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Watson tipped to move down the order

Brydon Coverdale

December 4, 2012

Comments: 117 | Text size: A | A

Shane Watson at Australia's training session, Adelaide, November 19, 2012
According to Mickey Arthur, Ponting's replacement will fill the No.3 slot, meaning that Shane Watson will drop to No.4 © Getty Images
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Shane Watson's gradual slide down the order is set to continue with Ricky Ponting's replacement expected to take over the No.3 position. Australia's coach Mickey Arthur said that while the full selection panel had not yet discussed who would take Ponting's place for the Hobart Test against Sri Lanka starting in ten days, he and the captain Michael Clarke had a potential replacement in mind who would be best suited to first drop.

That would mean Clarke could stay at No.5 and Michael Hussey at No.6, but Watson would need to drift down to No.4 to accommodate the new man. Watson is Australia's vice-captain and a key man in their plans to regain the Ashes next year, but his role in the side is evolving and having spent two and a half years as an opener, he moved to No.3 after his season-ending injury last summer allowed Ed Cowan and David Warner to become the Test openers.

"We haven't even discussed it yet [as a full selection panel], so I'm obviously putting a personal opinion. Without wanting to name names, it will probably be a guy who will come in and bat three and possibly a move for Watto at four," Arthur said of Ponting's replacement. "It just looks right and gives us a bit of stability.

"Michael and I, once we see who that guy is - and we've got in our minds who we think the guy is, but we still need to discuss that as a selection panel - and then sit down in Hobart next Monday when we arrive there and we'll make a decision on what our preferred batting order is going to be."

Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja are the leading candidates for a recall to the Test side, although it is not out of the question that Rob Quiney could be given another opportunity after failing in the first two Tests against South Africa. Whoever is included, they will need to provide Australia with a stability that the recent No.3s have not. The only century scored at first drop by an Australian since Ponting moved down the order was Shaun Marsh's debut ton in Sri Lanka last year.

Since the end of the 2009-10 summer, Australia have used five men at No.3 - Ponting, Watson, Marsh, Khawaja and Quiney - for a combined average of 26.38. Since Cowan and Warner came together as an opening pair on the Boxing Day last year, the Nos. 4 to 6 have provided Australia with nearly twice as many runs as the top three - a tally of 2861 from the middle order compared to 1483 from the top order.

"Cowan and Warner showed us glimpses this series," Arthur said. "I thought they were good in patches, but we need a lot more consistency, especially from our top four because we know at five and six we've got the best batsman in the world going into this Test match [Clarke] and Mr Cricket in Huss. We know that we're really well covered at five and six. We just need one, two, three and four to be giving us a really good platform and that's something we'll have a look at.

"When you're looking at Cowan, you're looking at Warner, you're looking at whoever comes in again and then Watto, there's no massive amount of Test caps there when you take Watto aside. You've got to give those guys time to grow and be a little bit more consistent. They've shown us they've got the goods, we've just got to be patient with them."

Australia must swiftly move on to their next challenge, a three-Test series against Sri Lanka, and then they face a tour of India ahead of back-to-back Ashes campaigns. Despite the top-order struggles and injuries to key fast bowlers, Arthur is happy with Australia's progress as they approach what will be one of the most important years of Test cricket in the side's recent history.

"If I look over the past year and I go back to the Test match we had in Hobart where we lost to New Zealand, that was a time for real reflection and a time for change and I think as a Test unit we can take a lot of pride from what we've done over the last year and I certainly think we were in a far better place now than we were this time last year," Arthur said. "We've just got to keep building. We've got a big series now against Sri Lanka and we've got to keep building through that.

"We've got a real tough series in India and that is followed by obviously what is the ultimate and that's the Ashes. We've got to make sure we've got a settled unit, very clear on what their roles are come those big Tests that lie ahead of us. But I'm still really happy we're going in the right direction."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by L4zybugg3r on (December 5, 2012, 23:46 GMT)

"All-rounders generally bat six? Eddie Barlow opened, Kallis bats four, Moody batted in a variety of positions between opener and eight. Same for Sobers. Dexter batted 3 as did D'Oliviera. Not to mention Miller, who batted at 4. All freaks, yes, but all-rounders are freaks."

The only modern examples you have are Kallis and Moody. Moody's record leaves a lot to be desired. I suspect Kallis will drop bowling duties soon as he seems to be getting injured more frequently these days and SA's bowling is looking strong.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (December 5, 2012, 11:19 GMT)

Agree with CricHorizon, Khawaja at 3 and Watson at either 4 or 6. My only issue with Watto too far back in the order is that he is a better player of pace then spin. Clarke is our best batsman and the best judge on where he should bat, don't you think he wasnts Australia to do the best it can so if he is staying at 5 then that's best. I hope Khawaja get recalled to the Australian team and I think that's the best decision if we want to fill the first drop spot as he is one of the best batsman of swing bowling in Australia as seen from his success on green tracks this year.

Posted by Marcio on (December 5, 2012, 11:00 GMT)

Those who are saying Watson is not a top order batsman don't know what they are talking about. He is excellent against the new ball and fastbowlers. His issue is loss of concentration after he is set. He averaged over 40 as an opener.

Posted by Meety on (December 5, 2012, 9:40 GMT)

@Moppa - btw, in regards to Harris, the BBL has temporarily given QLD selectors a reprieve as Ali Mac, Cutting, Harris, Feldman, Gannon & the spinners Hauritz & Boyce can't all play in the same game!

Posted by Meety on (December 5, 2012, 9:38 GMT)

@Moppa on (December 05 2012, 00:48 AM GMT) - I don't see a big problem with Hughes or Khawaja coming in @ #3 as they both experienced players. IF, we are talking Doolan or Burns (or even Neville), I would prefer they were shielded @ #6, with Hussey moving to #4. Regarding Cutting, I think he COULD be developed into a genuine allrounder, FC ave of 26 (this year its about the same as Khawaja), & his main strength is bowling. My only concern with him, is that he has had his fair share of injuries - but he isn't on his Pat Malone in that regard. I wonder how much of a chance Harris is for re-selection?

Posted by KhanMitch on (December 5, 2012, 8:31 GMT)

@Macca_Mat and @Edward_L agree with you guys. The number three heading into Sri Lanka, India the back to back must be Khawaja.Our real weakness is guys who can handle swing bowling and none can handle it better then Khawaja. He is fantastic in bowler friendly conditions, and must be given a chance to really settle into the side b4 the ashes start. He will be a long term number 3 like amla, just needs a good go at it and has done well on difficlut pitches. Khawaja has played on at least 4 green tops this year including a game where he scored 1 and a half times the entire opposition in one inngs, whereas Adelaide is the best place to bat in the country and so we must.think outside of figures.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (December 5, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

Clarke will never bat 3 because he doesnt want to. Has been asked by the selectors and he has said NO. The most they can move him up is 4. Fact is he is scared of the new ball and prefers to bat once the ball is older and the quicks are a bit tired.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 8:12 GMT)

All-rounders generally bat six? Eddie Barlow opened, Kallis bats four, Moody batted in a variety of positions between opener and eight. Same for Sobers. Dexter batted 3 as did D'Oliviera. Not to mention Miller, who batted at 4. All freaks, yes, but all-rounders are freaks.

