Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Hobart, 1st day December 14, 2012

Hughes and haphazard

Australia ended the first day in Hobart on 299 for 4, and much of that progress was because of the recalled Phillip Hughes
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Measured by the team total at the moment Michael Clarke walked to the crease, this was Australia's best start to a Test innings since David Warner went beautifully berserk against India in Perth, 10 months and eight matches ago. Measured by the evidence of the eyes and the strength or otherwise of Sri Lanka's attack, there remains much of concern about the Australian top four.

That Australia had as many as 183 when Clarke strode to the middle of Bellerive Oval was down to the confidence and poise demonstrated by Phillip Hughes. At 24, he has clearly benefited from changes of scene at Worcestershire and South Australia, and the selectors' careful handling of his third tilt at international cricket. There was a sense of calm and focus to Hughes that bodes well for more vexing assignments on more distant shores next year, and he looked quite happy to dictate terms at No. 3.

Less promising were the contributions of the rest of the reconfigured top four. Ed Cowan had shown a decent amount of capability against South Africa, but his first innings in a home Test was nightmarish. Warner was skittish, beaten often outside off stump and at least partly responsible for his own demise when falling to a hare-brained run-out in the over before lunch. And Shane Watson's latest move did little to change the pattern of his Test batting career, a handy start ending before it could be called substantial.

They could all draw some inspiration from the way Hughes went about his batting on the opening day of the series. Hughes' technique has improved subtly but his attitude and mindset are trending up dramatically, as evidenced by a stay that proved his ability not only to score around the wicket but also a comfort with batting at varying speeds depending on the bowling and the circumstances. The way Hughes imposed himself early after arriving at the fall of the first wicket was admirably reminiscent of Ricky Ponting, his cover drives a stinging declaration of intent and his defensive judgement sure.

Later on, as Sri Lanka corrected their line, Hughes took care not to tighten his grip or his patience, seeing out a fallow period when his runs slowed to a trickle. If he is to be a success at No. 3, Hughes must show command of all manner of innings, be they aggressive, more considered or somewhere in between. Here he struck a neat balance, showing due deference to the tidy Nuwan Kulasekara, pouncing on Chanaka Welegedara's errors in length, and not allowing himself to be tied down by Rangana Herath's left-arm spin on a pitch offering its least assistance on day one.

If there was some good fortune when he edged a Welegedara no-ball on 77, the manner of Hughes' final dismissal was cause for minor relief. For rather than falling to an angled bat snick to the slips cordon in the fashion he so tired of last summer, Hughes was beaten and bowled by the best delivery of the day. Welegedara's offering bent back enough to find a minute gap between bat and pad, and while no top-order batsman wants to be bowled, in Hughes' case there is something of the statistical ledger to be squared.

Hughes walked out to bat at the fall of Cowan's wicket, after a stay that conjured unhappy memories of what turned out to be Ponting's final Test in his home state, against New Zealand a year ago. Like Ponting then, Cowan now looked out of sorts. He very nearly fell for a first ball duck, prodding at Kulasekara only for the ball to elude the right hand of a diving Angelo Mathews. Cowan then nudged and edged for a time, and perished as he made an awful hash of an attempt to impose himself with a pull shot.

This is a series in which Cowan should be capable of scoring heavily, having risen quite suitably to the occasion for much of the South Africa series. But the thought that runs "should" be made can cloud the process of making them, and this innings was not the kind generally played by batsmen with a clear head and simple outlook. More will be expected in the second innings.

Warner also failed to convince despite a healthy enough tally, his 57 pockmarked with flirts outside off stump. Worse was the manner of its termination, a run-out is wasteful at any time but particularly in the final moments of a morning session that had up to that point reaped a sound return. Clarke's pre-match acknowledgement that Warner will always skirt the line between the magnificent and the maddening was fair, but the squandering of a platform is just that, regardless of how a batsman is cast.

Watson's ideal role is defined as something in the realm of Jacques Kallis, South Africa's prolific allrounder, who has held down a top four posting for nearly 15 years. Slipping down to No. 4 in Hobart, Watson was untroubled until the moment he was accounted for, the victim of a coruscating catch by Mahela Jayawardene. Nothing was particularly damning about Watson's innings apart from the fact that he was yet again unable to go on from a start, to make the runs his comfort at the crease suggested. No-one is more aware of this failing than Watson himself, but he is still to prove he can make use of this knowledge.

