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Grand plan for Gabba preparation

Daniel Brettig

October 16, 2012

Comments: 46 | Text size: A | A

Jon Holland sends down a delivery, Victoria v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, Melbourne, 1st day, February 12, 2010
Victoria retained Jon Holland for a Shield fixture at CA's behest © Getty Images
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A galaxy of flights, an exclusively east coast round of Sheffield Shield fixtures and a schedule left flexible until the last possible moment will allow all members of Australia's Test squad at least one first-class fixture before the start of their tilt with South Africa for the No. 1 ranking.

Australia's likely squad for the first Test in Brisbane from November 9 comprises the captain Michael Clarke, his deputy Shane Watson, David Warner, Ed Cowan, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and one of Brad Haddin or Matthew Wade. Of these, Watson, Warner, Hussey, Hilfenhaus, Starc and Haddin are all at the Champions League Twenty20.

In what was both a compelling demonstration of the Cricket Australia team performance regime's influence, and a major blot against the scheduling of the CLT20 tournament at the outset of the Australian season, the team performance manager Pat Howard outlined the complex machinations required to enable the Test team to get re-acquainted with the red ball.

Depending on the results of the T20 teams competing in South Africa, the Shield round set down for November 2-5 may be shifted forward by a day to November 1, allowing all players to assemble in Brisbane on November 5. There is also an Australia A tour match against the South Africans from November 2-4, though the national selectors are hesitant to show too much of their hand to the opposition a week before the series. Pat Cummins is one bowler who will definitely not be taking part as he prepares for a likely recall for the third Test in Perth.

"We've moved that round of Sheffield Shield to be able to accommodate enough preparation if they need it," Howard said. "Tasmania v SA in Hobart, that game is actually locked away to start on November 1. The other two depend on what's happening after the 24th of October. Then we'll know who's going further in the CLT20.

"The schedule was done on the assumption that all the teams would make the final, and all we did was flip the thinking and assume we're not making the final, and can we move the round forward to leave room for flights out of South Africa. Queensland v NSW is in Brisbane, you've got a three-day game with Australia A and South Africa in Sydney, WA v Victoria in Melbourne. There are direct flights from Johannesburg to Melbourne so that's possible. It's worked out at the level of thinking and logistics to work out what's possible, and recovery times."

Flexibility among state sides to accommodate the wishes of Howard, the national selector John Inverarity and the national team coach Mickey Arthur has been fostered over the past year via the encouragement of greater dialogue between CA and state associations. The selector Rod Marsh has played a role in this discussion as a national coaching coordinator, resulting in greater exposure for players of national interest first delineated in the Argus review.

Chief among these are spin bowlers, with Jon Holland, Lyon, Michael Beer, Jason Krejza and Cameron Boyce all playing early season Shield matches despite a series of pitches more helpful to seam bowlers. Howard said Holland was retained ahead of the in-form batsman Aaron Finch for Victoria's Shield fixture against Queensland at CA's behest. Lyon, meanwhile, is set to play for SA in Hobart alongside his captain Johan Botha, though the surface is likely to favour faster men.

"I know Finch had a wonderful one-day game against Queensland and then to support hopefully Victoria but also Australian processes, Jon was kept on to keep playing and Aaron missed out," Howard said. "The states are working really well with CA, they're doing a wonderful job with the balancing act, looking after the best interests of a very strong Sheffield Shield, but also at times putting Australia's best interests first.

"You can pick up the phone and call every state talent manager and say 'here's what we're trying to do, the national selection panel want to have a look at A, B or C, can we look at that', and it's been very good. We want a very strong domestic competition, we think that's to our competitive advantage, but it's that balance."

Victoria's co-operation is a particularly strong sign of changing times, as the Bushrangers had long been known for taking a self-absorbed approach that elevated the state side to a series of trophy-winning seasons at the possible expense of developing players for Australia. However Arthur said the Bushrangers coach Greg Shipperd and his assistant Simon Helmot were now proving far more open to CA's ideas.

"That's certainly changed," Arthur said. "We sit once every quarter with all the state coaches, and we give them a little information and they tell us what's happening. So the communication is really good and we've emphasised to those guys, exactly what our needs are and how they can best service us.

"When they're getting around the selection table, they certainly know who we've got an eye on, and who we think the next best is. We think that's important that they're in the loop, because then we get that communication."