Posted by ozwriter on (December 5, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

khawaja in at 3. clarke 4, hussey 5, watson 6 (also left right left right) and khawaja at 25 needs to be give decent a time (1-2 years) to consolidate and best prepare for the ashes as he is the long term prospect

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

My side for Bellrieve:

1. Cowan 2. Watson 3. Clarke 4. Khawaja 5. M. Hussey 6. Warner 7. Wade 8. Siddle 9. Starc 10. Hilfenhaus 11. Lyon

Left/Right combo to open with Watson at his preferred position. Clarke SHOULD move to 3 given his form to plug the hole that's been apparent for years now. Khawaja deserves a call up and can then come in at four, less pressure but still high in the order. Hussey next in, he can partner Clarke/Khawaja and the tail. Warner down at 6 to attack the spinners/medium pace bowlers and the old ball. Siddle is a fighter and deserves his spot. Starc ahead of Johnson for his recent 6-for and half century. Hilfenhaus should do better in Tasmania at least and for goodness sake, just keep Lyon.

And forget 'King Pair' Quiney, Specialist-Fielder Bailey and Fat-Arse Cosgrove as picks for number 3, Khawaja or Hughes should be the only ones for consideration, they've earnt their spots. Quiney wasted his, Bailey for mine is a spud and Cosgrove is no chance.

Posted by V-Man_ on (December 5, 2012, 6:43 GMT)

Sticking the new guy at no 3 is not a good idea. Not sure why the selector are so adamant about this. Australia's greatest batsman of the modern era (Ponting) didn't start at no 3. He started at 6 and as he got more experience and got better, he moved up.

Posted by L4zybugg3r on (December 5, 2012, 6:24 GMT)

@D.V.C. - Err Watson started his career at ~6 so that's why his average is lower there, perhaps he's improved as a player? I suspect this is also why Watson doesn't want to drop back down the order. Some of the reasons to move him to 6 again are 1) to allow more bowling ie he's not as tired 2) he just doesn't look like an opener or number 3 (frankly he's beginning to look like Flintoff ie largely a dud in tests) 3) allrounders typically bat at that position (Kallis is a freak who averages 20 more than Watson so is the exception). The only reason to bat him higher up is really if he struggles vs spin but is good vs pace but I don't think it's all that relevant because his technique vs swing bowling doesnt look great.

Posted by D.V.C. on (December 5, 2012, 5:48 GMT)

Everyone saying Watson should bat at 6 or 7 because he is an allrounder fails to see that he averages 20+ runs more opening than he does batting down the list. That's 40 runs a match people! What is wrong with having the allrounder open, and then when he gets out have the rest of the order come in as if he hadn't?

Certainly in the first innings it makes more sense to have Watson have finished his turn at bat well before the innings finishes. Second innings, if he's not fresh then push him down. The batting order doesn't have to be the same both innings of a match!

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (December 5, 2012, 4:58 GMT)

@OzWally agree with you mate, Khawaja has to be the standout choice at numer 3. Personally i would keep watto in the top 3 but if he is to go to 4 then Khawaja should come in. If you look at the games Khawaja has played compared to Hughes or Doolan there will be a marked difference in runs scored of the teams in those matches. Khawaja has played on at least 4 green tops this year including a game where he scored 1 and a half times the entire opposition in one inngs, whereas Adelaide is the best place to bat in thecountry......think outside of figures. Overall no-one is banging the door down but I think Khawaja will get the nod over Hughes and Doolan. English fans will be hoping we don't pick Khawaja as he is one of the few youngsters who can handle the moving ball in England.

Posted by anty24 on (December 5, 2012, 4:41 GMT)

While I understand every one saying the Clarke should bat at 3 because he is our best batsman, I don't think that is our main issue. At the moment our openers a not stringing partnerships together which puts excess pressure on 3 & 4. Unfortunately 3 & 4 in our batting order have not been able to show any consistent form over the past 12 months, which has led to the big collapses that have been a regular sight of late. While Ponting has been a great batsman in the past, his retirement has meant that we can start to work on building our batting order. While some people will not agree with what I propose and will have their own thoughts on how to fix the batting line up 2012/13 2013/14 Hussey Hughes Cowan Cowan Kawaja Kawaja Watson Watson Clarke Clarke Warner Warner Pain Pain Pattinson Pattinson Johnson Johnson Siddle Siddle Lyon Lyon

Hussey to provide steady strart, Warner sparks inings late

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 4:11 GMT)

I reckon have Clarke at 3 and Hussey opening with Cowan.

Then have Doolan at 4, Watson at 5 and Cowan at 6.

That way when Hussey calls it quits Phillip Hughes can be a straight swap.

If Watson or Doolan don't stick around, you can bring in a Khawaja or Quiney to replace them in the middle order.

Posted by Aussie_nrz on (December 5, 2012, 4:03 GMT)

Squad for 1st test Sri Lanka Batsman (no. 1-7 out of 8 players) : David Warner, Ed Cowan, Philip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (c), Micheal Hussey, Mathew Wade (wk)

Bowlers (no. 8 -11 out of 7 players): Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus, Ben Cutting, Jackson Bird, Gary Putland, Nathan Lyon

Posted by crh8971 on (December 5, 2012, 3:41 GMT)

Some of the proposals here are truly laughable. I think there are a lot of Indians commenting that watch nothing but 20/20 and ODI. Fergusson is far too inconsistent. Sure he looks fantastic when he gets runs but makes far too few good scores. Marsh is similar and struggles to get a game for WA at the moment. Cosgrove clearly does not have the work ethic that is expected in the test team.

I would give Khawaja the chance this time as he really did look the part in the tests he played but just didn't go on and get big scores, he is in good form, is a natural number 3 and has a consistent record of making solid scores in first class cricket.

Posted by Syed_imran_abbas on (December 5, 2012, 3:29 GMT)

I think Cowan is crap. I would rather put this team in for Aussies: (1) Warner (2) Watson (3) Khawaja (4) Clark (5) Hussy(6) Philip Hughes/Ferguson (7) Wade (8) Siddle (9) Pattison (10) Starc (11) Loyn

Posted by MoreTestsNoT20 on (December 5, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

1 Cowan, 2 Warner, 3 Hussey, 4 Clarke, 5 Khawaja, 6 Wade, 7 Watson, 8 Starc, 9 Siddle, 10 Lyon, 11 Hilf.

Hussey 3 started his career opening so no problem against new ball and can bat anywhere. Good 3 years of Hussey at 3 then hopefully Khawaja will be ready to move up the order. Also hopefully Harris is going to fit soon straight in for Hilf.

