Arthur calls for 'mature' rotation response
Be they bowlers or batsmen, Australia's cricketers must become mature enough to accept that changes to the team for reasons of balance or rotation will become more frequent under the new team performance regime, the head coach Mickey Arthur has said.
As the national selectors, Arthur among them, deliberate over whether to bolster Michael Clarke's bowling resources with the allrounder Daniel Christian for the Hobart Test against New Zealand, the possibility of wider and more frequent rotation is dawning on the team.
The senior batsman Michael Hussey has expressed reservations about shuffling batsmen in and out for fear that it would flirt with form and confidence, but Arthur said all players had to be prepared to accept the possibility, irrespective of their role. His words echoed those of the Argus review about "adult conversations" surrounding selection.
"That's a maturity that we want to try to get into the group getting down the line," Arthur told ESPNcricinfo. "Players need to be mature enough to realise that it is a balance shift or something like that, and we'll communicate that all very well to the guys and they'll understand exactly where they're at."
Christian remains a chance to become Australia's 427th Test cricketer, pending assessments of how the bowling quartet has backed up from a comprehensive defeat of New Zealand in the first Test in Brisbane. Also a factor in discussions is the tendency of the Hobart pitch to flatten out into a strip less reminiscent of the Gabba than Allan Border Field, where the visitors batted far more comfortably against Australia A.
"You always want that extra bowling option, an allrounder in the team is like gold," Arthur said. "So with Shane [Watson] not playing there is a position there for an allrounder within our squad and the selectors have felt that he's the next best.
"We'll just have to see when we get down to Hobart how all the different permutations work out. We need to keep rotating guys through the summer because there is just so much cricket, guys are going to break down and we need others ready to come in at any given time."
Phillip Hughes' present troubles are less physical than technical, and Arthur stressed a balance needed to be struck between advising the 23-year-old on how to straighten his bat and granting him the freedom to indulge the appetite for runs that has already reaped 17 first-class centuries.
"I think we need to see him tighten up his technique just a little bit, because he's getting out in the same ways and that's, not the alarming thing, but that's an area of concern that he keeps getting out in exactly the same way," Arthur said.
"But he is an incredibly talented player with a very big future, so we just want to tighten up his technique but give him the wings to fly with the bat, because he's still got a major role to play down the line for Australian cricket."
In planning ahead for the series against India, Arthur is aware that the problems posed for Hughes by Chris Martin are most liley going to be magnified through the lens of Ishant Sharma, who delivers with a similar trajectory and a knack for shaping the ball across left-handers.
"One hundred per cent [we're aware of Ishant coming up]," Arthur said. "Chris Martin has troubled a lot of left-handers because of his angle, and he is going to continue to do that, but it's not going away, that is always going to be a challenge for the left-handed batters, and Hughesy in particular, so that is something we've got to make sure we get right."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo