Australia news

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

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.

Posted by Pappu_bhai on (October 17, 2012, 8:28 GMT)

I support for SAF.Australia will be trashed by the south africans.Why needed this much preparations as however Ausise is going to be trashed.Its not like high encounters in last time.This will be one sided game and SAF will destroy AUS.Best of luck Ausise for the margin of defeat.

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (October 17, 2012, 8:20 GMT)

@mjcoxx I remember that 2005 ashes. It was pretty close(perhaps the closest ashes in this decade) . The fate of that series was concealed in just one match (or one innings). Lee almost took the game way(when they were 8 down for some 120 odd ) and the result in that one match could have given yet another ashes series victory. But that wasn't meant to be. And then followed the wild celebrations . Strange thing was that most of their players got MBE after this victory while none of the AUS players (as far as i remember) got nothing after the clean sweep in 2006.

Posted by Ayush_Chauhan on (October 17, 2012, 8:15 GMT)

I have to say, these are like the most educated comments I have ever read on an article. No slandering and well informed. I see the point in playing 4 seam bowlers, but with Shane Watson penciled in, a spinner would be a better choice, if not for anything but to provide variety to the attack, preferably a spinner who is good with the bat...and as for Haddin Vs. Wade... I thought Wade won that already and there was no re-match in the near future.

Posted by guptahitesh4u on (October 17, 2012, 5:13 GMT)

It will be a good contest...I think this series will be heavily dominated by the bowlers

Posted by Dashgar on (October 17, 2012, 5:03 GMT)

I still think Australia need a spinner. With Watson in the side we still have 4 seamers but we need that other option, especially with some guys in the SA side who really struggle with spin (eg Rudolph). It's very rare we regret taking a spinner. I think Jon Holland should be in the mix after his Australia A series. Maxwell would be an interesting choice depending how he bowls in the Sheffield Shield. I'd still start with Lyon though, he's got the runs on the board so far. Good to finally have competition for spots rather than just last spinner standing. Boyce, Beer and O'Keefe also in some contention.

Posted by Dashgar on (October 17, 2012, 4:01 GMT)

@Shaitan, Warner is in Dehli's squad but he can't get a game. If they aren't going to use him he should come back home but the trouble is that unlike Watson who needs rest, he needs to face overs. He may not do that much in SA, he's no chance in Australia as NSW have no games scheduled. @Gilly4ever, you're crazy if you're going to bring back Mitch Johnson, he's the source of 90% of our bowling problems in the past 4 years. You're right about Wade though.

Posted by Shridharan.S on (October 17, 2012, 3:55 GMT)

My South African Eleven for the First Test will be:

1.Graeme Smith(c) 2.Alviro Petersen 3.Hashim Amla 4.Jacques Kallis 5.Francois du Plessis 6.Jacques Rudolph 7.AB de Villiers(if fit) or else Thami Tsolekile(wk) 8.Vernon Philander 9.Dale Steyn 10.Morne Morkel 11.Imran Tahir

Posted by zenboomerang on (October 17, 2012, 3:50 GMT)

Its probably about time CA started looking at a 4 man seam attack with the current strength of our seam bowling stocks & lack of quality spinners... At present we will likely have Hilfy, Siddle, Pattinson in the 1st Test, yet have quality in Starc, Cummins sitting on the bench, with Harris coming back in December... Then we have McDermott, Cutting, Hazlewood, NC-N, Butterworth, Hastings, McKay, Johnson shuffling around in domestic comps waiting to be called up... For me, the extra paceman will give Oz more depth than the inclusion of a specialist spinner... The Vic's thumped Qld at the Gabba with 4 seamers, a batsman short, Wade at no.6 & a spinner that bowled only 5 overs & didn't get a wicket...

Posted by zenboomerang on (October 17, 2012, 3:48 GMT)

@bobagorof... Agree & laughed when I read that Finch was dropped for Holland (who bowled just 5 overs) - Finch clearly showing early season form while Warner & Cowan have much to prove this summer... Surely CA should be looking at strengthening our batting stocks as we now have an abundance of seam bowlers & may even look to play 4 seamers + Watson... Maxwell / O'Keefe would be my preferred spinner with Clarke, Warner useful part timers - most Oz pitches are seam friendly & if we bowl 1st, then the spinner hardly comes into the game at all...

Posted by Shridharan.S on (October 17, 2012, 3:48 GMT)

My Australian Eleven for the First Test will be:

1.Shane Watson 2.Shaun Marsh 3.Ricky Ponting 4.Michael Clarke(c) 5.Michael Hussey 6.Marcus North 7.Brad Haddin 8.Ben Hilfenhaus 9.Mitchell Starc 10.James Pattinson 11.Xavier Doherty

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (October 17, 2012, 2:34 GMT)

Haddin had 1 FC century after what 10 matches that he failed to get into double figures and he is suddenly in serious contention to replace Wade???? Please tell me you aren't serious! As for spinners, did I blink and miss Nathan Hauritz? Has he retired, or gone out injured? And since when is Brisbane a place where you even need a spinner? Australia has gone spin crazy of late, when in Brisbane they should be playing 4 fast men - ideally James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Pat Cummins. If any of them are injured or out of form, bring in Clint McKay. The team picks itself.