Posted by frahmster on (December 5, 2012, 3:25 GMT)

New batsman @ 3 just when we need some stability in the top order. Huh? Watson 3, Clarke 4 (it's past time Captain), Khawaja or Hughes or whomever 5, Hussey 6. Simple. Watson might not be the perfect, long term #3 but he's experienced, can adapt his game and is capable of decent scores; he's the man @ #3 for the Sri Lankan series at least.

Posted by Sano27 on (December 5, 2012, 2:38 GMT)

too much experiments in the top order wont help the team at all.....wondering what kinda selection is going on in Oz team....remove Quiney & Cowan out of the team....drop Watson to no.6...Include players like Khawja, Hughes , Ferguson !

Posted by anty24 on (December 5, 2012, 2:30 GMT)

While I understand every one saying the Clarke should bat at 3 because he is our best batsman, I don't think that is our main issue. At the moment our openers a not stringing partnerships together which puts excess pressure on 3 & 4. Unfortunately 3 & 4 in our batting order have not been able to show any consistent form over the past 12 months, which has led to the big collapses that have been a regular sight of late. While Ponting has been a great batsman in the past, his retirement has meant that we can start to work on building our batting order. While some people will not agree with what I propose and will have their own thoughts on how to fix the batting line up, here is what I propose.

2012/13 2013/14 Hussey Hughes Cowan Cowan Kawaja Kawaja Watson Watson Clarke Clarke Warner Warner Pain Pain Pattinson Pattinson Johnson Johnson Siddle Siddle Lyon Lyon

Hussey has been a opener in the past,will provide a stable start to an innings,warner impact late in innings.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (December 5, 2012, 2:20 GMT)

It seems to me the selectors are leaning towards Khawaja as its the number 3 spot. They probably prefer Hughes to take a role in the ODI side which would make sense as he has been playing the short format well. Long term Khawaja will be the number 3 and Hughes the opener and that's good for Australian cricket.

Posted by skkh on (December 5, 2012, 1:52 GMT)

Moving Watson down was wrong. He is comfortable against pace and scores fast. I think that since he moved down to three he has not scored a single score of 50. Moving him further down the order would be counter productive. In real honesty Watson has not justified his place in the team. He has only two centuries to his credit and a fair share of 50's but his last 50 was quite some time back. At his best he can score a fast fifty and get out and this he can do at the top and not down the order.

Posted by skkh on (December 5, 2012, 1:44 GMT)

Abhishek Mishra..mate you are funny. You think Clarke is sissy? Now tell me why should Clarke move up the order when he is doing just great at his position ? This "sissy" has been scoring runs aplenty all over the world against pace and spin alike. Our top order is very brittle and we need to address this and not unsettle our performing batsmen with a shuffle in the order.

Posted by V-Man_ on (December 5, 2012, 1:43 GMT)

I think the selectors are not getting this right. There is no way clarke and hussey should be batting so far down the order. How many times we saw they both had to bat in the first 25 overs. I agree with many people who are saying that clarke is hidding down the order. i dont think going up one spot will affect his batting in any ways, specially the form he is in. for guys like clarke and huss, it shouldnt be a problem. remember hussy was actually an opening batsman. I don't get how come a "batsman" with mediocre avg can bat in the top order, AUSTRALIAN top order. watson's avg is 36.92. remember there was time when the top 7 batsmen in the aus line up had batting avg of 45 or more. those were the days. clarke needs to move to no 4, followed by hussey and then watson. having watson in the team is bit of a waste for me at the moment. if he is gonna bowl only 10 overs in an innings and score about 25 runs then drop him and get a proper batsman.

Posted by skkh on (December 5, 2012, 1:38 GMT)

Funny to see how Hughes and Quiney are being talked of as the replacement for Ricky. In my opinion Khawaja is the only candidate to take up Ricky's place in the team. Quiney is good for the shorter form of the game and we have seen him play in tests. Hughes for all the scores that he has behind him will always be suspect against the pace bowlers.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 5, 2012, 1:18 GMT)

I am waiting for the press release titled: "NEWS FLASH: Phillip Hughes fixes his technique". Until we get that, there is no point considering him for international matches, especially not tests, as any experienced quality test level bowler just has to look at how Harmison got him out cheaply and repeat it. Maybe Zimbabwe don't have the facilities to do that, but Sri Lanka will. Absolutely pointless considering him. The best bet, by absolute miles, is David Hussey, and I sincerely hope that they are considering him. If they still ignore him, and ignore all of us pulling our hair out at his non-selection, then the next best after that is the T20 captain, George Bailey, who is in fine form and has succeeded at international level. The third best, a long, long way behind, is our dear friend Usman Khawaja, who is still not exactly in tip top form and didn't really do enough in his international matches to give confidence - I'd suggest waiting a bit for him. Just say no to PHIL HUGHES!

Posted by MinusZero on (December 5, 2012, 1:11 GMT)

After being thrashed by South Africa, Australia is now realising how little depth the team has. They dont have a world class spinner who is going to win games for them, not world class quicks and no backup batsmen. Stats dont prove everything. If you play ordinary opposition and win its not the same as playing strong opposition. They had a false belief that everything was ok.

Posted by Timmuh on (December 5, 2012, 0:48 GMT)

I'm with Wozza-CY on the top six, but not playing a seventh batsman. South Africa could do that with Kallis as a full time bowler, having Watson as a first change bowler just isn't the same thing. Warner, Hughes, Cowan, Clarke, Hussey, Watson - and Watson needs runs soon or he could well be replaced by Khawaja. Out of the top six only Clarke and Hussey are safe until Sydney in my opinion.

Posted by Moppa on (December 5, 2012, 0:48 GMT)

@Meety, I did some digging on Cutting and am coming around to your view that he's very close - he had more top-order wickets and generally more solid performances than I had thought keeping track of the Shield casually. In relation to the general debate on "lambs to the slaughter", I don't think young players have to be protected from no.3 - it depends on their technique and mental strength. Pujara is a classic case of a younger/new batsman coming in and looking born for 3. In earlier days players like Langer, Dravid and so on slotted straight in there because that was their preferred position. I don't see why Khawaja can't do the same. The other side of this argument is that if Clarke (like Steve Waugh and Border before him) is doing fine at 5, why would you move him?

Posted by crazymofo on (December 5, 2012, 0:47 GMT)

I think having a replacement coming at first drop is a bit too much to ask of whoever comes in, these guys need to get international experience under their belt and move up the order

1.Cowan, 2. Warner 3. Clarke 4.Khawaja, 5.Hughes, 6.Watson, 7.Wade, 8.Pattinson, 9.Starc, 10.Siddle/Hilfie, 11.Lyon

Even that looks like a heavily stocked batting lineup with watson all the way back at #6, if anyone under performs drop them down the order not from the team, i am sure that some or most of these guys will perform well.

Also I would really like Hussey in there as well, I am sure that you guys could fit him in somewhere.

