Sri Lanka in Australia 2012-13

Contenders to replace Ricky Ponting

Over the next few days, Australia's selectors need to decide who should replace Ricky Ponting in the Test team for the series against Sri Lanka. ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over the leading candidates

Brydon Coverdale

December 4, 2012

Comments: 73 | Text size: A | A

Phillip Hughes shoulders arms, Australia A v South Africans, Sydney, 3rd day, November 4, 2012
Phillip Hughes: "I have worked on one thing ... but I'm not going to go into it" © Getty Images
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Phillip Hughes, 24 (South Australia)
First-class career: 6783 runs at 45.52, 20 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 518 runs at 51.80, 1 century

The man most likely to win a call-up, Hughes has form, Test experience and youth on his side. He has already shown that he can score runs at Test level - three centuries in his 17 Tests - but the jump up in class also exposed some of batting flaws. Last summer, he could not stop edging catches to the cordon when the fast men angled the ball across him and having been dropped from the Test side a couple of times already, if he wins a third chance he will need to provide more consistency. But the sheer volume of runs Hughes has scored - 20 first-class hundreds at the age of 24 is a remarkable tally - cannot be ignored, and he would be capable of slotting in at No.3. "I have probably been the most consistent player in Shield and one-day cricket this season," Hughes said on Tuesday. "And I know if I did get the nod, I would be very confident. I feel like I'm a lot better player than 12 months ago. I have worked on one thing ... but I'm not going to go into it. It has improved my game all around the park, I'm scoring in different areas and I feel like when the bowlers are bowling straighter, I can play my leg side shots a lot better than I did 12 months ago."

Usman Khawaja, 25 (Queensland)
First-class career: 4045 runs at 43.03, 11 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 438 runs at 39.81, 1 century

Like Hughes, Khawaja has had a taste of Test cricket, and like Hughes he is expected to return to the outfit at some point. Also like Hughes, Khawaja moved from New South Wales during the off-season in a bid to reboot his career - Hughes moved to Adelaide, Khawaja to Brisbane. His 138 against Tasmania on a Bellerive Oval pitch that was a minefield for every other batsman was the standout innings of the Sheffield Shield so far this season, and he has another chance to impress the selectors when he captains the CA Chairman's XI against the Sri Lankans later this week. But aside from that one century, Khawaja's problem recently has been a struggle to turn his starts into triple figures. During his 2012 county season for Derbyshire and his Shield campaign this summer he has passed fifty 11 times, but only twice has gone on to score a century. All the same, Khawaja looks a long-term Test prospect and would add some steadiness to a top four that will feature two dashers, David Warner and Shane Watson.


Alex Doolan drives during his innings of 161, Australia A v South Africans, Sydney, 2nd day, November 3, 2012
A composed batsman with a sound technique, Alex Doolan is enjoying his breakout season © Getty Images
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Alex Doolan, 27 (Tasmania)
First-class career: 2311 runs at 39.16, 5 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 409 runs at 58.42, 1 century

At the start of the season, few people would have expected Doolan to figure in discussions for the Test team. But his unbeaten 161 for Australia A against the South Africans in Sydney catapulted him into contention, and although he lost out to Quiney ahead of the Gabba Test, he will no doubt be talked about at meetings of John Inverarity's selection panel. A composed batsman with a sound technique, Doolan is enjoying his breakout season and a Test call-up would be more likely further down the track, if he continues to pile up the runs for Tasmania. Like Ponting, Doolan is from Launceston and his state captain George Bailey was impressed when Ponting and Doolan batted together earlier in the season against a powerful Victoria attack. "When those two were going together he didn't look outclassed; when I was batting with Ricky it felt like we were playing two different sports, but Dools and he were just on another level," Bailey said last month. "He is a classical player - quite beautiful to watch actually. It has been said a few times he looks a bit like Martin Love."