For all of that, Australia's position at the end of the day was sound, with Clarke and Michael Hussey safely entrenched. They were grateful to be given far more of a start than has been the case for almost the whole of 2012, even if the manner of its arrival was equal parts Hughes and haphazard.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on December 16, 2012, 1:31 GMT

    @jono Makim - there is (as Hyclass has pointed out), an oddly over zealousness from a few to get Ussie into the team. He is close, but what I find really odd, is how you anything you said could of been construed as wanting Cowan dropped & Ussie installed! I've had the same sort of thing happen where I'd say something like Ussie is doing well, then I'll have 3 or 4 comments saying I agree, Ussie should be in the Test side - yet I never actually said. For what it is worth, I think Cowan gets a pass for performances so far, I was more dissapointed with the way he got in Hobart than any other dismissal so far in his career. I think he will be important in England, however, I would NOT be inclined to select him in India, (preferring Watto to partner either Hughes or Warner). Happy with this top 4 (form permitting).

  • jimbond on December 15, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    Its a bit premature to proclaim the greatness of top order batsmen when they have made runs against the likes of Srilanka/India/Bangladesh. I will accept that Hughes has improved in technique only after he scores against the likes of SA/England, Pakistan or the West Indies (or even New Zealand with Southee). Warner too scored a century last against the joke of a pace attack that India has. Right now the form and class of Clarke and Hussey are keeping Australia afloat.

  • Ragav999 on December 15, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    Hope Hughes does well and goes on to achieve bigger things in his test career.

  • Ragav999 on December 15, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    @hyclass: I agree with your comments about Khawaja not being unfairly treated. On the other hand, he demonstrates a solidity while batting whereas the spectators watching Warner or Hughes bat feel that they might get out any moment.

  • RoJayao on December 15, 2012, 2:32 GMT

    Khawaja was not dropped on his low run returns alone. There was also concern about his lack of fielding polish and in particular an element of laziness in his attitude towards training. The selectors are looking for more evidence that he is working hard enough in these areas, as well as more consistent run making, before he's given another shot. We all know he has the talent, but talent alone does not let you succeed at elite level, in any sport.

  • Edwards_Anderson on December 15, 2012, 0:14 GMT

    @Hyclass like you i am a fan of Hughes and was critical of Khawaja earlier in the season. But he has scored runs in shield in some very bowler friendly conditions and has proven me wrong, most importantly his running between the wickets, fielding and attitude looks a 100% better then last year under boof and this was stated by Inevarity last week. I think you need to take a closer look at him mate, he is a much better player this year. You have some very intelligent comments but your constant critisms of Khawaja are getting old mate.

  • Sunil_Batra on December 15, 2012, 0:02 GMT

    @Ross_fleming couldn't be more on the mark mate, Khawaja has been the best shield batsman this year along with Hughes. Khawaja has played on at least 4 green tops this year including a game where he scored 1 and a half times the entire opposition in one inngs in Hobart. Last week Yesterday Taylor, Ian Chappell, Slater and Healy all slotted Khawaja in their test teams and for a good reason. Given how tough the pitches have been tough to bat on for shield only the likes of Khawaja has got runs. Khawaja's top scores in shield came against Tasmania on a green deck where he scored 138 and Tasmania got 95 and 140 which included batsman asuch as Doolan, Bailey and Cosgrove. He also got 2 half centuries against a star NSW attack(Starc, Hazelwood, Bollinger, Copeland, O Keefe) in Bulls win at the AB Oval where both teams scored less then 200. Inevarity also said in the announcement last week that Khawaja is next in line and on the rigth track under Lehman.

  • Chris_P on December 14, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    Some harsh critics out there re: Cowan. He has just come off a good series against SA, with a ton & a half century in the prior test (highest score of the recognized batsmen), one failure later, the bandwagon to cull him starts. Let's leave Khawaja to continue his improvement in Shield cricket, his time will come & he will make it count.

  • TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on December 14, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    A lot of talk about Hughes successful comeback - against one of the weakest attacks in test cricket - but nevertheless he made runs, so good luck to him. I still think he will struggle against better bowlers, but time will tell. Of more concern to me is the question; why is Watson an automatic inclusion in this side ? His batting sucks on a grand scale and his bowling is average at best - that is, if he isn't injured, which is most of the time.