It looks like a side starting to focus a little more on youth, later the selectors might be able to drop a batsmen and go with another specialist quick if some of these guys fire consistently.

Give Tim Paine some time to get settled in and get some domestic cricket under his belt and Aus may have one of the best batting lineups in the world. Next is the bowlers.

Posted by BG4cricket on (December 5, 2012, 0:36 GMT)

Certainly a dearth of players knocking down the door with performance and the only real candidates are Hughes and Khawaja. Both have flaws they were asked to address and both have shown progress - Hughes developing his leg side game and not getting so square on to favour the off side, and Khawaja in developing his strokeplay (big tick) and strike rotation (not so big tick as a very high proportion of boundaries in his innings). Hughes has the better first class and test record and I would probably go with him as he has the greater potential based on Test performances if the choice is for a number 3. If it is for a number 6 then Khawaja or Smith look the best bets although personally I think Watson is a 4 who should have an increased bowling role and this looks like what they will do.

Posted by zoot on (December 5, 2012, 0:19 GMT)

Watson was doing ok as one of the openers. Watson/Warner looks better than Warner/Cowan to me.

Posted by V-Man_ on (December 5, 2012, 0:17 GMT)

I think the selectors are not getting this right. There is no way clarke and hussey should be batting so far down the order. How many times we saw they both had to bat in the first 25 overs. I agree with many people who are saying that clarke is hidding down the order. i dont think going up one spot will affect his batting in any ways, specially the form he is in. for guys like clarke and huss, it shouldnt be a problem. remember hussy was actually an opening batsman. I don't get how come a "batsman" with mediocre avg can bat in the top order, AUSTRALIAN top order. watson's avg is 36.92. remember there was time when the top 7 batsmen in the aus line up had batting avg of 45 or more. those were the days. clarke needs to move to no 4, followed by hussey and then watson. having watson in the team is bit of a waste for me at the moment. if he is gonna bowl only 10 overs in an innings and score about 25 runs then drop him and get a proper batsman.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 5, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

Clarke is no Sissy, but why would you move someone dominant at 5 up the order to 3. It seems a stupid move, Border and Waugh both batted best at 5 were they sissies. Only fix what is not broken and dont create further problems by changing what is working.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (December 5, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

Clarke is no Sissy, but why would you move someone dominant at 5 up the order to 3. It seems a stupid move, Border and Waugh both batted best at 5 were they sissies. Only fix what is not broken and dont create further problems by changing what is working.

Posted by kempy21 on (December 4, 2012, 23:35 GMT)

It is extremely unfair for a new batsman to be asked to bat at 3 when there is a lot of experience in this order currently. Particularly when this opening pair could post 10 or 100 depending on whether Good Dave or Bad Dave strides out to the crease. Quiney, despite his domestic career, was not done any favours by being asked to go in at first drop and then after 3 failures is out of the side. Watson is not my preferred No 3, but some reorganisation of the middle order is required. I think Clarke is a 4 or 5 long term, as is Hussey (but how long does he have left, 1 year, 10 years?). The issue is, putting Watson at 3 doesn't really solve anything and I am loathe to move Clarke there given he's making runs where he is, so why change that? I am a fan of the "new guy" batting at 6 to get confidence and experience and then move him up the order to the preferred position.

Posted by L4zybugg3r on (December 4, 2012, 22:47 GMT)

@Blakey - totally agree with that. Watson isn't doing enough to justify batting in the top order and batting at 6 he should be able to bowl more overs. If they are too scared to bowl him for more than 10 overs in a day then I suggest they look for someone else because Warner/Clarke can fill that amount of overs if needed (Hussey is overused and not very effective).

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 22:41 GMT)

The proliferation of flat pitches has led Australia to believe that some of their very ordinary batsmen are world beaters. The Aus tv hype around Warner is sickening. He is nothing but a flat track bully with a dodgy technique and a penchant for throwing his wicket away. Compare Watson and Warner to Alviro Petersen or Faf. Who would you want batting for your life? The Saffers may be more or less talented, but can handle a moving ball, bat for long periods, and pleasingly, are becoming proficient against spin too.


Posted by MinusZero on (December 4, 2012, 22:40 GMT)

Watson needs to be 6 (if he is selected at all). Look at most teams, the best batsman is at 4. SA-Kallis, WI-Chanderpaul, India-Tendulkar etc etc. Clarke should be 4. Watson is not a top order bat.

Posted by azzaman333 on (December 4, 2012, 22:32 GMT)

Anyone calling for Clarke to move from his favoured position at 5 is an A grade muppet. Your best batsmen get to choose where they want to bat, Clarke and Hussey have earned the right to bat at 5 and 6 if they choose (which they clearly do).

Posted by hycIass on (December 4, 2012, 22:27 GMT)

A few of the guys keep on saying that Hughes and Khawaja failed so why bring them in,however if you look historically some of Australia's best... they have been brought in young, dropped and brought back... and made it to greatness. Being dropped makes them realise how prestigious it is to represent Aus. Look at Ponting, Langar, Hayden, Gilchrist, Warny... do I need to continue. I think that Hughes and Khawaja both have the strengths & longevity to make it as opener and 3. I think that its time to bring in Usman as he would succeed if given a full series to show his skill.

Posted by Kolpak1989 on (December 4, 2012, 22:08 GMT)

Michael Clarke really needs to move to number 3. I know that he feels he bats best at 5 but it puts the team into a really bad position when our entire top order gets rumbled so early in every test match. The best batsman in the team bats at 3, end of story.

1. Warner 2. Cowan 3. Clarke 4. Hughes 5. Hussey 6. Watson 7. Wade

Posted by Someguy on (December 4, 2012, 21:02 GMT)

@Wozza-CY - Hughes has batted at 3 before. Apparently he was batting 3-4 a lot in county cricket during the off season and doing quite well. Besides which, the difference between opening and first drop is kinda minimal. It's always easier for batsmen to go down the order than it is to go up it. Unless they are someone who struggles to start against spin, then going down could be a problem.

Posted by grug76 on (December 4, 2012, 20:25 GMT)

IMO Watson should drop right down the order to No 12 or 13... He is not in great form, breaks down all the time, is slow in the field and I get the feeling that his team mates don't really like him all that much... Over the past couple of years Australia has performed much better when he has been out of the team

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 4, 2012, 19:42 GMT)

gordo85 you are picking a test side cosgrove is no better than a T20 at best.with warner watson and him. the few moderate test batters of the last 50 years must be laughing their socks off.2 are sloggers and 1 gets in as an allrounder

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 4, 2012, 19:36 GMT)

well you have to look at his conversion rate into 100s or lack of them to know that, its not rocket science, hes to loose at opener. he would make a good #6 in most sides and his bowling is a plus,but not to much as that massive great body cannot take to much strain on it.