Rob Quiney, 30 (Victoria)
First-class career: 3101 runs at 36.48, 7 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 68 runs at 22.66, 0 centuries

If the first-out, first-in argument was applied, Quiney would be the logical man to replace Ponting, having played in the first two Tests against South Africa. But his failures in those matches, particularly his pair in Adelaide, where he edged behind the wicket in both innings on a pitch that other batsmen adored, must have dropped him a few places down in the pecking order. The Australians liked his presence around the team and he offered some real dynamism in the field, but the likelihood is that if he is to earn another chance at Test cricket it will need to come through big runs at Shield level when the first-class season resumes after the Big Bash League.

Callum Ferguson, 28 (South Australia)
First-class career: 4295 runs at 36.09, 8 centuries
Sheffield Shield 2012-13: 463 runs at 42.09, 1 century

A serious knee injury suffered during the 2009 Champions Trophy final came at just the wrong time for Ferguson, who was establishing himself in the ODI side and showing the selectors the kind of technique that could work at Test level. He missed the entire 2009-10 summer due to the injury and had battled to regain his best form, until this season. Ferguson is second on the Shield run tally behind Hughes this summer, and is beginning to show the kind of consistency the selectors wanted from him. A call-up now is unlikely, but a big end to the summer will place him firmly back in the frame for Australia's tours of India and England.

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

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Posted by AKS286 on (December 7, 2012, 14:24 GMT)

@kunal saxena if you close look at the kallis form and his fitness no one even thought of his retirement for upcoming 3-5 yrs. you see only 3000 runs SRT is looking at his form, fitness & 3-5 more years. man he bats in ODI & T20 too. and a 4th pacer of african deadly barrage. only 7 centuries behind and look at the match difference 34 & innining is 50. multiply 34 and the avg 56.92 it gets 2000 runs + 3-5 yrs of more cric. kallis is the greatest cricketer in the world.

Posted by   on (December 7, 2012, 9:32 GMT)

@ AKS286 dude Kallis is 37 and abt 3000+ runs away unlikey that he will reach there . i think sachins record will stay set for quite some time to come . As a player ( Kallis being an allrounder) he can be even better(in terms of asset to the team) . but as a batsmen no ways , the only other batsmen that can be up with sachin are lara , and richards.

Posted by AKS286 on (December 6, 2012, 18:12 GMT)

SRT is waiting for kallis, bcoz kallis is the only threat to his records. after kallis SRT will..

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 20:32 GMT)

Joe Burns is on the up, keep his momentum going.

Posted by CricketMaan on (December 5, 2012, 14:45 GMT)

Thankfully in India, we won't be asking 'Who after SRT?' yet. Did you see his 76 today, i'm guessing another 100 Tests (provided India play that many). though Good Luck Aussies!!

Posted by AKS286 on (December 5, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

the whole world knows that Haddin is beter than wade. but haddin is the victim of clarke's senior axing policy some examples are katich, hauritz, haddin, ponting. adam voges is the perfect man to fill that spot not only in test but as well as in odi. warner is not suitable for test cricket. test- cowan, hughes, watson, clarke, voges, hussey, haddin, MJ, pattinson, beer, siddle/Hilfy.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (December 5, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

@Othello22 is correct,Khawaja is the right choice, give Hughes more time to avoid the NZ failure again. elle19 makes a good case too. You can't just look purely at the stats and say Hughes over Khawaja. I'm a fan of Hughes and think he will get it right (he may need a bit more time, not sure), at the moment and given his performance on bowler friendly wickets I think that Khawaja should get the nod for the number 3 spot.

Posted by   on (December 5, 2012, 11:05 GMT)

It is a massive hole for selectors to fill. I would go with Fergusson or Shaun Marsh. both are highly talented for this level. Selectors dont have to make Fergusson wait more, it has already been 3 years since he is out of the side. Where is Paine? Mathew wade is not too bad, but Tim's much better keeper-batsman than Wade is. this will be my Eleven against SL: Watson, Warner, Fergusson, clark, Hussey, Marsh, Paine, Johnson, Starc, Siddle and lyon.