Posted by Meety on (October 17, 2012, 1:56 GMT)

I guess it can now be gathered that Holland is now in the mix.

Posted by Meety on (October 17, 2012, 1:54 GMT)

@bobagorof on (October 16 2012, 22:47 PM GMT) - I think Finch is puting his name forward as a short form player, but he has a LONG way to go to be considered for Test duties. I think he was probably the batsmen most hard done by for the T20 W/Cup.

Posted by Shaitan_Zindabad on (October 17, 2012, 1:14 GMT)

@ bobagorof on (October 16 2012, 22:47 PM GMT) ""Also, which Champions League team is Warner playing for? He plays for the Thunder, who didn't make it into the Champions League. "" Really???? ---- Warner plays for the Delhi Daredevils who in my opinion are one of the favorites to lift the cup. Have a pretty decent bowling line up and their batting consists of Sehwag, Jayawardane, Pietersen, Taylor and yes..Warner!

Posted by Dashgar on (October 16, 2012, 23:50 GMT)

mouthwatering contest looming. South Africa will be slight favourites but I think Australia are going to be slightly better prepared. The Saffers better watch out cos if they aren't 100% switched on first day at Brisbane they could find themselves 1-0 down very quickly. I know Siddle and Pattinson are ready and firing with the red ball while Smith and co won't have played a heap of cricket.

Posted by bobagorof on (October 16, 2012, 23:47 GMT)

Aaron Finch could feel a little hard-done by that Cricket Australia, who need young batsmen coming through for the national side, wants him to sit out when he is in form. I guess we can put a line through his name for further national honours. Also, which Champions League team is Warner playing for? He plays for the Thunder, who didn't make it into the Champions League. Warner is actually suffering because, playing first class cricket for NSW, he doesn't have any matches scheduled until the Sixers get knocked out.

Posted by Meety on (October 16, 2012, 23:06 GMT)

@ IndianROCKstars_2011_ODIchamps on (October 16 2012, 11:58 AM GMT) - in Oz we place Test cricket at the pinnacle, this is all about preparation. There is an old saying - practise makes perfect, it is not entirely true PERFECT practise makes perfect.

Posted by mjcoxx on (October 16, 2012, 22:47 GMT)

@FFL - I don't think you understand the meaning of the expression 'whitewash'. Yes, Australia lost Test series to England in 2005, 2009 and 2010/11. However, they did win at least one 'live' Test in all three of those series and actually did manage to 'whitewash' England 5-0 in 2006/7. I'm hoping for a closely fought series that hopefully results in an Australian victory. A 'whitewash' by either team is unlikely as Australia have home advantage and South Africa are a damned good side. I'll take 2-1 or even 1-0.

Posted by   on (October 16, 2012, 21:47 GMT)

c'mmon aussie...... show ur quality ......

Posted by sunny1307 on (October 16, 2012, 21:08 GMT)

Punter to get 100's in Brisbane and Adelaide.Australia winning at Brisbane and Perth with a draw at Adelaide.Man of the series will be Ponting.Any one who advocates the same views.

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (October 16, 2012, 20:25 GMT)

I haven't watched a single game of CLT20 (always rely on cricinfo for any updates on cricket ). I am sure i will always find some time for test cricket.Its been long time. Can't wait for the contest between two good sides.Bring it on.

@ Front-Foot-Lunge I think your born after 2005.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (October 16, 2012, 20:00 GMT)

Agree with IndianROCKstars_2011_ODIchamps: It's not like SA are flat out training for this upcoming series either, so I don't know what all the 'underprepared' worry is about. The SA home pages are full of nothing but T20! It should be a good series, and a chance for relatively new faces in the Aus. squad to step up.

Posted by   on (October 16, 2012, 19:39 GMT)

Don't think the oz team is better than England whom the south africans beat quite comprehensively, don't be fooled by the victories over India last year, south africans love playing pace bowling , they can't play Shane Warne and that's why until warne retired they could not win a series against oz,Nathan Lyon is not better than Graeme Swann neither the quickies are better than what England had on offer, Oz batting will struggle against Steyn Morkel Philander and Kallis, Imran Tahir will be decent support, If AB recovers from his back problem it would mean springboks have 2 all rounders, Ponting and Hussey would be hurried into their retirement,3-0 South Africa!