Posted by Adoh on (December 4, 2012, 18:58 GMT)

Mitchell Starc for No 3 - average of 48.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 18:51 GMT)

Michael Clarke is a sissy for not taking on the challenge. Or the selectors are trying to play too safe. No 3 & 4 are supposed to the best batsmen & run makers in the team. Clarke & Hussey, are the best batsmen in the team. They want to be protected from the new ball. Come on! You want to throw not one but two lambs to the slaughter at 3 & 4! That includes Watson. Team management is stuck. Do they need Don Argus to fix the batting order also?

Posted by Dhanno on (December 4, 2012, 17:42 GMT)

I find it intriguing that aussies are experimenting so much with #3 and now seems #4 position. These are the positions taken by some of the cricket's greatest players. It is one thing to put faith in khawaja/ hughes/ quiney whoever, but then you need to give them extended run at that position (I personally dont like hughes, but I havent seen him much for last couple years, so maybe he has tightened his technique). Worse is giving #4 to watson, that is specialist batsman position, who can hold middle order together and score hundreds for the team. Watson ? no he isnt the one.

Best would be Pup taking up one of the two positions 3/4. I think 4 would be better as it allows him to bat long enough but still not be exposed if an opener falls early. Watson should then move down to 6 and the new guy who takes 3rd position be given extended run without questions being asked. Problem with that is Ashes is too close .. Arrrrrghhh.. difficult decision to say the least.

Posted by wibblewibble on (December 4, 2012, 17:11 GMT)

Warner, Cowan, Khawaja, Watson, Clarke, Hussey

There's a top 6 to strike fear into Jimmy Anderson. Not.

Only two I rate in that lot are Clarke and Hussey, and even Mr Cricket isn't where he was 2 years ago. Cowan may be decent, didn't look it in the 3rd test.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 16:25 GMT)

Watson is a decent cricketer. But nothing special. He is more threatening in the shorter forms of the game. 2 test tons in nearly 70 innings, tells its own story. He is a long way removed from a top class test nr 4. There is a case for him to drop to 6 or 7 and be played as an all-rounder...but his fitness issues will probably put paid to this. He is 31, is the Aussie cupboard that bare?

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 16:24 GMT)

I live in the US, but like Aussie cricket... so please forgive me if my comment seems presumptious. I think that the best batter in the side should come in at #4. So Michael Clarke IMHO should really OWN the #4 spot. Watson is a top allrounder, and it makes sense for him to be at #6 or #7. All the greats did that - Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Dan Vettori. My order: Warner, Cowan, Marsh, Clarke, Hussey, Watson, Wade, 8, 9 10, 11.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (December 4, 2012, 16:08 GMT)

Shane Watson at #4 might be a good move but Michael Clarke is the team's best batsman & maybe he should be batting at #4 & Watson at #5.Watson is a real batsman & a proper bowler,especially in difficult bowling conditions.

Posted by thejesusofcool on (December 4, 2012, 15:56 GMT)

As a proud Pom, may I request you lovely people who want Warner and Khawaja in the first XI and Watson anywhere above number 6 in the batting order:

PLEASE send your emails direct to the selectors! Then we'll be guaranteed to retain the Ashes.

Warner got out early on both the 2nd & 4th mornings, when it mattered he stayed there, Watson is emasculated trying to play like a natural batsman, because he isn't and Khwaja threatens to be your version of Ramprakesh or Hick-could easily score 40 centuries in the Shield and have an average of 23 after 20 Tests.

Get Rogers in now to open with Cowan, try Callum Ferguson at 3, Clarke 4,Hussey 5 Watson 6 and think about Steve Smith as a batter for 5 if Hussey suddenly ages-don't forget it happened to Punter just like that, hope it doesn't to Mr Cricket, but..........

Posted by DylanBrah on (December 4, 2012, 15:22 GMT)

Seriously, what is everyone's obsession with CJ Ferguson on here? A career FC average of 36.09 (42.09 for the season) SCREAMS mediocre to me. He's just your average 28 y.o bloke battling away in the shield trying to make a living.

Posted by OzWally on (December 4, 2012, 14:15 GMT)

I don't know why they think they have to put the new guy at #3. Even Ponting started his career at #6. Khawaja is the logical #3 with experience there, but bring him in at #6 until he's up to speed. Why not Hussey at #3 then Clarke at #4 and Watson at #5. Hughes is an opener and will replace either Cowan or Warner as at least one will show they aren't up to by the end of this next series.

Posted by jettkn on (December 4, 2012, 14:14 GMT)

Watson sould open the innings. He must play as a specialist batsman.

Posted by landl47 on (December 4, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

If you think there are problems now- by the time the next Ashes series starts, Mike Hussey will be 38. Sooner or later he's going to hit the wall just as Ponting did. Let's say that means Hughes is at 3, Khawaja at 4 and Watson drops down to 6. Then you have a top 7 with current test averages of 34-Cowan, 41-Warner, 34-Hughes, 29-Khawaja, 51-Clarke, 36-Watson, 35-Wade.

It's rather strange that Mickey Arthur thinks that Australia are going in the right direction. I'd be worried, myself.

Posted by Gordo85 on (December 4, 2012, 13:34 GMT)

All I know is that if Khawaja comes into the side as a number three I hope that Ferguson will replace Hussey at six or five wherever he bats in his last test match. If thet doesn't happen I will be very upset. Cosgrove must be close as well since he has better figures than Ferguson. I just don't want Ferguson and Cosgrove to be ignored forever.

Posted by Dark.Matter on (December 4, 2012, 13:21 GMT)

With due respect, watson is an avg player. fit in for number 7 spot.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 13:21 GMT)





Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 13:15 GMT)

As I previously mentioned Watson does not have the shape of a No 3 batsman, and will be more productive down the order. No 3 batsmen must be capable of making centuries, and I don't see that in Watson. What was the haste to bring him back against SA anyway? Hughes should fill the No 3 slot and Watson down to No 6. The selectors are already doing a poor job in selecting the team, and the bad batting order is contributing more to their demise.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 12:23 GMT)

Clarke is a sissy, scared of facing the moving ball. Its ridiculous that he doesn't bat at No.3 why are the selectors not telling him Skipper u need to bat at No.3 it will be hard for the debutant to come at No.3. Making Khwaja,Quiney n Hughes bat at no.3 is like putting up LAMBS FOR SLAUGHTER. Ideal batting order- Warner,Cowan openers then 3.Clarke 4.Khwaja/Hughes/Quiney 5 n 6 Hussey or Watson then Wade n the bowlers. This way it will be easier to manage the WORKLOAD of Watson n also provides stability at the top

Posted by Wozza-CY on (December 4, 2012, 12:04 GMT)

I agree with Ian Chappell (for once) in saying that there is no clear cut replacement for Ponting or our No.3 woes. I don't think Hughes should come into no.3, a place that he hasn't batted before. So Hughes & Warner should open. Cowan continues to improve and could do a job at no.3. Clarke has to step up & play 4, with Mussey at 5. Watto to play six provided he can play a role as the all rounder & contribute with both bat & ball. If not, then Khawaja comes into the team at six, with a view to moving to no.3. Many people criticised SA for playing seven batsman......maybe that's something we should try?