Posted by Meety on (December 5, 2012, 9:49 GMT)

@Wefinishthis on (December 05 2012, 04:54 AM GMT) - Burns has suffered a bit by being yo-yo'd up & down the order - the same with Neville. I would of liked Neville to play against the Lankans in the tour match instead of Whiteman. As far as our KP is concerned, he can't get into the NSW team atm (despite NSW batting looking shakey atm), he is one to keep an eye on though!

Posted by Fleming_Mitch on (December 5, 2012, 8:30 GMT)

@Moppa is on the ball. 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 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.Must be Khwaaja for 3.

Posted by elle119 on (December 5, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

Please please please NSP, do not revisit the Hughes debacle again. Given the circumstances surrounding his last dumping from the team i.e. c Guptill b Martin, you would think that the selectors would demand a much longer period of performance before barking up that tree again. You can try and argue the case for Hughes by saying that he is the leading run scorer in the FC this season. Well, the first time he was selected he was also scoring runs in the domestic league. Barring a decent performance in SA, he was then dominated by England. In my opinion the domestic league is not as good a yardstick for predictor of international performance as it once was; many other factors should be accounted for now as well, such as history of international performances. If you decide to reinvest time in Hughes, you have to give him another 2-3 tests of opportunity, and if it doesn't work out for Hughes this time, it would be a real shame and waste and probably mentally scar him for his career.

Posted by abyrao on (December 5, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

What happened to Shaun Marsh, he showed such promise and how did he get into such a miserable rut? Khwaja, Quiney and Hughes are tested and have failed they should think of Fergusson.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (December 5, 2012, 4:54 GMT)

@Jason_Bray and @CricHorizon are correct. Khawaja has to be the man for the number 3 spot. 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. For the bowling Siddle must come back in the side and i would look at Cutting too

Posted by Wefinishthis on (December 5, 2012, 4:54 GMT)

Agree totally with Meety's summary, it has to be between Hughes and Khawaja, with Hughes getting the nod, however I'd like to add from left field that Joe Burns (yes his last few games were poor) and Peter Nevill (yes he's a keeper) have shown quality and if you really wanted to take a punt then I wouldn't mind the selectors taking a risk on Kurtis Patterson for a home SL series. Wade was a disappointment behind the stumps as well costing us the wickets of Smith and Du Plessis which changed the outcome of the series. If he doesn't improve, I think he should become a backup to Nevill. But where's all our talented right-handers? Clarke and Watson.. that's it! Cowan, Warner, Hughes, Khawaja, Hussey and Wade are all lefties.

Posted by Mary_786 on (December 5, 2012, 4:25 GMT)

@Corey Drew is correct, under Lehman's coaching Khawaja looks much more aggressive and playing with intend. Selectors asked that he get more aggression in his game and improve his fielding and he has done both with bulk. I would have gone for Hughes for the opening slot but given we are talking about 3 there are few better young batsman then Khawaja at this position as he has been successful in this position in all formats for NSW and Qld.

Posted by othello22 on (December 5, 2012, 4:20 GMT)

It has to be Khawaja. Hughes FC record is excellent but he has a habit of failing badly when elevated to Test cricket due to his bizarre technique. He should get another chance but he needs to be reminded he's already had 2 and blown them both - Make him work hard to get back in so he makes the most of it. Besides which, he's an opener, not a first drop. Khawaja is a natural number 3, he was unlucky to get dropped in the first place and his technique is good against the moving ball so he is the only logical choice. Quiney was unlucky but in the end he didn't take his chance so someone else should get a crack. Ferguson and Doolan both averaging in the 30's, enough said.

Posted by .Raina on (December 5, 2012, 3:54 GMT)

It looks like that finally Khawaja may have gained some confidence in the eyes of the selectors. He has always been a great talent, like all others short-listed here. But practically he has always needed to work the hardest to get some sort of a break. Hughes has that x-factor and should be a part of the AUS test team sooner or later.He is un-orthodox, with a home-grown technique, and one could have hundreds of issues with the way he plays; but he scores runs.....and that too on any surface and against any attack. He just needs a start and a confident head. All the noise around him has made him a bit fragile mentally. At the end of the day, who so ever gets a chance needs to grab it with both hands and avoid ending up like Brad Hodge, David Hussey and other 'would-be' greats that missed the 'international' boat.....

