Australian news August 6, 2010

North handed more breathing space

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There's a popular line in Australian cricket that goes "it's harder to get into the Test team than out of it". Usually it has applied to the batsmen and the current top six, which falters almost as often as it purrs, is benefitting from almost untouchable status.

Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, is not plotting any changes to the line-up for the two Tests in India in October, and would be happiest if the order didn't alter until after the Ashes. That's despite a couple of batsmen - Ricky Ponting and Marcus North - losing power since being defeated by England last year, Michael Hussey edging closer to the end, and Shane Watson being employed as an out-of-position opener.

In the early 1990s, the Waughs were sometimes called the koala brothers (not to their faces!) because they were seen as protected species. Back then Mark and Steve were in their 20s and their best was in front of them. Instead of being on the endangered list over the past year, Marcus North, a 31-year-old, remains in the top tree. Admittedly he is clinging on, but every time he is on the verge of tumbling his powerful admirers prop him up.

Hilditch wants North to be a long-term player and he will be given a chance in India to secure an Ashes role. "He's a very experienced cricketer and we're going to lose some experience in the next six months to two years, so if he was playing really well and gave us some experience, that would be our ideal outcome," Hilditch said. "But Marcus would be aware, as any cricketer is, that he needs to perform well and obviously his consistency is something that we'd be looking for him to improve."

For a professional batsman who has impressed for more than a decade, North has a rare ability to hit or miss. But it's not just his tendency for small scores - he has 21 or fewer in 19 of his 28 Test innings - that is a concern. It's also the times when he makes runs. After a fabulous Ashes series, North has registered only four half-centuries against the weaker opponents of West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand.

Most tellingly, those successes came when Australia's innings were already set up. He entered at 4 for 253 to score 79 against West Indies and his 68 in the same series came after starting at 3 for 277. In New Zealand, where he excelled under immense scrutiny, he walked out at 4 for 176 to post an unbeaten 112, while his 90 in the next game began at 4 for 247. Apart from the century in Wellington, the runs were at the easier end of the Test scale.

With Australia's batting line-up showing regular brittleness - 160 at The Oval, 150 against West Indies in Perth, 127 in Sydney and 88 at Headingley - they need the No.6 to be capable of stability. In those four innings North scratched 8, 1, 20 and 16.

Against Pakistan in England he displayed the flail and fail method, appearing more like a nervy rookie than a senior pro with four hundreds in 17 Tests. "He's proved he can play international cricket," Hilditch said. "We've been preparing for this Ashes since we lost them last time, that's why Marcus has been in the side, he has been part of our longer-term planning for this Ashes series coming up.''

Watson's aggressive approach is made for the middle order and he is the logical choice to drop down whenever a middle-order space appears. After starting with seven fifties and a century in his first eight matches as opener, Watson's life has become tougher and he is less comfortable when the new ball swings, which is something England do well.

Hilditch is reluctant to shuffle the order, even though he sees Phillip Hughes as a long-term opener, but is confident a double switch to the top six can be done smoothly - if absolutely necessary. "You can make changes, I don't think you need to go away and say you can't," he said. "But the reality is we don't see changes being made. Shane Watson has been extremely successful at the top of order, he averages very close to 50 opening, which is a marked increase of where he was down the order."

Hilditch also does not want to break up Watson's partnership with Simon Katich. The pair averages 54.95 runs an innings, which currently places them behind only the Lawry-Simpson and Brown-Fingleton combinations in Australia's history. "It's been a very good partnership," Hilditch said. "Obviously Shane can bat anywhere in the order, but he certainly seems to be grabbing the opening spot."

One person returning after a long-lay who has a place waiting for him is Peter Siddle. Siddle has not played since a stress fracture was diagnosed in his back in February and is planning to return with Victoria at the Champions League in September. If that goes smoothly he will be expected to face England at the Gabba on November 25.

"He's certainly part of our Ashes plans, and has been since the last Ashes," Hilditch said. "He's got to be back bowling well and performing, nobody automatically comes back in. Certainly fully fit, we see him in the top echelon of fast bowlers." This is a panel that keeps faith in those who have served them ably in wins and losses.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY Something_Witty on | August 9, 2010, 15:52 GMT

    Why does everyone seem to think that Hughes HAS to open the batting? What would be wrong with him batting at 6? A lot of young batsmen do so at the beginning of their career, as it often helps to come in when the ball is older. Ponting played most of his early career at number 6 and I think we can say he turned out an ok batsman...

  • POSTED BY 512fm on | August 9, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    i also am sick of the retaining of north he has been terrible ever since the ashes i mean come on a few runs against that NZ bowling attack you have got to be kidding and he could hardly buy a run against WI or Pakistan

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | August 8, 2010, 13:36 GMT

    THIS is the beaty of the Australian System - Aussie Selectors do not chip -chop like the selectors of other countries.

  • POSTED BY usman_nile1994 on | August 8, 2010, 9:52 GMT

    England has a chance of 70% win against Aussies. Aussies selectors are just foolish. They have lot of great players who have proved themselves but are not in team. Philip Hughes is the best example. He was discarded after failure only in two matches against England? And North who is playing so badly is retained. I admit North is a good batsman but not better than Hughes and Khawaja. I would like to see Shane Watson in 6th batting position and Philip Hughes in opening slot or either using Watson as a opener and Khawaja on 6th position. On bowling side also Aussies are making severe mistakes. Nathan Hauritz should be in the team alongside Ryan Harris and Stuart Clark. Remove the left-armers.