Posted by Wozza-CY on (December 4, 2012, 11:48 GMT)

For three years Oz have had a 'differen't' & sub-standard number 3. Fifty for three is all too common. So the experiment of having the less experienced, less accomplished.....and at times debutants at no. 3 has to stop! No.3 is the position occupied by the best batsman in Australia. Is Watson the best batsman in Australia? Is a test average of 37 the best we can do?

Posted by KhanMitch on (December 4, 2012, 11:28 GMT)

Well said Moppa, looks like the selectors are leaning towards Khawaja for the number 3 spot and I think this will be a wise move. I think they want to pick Hughes for the ODI side to build his confidence for a eventual return to test cricket. Watson at 4 for me is wrong as he is a better player of fast bowling but this may help him manage his work load better. Siince Khawaja moved to QLD under Darren Lehmann, he has become much more aggressive both in his shot play and running between the wickets and Arthur has acknowledged these improvements so all signs are very positive for this classy left hander.

Posted by shriyash8805589095 on (December 4, 2012, 11:26 GMT)

I think the perfect classy replacement according to me should be Callum Ferguson.! He has the right technique,great striking ability,patience which an ideal no.3 should have..! Or i would suggest Clarke due to his awesome recent form should move up to no.3 and allow the new player to bat at no.5 ..!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 11:25 GMT)

Realistically, Australia will trounce Sri Lanka. They came very close to upstaging the No1 ranked team but didn't quite have the personnel to deliver the knockout blow like they used to. But Sri Lanka will provide the same level of challenge that India did last year. Should be fun. Australia will improve only when the top 3 improve, whoever they are. Warner and Watson are the biggest headaches. You can't have two batsmen who pleasantly surprise you when they score more than 30.

Posted by OneEyedAussie on (December 4, 2012, 11:19 GMT)

It seems to me that Khawaja will almost certainly be recalled to the Australian team - and following that it seems most likely that he will bat at 3 or 4. I don't see Clarke or Hussey moving. So the question is: Khawaja or Watson at 3? Ideally, I'd prefer to see Khawaja at 3 and Watson at 6, but we'll see what happens.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 11:18 GMT)

for the Sri Lankan series my team is Warner, Watson(ave 43 opening), Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Hussey, Wade, Cutting, Siddle, Lyon and Bird. No time for Starc or Johnson unless we enjoy chasing 600 all the time.

However moving forward to the ashes my team at full fitness would be Warner, Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Hussey, Wade, Cutting, (Zampa), Pattinson and Cummins. extra 3 players in touring squad would be Jackson Bird, Joe Burns, Moses Henriques.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 11:18 GMT)

Khawaja should be in at 3. Clarkey at 4, then move Huss to 5 and have Watto play a genuine all-round role and bat at 6. It's ridiculous that Clarke keeps making double centuries from 5, jut shows how week the top-order is

Posted by Meety on (December 4, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

@@ Moppa on (December 04 2012, 10:38 AM GMT) - fair enuff re: Maxwell, but don't agree re: Cutting, he has performed better than Feldman. As for Gannon, I'd rather see how he goes after a few more games, but Cutting has performed at about the same standard he has produced for several seasons. I wanted Maxwell soley for the SCG, as he had a good allround game against the Saffas & hopefully would lift the fielding standards as well as contribute bat & ball.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

Michael Clarke should bat at number 3. All the best batters batted at 3 for Australia. Don,Harvey, O'Neil,Ponting. no other player in the Australian side is fit to bat at number3 A Number 3 should be able to bat like an opening bat if a wicket falls quickly and attack to upset the rhythm of the opening bowlers.

Posted by Moppa on (December 4, 2012, 10:38 GMT)

Sounds like the selectors have the right option, i.e. Khawaja, in mind. This is good news. Watson should do well at 4 - has the technique to handle a new ball, or can counter-attack on the 2% of occasions that Australia's top three give us a good platform. Hopefully with Usman in the team this percentage will increase. @Meety - no, please, not Maxwell. He is a classic bits-and-pieces all-rounder and IMO miles from a baggy green. Also, whilst Cutting's numbers look OK, he's been outbowled by Cameron Gannon and Luke Feldman, amongst others, in most of his Shield games this year, and seriously smashed around in the Ryobi Cup. I'm hopeful that he'll come through at some point, but I don't think now is the time.

Posted by Beertjie on (December 4, 2012, 10:25 GMT)

You make a few good points, @pat_one_back on (December 04 2012, 08:39 AM GMT) but I just can't see both Warner AND Hughes together in the top 3. Imo that would merely perpetuate the risks already being taken. Khawaja and Cowan are the two I'd be considering with either Hughes OR Warner playing the dasher. But if Cowan doesn't fails to score consistently I feel there's a place on tour for Rogers as a stopgap to provide stability especially for the Ashes. One last point: I can't understand this Maxwell stuff. Given that Lyon is an off-spinner what do we need Maxwell for? Surely the need is for variety (Smith or O'Keefe) rather than an offie (lol).

Posted by shwet14 on (December 4, 2012, 10:13 GMT)

Clarke is in form of his life. He can attack if the openers lay a foundation and can still attack even if he comes in with very little on board. So, he should bat at 3, Hussey should move up to 4, Watson at 5 and David Hussey/ Rob Bailey at 6. Khawaja, Hughes were given opportunities and both failed. Its about time the junior Hussey is given a chance to prove himself in longer format. And what better chance than to test it against SL, who probably are competing against India for the wooden spooner award as far as pace bowling is concerned? Just look at the options they have- Kulasekhara useful only with the new ball, Eranga - too raw but with some promise, Welegedera avaerages 40 as a strike bowler, Prasad -ditto. I think Ponting wasted a golden opportunity to regain his form. So the batting order should read- Cowan, Warner, Clarke, Hussey M, Watson, Hussey D/ Bailey, Wade

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (December 4, 2012, 10:10 GMT)

Surely its time to get one player from the shield leaders in Bulls in the team. I have seen a few of Khawaja's games this year and he is the man to replace ponting. Did not look out of place in his appearances at test level, just didn't have enough time to establish himself. His technique does not need to be redone(like hughes), he just needs the confidence of the selectors and the captain. He is a solid number three, just like amla. Hughes will be found out again against top quality bowling. Khawaja has made plenty when the going is tough. He is our man, and if given the chance can become a rock of our batting lineup. He was asked to improve his fielding and get more aggression in his batting and both these aspects have been very much improved this year. Ben Rohrer commented the same after playing him on the weekend in the Ryobi game where Khawaja got man of the match 85 for the Bulls.

Posted by D.V.C. on (December 4, 2012, 10:05 GMT)

Watson averages 43 opening, 28 at 3, 24 at 6, and 14 at 7. What might he average at 4? My guess 26.

