Australia news

Shield matches moved to ease Test preparation

Daniel Brettig

October 22, 2012

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

James Pattinson celebrates one of his six wickets, Queensland v Victoria, Sheffield Shield, Brisbane, 3rd day, October 12, 2012
Victoria will be one of four teams playing their early November Sheffield Shield fixtures a day early © Getty Images

Michael Hussey, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting and Ben Hilfenhaus will be among the beneficiaries in Australia's Test team after the decision to move two Sheffield Shield fixtures forward by a day to allow extra time to prepare for the start of the South Africa series.

The elimination of the Perth Scorchers from the Twenty20 Champions League allowed Victoria's match against Western Australia at the MCG to be shuffled forward from November 2 to November 1, while Tasmania's Bellerive encounter with South Australia had already been slated to make the same move. A domestic limited overs match between the teams has also moved, to Tuesday, October 30.

Siddle and Pattinson will turn out for Victoria, while Hussey is expected to be named for the Warriors, having already returned home from the CLT20 for personal reasons. Chennai's early exit also means Ben Hilfenhaus will be available to join Ponting in the Tasmania side to face the Redbacks - an important outing for the swing bowler given it will be his first non-T20 match since the West Indies Test tour in April.

The only match of the last Shield round before the first Test at the Gabba not to be moved is Queensland's match against New South Wales at Allan Border Field. This game might also have been shifted had the Sydney Sixers been eliminated from the CLT20, but their progress has prevented such a change.

Nevertheless, the NSW and Queensland selectors will be able to nominate replacement players for the final day of the game, and the players' presence in Brisbane prevents the need for any travel time between the end of the Shield game and the start of Test training at the Gabba. The first Test squad will be announced in advance of this round of matches.

Pat Howard, the Cricket Australia team performance manager, had flagged these changes last week in explaining how the team performance hierarchy was doing all it could to prepare players for the Tests while still having the squad assembled in Brisbane on the Monday of Test match week.

"Results at the Champions League Twenty20 have enabled us to move these matches and while we would've liked to move the match between Queensland and NSW as well, that hasn't been possible due to the Sydney Sixers' good performances," Howard said.

"Any player playing in that Sheffield Shield match between Queensland and NSW who is selected in the first Test squad will leave on Sunday and the state will be permitted a replacement player. NSW and Queensland will obviously know how this may affect their selection once the squad for the first Test is announced later this month.

"These changes have been adapted to give those players selected in the squad for the first Test the best preparation we can."

An Australia A fixture has also been scheduled for November 2-4 in Sydney against the South Africa tourists, with some members of the Test squad likely to be chosen for this match. The opening batsmen Ed Cowan and David Warner may be among those considered.

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

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Posted by zenboomerang on (October 24, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

Short form series again blotch both the start of the SS season & our Test preparations... When will CA get it right?... Seems to be a perennial issue in recent times & about time we took a serious look at improving this poorly organized scheduling... How can we ever compare Test players to SS players if they are not all playing in the same matches?...

Posted by Meety on (October 24, 2012, 1:22 GMT)

@Dashgar on (October 23 2012, 14:47 PM GMT) - that's a good line up. Good one re: Finch, I should of selected him too!

Posted by Dashgar on (October 23, 2012, 15:47 GMT)

ODI side minus test players: Finch, Paine, D Hussey, Bailey, Ferguson, Maxwell, Marsh, Hastings, McKay, Doherty, McDermott. I think that team would actually be really competitive and push our current full strength side.

Posted by Meety on (October 23, 2012, 11:39 GMT)

@Beertjie on (October 23 2012, 09:48 AM GMT) - I have every confidence that Howard will see the potential conflict & do something about it, whether he has the clout to do what ultimately needs to be done, (send an ODI side minus Test players, which won't make the BCCI happy) is another matter! An ODI side minus Test (current probables) stars could be (for the India ODI tour); 1. Hughes, 2. Khawaja 3. Ferguson, 4. White, 5. D Hussey, 6. Bailey (c) 7. Paine/Hartley 8. SO'K, 9 Coulter-Nile 10. Bollinger 11. McDermott with MMarsh, Doherty & McDonald. Could have Maddinson or Davis instead of Hughes if he was close to selection for the Ashes.

Posted by Beertjie on (October 23, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

Way to go @ c_Marsh_b_Lillee and @Meety on (October 22 2012, 23:47 PM GMT)! Number one ranking in ODIs and T20s are meaningless: it's the World Cups that are "significant"! So why do we stress over sending our test players on such tours when they are needed for us to become #1 in tests?

Posted by here2rock on (October 23, 2012, 4:13 GMT)

Very sensible, Test cricket should get the top priority unlike T20 overkill. This is the reason Australia has stayed at number 1.

Posted by Meety on (October 23, 2012, 0:51 GMT)

@CoorparooMaverick on (October 22 2012, 22:55 PM GMT) - I'm really worried about how we will go at the next home Ashes as we are again scheduled to be overseas in India in the month leading up to the Ashes. Unless we send an ODI specific team over to India, we are going to have the same problems (if not worse) as we are having right now. The only good thing about the moment is, the Saffas are in a similar boat.