Posted by kensohatter on (December 5, 2012, 3:10 GMT)

Doolan and Ferguson for my money are a summer too soon but definitley longer term prospects. Id stick with Quiney for the one Sri Lankan series. He just has such a good technique that the Australian selectors need to know for sure what he is capable of. Hughes should only be selected in the event of a Warner injury because these two whilst explosive and at times devastating dont provide a stable top order to allow clarke and hussey to dominate later.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 5, 2012, 2:47 GMT)

Also what has happened to Paine since his finger has healed. I'm still not convinced that Wade is our best choice keeper, the two juggled stumpings (one missed) off Warner and Clarke were particularly worrying.

Posted by disco_bob on (December 5, 2012, 2:44 GMT)

I've yet to see any new Test prospect treated as harshly as Khawaja has been treated. My last memory of him is being run out by Ponting after looking set. To see the chances that Quiney, Hughes, and others have been given, I am mystefied why Khawaja has not been given a decent run.

Posted by Gordo85 on (December 5, 2012, 2:31 GMT)

I would go for Dolan or Ferguson based on the current Shield season. Cosgrove doesn't get a mention proberly due to the fact that he is out of position opening the batting when infact he is not an opener. If you compare stats with Khawaja and Cosgrove they are pretty simular but one is slightly higher.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (December 5, 2012, 2:21 GMT)

Its obvious, Hughes for Cowan, Khawaja for Punter. They are the 2 best young batsman going aroudn at present

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 5, 2012, 2:11 GMT)

George Bailey - successful in T20s, more successful in ODIs, has been going from strength to strength since surprisingly handed the T20 captaincy on his international debut and is the obvious choice for selection. Forget about the others. They don't have the temperament.

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

Ferguson, what a joke. Why do they keep going on about him. 8 FC centuries in 128 innings (6.25%), Hughes 20 in 158 (12.7%). Its a no brainer. Ferguson does not have a good FC average. 1 shield century and 1 50 this year doesnt mean he is the best out there. Does he have beer flavoured sweat or something?

Posted by arcticbeatle on (December 5, 2012, 0:57 GMT)

Anyone but Hughes. He has major technical problems that will be exposed against high class attacks. He may batter Sri Lanka around, but he will get found out against England.

Posted by Moppa on (December 4, 2012, 23:43 GMT)

Incidentally, none of the five listed here were on the Australia A tour to England (I don't count drafting Hughes in from county cricket), which shows how inconsistent the selectors have been with our batting stocks, and how poor that tour was preparing for Ashes 2013. Davis, Klinger, Forrest, Bailey and Cooper are, surely, miles from a baggy green. Conversely, if Quiney was really the next batsman in line at the start of the summer, why didn't he get a trip to England? I admit Alex Doolan was not on my radar last summer, but in hindsight he would have been a much better Aust A selection than the five I mentioned earlier. He's been around long enough that if his technique is as good as people say, the selectors might have noticed this and taken him to England...?

Posted by UNSW.Slasher on (December 4, 2012, 23:08 GMT)

Ian Chappell made a very good point when suggesting selectors need to keep the next captain in mind as they look to the future. Tim Payne was in line until his finger injury. The selection of Khawaja as captain of the Chairman's XI could well be a big hint that they want him in the side to groom as Clarke's replacement and have him in the side. Given Clarke's back issues, there are doubts he will play beyond 35. The next captain is not a current 28-30 year old. They are not going to pick three dashers in the top four.

Posted by hycIass on (December 4, 2012, 22:07 GMT)

@CricHorizon is correct, Khwaaja has to be the man for the number 3 spot.Khawaja looks like a new player under boof, more confident, more attacking and sharp on the field. Would be exciting to see him at 3. Hopefully watson stays on the field longer if he bats at 4 as it will give him more of a rest between innings.