Posted by PFEL on (December 4, 2012, 10:00 GMT)

New batsmen in the side should come in at 6. It is that simple. Bringing in new players at no. 3 and having Clarke/Hussey at 5/6 is idiotic and a proven faliure.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (December 4, 2012, 9:59 GMT)

I think the Pakistan born lad is the best up n coming aussie batsman, no doubt. Maybe Clarke wont hide behind the top order anymore too...

Posted by Yevghenny on (December 4, 2012, 9:51 GMT)

As an englishman I couldn't understand why they had Warner opening with Watson coming in at 3 - it just looked wrong, but I guess it was down to Ricky Ponting dropping down the order. Watson at 4 is a better bet, but to be fair I still only think he's a number 6

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 9:47 GMT)

Watson for mine has to be shifted permanently down to no. 5 betwen Clarke and Hussey. Having him playing at 3 causes too many disruptions when he is always in and out of the team and as noted he is not really good against the moving ball. The no.3 position has always been a position of strength and reliablity in Australian cricket and it needs to get back to that..... @Meety, i think the Hobart test is next week? ;) So its hard to assume we will be winning! Anyway, Ronnie is out for the summer, I thought?

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 9:45 GMT)

@Hoggy_1989, here's the answer mate, it's clear that whilst he may be our best batsman at the moment, he wouldn't be the best at first drop, his defence can still be lacking & fronting up to the new ball all the time isn't what he's there for, as early as he has been coming in, the ball has still lost shine & second change bowlers are on, so the pressure is not as high, his attacking game is perfect for the number 5 role when the spinners are in operation, possibly 4 but no higher...

Posted by gerrardl on (December 4, 2012, 9:44 GMT)

Clarke should bat at 3. Best player, best technique, important position. But he won't. He only wants to bat against an older ball and tired attacks where the table is set for him. Sad... Punter manned up! Went in at 3 when he knew he was the best bat in his team. Clarke should do the same but he won't. Would be much easier getting a new man in at 5 than at 3. Coming in at 1/0 against a new ball shouldn't be down to a new man. Get your best bat in to steady the ship or know how to kick on when coming in at 1/150.

Also... watson is an opening bat! Drop Cowan... he had moments against the SAFFAS but really he is not good enough to perform consistently at this level. Watto and Warner to open, Clarke at 3. This is a lot more solid than what they have now.

Posted by hycIass on (December 4, 2012, 9:40 GMT)

I said at the start of the season that i wasn't sure about Khawaja and in particular his issues regards his trigger movements in his technique. Khawaja continues to prove me wrong, i was not sure about him earlier in the season but he is scoring runs and that's all can be asked of him. NSW won the toss on Sunday and put the Bulls into bat as it rained in the morning and there was a bit of juice in the pitch but he handled the tough conditions with the familiar ease he has shown all season. Again he got runs in tough conditions to show that he is exactly the batsman we need in our top order given our

familiar top order collapses. Hopefully he gets a big one in the chairman's X1 to cement his spot in the Australian team at

number 4, he is the best man for the job.

Posted by Mary_786 on (December 4, 2012, 9:18 GMT)

I think this is a good move because the man best suited for the number 3 position is Khawaja, this is where he bats for his state and he has the best technique to face both spin and fast bowling. Hughes is a natural opener and to bring him in at 3 will show signs of favoritism which I hope does not happen. Our goal is to win the ashes and Khawaja is a must for that.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

Clarke & Hussey must move up. Watson could open with Cowan and have Warner at 3 or have Warner-Cowan open with David Hussey at 3 and Watson at 6. Either Warner or David Hussey would be a great no 3.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 9:10 GMT)

Some people keep banging on for Shaun Marsh who has a Shield average of 10 this year whilst his average against India last year was 3.

Posted by pat_one_back on (December 4, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

Hughes & Khawaja to open (L/R), Warner in at 3. Sorry but I just don't think Cowan is naturally talented enough in this company. Warner needs to see a wicket down to temper his enthusiasm, he can pace himself when it's required (Hobart) and he can certainly counter like a No 3. Watson to 4 (Kallis) Clarke keeps 5 (AB's home in our last rebuild) Hussey at 6 to support Clarke and bat through with the tail. Watson to drop to 6 when Huss moves on. Would love to see Paine or even Hadds back, Wade's chance has come too early and he's no technique for Eng, too much hitting across the line. Our bowlers need to focus less on bowling full tilt and more on full length, Kallis few overs were devastating for smarts not pace!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 8:38 GMT)

Taking Ponting out of the lineup and dropping Watto down the order may end up being a blessing. The only real question mark is against Warner - he just doesn't seem to have the technique or temperament to make it at test level.

Posted by GCKelly on (December 4, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

Move Clarke up to 3 and bring in George Bailey to bat 4 or 5. If Watson is going to be used as an all-rounder, he needs to bat lower than 3.

Posted by nulla on (December 4, 2012, 8:25 GMT)

Clarke is in the form of his life. Even Ian Chappell last season wrote that Clarke should fill the 3 spot. But, as a selector, he gets to choose his batting spot. But why do we have to be 3 for 100 or less before Clarke shows his prowess. Now, I am sure there are people who will name Steve Waugh & Allan Border who as captains, batted down the order. Prior to the captaincy, Waugh had 8 tests at 3 & Border had 21 tests at 3. Sure, most of their career was done the order but they had to gave it a go before it was established they were not suited. Clarke has had one innings( for 25). We are not getting good starts & the captain needs to step & lead in all areas.

Posted by neil99 on (December 4, 2012, 8:10 GMT)

This is a mistake. Blooding a new batsman at the pivotal no.3 spot is very difficult, plus Clarke and Hussey at nos 5 and 6 is not the best use of their talents. New blood should come in at 6. It's a tried and tested method for Aus.

Posted by chrisriemers on (December 4, 2012, 8:03 GMT)

Simple solution would be for Clarke to move up to number 04 and let Watto bat at number 05 since he is seen as an allrounder. Watto and Hussy batting late down the order can cause a lot damage to the opposition with some fast scoring.The ideal solution right now is to let Khawaja take the number 03 position as that would provide a calm and stable approach against Hughes attacking approach.

Posted by TopC on (December 4, 2012, 7:49 GMT)

About time too...Clarke at 4 and Watson at 5 or 6 and BOWLING...and playing Shield cricket to harden-up.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 7:48 GMT)

Well I think The selection panel should not forget to Include CALLUM FERGUSON he is a formidable Mid-order batsmen like Ricky Ponting and has very good technique as well...l I hope the selectors Include him in hobart test.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 7:48 GMT)

According to me lineup should be: Warner, Cowen, Bailey, Watto, Clarke, Hussy, Waddy, Johnson, Hilfenhaus, Starc and Siddle.

Bailey have good skills as test level req.


