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Introducing Australia AA

Jarrod Kimber

August 17, 2012

Comments: 17 | Text size: A | A

James Pattinson during a net session, The Oval, London, June 30, 2012
James Pattinson flew home injured from one Australia A tour only to take part in another © Getty Images

Cricket Australia has fielded two Australia A sides in the same week, including one player who was sent home from the first tour because of injury, only to play for the other squad back in Australia.

From the August 7-10, Australia fought out a draw against England Lions. On the August 12 Australia A lost to an Australian side before a Clarke's XI team defeated a Bailey's XI side on the 14th.

Australia A has just finished playing a rain-affected match against the England Lions that was scheduled from the August 14-17. The first and last games were in Manchester and Birmingham, the middle games were played in Darwin.

These are two separate A squads, playing in two different formats, on two different continents. CA's General Manager of team performance Pat Howard explains the two squads as "just different players playing in different formats". The Australia A squad in England is playing four-day cricket, while the Australia A squad in Darwin is playing limited overs cricket.

Pat Howard on the two A teams

  • "They're different formats of the game obviously. The Australia A team in Darwin is focused on the shorter forms of the game with the lead up to the World T20 and tour of the UAE. The Australia A tour of the long form of cricket is playing in the UK at the moment. It's just different players playing in different formats. Our focus has been combining three facets, the Australian ODI team, the Australia A team, and also those players who are already over in the UK playing county cricket during their summer. The idea was to give sufficient time playing in English conditions and different pitches. So all those players will be considered together. We had one extra over there to begin with. Depending on say Mitchell Starc, who spent the whole season over there for Yorkshire, he was only ever going to be joining the A team for a short while. Each one has an individualised plan depending on what his priority was over the next sort of three months or six months. Even when we were playing against Durham the guys who weren't in the squad were playing for local club teams. What we don't want is people not being active and not playing.There's a full team there ready to play, but we don't have excess, for want of a better term. George Bailey is the T20 captain, and with a tour coming up it was very important that he got that preparation in Darwin. Steve Smith is the captain of the Australian winners of the BBL, he has a short form speciality. And that is his focus for the next couple of months."

The Australia A Tour to England, has so far lost seven players. James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Ben Cutting and Peter Forrest have all been injured, but perhaps most surprisingly Mitchell Starc, George Bailey and Steve Smith were flown home for the practice match in Darwin - Smith to play for Australia A, while Bailey and Starc played for the Australian side.

Curiously, in the second scratch match in Darwin, Pattinson seemed to have recovered from the injury that sent him home from the Australia A tour to England, and took 1/26.

Howard explained why Bailey and Starc changed squads. "George Bailey is the T20 captain, and with a tour coming up it was very important that he got that preparation," he told ESPNcricinfo. "Depending on say Mitchell Starc, who spent the whole season over there for Yorkshire, he was only ever going to be joining the A team for a short while."

Yet, in the original correspondence with CA about this tour, there is no mention that Starc, Smith and Bailey will have to go home. Nor is there any mention that the Australia A squad will be a clash for certain players, or any mention of the Darwin camp. According to Howard, the Darwin camp was on the books since April. However, no formal details were sent to ESPNcricinfo about the scratch match or squad size until the 7th of August.

The original purpose of the A tour to England was for a fairly strong team to experience the conditions at a near-Test standard ahead of next years Ashes. It was the first A team to tour England since 1995. Because of the injuries and players that have been withdrawn, the current team is much more like an experimental A team. Players like Tom Cooper, who scored only one Sheffield Shield hundred last year (an unbeaten 203*), and Joe Burns, a 22-year-old with only 17 first class games to his name, would not necessarily have been part of a middle order in an Ashes preparation squad.

According Howard, CA is currently overseeing 45 players, which includes such players as Adam Voges and Usman Khawaja who are playing county cricket. It is from these 45 that CA has selected their senior Australia team, and the two Australia A teams. It has spread the talent in Australia very thinly. Ricky Ponting and Ryan Harris are two players who played in none of the sides.

In a squad where seven players have gone home, only three have replaced them. Phil Hughes is the latest inclusion to the Australia A squad to replace Forrest. "Hughes, Khawaja, Voges, all those players were in England and were well and truly prepared for who was going to come in during the period," Howard said. "We've been monitoring their performances, and you can consider them as part of the squad."