Posted by Nerk on (December 4, 2012, 21:35 GMT)

Khawaja has a good temperament and technique for international cricket. During his time in the Australian team he didn't set the world alight, but on the other hand didn't do too much wrong either, and probably got the raw end of the deal just when he was looking settled. Hughes still edges the ball outside off stump to second slip, he's just doing it slightly less now, once every forth or fifth innings instead of every second one, and has scored a mountain of runs in the Shield and county cricket. I'd like to see Ferguson make the step. He has finally got his head together and batting well, though his style is better suited to down the order rather than number three. Doolan needs more time to develop.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 4, 2012, 21:15 GMT)

I don't get it. None of the players listed above should be any remote chance to play. It should be George Bailey to make his debut. If this is seriously what the selectors are thinking, then I fear for the future of the team. Hopefully this writer is simply out of touch with reality.

Posted by Fareen on (December 4, 2012, 17:54 GMT)

I don't think Hughes should be picked right now. He has a weakness that he keeps on edging balls that's outside the off stump and angling in. It happened with Alastair Cook and he changed his technique and start scoring runs again. Hughes needs to try something like that. Khawaja looked average when he first came in, but he should be a natural pick @ no. 3. I'd go for Ferguson, very talented and can adjust to the international cricket pressure. Also, I seriously think Wade should be dropped in place of either Haddin or Payne.

Posted by NallaBaaba on (December 4, 2012, 17:35 GMT)

Watson is better as an opener. My XI would be 1. Shane Watson 2. David Warner 3. Ed Cowan 4. Hughes 5. Michael Clarke(c) 6. Michael Hussey 7. Wade or Haddin(wk) 8. Peter Siddle 9. Johnson 10. Starc 11. Lyon.

This is the best xi according to me

Posted by debugger on (December 4, 2012, 17:30 GMT)

Whatever happened to the prospects of Peter Forrest? I remember people telling that he was the bright future for Australia in the future. Damn, is he injured???

Posted by Nightwing32 on (December 4, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

Right Khawaja to slot in for Ponting, move Hussey to 4 and Khawaja to 6 so he gets less pressure on him. Hughes if Warner or Cowan messes up, if that happens slot Watto to opener with other player, move Khawaja to 3 and Hughes to 6. For when Hussey retires, Doolan can slot right in. Problem so not solved. It is great that Hughes had a few matches in England and did well. The problem is simply that Australia puts too much pressure on the young players, South Africans let Amla and Kallis get there and look what happened. Whoever is in though I would shield them at 6, so they can bat with freedom and less pressure.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 15:38 GMT)

Mr. Cricket is Prefect...

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 14:56 GMT)

Shaun Marsh could've been the best... Alas ! But Tim Paine really deserves to be in the Australian Test team.

Posted by sawifan on (December 4, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

@RednWhiteArmy... We Aussies thought the same after u guys kept picking Anderson and Bell, over and over and over. Both has very average records (against decent opposition), before they had a good Ashes series. So, past Ashes failure shouldn't come into it. Another interesting point though, seeming u like to add your 2 cents often, both Bell and Anderson seem to have reverted to mediocrity of late, showing they were mere 'flashes in the pan', instead of great players. Anyway, sidetracked, Hughes for sure, Khawja next opportunnity. Hughes runs and tons means he should be giving another shot, especially as he has had his moments in Test before. Lets hope he succeeds for good this time, and doesn't become another Bell/ Anderson, her RednWhite?

Posted by popcorn on (December 4, 2012, 14:39 GMT)

Ed Cowan MUST open.His partner should be Usman Khawaja or Rob Quiney.Whichever of the two is not selected as Opener, should bat at Number 3. Phil Hughes should NEVER be considered again. He has been given two chances . He proved he is a flash in the pan in The Ashes in England 2009,then in New Zealand and his nickname is "caught Guptill bowled Martin" - 4 times, count 'em, 4 times.