Posted by ravi_hari on (December 4, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

I think the frequent changes and injuries have taken a toll on Watson. He has been out of colour this year and another shift in position will cause more worries. I feel Watson should open with Warner and Cowan should be the No.3. A right-left combination will be very useful against countries like SriLanka and India. Even English bowlers will not be very happy bowling to this combo. A left hander at No.3 and then the new comer and Clarke and Hussey makes it a perfect lineup. Wade is getting into the groove. The bowling should be with Siddle, Starc and Hilfy. They need a better spinner as Lyon failed to deliver in Adelaide and Perth when the team needed him the most. If they can get a spinner allrounder it will be very useful. Their real test will be against India before they venutre out for the Ashes. If they dont settle down by that time it will be a very long climb up the ladder. Getting to No. 1 seems a distant dream as of now. Clarke needs to act a little tough now.

Posted by guptahitesh4u on (December 4, 2012, 7:39 GMT)

Aus has a good bench strength for bowlers, however their options in batting seems to be very limited

Posted by HawK89 on (December 4, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

Phil Hughes got all squared up against the south african attack during the warm up matches prior to the tests not long ago. How in this short span of time, can he be a contender for the no. 3 spot?

Posted by chippymunk on (December 4, 2012, 7:36 GMT)

The number three heading into Sri Lanka, India the back to back must be Khawaja. He is fantastic in bowler friendly conditions, as must be given a chance to really settle into the side b4 the ashes start. He will be a long term number 3 like amla, just needs a good go at it. Really performed well this season, as has played on difficult pitches. Well suited to the position, and can hold an innings together. Hughes is an opener, is still honing a new technique, not to be exposed too soon, or he will fail and confidence will be shot. He will have to bide his time. Squad for Sri Lanka should be Cowan, Warner, Khawaja, Watson(vc), Clarke(c), M Hussey, Wade(wk), Johnson, Siddle, Lyon, Cutting and Starc. Cutting deserves a shot. Is a tall quick bowler and can really bat. Somehow fallen off the radar, maybe playing for the wrong state.

Posted by Meety on (December 4, 2012, 7:22 GMT)

My only concern is that @ #3 all our candidates are Lefties, with two openers also Lefties. I really think that you need to scramble opposition bowlers with some left & right combos (sounds like boxing). I strongly agree that Clarke should stay where he is in the batting line up & all other positions are negotiable. I would like Huss @ #4 & Watto #6, but that is more lefties at the top. I am leaning towards Hughes as being the next man into the batting line up, & have no problems with him batting @ #3. IF, our middle order is our batting strength, there is no problems with having a 3rd opener to try & blunt bowling attacks. For Boxing Day, the side I'd like to see is 1. Warner, 2. Cowan, 3. Hughes, 4. Watson, 5. Clarke (c), 6. Hussey, 7. Wade, 8. Cutting, 9. Siddle, 10. Starc, 11. Lyon - 12th Hilfy. At the SCG, I'd consider Maxwell in for Watson, for Tassie, I'd bring Hilfy in for Siddle, & maybe swap Starc for MJ & Ali Mac a run for Cutting. All assuming we are winning.

Posted by PhaniBhaskar24 on (December 4, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

Aus- the team once i hated most for their sheer dominance, these days am really liking their approach. They are making clear statments, really shaping the domestic cricket, a real good captain...however, they should also start finding a replacement for Mr.Cricket Mr.Huss..i don't much cricket left in him & say if he is injured before Ashes...Arthur will have real problem... the best time to test is series against Srilanka ( very low in confidence now) sure, can't test against India in India!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

A better line up would be to have Clarke at 4 , Hussey at 5 and Watson at 6. Watson is pretty good against spinners and his vulnerability is to the moving ball. Clarke's reluctance to move above 5 is strange.The reason Australia have struggled so much recently with their batting is because there are no longer starts of 1/200 and 2/300 like Langer, Hayden and Ponting provided. Can't expect Clarke and Hussey to have 300 run partnerships every time they come in at 3/40

Posted by Blakey on (December 4, 2012, 7:13 GMT)

And Watson's slide continues. He is not good enough (consistent, able to occupy the crease) for a top 5 spot. He had the perfect opportunity yesterday to show us he had some resilience/ability. Kahwaja/Hughes to 3, Clarke and Hussey up one spot each.

Posted by matty_d on (December 4, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

Khawaja has proven himself, he must be given another opportunity

Posted by DylanBrah on (December 4, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

I'm guessing Khawaja comes in then, and Hughes will get his chance when Cowan is eventually dropped; hopefully sooner rather than later.

Posted by wix99 on (December 4, 2012, 7:06 GMT)

I think Clarke should move to No. 4. Then Watson could bat at No. 5, a position that would enable him to bowl more.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (December 4, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

Pick the in-form batsman to bat at 3 who is leading the Sheffield Sheild run tally at the moment. Long-term I would rather see Clarke at 4 and Watson at 5.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 6:59 GMT)

I'm sure Shane's a good bloke, but , as a bat he has hit 2 centuries and averages under 37. Slightly better as a bowler but he is still only picking up roughly one wicket an innings @ just under 30. Throw in to the mix his propensity to break down at the drop of a hat and he looks like a very risky prospect to allow yourself the luxury of a 4th seamer. I'm still not convinced. I hope like hell he proves me wrong, but he still has a bit to do and time is marching on.

Posted by AngryAngy on (December 4, 2012, 6:55 GMT)

Well! Isn't this exciting!

Posted by SamRoy on (December 4, 2012, 6:53 GMT)

If Arthur thinks that Warner is going to be a consistent run scorer for Australia that is not going to happen. He is the sort of player who is going to give a fast start a quick 20 or 30 and get out. Sometimes he is going to fail and occasionally about once a series or so he is going to get a big score and take the game away from the opposition. That is the sort of player he is. Sehwag and Gilchrist were similar sort of players although a bit more consistent than Warner. Warner will learn with time to be more successful but Australia need to be a bit patient with him. For a start don't expect him to be a Taylor, Slater, Hayden or Langer (i.e. a consistent run getter) .

Posted by Hoggy_1989 on (December 4, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

Here's a better question: If a team's best batsman is supposed to bat No. 3...why on Earth hasn't anyone said to Michael Clarke, "Hey you, bat 3 already!"

Posted by arkkrish on (December 4, 2012, 6:46 GMT)

I think watson should move well down to no.6 position. with clarke at no.4 and hussey at no.5. I hope Shaun Marsh gets a chance at no.3.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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Dec 23, 2014 (19:10 local | 08:10 GMT | 03:10 EST | 02:10 CST | 00:10 PST)
3rd Test: Australia v India at Melbourne
Dec 26-30, 2014 (10:30 local | 23:30 GMT | 18:30 EST | 17:30 CST | 15:30 PST)
Scorchers v Melb Reneg at Perth
Dec 26, 2014 (16:10 local | 08:10 GMT | 03:10 EST | 02:10 CST | 00:10 PST)
Syd Thunder v Syd Sixers at Sydney
Dec 27, 2014 (19:10 local | 08:10 GMT | 03:10 EST | 02:10 CST | 00:10 PST)
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News | Features Last 3 days