  • srgelb on December 14, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    the 'comparison' between watson & kallis is, frankly, silly. kallis was always going to be a great batsman, someone who was going to end up where he has ended up, ranked with lara, tendulkar, ponting, etc. this is something that watson is clearly not, nor ever will be. for a long time kallis was SA's no 3, not no 4, something which mickey arthur seems unaware of, as also the author here. he only moved down to no 4 when SA's middle order needed strngthening after culllinan and kirsten retired. it used to be common knowledge that the best batsman occupied the no 4 spot. wait, that is still the case for SA, england, india, pakistan, etc. so australia putting watson at 4 is a mistake, clarke should be 4. watson is clearly a no 6 at best. and btw, aside from being in a different (lower) class to kallis as a batsman, he is not as good a bowler, and will never be. he is an outstanding T20 player clearly, but several notches short of that at test level. this is evident from his record

  • Meety on December 16, 2012, 1:31 GMT

    @jono Makim - there is (as Hyclass has pointed out), an oddly over zealousness from a few to get Ussie into the team. He is close, but what I find really odd, is how you anything you said could of been construed as wanting Cowan dropped & Ussie installed! I've had the same sort of thing happen where I'd say something like Ussie is doing well, then I'll have 3 or 4 comments saying I agree, Ussie should be in the Test side - yet I never actually said. For what it is worth, I think Cowan gets a pass for performances so far, I was more dissapointed with the way he got in Hobart than any other dismissal so far in his career. I think he will be important in England, however, I would NOT be inclined to select him in India, (preferring Watto to partner either Hughes or Warner). Happy with this top 4 (form permitting).

  • jimbond on December 15, 2012, 6:25 GMT

    Its a bit premature to proclaim the greatness of top order batsmen when they have made runs against the likes of Srilanka/India/Bangladesh. I will accept that Hughes has improved in technique only after he scores against the likes of SA/England, Pakistan or the West Indies (or even New Zealand with Southee). Warner too scored a century last against the joke of a pace attack that India has. Right now the form and class of Clarke and Hussey are keeping Australia afloat.

  • Ragav999 on December 15, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    Hope Hughes does well and goes on to achieve bigger things in his test career.

  • Ragav999 on December 15, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    @hyclass: I agree with your comments about Khawaja not being unfairly treated. On the other hand, he demonstrates a solidity while batting whereas the spectators watching Warner or Hughes bat feel that they might get out any moment.

  • RoJayao on December 15, 2012, 2:32 GMT

    Khawaja was not dropped on his low run returns alone. There was also concern about his lack of fielding polish and in particular an element of laziness in his attitude towards training. The selectors are looking for more evidence that he is working hard enough in these areas, as well as more consistent run making, before he's given another shot. We all know he has the talent, but talent alone does not let you succeed at elite level, in any sport.

  • Edwards_Anderson on December 15, 2012, 0:14 GMT

    @Hyclass like you i am a fan of Hughes and was critical of Khawaja earlier in the season. But he has scored runs in shield in some very bowler friendly conditions and has proven me wrong, most importantly his running between the wickets, fielding and attitude looks a 100% better then last year under boof and this was stated by Inevarity last week. I think you need to take a closer look at him mate, he is a much better player this year. You have some very intelligent comments but your constant critisms of Khawaja are getting old mate.

  • Sunil_Batra on December 15, 2012, 0:02 GMT

    @Ross_fleming couldn't be more on the mark mate, Khawaja has been the best shield batsman this year along with Hughes. Khawaja has played on at least 4 green tops this year including a game where he scored 1 and a half times the entire opposition in one inngs in Hobart. Last week Yesterday Taylor, Ian Chappell, Slater and Healy all slotted Khawaja in their test teams and for a good reason. Given how tough the pitches have been tough to bat on for shield only the likes of Khawaja has got runs. Khawaja's top scores in shield came against Tasmania on a green deck where he scored 138 and Tasmania got 95 and 140 which included batsman asuch as Doolan, Bailey and Cosgrove. He also got 2 half centuries against a star NSW attack(Starc, Hazelwood, Bollinger, Copeland, O Keefe) in Bulls win at the AB Oval where both teams scored less then 200. Inevarity also said in the announcement last week that Khawaja is next in line and on the rigth track under Lehman.

