouritism. Yet another batting collapse and yet again Langer escapes all criticism. McDermott is getting plenty of accolades from journos and commentators (rightfully so) but how on Earth is Langer escaping scott free? It's time to get past the fact he is Justin Langer and realise he is not performing in his job.