  • POSTED BY on | August 8, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    with 17 tests and an average over 30 will siddle improve autralias bowling problems or will he just join in as another average bowler in a failing team that still think they r the best only because of their long term memory.

    England will keep the ashes, ponting will gain a new record of defeats and then finally the axe fall on the selectors who started this mess!!

  • POSTED BY Benster2 on | August 7, 2010, 22:43 GMT

    I am personally so fed up with reading articles about Marcus North retaining his spot in the Aus test side. Let's face it - he's absolute junk. He's only a better than average first class batsman. Why do the selectors persist with this nonsense when they have two stars of the future, in Hughes and SPD Smith, waiting on the sidelines? And why do Ponting and Mr Cricket/Wicket seem to have a golden ticket to continually not perform without any pressure being put on their test spots?

  • POSTED BY george204 on | August 7, 2010, 19:47 GMT

    Graham McMillan Thomas (& others): there's one factor you are forgetting about for the upcoming Ashes - the strange self-destructive decision making that seems to grip England whenever they set foot in Australia.

    The ball won't swing there, Swann will be cannon fodder, Finn will get found out, Broad's body will collapse underthe workload, there will be some bizarre selections, a 1990s-style batting collapse is just around the corner (Cook & Pietersen are walking wickets, Bell will be just back from injury/short of confidence, we can't rely on Strauss & Collingwood + the lower order all the time) etc, etc...

    Much as it pains me to say it, Australia 3-1 is my prediction.

  • POSTED BY Marcio on | August 7, 2010, 13:44 GMT

    It's true enough that the selectors have made some bad errors, as has Ponting with his captaincy. Australia should have won the ashes easily last time - they were the better team most of the series, then failed to put a spinner in to the fifth test on a dust bowl manufactured for a result. If Tait or Nannes was in the one day squad from the start of the recent 50 over series, they would have won the series easily too. They lost the deciding 3rd game by a wicket (just like the ashes - remember the first test?), then thrashed Eng stupid in the last two with Tait. Then choosing to bat first in the recent test against Pakistan... All these were easily preventable outcomes. Still, one test loss vs pakistan does not make the ashes. Remember, Aust has won 8 of its last ten test matches, is no. 1 in the 50 over game, and just made the final of the T20 world cup. That's hardly what I'd call "a very weak Australian team", as some English fool has written below. The public always overreacts.

  • POSTED BY Aussasinator on | August 7, 2010, 13:38 GMT

    They have no great choice actually.

  • POSTED BY jmey97 on | August 7, 2010, 12:14 GMT

    North is a good batsmen and should be selected. They need to give him India to show his keep.

  • POSTED BY Something_Witty on | August 9, 2010, 15:52 GMT

    Why does everyone seem to think that Hughes HAS to open the batting? What would be wrong with him batting at 6? A lot of young batsmen do so at the beginning of their career, as it often helps to come in when the ball is older. Ponting played most of his early career at number 6 and I think we can say he turned out an ok batsman...

  • POSTED BY 512fm on | August 9, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    i also am sick of the retaining of north he has been terrible ever since the ashes i mean come on a few runs against that NZ bowling attack you have got to be kidding and he could hardly buy a run against WI or Pakistan

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | August 8, 2010, 13:36 GMT

    THIS is the beaty of the Australian System - Aussie Selectors do not chip -chop like the selectors of other countries.

  • POSTED BY usman_nile1994 on | August 8, 2010, 9:52 GMT

    England has a chance of 70% win against Aussies. Aussies selectors are just foolish. They have lot of great players who have proved themselves but are not in team. Philip Hughes is the best example. He was discarded after failure only in two matches against England? And North who is playing so badly is retained. I admit North is a good batsman but not better than Hughes and Khawaja. I would like to see Shane Watson in 6th batting position and Philip Hughes in opening slot or either using Watson as a opener and Khawaja on 6th position. On bowling side also Aussies are making severe mistakes. Nathan Hauritz should be in the team alongside Ryan Harris and Stuart Clark. Remove the left-armers.

  • POSTED BY on | August 8, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    with 17 tests and an average over 30 will siddle improve autralias bowling problems or will he just join in as another average bowler in a failing team that still think they r the best only because of their long term memory.

    England will keep the ashes, ponting will gain a new record of defeats and then finally the axe fall on the selectors who started this mess!!

  • POSTED BY Benster2 on | August 7, 2010, 22:43 GMT

    I am personally so fed up with reading articles about Marcus North retaining his spot in the Aus test side. Let's face it - he's absolute junk. He's only a better than average first class batsman. Why do the selectors persist with this nonsense when they have two stars of the future, in Hughes and SPD Smith, waiting on the sidelines? And why do Ponting and Mr Cricket/Wicket seem to have a golden ticket to continually not perform without any pressure being put on their test spots?

  • POSTED BY george204 on | August 7, 2010, 19:47 GMT

    Graham McMillan Thomas (& others): there's one factor you are forgetting about for the upcoming Ashes - the strange self-destructive decision making that seems to grip England whenever they set foot in Australia.