  • Chris_P on December 14, 2012, 23:30 GMT

    Some harsh critics out there re: Cowan. He has just come off a good series against SA, with a ton & a half century in the prior test (highest score of the recognized batsmen), one failure later, the bandwagon to cull him starts. Let's leave Khawaja to continue his improvement in Shield cricket, his time will come & he will make it count.

  • TEST_CRICKET_ONLY on December 14, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    A lot of talk about Hughes successful comeback - against one of the weakest attacks in test cricket - but nevertheless he made runs, so good luck to him. I still think he will struggle against better bowlers, but time will tell. Of more concern to me is the question; why is Watson an automatic inclusion in this side ? His batting sucks on a grand scale and his bowling is average at best - that is, if he isn't injured, which is most of the time.

  • srgelb on December 14, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    the 'comparison' between watson & kallis is, frankly, silly. kallis was always going to be a great batsman, someone who was going to end up where he has ended up, ranked with lara, tendulkar, ponting, etc. this is something that watson is clearly not, nor ever will be. for a long time kallis was SA's no 3, not no 4, something which mickey arthur seems unaware of, as also the author here. he only moved down to no 4 when SA's middle order needed strngthening after culllinan and kirsten retired. it used to be common knowledge that the best batsman occupied the no 4 spot. wait, that is still the case for SA, england, india, pakistan, etc. so australia putting watson at 4 is a mistake, clarke should be 4. watson is clearly a no 6 at best. and btw, aside from being in a different (lower) class to kallis as a batsman, he is not as good a bowler, and will never be. he is an outstanding T20 player clearly, but several notches short of that at test level. this is evident from his record

  • creekeetman on December 14, 2012, 20:37 GMT

    quite simply warner needs to get out of 20/20 mode. as for watson... well at some point its going to be clear to those responsible that he is not a top 4 man, but rather a number 6, just cant understand how thats so hard to figure out.

  • RandyOZ on December 14, 2012, 19:54 GMT

    Probably the next big thing in international cricket. I just hope Broad stays in the England team so Hughsey can cart him around again.

  • Peterincanada on December 14, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    @Hyclass Due to living here I follow the games frm Oz on Cricinfo until tea and then go to bed. You are spot on regarding confidence. Lack of it will cause indecision and can slow the reflexes. I think this makes Hughes's innings even better. He must have gone out to bat feeling pressure but overcame it. He had a stroke of luck with the edge that took him from 34 to38 but otherwise did not appear to play a false shot until the no ball. I think we will see even better when he is not playing for his place every time he comes out to bat.

  • thejesusofcool on December 14, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    As a Pom, I'd like a fierce contest for next Year's Ashes, so please take note:- The obvious man to go from that top 3 is Warner.

    Sorry, but that's 3 successive Test innings where the side needed him to stay there & he's gone right at the start or right at the end of a session.

    Cowan should be left to his natural game & I think Warner's skittishness as a bat is starting to get to Cowan. Better off with Rogers or Henry up top,leave Hughes at 3.

    Watson should be at 6 btw-still not a natural batsman to my eyes,allrounder, quite possibly, but not in a specialist batting position.Cosgrove? Ferguson? Smith?

    Khawaja looked like a rabbit the headlights on Test debut. Plenty of class & elegance, but he does not suggest heavy-scoring permanence in Tests.

  • OzWally on December 14, 2012, 15:59 GMT

    @ hyclass - you make some excellent and well explained points. To @HycIass - get a life and stop trying to be someone you're not.

  • Sanj747 on December 14, 2012, 15:51 GMT

    Thoughtless approach from Cowan. He is trying to be aggressive when his natural instinct would be to see off the new ball and accumulate. Not every batsman has the gift of belting the leather from GO to WO. Watson is not performing and does not figure well in the top 6. Don't see hos stats chaging in test cricket for a long time. Khawaja is being wasted and should be in the team.

  • handyandy on December 14, 2012, 15:48 GMT

    The top 4 doesn't really look right. Hughes might be better at opener although I would be willing to leave him at 3 for a while longer. Warner and Cowen tend to be hit or miss. Cowen in particular maybe running out of chances.

    Watson is still batting too high in the order. Six or seven is his spot. Watson would be a better player if he spent more time in the nets and less time in the gym. In my opinion being muscle bound has been the major factor in his injury problems.