Hughes was in the UK playing for Worcestshire. Only a week earlier Phil Hughes was interviewed by ESPNcricinfo, and said how disappointed he was to miss out on the Australia A squad. Hughes made 51 batting at number four in the first innings.

The final day of Australia A's tour closer at Edgbaston was called off without a ball being bowled on the last day, without the England Lions first innings being completed.

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Posted by Winsome on (August 20, 2012, 12:07 GMT)

The Aussies having all these teams means diddly squat. Tom Cooper and Liam Davis in an A team? If that's showing bench strength then I'm Dale Steyn. Peter Forrest needs to have another season in Shield as does Joe Burns in fact almost any of the players you named above apart from Bailey, Cowan and Paine need more time in Shield before jumping the queue into test cicket. The A team for the last match in England just made me laugh. Johnson with any luck will never play test cricket for Aus again and Bird has had one decent season on bowler-friendly wickets in Tassie.

Posted by Meety on (August 20, 2012, 10:31 GMT)

@ thebrotherswaugh - I would say with 100% certainty that jezzastyles is Ozzy. I have a laugh about @OzzyHammond - his daddy made him go for England apparently! (I didn't make that up!)

Posted by thebrotherswaugh on (August 20, 2012, 2:53 GMT)

So now we've got @Hammond, @jezza woteva, and @blindedview - three tru-blue Aussies. Yeah, sure - got another bridge to sell me, have you? Just 3 Poms masquerading as OZ cricket fans. Be proud, fellas, stand up & admit your alliegance to the Mother Country. Nuthin to be ashamed of, is it????

Posted by Meety on (August 20, 2012, 1:28 GMT)

@Blindedview - to be fair, you indicated our bowling is "slightly" better than "mediocre", then in your 2nd comment you said "...australia have the best fast bowling depths in the world,undoubtedly."

Posted by Blindedview on (August 19, 2012, 13:32 GMT)

@Randyoz,maddinson,thebrotherswaugh,jonesy2....first of all what made you think i am an english?(funny indeed,considering i din't write anything in my comment which made you assume so)next i still stick to my point.I know australia have the best fast bowling depths in the world,undoubtedly.But when it comes to the batting department,you are just telling all names who all are just not proven or not as dominating to make me sit up and take notice.The australian team is good(just good..nothing more then that).It will take some time before the teams start producing results and even that if you find proper batsman who are ready to fight it out in a true aussie way. Coming to the english team,it is currently better then the australian team(because of the batting it has if pietersen is included).I reserve my judgement on the young english batsman who are emerging.But cook,trott and bell are decent batsman(none of them yet as dominating as i would like) regards from a fan of the aussie team

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 19, 2012, 9:45 GMT)

The amount of bench strength is crazy. Look at hoe jealous it makes the English fans!

Posted by thebrotherswaugh on (August 19, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

@Blindedview, we have at least as many world-class batsmen atm as do the Poms - not enough. But we're well into the rebuilding phase, while the hapless Poms are still living in denial. Missing your best player, that muppet Bairstow won't cut the mustard at the top-level for long, and Cook/Strauss (Captain of the Titanic)/Trott look decidedly poor, stats vs SA back this up. As for the bowling - c'mon, you've had a shot at our batting - but our bowling stocks are deep indeed, unlike the 80mph fraternity that ENG has.You need to take 20 wickets to win a test and ENG will continue to struggle because of this. Their bland attack has been woeful of late. This trend will continue for ENG in IND later this year!!!

Posted by Cricketolympian on (August 18, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

Too many players getting injured or breaking down is a big issue for Australia, not much consistency in team selection either because of this issue. I cannot recall Glenn McGrath breaking down this much, perhaps they're not a tough as they used too be. Ryan Harris is the bowler that England fear most, he does not focus too much on speed, his focus is an excellent line and length. However he will not be able to last a gruelling 5 match Ashes series.

Posted by jonesy2 on (August 18, 2012, 12:24 GMT)

@maddinson is right look at all the names that still didnt get any gametime in an "a" team. add maddinson, mitch marsh, shaun marsh, ferguson, o'keefe, lynn, henriques and i may be missing some. ridiculous bench strength. australia shouldnt lose games its that simple

Posted by   on (August 18, 2012, 10:46 GMT)

CA rocks... They always think one step ahead of others!

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