    The ball won't swing there, Swann will be cannon fodder, Finn will get found out, Broad's body will collapse underthe workload, there will be some bizarre selections, a 1990s-style batting collapse is just around the corner (Cook & Pietersen are walking wickets, Bell will be just back from injury/short of confidence, we can't rely on Strauss & Collingwood + the lower order all the time) etc, etc...

    Much as it pains me to say it, Australia 3-1 is my prediction.

  • POSTED BY Marcio on | August 7, 2010, 13:44 GMT

    It's true enough that the selectors have made some bad errors, as has Ponting with his captaincy. Australia should have won the ashes easily last time - they were the better team most of the series, then failed to put a spinner in to the fifth test on a dust bowl manufactured for a result. If Tait or Nannes was in the one day squad from the start of the recent 50 over series, they would have won the series easily too. They lost the deciding 3rd game by a wicket (just like the ashes - remember the first test?), then thrashed Eng stupid in the last two with Tait. Then choosing to bat first in the recent test against Pakistan... All these were easily preventable outcomes. Still, one test loss vs pakistan does not make the ashes. Remember, Aust has won 8 of its last ten test matches, is no. 1 in the 50 over game, and just made the final of the T20 world cup. That's hardly what I'd call "a very weak Australian team", as some English fool has written below. The public always overreacts.

  • POSTED BY Aussasinator on | August 7, 2010, 13:38 GMT

    They have no great choice actually.

  • POSTED BY jmey97 on | August 7, 2010, 12:14 GMT

    North is a good batsmen and should be selected. They need to give him India to show his keep.

  • POSTED BY on | August 7, 2010, 11:11 GMT

    has anyone also thought about bowling changes? perhaps bring in tait to shake up batsmen and take wickets and s clark to keep it tight plus he troubles the english much more than the other bowlers. drop johnson and probably bollinger. But first drop North and the entire selection panel.

  • POSTED BY Deepakskipper on | August 7, 2010, 8:32 GMT

    Guys.....Point to ponder....In my view Hilditch is cunningly and rightly so , pursuing for North because remember the two test series in India will require atleast 2 spinners, Hauritz will be one (if he is fit),then Smith and then North will come in handy as a part timer and bat at 5/6. Smith should be brought to India but don't play him in XI, 'coz he wll be plundered fr plenty as leggies and rookie leggies splly are bread and butter fr indian batters. I have my serious doubts our Hauritz as well fr India 'coz he ain't a big spinner like Kreja. Bowling attack In India will be Hilfi, Bollinger and Johnson/siddle, along with Hauritz and they wll need an extra hand fr spin overs.playing 2 frnt line apinners in Smith and hauritz won't be aussie philosophy as they rely heavily on Pace. Hilfi can do a Kasprowicz type job of kping it tight, Johnson will be used as an impact bowler and Bollinger fr persistence. Siddle, if fit is a must as he can bustle indian batters with his pace.

  • POSTED BY on | August 7, 2010, 2:34 GMT

    If the Aussie cricket supporters are unhappy with the state of our team structure and strength , and the unfathomable decisions of the Selectors , then I feel that this must get through to the players as well . I feel sad that both groups are out of favour with most supporters , despite what Players and Selectors think are the best decisions they can come up with . It is understandable why followers can see that England are a better combination , and their form is far more convincing than anything Australia has shown . They certainly appear a happy combination and are deservingly worthy of being HOT favourites to retain the Ashes . We are no longer Number 1 , and on current form are a long way away from it . We live in hope .

  • POSTED BY rohanbala on | August 7, 2010, 1:07 GMT

    Marcus North reminds me of Greame Hick of England from whom much was expected but he could deliver little in the test arena.. I am sure the English seamers' task will be much easier with the likes of Marcus North in the team. It will be a surprise if Australia wins against the current english team.

  • POSTED BY Winsome on | August 6, 2010, 22:27 GMT

    Getting rid of North, while a good start, won't get the Ashes for Aus. There is a collection of problems and North is current scapegoat no 1. Plus I think Punter's command over the selectors is at least a big a problem as the actual team issues.

  • POSTED BY Puppster23 on | August 6, 2010, 22:22 GMT

    All the people who are saying England have a big chance of retaining the Ashes, probably should take into account, that ball is not going to move in Australia, which would be big handicap for the English bowlers, and as for Swann, record of finger spinners in Oz is there for all to see.

  • POSTED BY Puppster23 on | August 6, 2010, 22:16 GMT

    Why are selectors so keen on giving test caps to 30 year olds all the time, North is class player, but he's terribly inconsistent, and that's how its always been, so what were they thinking when they picked him? Bring George Bailey in for North, and btw, people suggesting that Watto shoud lmove down into the middle order, are probably forgetting that he's terrible against spin bowling, so don't know how things would work out for him there.

  • POSTED BY ozziefan08 on | August 6, 2010, 20:00 GMT

    @ MOHAMMAAD-HOTWAREZ North has had plenty of time to prove himself in the international arena his time has come. @Deep_Backward_Chair You are dead right on all fronts with your comments. @Si Baker your right about most things there but i seriously dont think Smith is a test number 5, he may well become one later on in his career. There are so many young guys and experienced first class campaigners in this country who score mountains of runs. Why can't they get a go?