  • onlinegamer55 on December 14, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    @hyclass I have a lot of respect for your comments. Amazingly, it's very difficult to find these days level-headed opinions but your comments always have that air of sensibility (I think Meety is another person who has well-thought out opinions). Anyway, as for the article, I think Phillip Hughes has really matured as a player and a person as age and experience inevitably does that to you. I thought that he was unfairly dropped in the 2009 Ashes and that really shouldn't have happened. However, I think that things are what they are and Hughes has displayed a level of maturity in this innings which I think, by his own admission, is higher than that in the past. I think he can be a great player but I'm a bit unsure of whether he should be batting at 3. Given the paucity of quality openers in Australia, we should have Warner and Hughes opening. I personally think Cowan isn't consistent enough at test level but I'm hoping that he proves me wrong. He did relatively well against WI and SA.

  • on December 14, 2012, 14:50 GMT

    @Lewis_of_Macksville. I'm far from suggesting Cowan being dropped, i'm actually a fan of his. I like his tenacious style and feel he has done enough to hold his place for now, but simply feel that he might be better off shelving the hook and the pull shots, certainly early in the innings. I feel he has tried to unneccesarily lift his tempo and looks unnatural doing it. For mine he has a pass for now and the rest of this series at the very minimum. None of that is to say he shouldn't be improving as long term his current stats won't cut it, but I do feel he is one of the guys around that is a longer term proposition. Looking at the team, squad and surrounding options right now it is clear that we can't just select an xi that will beat anyone home and away. What we can do is build a team, give them experience and let them develop into an xi that can climb to the top of the rankings, as we have the young talented bowlers for that proposition to be realised. Cowan is part of that.

  • PrasPunter on December 14, 2012, 14:50 GMT

    Wondering when Cowan is going to get consistent !! His shot selection was as pathetic as it can get !! And how many of you think its time for Watson to step up or step aside !! His numbers doesn't honor those who had batted at that position !!

  • hyclass on December 14, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    There has been the usual erratic,poorly constructed and inappropriate blog on Khawaja. Unfortunately for those who do rate him and probably for the man himself,it becomes embarrassing. Anyone wishing to support his inclusion would not use his Test dropping as symptomatic of an agenda or favouritism. A Test average of 29 and a S/R of 39 from 6 Tests is hardly the best argument for his inclusion. Hodge was dropped after as many Tests with an average double that and a 203 v SA to his name. Hughes was dropped after 5 Tests and an average double that with two centuries v SA to his name. THEY were unlucky. Khawaja's 1st class average has dropped more than 10 runs since then and he averaged 29 last Shield season. He is doing better this season but so are others. He should figure in Australias long term plans as he can clearly play. But there is nothing in his record to indicate that he has been unfairly treated. With patience and results he will return.Let his supporters demonstrate grace.

  • KhanMitch on December 14, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    @HycIass you are spot on bud, time to get Khawaja in, he is the best option for the first drop position with Hughes as opener. Khawaja has been very consistent and has the best technique out of all the young batsman coming through. He was unlucky to be dropped last year after top scoring against South Africa 2 games before in a record 300 chase and getting run out the game before at 40 when called for a risky run first ball after tea. You have to feel for him but a classy player such as him can't be kept out for too long as he is hitting some good runs in shield cricket this year and it was fantastic to see Inevarity acknowledge that he has improved significantly this year and is on the right path under Lehman.

  • Edwards_Anderson on December 14, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    @Jono Makim is correct, Cowan needs to go. It makes no sense to have 4 openers in the top order, Hughes should stay and Cowan should make way as his average of 31 is not good enough after 4 full series. Get Khawaja in as he is the best number 3 or 4 option at present.

  • hyclass on December 14, 2012, 12:59 GMT

    @Jono Makim...Cowan deserves a certain amount of respect for courage and enterprise. There were well founded comments on the limitations of his game and scoring rate, based on his full career record. I have often maintained that it is fraught to select players on runs of form in deference to their long term records. Cowan can certainly point to his 100 against SA as proof of his ability to lift himself. What I often find is that players can only play at 110% for brief periods before exhausting their abilities. I feel that Warner is similar and performs at his peak or fails. There is a middle game that all great players possess that allow them to score but neither dominate nor be dominated. The mediocre players are more one speed. With respect to Cowan and the pull shot, a two speed, two height pitch is one in which cross bat shots should be avoided where possible.This pitch has developed just such a reputation this season. Ed should forget expectation & play his own game at all times

  • hycIass on December 14, 2012, 12:44 GMT

    Why do you think the selectors continually stick with Ed Cowan,giving him chance after chance and only gave Khawaja 6 test matches to prove himself? Surely its time to bring a solid number 3 in Khawaja in and get Hughes to open.