Posted by Meety on (October 23, 2012, 0:47 GMT)

@mikey76 on (October 22 2012, 16:10 PM GMT) - fine for you to think that. But given we had bowlers being injured in India, then gaining injuries during the season & in fact our best days were in the 3rd test in Perth & the fact that most of the England players had played more FC cricket & had more time in Oz in the month leasing up to the Ashes would suggest we lost home advantage. Our batsmen (barring one Hussey & Haddin partnership at the Gabba) - never adjusted from the slow/low Indian strips to Oz. Then on top of that (with all due respect to SL fans), we played a meaningless ODI series in the weeks leading up to the Ashes. In the end of the day England won the series fair & square - none of my whinges takes anything away from that, I am just saying significant factors in the loss were self-inflicted by Cric Oz.

Posted by dsig3 on (October 23, 2012, 0:30 GMT)

Good move. It can only help us. This is an opportunity to take number 1. They dont come around that often these days.

Posted by CoorparooMaverick on (October 22, 2012, 23:55 GMT)

Nice start but how about all players playing a minimum of 2 full shield games before they start playing the test for our summer series. seems our test preparation for our home series' is rates extremely low in place of irrelevant T20 comps. how can a comp involving provincial teams be more important to test players than preparing for a test?

Posted by No_1_again on (October 22, 2012, 22:00 GMT)

@mikey76 Are you talking about pros adapted to UAE conditions and lost 3-0 to PAK, LOL.Can't wait longer for that spot again, go Aussie!

Posted by Chris_P on (October 22, 2012, 19:14 GMT)

Finally, focus on real cricket. There is nothing like time in the middle for test preparation. @mikey76 I think the Perth performance wasn't too shabby either?

Posted by mikey76 on (October 22, 2012, 17:10 GMT)

Meety I don't think that preparation had anything to do with you losing the ashes, after all your best performance came in the first 2 days of the series at Brisbane. You were just outplayed by a better team. Prep plays its part but ultimately professionals should adapt to different conditions.

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

wow, test cricket almost being taken seriously! didnt hurt now did it.

Posted by Dashgar on (October 22, 2012, 15:26 GMT)

Ok guys, I think I misread it first time round. Points taken

Posted by popcorn on (October 22, 2012, 15:04 GMT)

I am delighted that Cricket Australia has learnt from its mistakes and has brought the focus back to Test Cricket. NOW, we WILL WIN! We'll beat South Africa 2 nil or 2 - 1.

Posted by Mary_786 on (October 22, 2012, 14:59 GMT)

Can't wait for the SA series, bring it on.

Posted by ozwriter on (October 22, 2012, 13:36 GMT)

cowan must be dropped. surely.

Posted by c_Marsh_b_Lillee on (October 22, 2012, 11:34 GMT)

Yes Meety, a specialist ODI squad. And a specialist test squad. And a specialist T20 squad. Perhaps hourly pay. Suddenly the calendar looks uncluttered.

Posted by HatsforBats on (October 22, 2012, 10:01 GMT)

@ Dashgar, this is more to do with giving our test squad the best opportunity to prepare for taking on the #1 test side (and one of the best fast bowlers of the last 50yrs at the gabba) than it is about team selection. Compare this to the debacle when Hussey & Bollinger were given no preparation time. Its nice to see test cricket being given the priority it deserves. My 2 cents; I'd love to see a four-man pace attack, but if Lyon is bowling well and getting good flight the bounce at the gabba will produce some problems.

Posted by Ben1989 on (October 22, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

Dashgar, that's hardly the reason mate, its to get some time in the middle in a 4 day match, like the article mentions hilfy hasn't played a first class fixture since April!

Posted by Blakey on (October 22, 2012, 9:32 GMT)

@Dashgar, that's the whole point! Giving the players recovery time.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (October 22, 2012, 9:30 GMT)

to me its very sad that they cannot schedule the domestic competition to suit Australian cricket. because oif a micky mouse 20/20 tournament.

Posted by Meety on (October 22, 2012, 9:24 GMT)

We should not (hopefully) repeat the mistakes of the last home Ashes where we had our test team playing India in India & SL at home in ODIs during the month leading up to the Tests. That happens again, we may as well just forfeit. We have ODIs scheduled for India in October, that squad will need to be a specialist ODI squad. You can't go from low slow pitches to faster seaming strips & expect to do well without adequate adjustment time. Last time we gave away home advantage - hopefully Howard will see to it - to avoid the same mistake!!!!!

Posted by Meety on (October 22, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

@Dashgar on (October 22 2012, 06:50 AM GMT) - I agree with all that you said except the first sentence. I think it will be valuable practise ahead of the Saffas. I like that Howard has made these changes, however am annoyed that he had to make them in the first place. Things MUST be different next year before the Ashes. We will need all our boys playing the ENTIRE Shield season prior to the Ashes. That = no Champ League for any player in line for a Test birth even if it is an IPL franchise team.

Posted by Dashgar on (October 22, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

Not sure this really matters much. The test squad is just about set in stone with the only contention being the choice of who to make 12th man out of Starc, Hilf and Lyon. That can all be worked out at the last possible moment so moving this game forward does nothing apart from allow the players an extra days recovering. We shouldn't be tinkering with a stable lineup this close to an important series.

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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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