  • POSTED BY Hoggy_1989 on | August 6, 2010, 16:32 GMT

    Does anyone know if Ferguson is over that knee injury that he sustained last summer? I suspect thats probably all thats keeping him out of the side. However, I see no problem with playing Smith at 6 (using his bowling abilities in a more part-time role), and exploiting his batting abilities. Of course, this has the double advantage of being able to play another specialist bowler; like Hauritz when he is fit or perhaps another pace bowler. However if North and Hussey (to a lesser extent) find big runs in India...unlikely, but possible, then they'll probably stay on for the Ashes. Why has no-one mentioned Chris Rogers for opening (if Watson goes to No. 6), or David Hussey to replace his brother? Rogers topped the batting sheets last season as an opener, and D. Hussey was not too far behind. You say that the batting may be NSW orientated, what about the West Australian ex-pats playing for Victoria then?

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | August 6, 2010, 15:24 GMT

    Drop North! This is madness! He is not like the Waugh brothers who had great pedigrees. He is not like Michael Hussey who has both a great FC career and has performed at test and international level. What has North done? Nothing! What is his pedigree? Nothing! It is insanity to persist with him! Brad Hodge has retired now but still there is David Hussey waiting in the wings. We have Cameron White and Mitchell Marsh and so many other great batsmen missing out because of this insane idea to persist with North! Fire him already! It is long overdue! He should never have played for Australia in the first place!

  • POSTED BY Fifthman on | August 6, 2010, 15:04 GMT

    @skhh

    Have you forgotten something? England WON the Ashes back in 2009. They currently hold the Ashes; the only thing Australia is retaining are a large number of past their sell-by date players.

    England to retain the Ashes 2-1 on current form.

  • POSTED BY MOHAMMAAD-HOTWAREZ on | August 6, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    i think north deserves atleast few tests to prove himself still and i see that this is a good decision taken by ponting if he fails again then he should be dropped

  • POSTED BY darren-oz on | August 6, 2010, 13:43 GMT

    What's so special about Norththat he needs countless opportunities to prove he isn't Test standard, when Brad Hodge was treated so disgracefully by Hohns, Hilditch and their sycophants.

  • POSTED BY zippydingdong on | August 6, 2010, 13:08 GMT

    Marcus North needs to make big runs when we need him,Ive been a fan of Norths but its running thin.His decision making of attacking and defending the right deliveries has been his problem since I saw him debut for WA.His action and technique are natural and dare I say it in the same sort of mold as Brian Laras especially with the backlift.Australia moving forward need North in good form but if not he needs to go.

  • POSTED BY Adhiqarie on | August 6, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    Very good decision...No doubt..he is a talent..!

  • POSTED BY baldster on | August 6, 2010, 12:54 GMT

    At this stage, North...GONE, Hussey...GONE, Katich... Retiring soon possbily..... Ponting... Going...

    Bring in Khawaja, Hughes, Ferugsson, Smith/someone else??

    We need big changes, and now, And yes, this side may be a little NSW biased, but it would be better than what we have now IMO...

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | August 6, 2010, 12:49 GMT

    I think Scott Lancaster's right- if Australia are to regain the Ashes they do need 12 players.

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 12:39 GMT

    If North plays, Australia may as well kiss the Ashes goodbye now ... and if losing a home Ashes series doesn't mean the end of Ponting's career, what will?!! Of course Hilditch may say him, if he still somehow manages to keep the job he should have lost after the last Ashes series.

  • POSTED BY gillyfan18 on | August 6, 2010, 12:38 GMT

    Although I would love to see Marcus play his best, I would also like Ferguson and Cameron in the team

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 12:25 GMT

    well it's 50 / 50 now 4 Australia

  • POSTED BY Something_Witty on | August 6, 2010, 11:57 GMT

    Watson is less comfortable when the new ball swings??? Hello? Have you forgotten that his first three tests as an opener were in ENGLAND in swinging conditions...? And no he has not only scored runs against "weak bowling attacks". Aamer is a wonderful bowler (rubbing dirt into ball issues aside), Asif is currently world number 2 I believe? Gul is a decent bowler and Kaneria no slouch as a leg spinner. Watson has looked more and more like an opening batsmen with every innings. Leave him in the position he is now accustomed to.

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 10:58 GMT

    As an Englishman, Hilditch The Happy Hooker's ludicrous comments re Aussie selection delight me every time. You guys NEED to plan for the next generation - which means you need to keep on blooding highly talented youngsters such as Hughes, Smith (as a No. 5 batsman & 2nd spinner) & Paine (a better keeper than Haddin & just as good a batsman); & Watson - now that he's a viable 4th seamer - really should be moved down the order to reduce the extra pressure on him as an opener. Oh, & Ponting is by far the worst Aussie captain in living memory: tactically way too defensive & transparently unimaginative in the way he deploys the talent at his disposal. This is the team you SHOULD be playing at Brisbane: 1 Katich; 2 Hughes; 3 Ponting; 4 Clarke (Captain); 5 Smith; 6 Watson; 7 Paine (WK); 8 Johnson; 9 Hauritz; 10 Hilfenhaus; 11 Bollinger.