  • on December 14, 2012, 12:39 GMT

    @Hyclass. On the topic of confidence, do you think Cowan should be playing cross batted shots? It seems to me as though its an after thought on his behalf to increase his scoring rate, however he does not look comfortable playing these shots and they are getting him out. Thoughts?

  • on December 14, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    I don't think that the Aussie Top 4 is a great combination, but the basis of this article is POOR..... To say they only got to the respectable 4/184 because one of the top 4 came off is garbage writing and reeks of somebody pushing an agenda. Often there is going to be one contributor, and this time it was Hughes, although Warner getting 57 is hardly a huge failure - even if he did have some (here is something that you would never expect from an opener - maybe the writer feels that we should introduce a Baseball strike system) play and misses - and did he finally get out to the strengths of the bowling of a poor shot - WORSE, he gets run out for the first time in his test career.

    There is only one thing worse then a whinger when things are going a bit tough, that is one that just wants to whinge when things went well.

  • hyclass on December 14, 2012, 12:03 GMT

    Style wise, this is probably the best written article I can remember from Dan Brettig.His observation that calmness had a big part to play in Hughes success should resonate with everyone.Clarke also talked about how important it was for Warner to feel certainty in his intentions at all times.When I coached & captained sides, it immediately became apparent that doubt was the danger. Long before a ball is bowled, doubt can render men of great talent and substance ineffective and indecisive. Top level sport allows no room or time for indecision. When Hughes began his slide, I attributed it to doubt infused by those in the Aus camp in '09. His peerless record leading into that series and the comments by DeCosta allowed no other explanation. The subsequent public campaign was toxic.When Ponting began to struggle, there had been and remained a campaign suggesting he abjure the hook. Hooking was integral.His confidence never recovered.Even a misguided certainty exceeds a well polished doubt.

  • hyclass on December 14, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    I have long held the view that all Watson's failings can be attributed only to rapid fatigue. Muscle burns energy far faster and Watson is nothing if not muscular. In fact, he often struggles to run without effort. I fully expected him to be out in the last 20 minutes of the session, as he was. It's happened often during the times that I have observed him. Stuart Law recently opined that it was a mental issue. There is no evidence to support that view. Watson is a peerless performer up to a point and that point is when physical fatigue drains his mental sharpness. He is widely regarded as an attacking player. Yet his S/R is 50 in Tests, barely ahead of Katich on 49. His innings continue to follow exact patterns. Racing to 20, slowing and being out in the 30-60 range. Law reasoned that it was the spreading of the field after the opening overs.Field changes are too small to account for it.His ODI record opposes that view.Moving down the order would also mitigate against him so why do it?

  • wellrounded87 on December 14, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @Micky-Panda Johnson was the pick of the bowlers in Perth and at his best he is unplayable. Sure consistency has been a problem for him but he seems to have straightened a lot of things out and is bowling well both in Shield and for Australia lately. It's a shame he can't produce his best consistently if that were possible Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander would be irrelevant

  • Wefinishthis on December 14, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Warner is quality, he has such a great eye for the ball and has genuine match-winning abilities. Warner, Hussey and Clarke are the only certainties for me. Hughes has earned another go, but Watson and Cowan have got to be on notice. Apart from Cowan's one century on a flat deck, he has really not been contributing what is expected of an Australian batsman. I can't remember the last time we tolerated someone with an average less than 40, let alone half of our batting lineup. Neither England or South Africa have tolerated it and it's no surprise they consistently score 400+/innings. I'd be going something like Burns, Warner, Hughes, Patterson, Clarke, Hussey, Nevill. Khawaja or someone else can come in at 6 when Hussey retires, but I agree with Meety. Watson would be better opening (though I'd rather drop him) and no-one can question Clarke right now. If he wants 5, it's his. No point upsetting his mental confidence. btw Pattinson avg 38, Cowan 34. Maybe our no.1 bowler should open?