Posted by landl47 on (December 4, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

One of the problems is that Australia's next two series are at home against Sri Lanka and away against India. The Sri Lankan bowling isn't too fearsome in Australian conditions so anyone picked is likely to do well. India will prepare slow, low, turning wickets and the technique required to succeed there is quite different from the technique needed in England, Australia or South Africa. Basically that means that the next two series won't offer much help in selecting sides for the back-to-back Ashes series of 2013/14. Hughes and Khawaja played in England in 2012 and the experience has to be useful (Hughes, incidentally, batted at #3 quite often). I'd take Khawaja at this point and give him an extended run. Hughes is younger and still needs more work- he can come in as opener when Cowan has a bad run, as I'm afraid he will before long. Forget guys who are in their late 20s and averaging under 40, they aren't test class.

Posted by AKS286 on (December 4, 2012, 13:12 GMT)

none of these adam voges is the perfect man to fill that spot.

Posted by PrasPunter on (December 4, 2012, 13:03 GMT)

@Zinedine82, that one seems good - except that it is loaded with lefties - I would like to have Doolan as No 3. With his sound technique, will prove to be a good No 3 in the longer run. Just the fear that Hughesy will be exposed by quality bowling attacks like those of Eng and SA.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

Undoubtedly Ferguson has a high class game and the best technique after Clarke and Hussey for India. But I'm sure the selectors will look to blood younger players like Hughes and Khwaja. Seeing it from an Ashes point of view too I feel Ferguson will be a superb pick. Guys like Doolan and Burns although look made for the highest level might not get a chance because of the selectors. God I miss the good old Australian cricket days when you didn't get picked unless you had an average of 50 and atleast 10,000 FC runs, and guys like Hodge, Love, Lehman and Hussey never got picked. India and Australia could maybe create a swapping system the former giving batsmen and taking some quick bowlers. Could be good for World Cricket.

Posted by ozwriter on (December 4, 2012, 12:58 GMT)

khawaja for sure. he is a natural no.3. he is composed, has the technique, temperament and composure.

Posted by Haleos on (December 4, 2012, 12:57 GMT)

Guess we wont see a great no 3 from Oz in the near future unless Hughes gets a chance and proves himself. Dont understand all the fuss about Khwaja. He looks like Badrinath from India. Clueless at the international level.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (December 4, 2012, 12:50 GMT)

@Jason Bray has said it very well. Khawaja got dropped worked on his weakness's and is now scoring aggressively and his fielding looks fantastic. The move to mover under Boof has paid off for him and I think he is the best choice for the number 3 spot. I won't put Hughes down as he is a good batsman but he is our long term opener, Khawaja is the best number 3 in the country. His attitude to improvement is fantastic.

Posted by Zinedine82 on (December 4, 2012, 12:36 GMT)

1.Cowan, 2.Khawaja, 3.Hughes, 4.Clarke, 5.Warner, 6.Watson, 7.Wade, 8.Pattinson, 9.Starc, 10.Siddle, 11.Lyon. I think this would be the best lineup for the ashes and for the future, Cowan and Khawaja have the best technique and temperment to see off the new ball with Warner down the order will give him more chance to play his shots straight away against a softer ball he could do some real damage with watson at 6. Clarke is due to step up to 4... Putland seems to be raking in the wickets, what happened to picking on form?

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 12:16 GMT)

I agree with Varad, Ferguson just about deserves his chance. Quiney's test average is under thirty and that should rule him out. Khawaja is alright but his Sheffield form this year has been way below par, the only way he could get in is with a double century in the XI game. Doolan is great, but is it a bit soon? And Hughes will come back in to the Australia team in a matter of weeks but he has already had two shots at the big time.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 12:15 GMT)

Khawaja has to be right up there. As i have said previously he has taken the tried and tested route of being selected, dropped, improving his game at state level and now being ready to re-enter the international arena as a better player.