  • POSTED BY Okakaboka on | August 6, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    Look, there is general agreement here! If Hilditch thinks North should stay then both should be dropped. Hilditch has demonstrated he is not fit to be a test selector the same as North has demonstrated he is not up to test standard. Last summer, North wasn't even performing well enough for his State team and should have been dropped from it. It isn't about the runs made in a test match.....it is about whether someone can genuinely perform at Internation level. There are so many holes in his technique he has a weakness against any bowler who can land the ball on the pitch...let alone swing it. The team needs Cameron White for leadship and outstanding fielding. We are all not just armchair critics. Many of us bloggers do know what we are talking about. Does anyone from Cricket Australia read these forums?......They need to!!!

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 10:21 GMT

    SO WAHT'S THE POINT.HE SAID WATSON AND KATTICH HAD 54 AVERAGE.STATICS IS THE MAIN SOURCE OF THE TRUTH.BUT THEN HE SAID WATSON CAN BAT ANYWHERE.DID HE CONSIDER AS A TOY?CAN MOVE ANYWHERE?IF WATSON PLAYS AS AN OPENER HE MUST HAVE THAT PLACE.HE MAKE EXCUSE FOR IT.HE SAID WATSON uncomfortable with swing.tell me any aussie batsmen who haven't struggle with mohomed aamer's swing.so what is the point?i'm not suprise if watson retire fr4om test cricket and become another davd warner kind of guy.

  • POSTED BY Deep_Backward_Chair on | August 6, 2010, 10:12 GMT

    Hughes needs to come in, as well as Watson has traveled, he is not an opener, and will not be in the long run. Watson is a top 4 batsman, but the opening position is the only one the selectors have had the balls to vacate, so he has had to bide his time there. Ideally he slots in at 3 or 4 with Clarke when Ponting moves on. Oh and onlinegamer55, top work, you hate Australia but became a citizen for other privileges? Well how about you take your sorry ass elsewhere and let someone who would like to be here take your place? There are plenty on Christmas Island who are dying to come here, but are refused for people like you?! Go figure

  • POSTED BY R-Sid on | August 6, 2010, 9:56 GMT

    Usman Khawaja should be there in place of North.North has failed miserably in recent times.

  • POSTED BY rohanbala on | August 6, 2010, 9:54 GMT

    If Andrew Hilditch puts Marcus North in the plane to India, he is going to regret his decision for a long time to come since North is definitely going to flop. Perhaps, Andrew Hilditch does not want Australia to win against India.

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 9:02 GMT

    get dave hussey in fer north,, or even better roy symonds

  • POSTED BY ozziefan08 on | August 6, 2010, 8:57 GMT

    Hilditch why dont we just hand over the Ashes over to england now and save all the drama through the summer? Seriously the selectors should of been axed after the last ashes, Hilditch you are an idiot and don't deserve the job as head selector. How have england come so far in the last couple of years? they didnt play well and dropped and blooded new young cricketers. How can North still be in the side? There is that much batting talent here in Australia why arent they being given a fair go? This has gone on for long enough the selectors need to be axed, North and hussey need to go as well as Johnson, send him back to Mickey Arthur at perth. The selectors are just going to hand the poms a victory in Australia since umm when was the last time? England must be laughing behind our backs

  • POSTED BY canno on | August 6, 2010, 8:29 GMT

    where is ferguson???? why white isn't in the test squad

  • POSTED BY Snork on | August 6, 2010, 8:21 GMT

    The sooner they get rid of Hilditch, Ponting and their cronies the better. They have not got a clue about backing in young talent. Punter would be best advised to look at the start of his own career before punting Hughes, Smith & the like. Encouragement is what they need. One day CA wil wake up and offer Mark Taylor, Warnie, Boof, M or S Waugh a job on the panel so we can someone with a bit of vision. I am actually from Tassie and can only say that Boonie & Coxys selection policies match their Shield captaincy, unimaginative! Pontings captaincy is atrocious, deep point to the quicks with a new ball, come on!!! How North & Hussey have held their spots is beyond me. Changes should have been made after last Ashes to give the youngsters a chance for experience against the Kiwis, WI & Pakis.

  • POSTED BY onlinegamer55 on | August 6, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    (continued from previous post) two of the top six are VERY UNRELIABLE, two of the top 6 don't look like they're going to score runs anymore (i.e., their times are numbered) and the last two while decent, don't look they can save a team single-handedly. And Mitchell Johnson as well as a host of other bowlers are MEDIOCRE. England will definitely retain the Ashes. I know Aussies are going to hate me for saying this, but I'm neither English nor Aussie (actually I'm an Aussie citizen but I wasn't born in Australia and I hate the country, I just want to be a citizen to get other priviiliges) and England will WIN. Go ENGLAND! They'll topple Aussies for less than 100 runs in the ENTIRE TEST every test. Mark my words!