  • BG4cricket on December 14, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    Daniel I am not sure I can agree with you re your comments on Warner's innings. When I watched it I thought he generally looked sound, especially in defence and his innings was pretty good until the brain fade at the end. I think this is a big series for Cowan. Personally I haven't really been convinced but to his credit he batted well against Sth Africa and I was starting to believe I may have been wrong. I think he more than anyone needs runs to stay in the team - if he fails I think perhaps moving Watto to opener and having Khawaja at 4 could be an option, or even Clarke move to 4 and maybe Steve Smith at 5 as he has great talent and could provide something.

  • WonkyFNQ on December 14, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    There was a time, not so long ago, when an opener with an average in the mid-30s was considered a good player. It is the toughest batting position in cricket. People keep thinking of Hayden and Langer and expecting averages around 50. It is not realistic. Hayden was picked and dropped several times and people said he would never make it. He was, so they said, the Graeme Hick of Australia. He kept making first class runs, the selectors kept faith in his talent, and now we are looking for someone as good as him. He who remembers nothing of history is condemned to repeat it. Perhaps that is what people are hoping in the case of Hayden's career.

  • on December 14, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    Clarke at 4 Hussey at 5 and Watson at 6 or another all rounder there or if not Watson opens. Cowan out Usman down into the middle order somewhere

  • Meety on December 14, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    @Micky.Panda on (December 14 2012, 08:31 AM GMT) - your view is held my many others, but it is one I disagree with. Should Pup move to #4, what then? Who moves to #5? Why shuffle Clarke & possibly Hussey - when they are working the best? IMO - it doesn't make sense to weaken a strength to shore up a weakness? Clarke has a reasonable ave @ #4 - in the mid 40s, but his #5 average is mid 60s! Why not use a buffer zone until we can find some worthy middle or top order batsmen. At the moment i don't mind the 4 openers strategy. I am relatively happy with the top 4 we have, but wouldn't mind Watto back opening with Warner @ #4. Just to get a bit Left hand/right hand combos at the top! re: Starc v MJ, I am happy for Starc to be given the go, but I would also like to see MJ around the Oz team.

  • Simoc on December 14, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    If Oz can get to 400 it should be a winning score in Hobart. I agree with the writer re Warner and Cowan. Warner will make it and Cowan has more to do.They're less than convincing at present. Hughes looked the goods today, and hopefully he's there for a Ponting style career. The Australian style of accumulating runs at a potentially winning rate always gives them a chance against everyone. And Mickey Panda you'll see plenty of M Johnson this season and we'll see if you have a clue.

  • Micky.Panda on December 14, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    P.S. I don't think there should be any place for M Johnson. His bowling was never consistent enough. His batting was never consistent enough to get in as an all-rounder. M. Starc is still young with plenty more to learn, but has better averages for both bowling and batting, and troubles the batsmen more consistently. He has to be preferred.

  • Micky.Panda on December 14, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    The article makes many valid points the the batting lineup is not something for great confidence. Surely Michael Clarke should have the confidence in himself to move to number 4. Watson should either open or move down the order. He does not seem like a number 3 or 4. Cowan obviously needs runs badly. Hard to justify an opener whose average is not even close to 40. Seems that Australia should be looking for most consistent openers over several years, like Rogers for example. Form is just a temporary thing.

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  • Micky.Panda on December 14, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    The article makes many valid points the the batting lineup is not something for great confidence. Surely Michael Clarke should have the confidence in himself to move to number 4. Watson should either open or move down the order. He does not seem like a number 3 or 4. Cowan obviously needs runs badly. Hard to justify an opener whose average is not even close to 40. Seems that Australia should be looking for most consistent openers over several years, like Rogers for example. Form is just a temporary thing.

  • Micky.Panda on December 14, 2012, 8:47 GMT

    P.S. I don't think there should be any place for M Johnson. His bowling was never consistent enough. His batting was never consistent enough to get in as an all-rounder. M. Starc is still young with plenty more to learn, but has better averages for both bowling and batting, and troubles the batsmen more consistently. He has to be preferred.

  • Simoc on December 14, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    If Oz can get to 400 it should be a winning score in Hobart. I agree with the writer re Warner and Cowan. Warner will make it and Cowan has more to do.They're less than convincing at present. Hughes looked the goods today, and hopefully he's there for a Ponting style career. The Australian style of accumulating runs at a potentially winning rate always gives them a chance against everyone. And Mickey Panda you'll see plenty of M Johnson this season and we'll see if you have a clue.