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

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Posted by   on (October 18, 2012, 2:42 GMT)

Sridharan.S, Marcus North would struggle to get a regular game with either NSW or Victoria, how he got to play as many Test matches as he did remains a mystery to most Australians.

David Hussey has a 20 point 1st Class average advantage on him with both bat and ball, yet was consistently ignored for Australian Test honours, and Bunky Hodge was also a much superior batsmen and just as good with the ball.

Siddle will open the bowling for Australia all summer barring injury, and Matthew Wade will keep. Shaun Marsh will not play for Australia in any form this summer.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

Australia should win the series and their yound crop of fast bowlers will come good

Posted by Selassie-I on (October 17, 2012, 11:48 GMT)

Really looking forward to this series, shuold be great.

Posted by zenboomerang on (October 17, 2012, 11:45 GMT)

@Ayush_Chauhan @Dashgar... I have no problem with Oz having a spinner in this series, but the Gabba & WACA are definitely 2 grounds where seamers have a big advantage over spinners - for me I want Oz to win & I don't see Lyon or Tahir doing much on either pitch & being early season pitches they will not be turners - even Adelaide has been a seamers pitch this early in the season with Lyon doing nothing in his match there... Still think Maxwell/O'Keefe offer more on these 3 grounds than Lyon at this time of the year - Lyon for the SL Tests later in summer...

Posted by mthi4life on (October 17, 2012, 11:39 GMT)

This will be the most difficult series that South Africa have to play.The outcome will determine whether.Proteas dominate Test Cricket on or no.1 ranking will move around from one county to the next.It is going to be close I my SA sneak it.But would not be surprised if they do not.Good Luck to the Proteas.

Posted by IndianInnerEdge on (October 17, 2012, 10:55 GMT)

Seems like a decent ploy by at least one cricket board which rates the pinnacle of cricket being tests. Whatz coming out of the Aus board-with the new guy at the helm is bowler rotation, better preparation and scheduling, this should be the blueprint or guideline for certain money obsessed board's ---espeicially my country's to emulate, but such things were never the strong suit of the BccI. Cant wait for this series and some meaningful cricket at last!.... for me the key is how the Aus (ageing??) middle order (hussey, ponting, Haddin-if he is chosen) handle the Saffer pace fire power and off course Tahir. What Oz also miss is an attacking spinner-whatever happened to the Hauritz guy, the likes of Lyon, doherty and christian are at best containing trundlers that the like of Hash, AB, kallis et al will take apart. Also a fab contest will be Warner against steyn-morkel-straight up...Wow-bring it on-test cricket rox!

Posted by tanstell87 on (October 17, 2012, 10:12 GMT)

Exciting cricket up ahead....any of top 5 test teams can get to that number 1 ranking....South Africa will be tough to beat...Morne Morkel,Dale Steyn & Vernon Philander will be too much for Aussies...England will be playing India at the same time...the result might be 2-1 in favour of Indians....Pakistan isnt playing tests until late January...Sri Lanka after 17 years will be playing Australia in Melbourne & Sydney...that would be exciting to watch...lots of tests action...& yes i am ready for it !

Posted by ajayrcs on (October 17, 2012, 9:22 GMT)

Shridharan.S! Wow amazing selection but where is Siddle and their best spinner Lyon, But Its good you included North and Hads. it seems like you are really a Book cricket lover,when you picked Haddin, North, Marsh, Hussey and Ponting(all of them are amazing cover drive batsmen) who bats like book of cricket is written on them and good swing bowlers like hilfy, Pattinson and Starc. But how about Wade nstead of Clake and Haddin as captain.Marsh as Vice Cap.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (October 17, 2012, 9:01 GMT)

SA team: 1.Smith, 2.Peitersen, 3.Amla, 4.Kallis, 5. AB, 6. JP Duminy, 7.Tsolikele, 8.Philander,9.Steyn, 10 Morkel, 11. Tahir.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (October 17, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

The scramble by Ozzie administrators to get players home and ensure enough preparation is proof on how big this series is. This is the world championship heavy weight title fight and i have been looking forward to it for 2 years. If my beloved SA can put away Ozzie in Oz we should hold the no.1 ranking for at least a couple years. Its going to be very close and what a farce that its only a 3 match test series after watching the recent T20 world cup and Championship league carnival & circus. My heart says SA's superior expereince in batting and bowling will overcome Oz, my mind says it will be a close and Oz could sneak it.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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