  • POSTED BY onlinegamer55 on | August 6, 2010, 7:59 GMT

    Yeah, and I forgot that a few comments are in order for North. We might as well forget the idea of him being dropped. Since Hilditch wants him in India and India have one of the weakest bowling attacks in the world, he had better score runs or else, well, ... AH FORGET IT! Even if he doesn't score runs there he'll be in the Ashes and Hildtich will argue that he performed last time so he should be in again. And then they won't drop him mid Ashes since they'll think of what happened when they axed Hughes last time. It's pretty much a win-win situation for North. He is immortal. As are Hussey and Ponting. But luckily for Hussey, the focus isn't on him, and Hilditch won't go axing more than one head just before the Ashes. So Hussey is safe. That makes pretty much an incredibly predictable situation. Australia are going to enter the Ashes with the same team. But they'd better have a good hard look at themselves if they want to win because they way I see it, (continued in next post)

  • POSTED BY onlinegamer55 on | August 6, 2010, 7:52 GMT

    It can't be denied that Watson has been successful at the top of the order. But that depends on what you mean by successful. He has primarily played against a team very low on confidence (Pakistan) on HOME SOIL and has scored runs. The other team that he scored runs against are the West Indies and although they gave Australia a run for their money, their bowling attack is weak. Now as soon as Watson gets off home soil and goes to New Zealand and England, he fails. Now I'm not saying he should be dropped or moved down the order just yet. What I'm saying is that there isn't conclusive evidence from which we can decide that Watson is a quality opening batsmen. He hasn't played the strongest bowling attacks in world cricket, and nor has he played in extreme high pressure situations and succeeded (when chasing in the 4th innings, for example). So it seems to me that his ability can be decided once and for all in India. If he scores some decent runs, keep at the top. Otherwise, put Hughes in

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 7:50 GMT

    It is time to get rid of Hilditch. They dropped one of the most incredible talents that Australia has had in decades (Hughes) because of two failures in tests in England. There is some idea that he does not handle the short ball well. If this is so, then the best way to learn is to play test cricket. He is 21 years old and has a batting average of 51 from 7 tests. He came into test matches in a way that reminded me of Doug Walters (someone else who did not do well in England, but was given lots more chances than Hughes. I presume that he will be given another chance some time, but the sooner the better. He is someone whom they should be nurturing and giving every opportunity, for at least 20 tests. He has the most important attribute of a top player -- the right temperament for tests.

  • POSTED BY Behind_the_bowlers_arm on | August 6, 2010, 7:33 GMT

    I have now reached a new level of calmness where nothing that Mr Teflon , Andrew Hilditch, says can rile me. The positive for me is that his reign will end soon probably after another Ashes defeat and Australia can start to rebuild towards a good team again. Hughes needs to be in the team, Watson needs to be at 6, North needs to be discarded and moves towards replacing the 35yo's (Ponting, Katich, Hussey) need to start. At the moment Australia are stumbling towards defeat in India and in the forthcoming Ashes and those 3 players will be forced out and we will be no further forward than the first day after Warne , McGrath , Gilchrist etc retired.

  • POSTED BY Bigbanger666 on | August 6, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    Nooooooooooooo. I cant believe North is still in. Please tell me this is an early April fools joke!! I think Hilditch should be sacked!!!!!!

  • POSTED BY hris on | August 6, 2010, 7:14 GMT

    this is ridiculous, i think the first person to be sacked should be Hilditch for making such idiotic selections.

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    Move Shane Watson down to No. 6 and put Phillip Hughes at opener with Katich. Watson is ideal for #6 as he as shown he can be aggressive as well as defence if needed.

    Hughes needs to learn somehow, since good Openers are hard to come by.

  • POSTED BY jkaussie on | August 6, 2010, 6:43 GMT

    Hilditch is just awful. North fails every time Australia really needs him to stand up - each time we have been on the ropes he fails and we get tossed out of the ring. If there is any reference to his offspin then what is he picked for, to bat or to bowl? Cameron White must have done a Brad Hodge. He has proven himself at International level in both ODI's and T20, in fact his best scores in ODI's have often come when we are under the pump, and he averages a healthy 42 in First Class cricket. Experience - White has Captained Aust in a winning U19 World Cup, captained winning Victorian Shield teams since he was 21 and is VC of the Australian T20 side. So Hilditch's call re this is garbage. Oh, and White is just 26, North 30 - who's the longer term prospect Andrew?

  • POSTED BY bingobob on | August 6, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    This is pathetic. The Australia selectors are arrogant (I'm a huge Aussie fan, sad to see this). North has been given too many lifelines as it is. I'm sure he will scratch up a 50 in india and save himself from the chopping block. Also, Siddle coming back in. Question is: for who? I am willing to bet Bollinger gets dropped. Not based on merit but on the fact that the selectors are in love with Hilfenhaus and Johnson. Poor selections all round. Hughes, Smith and Paine should all be playing in the ashes. But chances are they wont. Just goes to show that the selectors favor some and not others... This will be the first time in my lifetime that I tip England to win the ashes (I am 21). I have never before tipped against Australia for a test series (although they have lost a few). India will beat them this year too if they don't get their act together.

  • POSTED BY _Australian_ on | August 6, 2010, 6:10 GMT

    If we happen to lose both the India and Ashes series it will be because of this batting line up. Test opening is a specialist job. Not for an allrounder. Batting in the second innings or if we bat second is where Watson will not perform due to his workload as his bowling will be more needed. Watson would be much better served coming in at 6 and concentrating a little more on his bowling. I feel for North as he is not the only poor peformer in this line up but he is the logical choice to be dropped. I don't understand why our selectors are so reluctant to change. If we do lose then Hilditch should be the first to go.

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 5:16 GMT

    I don't understand the selectors...they say Hughes is a long term choice as opener yet they don't give him a game...they say Watson is suited to the middle order yet they keep him opening...I understand the argument that they want to have some experience in the team, but what good is experience if it isn't performing...someone like Phil Jaques should come back in if they want experience, or Chris Rogers

  • POSTED BY waseemsarwar on | August 6, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    I don't agree with Ricky's statement few days ago that India's tour will not be good for Ashes preparation. I think people like North, Hussey and even pointing himself need some runs to get back their lost confidence and weak Indian bowlers will provide them that chance. Pitches matter but confidence matters most. They may not win series against India but they will get good practice.