  • Meety on December 14, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    @Micky.Panda on (December 14 2012, 08:31 AM GMT) - your view is held my many others, but it is one I disagree with. Should Pup move to #4, what then? Who moves to #5? Why shuffle Clarke & possibly Hussey - when they are working the best? IMO - it doesn't make sense to weaken a strength to shore up a weakness? Clarke has a reasonable ave @ #4 - in the mid 40s, but his #5 average is mid 60s! Why not use a buffer zone until we can find some worthy middle or top order batsmen. At the moment i don't mind the 4 openers strategy. I am relatively happy with the top 4 we have, but wouldn't mind Watto back opening with Warner @ #4. Just to get a bit Left hand/right hand combos at the top! re: Starc v MJ, I am happy for Starc to be given the go, but I would also like to see MJ around the Oz team.

  • on December 14, 2012, 9:30 GMT

    Clarke at 4 Hussey at 5 and Watson at 6 or another all rounder there or if not Watson opens. Cowan out Usman down into the middle order somewhere

  • WonkyFNQ on December 14, 2012, 10:42 GMT

    There was a time, not so long ago, when an opener with an average in the mid-30s was considered a good player. It is the toughest batting position in cricket. People keep thinking of Hayden and Langer and expecting averages around 50. It is not realistic. Hayden was picked and dropped several times and people said he would never make it. He was, so they said, the Graeme Hick of Australia. He kept making first class runs, the selectors kept faith in his talent, and now we are looking for someone as good as him. He who remembers nothing of history is condemned to repeat it. Perhaps that is what people are hoping in the case of Hayden's career.

  • BG4cricket on December 14, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    Daniel I am not sure I can agree with you re your comments on Warner's innings. When I watched it I thought he generally looked sound, especially in defence and his innings was pretty good until the brain fade at the end. I think this is a big series for Cowan. Personally I haven't really been convinced but to his credit he batted well against Sth Africa and I was starting to believe I may have been wrong. I think he more than anyone needs runs to stay in the team - if he fails I think perhaps moving Watto to opener and having Khawaja at 4 could be an option, or even Clarke move to 4 and maybe Steve Smith at 5 as he has great talent and could provide something.

  • Wefinishthis on December 14, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Warner is quality, he has such a great eye for the ball and has genuine match-winning abilities. Warner, Hussey and Clarke are the only certainties for me. Hughes has earned another go, but Watson and Cowan have got to be on notice. Apart from Cowan's one century on a flat deck, he has really not been contributing what is expected of an Australian batsman. I can't remember the last time we tolerated someone with an average less than 40, let alone half of our batting lineup. Neither England or South Africa have tolerated it and it's no surprise they consistently score 400+/innings. I'd be going something like Burns, Warner, Hughes, Patterson, Clarke, Hussey, Nevill. Khawaja or someone else can come in at 6 when Hussey retires, but I agree with Meety. Watson would be better opening (though I'd rather drop him) and no-one can question Clarke right now. If he wants 5, it's his. No point upsetting his mental confidence. btw Pattinson avg 38, Cowan 34. Maybe our no.1 bowler should open?

  • wellrounded87 on December 14, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    @Micky-Panda Johnson was the pick of the bowlers in Perth and at his best he is unplayable. Sure consistency has been a problem for him but he seems to have straightened a lot of things out and is bowling well both in Shield and for Australia lately. It's a shame he can't produce his best consistently if that were possible Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander would be irrelevant

  • hyclass on December 14, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    I have long held the view that all Watson's failings can be attributed only to rapid fatigue. Muscle burns energy far faster and Watson is nothing if not muscular. In fact, he often struggles to run without effort. I fully expected him to be out in the last 20 minutes of the session, as he was. It's happened often during the times that I have observed him. Stuart Law recently opined that it was a mental issue. There is no evidence to support that view. Watson is a peerless performer up to a point and that point is when physical fatigue drains his mental sharpness. He is widely regarded as an attacking player. Yet his S/R is 50 in Tests, barely ahead of Katich on 49. His innings continue to follow exact patterns. Racing to 20, slowing and being out in the 30-60 range. Law reasoned that it was the spreading of the field after the opening overs.Field changes are too small to account for it.His ODI record opposes that view.Moving down the order would also mitigate against him so why do it?