Posted by bumsonseats on (October 16, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

CricketMaan i will admit the safers are without doubt the #1 team and have had good results playing in other parts of the worlds. they have also had bad results closer to home in so far as drawing numerous home series aus ind eng and sl if memory serves me right. england and its supporters have just as much love of test match cricket. try and get a ticket for a home test they can be like hens teeth and if you look at the advert below daniel brettig piece shows you the cost of test match tickets and no disrespects thats nz. the aussies have come on leaps and bounds in the pace bowling department but the batting looks very week, an i expect the safers to win 2 - 0

Posted by Beertjie on (October 16, 2012, 17:03 GMT)

There's nothing panicky about maximizing your opportunities when you're playing the country that defeated you last time they were here @IndianROCKstars_2011_ODIchamps on (October 16 2012, 11:58 AM GMT) For one thing, there will be fewer room for excuses should we lose.

Posted by anton1234 on (October 16, 2012, 16:28 GMT)

Why have Australia scheduled SL to play during the prime of summer, including the MCG and Sydney tests and SA at the beginning of summer? Surely, SA are a much bigger draw. I suppose its because SA's season clashes with Australia, not to mention SA want to stage the usually lucrative Boxing Day and new Year's test matches of their won.

I expect SA to win a close fought series. Their pace attack is better. But Australia do have Jacques Kallis out of form for once in his life to perhaps exploit. But don't be surprised if he scores a bucketful of runs, though.

Posted by disco_bob on (October 16, 2012, 15:05 GMT)

@FFL, that last spanking that SA gave you must still be hurting.

Posted by   on (October 16, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

@front-foot-lunge: the gulf between Aus and SA is not as big as you make it out to be. I think SA are slight favourites, but it will be a good contest, considering these two teams have been the most consistent for the past decade, unlike your England, or our India ;)

Posted by Freerider1 on (October 16, 2012, 14:50 GMT)

@electric_loco_WAP4 - I think Shane Warne also predicted a 2 - 0 victory for England.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (October 16, 2012, 14:43 GMT)

Can't wait to see the Aussies get thrashed and crushed again in their back yard. Yes - the whole world is probably tiring of seeing Australia get beaten as it happens so regularly (endless whitewashes and thrashing by England come to mind), but it will be great to see it again, even on Australia's comically dead pitches.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (October 16, 2012, 14:35 GMT)

Should be a great series, and as an Aus fan will be great to see the likes of Forrest, Khawaja, Burns and Maddinson push for their test claims with solid seasons for their states.

Posted by jonesy2 on (October 16, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

love it. cannot wait for this heavyweight world title bout

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (October 16, 2012, 13:06 GMT)

So,the biggest match up of the year in tests is upon us and rightly so.The 2 best all round sides in the world comfortably are going to put up a hard graft with the no.1 at stake and expect these 2 class teams to provide few games of quality 'test' match cricket after a long while.Sadly test cricket witnessed a damp squib of a one sided hammering in the highly hyped 'showdown for no.1' with a far superior side knocking out the hype very early with a clinical drubbing of the self hyped, 'Pom'pous pretenders that made something of a laugh of the ICC rankings with holding of the no.1 crown(albeit for very short while ) while getting whitewashed and drubbed in one series or other against all comers while stumbling to an odd victory over lowly sides ranked no.8(at home) to just avoid total embarrassment. The two best sides to clash for title of true no.1 .Home advantage with the Aussie bowling firepower will prove bit too much for SA not to forget 'Choke' word.2-0/3-0 to Aus..No.1.

Posted by IndianROCKstars_2011_ODIchamps on (October 16, 2012, 12:58 GMT)

I think this is over hype and unnecasry and displays lack of confidence in abilities of AUS players and sends message they are panicking and fear SA . I dont see SA board trying to change schedules of their players or ask them out of CL20. Aussies have played on Australian pitches for years and should know them well by now and technique needed. Will 1 practice match make Shane Watson to Shane bradman. It is different if you need to go ahead and need to get used to pitches if you are a touring party. But this is your own home ground for God-sake and these players have played here for years. Will 1 practice match will turn them into super cricketers and gurantee performance. To me as neutral observer , it seems Aus is worried of a whitewash . Also fact the Clarke is not part of IPL /CL20 and no one pays heed to him outside tests has probably made him cranky against players chosen by leagues around world somewhat like Strauss and soon a KP like saga seems imminent in Aus team

Posted by CricketMaan on (October 16, 2012, 12:50 GMT)

Envy you Aussies!!! The price you put on Test cricket and the pride of being No.1, how i wish we had some one in BCCI that puts the game ahead of money and greed!! I wouldnt mind if either SA or Aus are No.1 coz only these two have won all over the world..while India, Eng were imposters in the past.

Posted by indiaking123 on (October 16, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

i think that the CL was placed on the wrong time and the ICC should allow breaks

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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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