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 4:23 GMT

    Don't you mean it's EASIER to get into the test team than out of it?

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 4:22 GMT

    I'm sorry, but surely Smith, Khawaja and Hughes are the long term future rather than Marcus North? They all have higher first class averages, and it would be a better idea putting them in now, while Ponting is there then waiting a few years then leaving them to form a middle order with North. Hughes has already shown he has what it takes, and so has Smith to an extent. Whereas Khawaja is slightly older and probably even more suited to test cricket than the other two, and seems very level headed. At least one of those will be captain one day, so I think it's the time to send North back out West!

  • POSTED BY skkh on | August 6, 2010, 4:14 GMT

    i would love to see Aussies retain the Ashes but this appears as if it is goodbye Ashes. As long as Hilditch is a selector we cannot see Aussies making progress. I think North does not deserve a place in the XI. He will make a few runs in India on those lifeless pitches and retain his place in the team for the Ashes. And against the present English bowling he will be a sitting duck. The batting will be weak and I cannot foresee Aussies retaining the Ashes, not with this bunch of non-performing players.Hughes should be back as an opener and Watson should move down the order. The batting of Ponting and Hussey as it is a big question and the bowling the less said the better.

  • POSTED BY dananiki on | August 6, 2010, 4:05 GMT

    Such hypocricy!!! These are the same selectors who dropped Brad Hodge!! North cannot possibley be a certain starter, not even for a tour place!!

  • POSTED BY Something_Witty on | August 6, 2010, 4:02 GMT

    You'd have to be a madman to want to move Watson down the order... as for North, replace him with Smith or replace him with Hughes. Either way, he's old, he's too inconsistent and he's had too many chances. It's time to move on.

  • POSTED BY David47 on | August 6, 2010, 3:01 GMT

    Forget Ponting retiring. Hilditch, for the good of Australian cricket, you need to retire. And take the rest of the selection panel with you. I'm sick to death of you guys, and CA, stuffing up the game I love.

  • POSTED BY threeheadedmonkey on | August 6, 2010, 2:56 GMT

    NOt the biggest fan of the selectors. North needs to go, Watson should drop down the order and Hughes should take up the opening spot to plan for the future.

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | August 6, 2010, 2:54 GMT

    Australia showed against a weak Pakistan line-up how far they have fallen in the last 4 years. Watson clearly isn't an opener and North is far too inconsistent. Add to that Ponting and Hussey's drop in form (each failed in 7 of 9 international matches on tour) and you have a very shaky batting line-up. If anything, their bowling is worse; Bollinger, Johnson and to a lesser extent Hilfenhaus struggled to get a very weak Pakistan side out and had to rely on Watson and North to do the job. England showed how feeble the Pakistan side that beat Australia really was. Loyalty is admirable, but how long does Australia refuse to face facts? The time has come to rebuild- starting with the captain.

  • POSTED BY roger68 on | August 6, 2010, 2:40 GMT

    North has played 17 tests av. 37 with 4 centuries. Watson 20 tests av. 37 with ONE!! century. Who is the current koala boy?

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 2:37 GMT

    Drop Hussey & North, and replace them with Cameron White and Phil Hughes. Keep Smith in the team, and never play Hauritz again. Aussie XII for the Ashes should read: Katich, Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, White, Watson, Haddin, Smith, Johnson, Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Bollinger. Australia needs young blood, and they need to give them opportunity to shine.

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 2:14 GMT

    It is really really a big shame that he has been retained.I am the biggest fan of oz cricket but unfortunately I am seeing an other ashes defeat to oz at home soil and end of Ricky,Katich,North,Hussey.Ozs are now defeatable bcoz they donot select players on perfromance but on their names.It is a shame.When OZS were great they never hasitated to drop hayden, if he is failing

    So moral of the story is that untill the selectors make tough calls oz will be bundled for less than hundred more times. A good fan of OZS from Dhakkoo Shahana, Hafizabad,Punjab, Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY pauld on | August 6, 2010, 2:09 GMT

    North sucks. He really, really sucks. Hilditch says he wants North to be more consistent - actually, he already is consistent, consistently rubbish that is.

    Ideally, Australia would see Hughes come in at the top of the order, and Watson drops down to 6. North goes back to state cricket where hopefully he remains. Creates minimum disruption to the team as well.

  • POSTED BY redneck on | August 6, 2010, 2:04 GMT

    seriously hilditch should just quit, the entire population of australia think norths had it, why cant he see it???? jason kreja showed more promise taking 12 wickets on debut, yet they cut him after one more test and that too on under preforming at the waca of all places! what has north done to have so much faith shown in him??? no ones suggesting watson should be dropped its just the team is better with hughes in it in my opinion, and an allrounder is traditionaly more at home at number 6. where he can equally focus on batting and bowling and not worry about opening the innings when hes bowling towards the end of an opponents innings.

  • POSTED BY MinusZero on | August 6, 2010, 2:00 GMT

    This is what is wrong with the Australian team, favouritism. If someone is not playing well, drop them and pick a form player. Personally, i hope it blows up in their face. Too long has this game been played. North should undoubtedly be dropped, with Johnson not far behind. Come on selectors, do the right thing and look to the future. Its a good time to blood some young players and give them experience. Winning the ashes alone will not return the team to number one, why is that their only focus? Look to the future. Katich, Hussey and Ponting wont be around forever and when they retire there will be a huge hole left in the team.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | August 6, 2010, 1:38 GMT

    This Australian team is looking a bit of a mess at the moment. Only Katich and Clarke are really excelling in their spots, Watson is out of position if he is considered a long-term bowling prospect and Ponting, North and Hussey are out of form. Haddin is injured and sorely missed. The bowling is all right, only Johnson is performing under expectations if you look at the recent England tour. I would not have expected Bollinger to get wickets in English conditions. Hilfenhaus had a good tour. Watson is the best bowler in the current lineup in Englsih conditions and that showed. Only Johnson seems to be struggling.

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  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | August 6, 2010, 1:38 GMT

    This Australian team is looking a bit of a mess at the moment. Only Katich and Clarke are really excelling in their spots, Watson is out of position if he is considered a long-term bowling prospect and Ponting, North and Hussey are out of form. Haddin is injured and sorely missed. The bowling is all right, only Johnson is performing under expectations if you look at the recent England tour. I would not have expected Bollinger to get wickets in English conditions. Hilfenhaus had a good tour. Watson is the best bowler in the current lineup in Englsih conditions and that showed. Only Johnson seems to be struggling.

  • POSTED BY MinusZero on | August 6, 2010, 2:00 GMT

    This is what is wrong with the Australian team, favouritism. If someone is not playing well, drop them and pick a form player. Personally, i hope it blows up in their face. Too long has this game been played. North should undoubtedly be dropped, with Johnson not far behind. Come on selectors, do the right thing and look to the future. Its a good time to blood some young players and give them experience. Winning the ashes alone will not return the team to number one, why is that their only focus? Look to the future. Katich, Hussey and Ponting wont be around forever and when they retire there will be a huge hole left in the team.

  • POSTED BY redneck on | August 6, 2010, 2:04 GMT

    seriously hilditch should just quit, the entire population of australia think norths had it, why cant he see it???? jason kreja showed more promise taking 12 wickets on debut, yet they cut him after one more test and that too on under preforming at the waca of all places! what has north done to have so much faith shown in him??? no ones suggesting watson should be dropped its just the team is better with hughes in it in my opinion, and an allrounder is traditionaly more at home at number 6. where he can equally focus on batting and bowling and not worry about opening the innings when hes bowling towards the end of an opponents innings.

  • POSTED BY pauld on | August 6, 2010, 2:09 GMT

    North sucks. He really, really sucks. Hilditch says he wants North to be more consistent - actually, he already is consistent, consistently rubbish that is.

    Ideally, Australia would see Hughes come in at the top of the order, and Watson drops down to 6. North goes back to state cricket where hopefully he remains. Creates minimum disruption to the team as well.

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 2:14 GMT

    It is really really a big shame that he has been retained.I am the biggest fan of oz cricket but unfortunately I am seeing an other ashes defeat to oz at home soil and end of Ricky,Katich,North,Hussey.Ozs are now defeatable bcoz they donot select players on perfromance but on their names.It is a shame.When OZS were great they never hasitated to drop hayden, if he is failing

    So moral of the story is that untill the selectors make tough calls oz will be bundled for less than hundred more times. A good fan of OZS from Dhakkoo Shahana, Hafizabad,Punjab, Pakistan.

  • POSTED BY on | August 6, 2010, 2:37 GMT

    Drop Hussey & North, and replace them with Cameron White and Phil Hughes. Keep Smith in the team, and never play Hauritz again. Aussie XII for the Ashes should read: Katich, Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, White, Watson, Haddin, Smith, Johnson, Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Bollinger. Australia needs young blood, and they need to give them opportunity to shine.

  • POSTED BY roger68 on | August 6, 2010, 2:40 GMT

    North has played 17 tests av. 37 with 4 centuries. Watson 20 tests av. 37 with ONE!! century. Who is the current koala boy?

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | August 6, 2010, 2:54 GMT

    Australia showed against a weak Pakistan line-up how far they have fallen in the last 4 years. Watson clearly isn't an opener and North is far too inconsistent. Add to that Ponting and Hussey's drop in form (each failed in 7 of 9 international matches on tour) and you have a very shaky batting line-up. If anything, their bowling is worse; Bollinger, Johnson and to a lesser extent Hilfenhaus struggled to get a very weak Pakistan side out and had to rely on Watson and North to do the job. England showed how feeble the Pakistan side that beat Australia really was. Loyalty is admirable, but how long does Australia refuse to face facts? The time has come to rebuild- starting with the captain.

  • POSTED BY threeheadedmonkey on | August 6, 2010, 2:56 GMT

    NOt the biggest fan of the selectors. North needs to go, Watson should drop down the order and Hughes should take up the opening spot to plan for the future.

  • POSTED BY David47 on | August 6, 2010, 3:01 GMT

    Forget Ponting retiring. Hilditch, for the good of Australian cricket, you need to retire. And take the rest of the selection panel with you. I'm sick to death of you guys, and CA, stuffing up the game I love.