Posted by bobagorof on (December 4, 2012, 12:04 GMT)

Vinay Kolhatkar: David Hussey is also woefully out of form. This season he's scored 120 runs at 17, with a top score of 37. He was a classy player in his prime, and should have played Tests, but right now he is looking well past it. Also, at 35 he'd be retiring in a few years, which would mean half the batting order retiring at once. That's why picking a longer-term option (ie under-30) is important.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (December 4, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

These selectors seem willing to stick with promising young batsmen if they show promise. If we had Inverarity back in 2009 Hughes wouldn't have been dropped and he probably would have 8-10 test centuries by now. Sigh..... Hughes by a mile. Hayden was forced to retire so Hughes could be picked, he is that good.

Posted by Fleming_Mitch on (December 4, 2012, 11:21 GMT)

@Corey_Drew i agree with you bud, i am a fan of both Khawaja and Hughes. Hughes for me is a opener and needs more time in shield given the NZ series was less then a year ago but i predict he will be opening for Australia soon. Khawaja has become much more aggressive under Lehman's coaching and does not get bogged down as pointed out by Ben Rohrer after the Bull's win over the Blues in the Ryobi cup on Sunday where Khawaja got 89. His running between the wickets and fielding looks very good too now. I think Khawaja is a much more natural no3 so hopefully he gets the nod.

Posted by Moppa on (December 4, 2012, 11:13 GMT)

@Vinay Kolthakar, D.Hussey doesn't bat three for Victoria and is two years younger than Mike, not four as you state. D.Huss was unlucky, I think he would have done well if picked in the 2010-11 Ashes to replace Marcus North (when Steve Smith was picked), but his chance has passed and his recent first-class form has been nothing to write home about. Khawaja for me, over Hughes, mostly on the grounds that Hughes will be mentally shot if picked and dropped again, so his next chance should be a long-run shot in his preferred spot (opening), not a stop-gap choice at 3. Khawaja can handle 3 long-term and in good form, so gets the nod.

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 11:04 GMT)

watto must open as he averages above 43 where at no. 3, 6 and 7 which is where he has batted in his career he averages below 29. Hughes will make a pretty good no. 3, he is tough but can counter attack. Khawaja at 4 as he is a stroke maker similar to Mark Waugh who batted at 4, leave clarke and hussey at 5 and 6. why change something thats not broken. Sorry no room for Cowan. this gives Australia a left hand/right hand opening partnership

Posted by ooper_cut on (December 4, 2012, 10:51 GMT)

Didn't know the Aussie cupboard was so bare. It was an insult playing Quiney at No.3 and pushing Rickey to 4. But these choices now look terrible, just like the Indian spin resources.

Posted by Beertjie on (December 4, 2012, 10:45 GMT)

If Hughes is picked my bet is he'll score heavily against Sri Lanka ad perhaps even in India. Everyone will then think one of our batting problems is sorted out and we can regain the Ashes. Then in July 2013... I think you make a good point about Swann, @sifter132 on (December 04 2012, 09:04 AM GMT). To counter that there needs to be left-right bats sprinkled through the top 6 or 7. Doolan may be one to join Clarke, Watson and possibly Paine. It's real tricky trying to win a series in India while thinking of the right combination for the Ashes but that's the challenge of re-building.

Posted by Meety on (December 4, 2012, 10:44 GMT)

@smudgeon on (December 04 2012, 07:55 AM GMT) - I don't think Doolan is quite ready & I think another season in Shield is what's needed for him. I think it would be a good move if he gets to tour soon. For a Tassie bias - why not Cosgrove? He's batting on some green monsters at Hobart of late! @ sifter132 on (December 04 2012, 09:04 AM GMT) - I agree that the mox of left v right is looking like getting too Left handed. I think Burns should be considered, (if you were wanting a RHB to take on Swann), he has been shunted around the order a bit of late though. @Varad Chatvedi - I am a fan of Ferguson, but there has to be a reason his FC stats are mid-30s!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 10:15 GMT)

George Bailey should be given few chances. He looked very good in recent t20 matches.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (December 4, 2012, 10:14 GMT)

Yesterday Taylor, Ian Chappell, Slater and Healy all slotted Khawaja in their Hobart test teams and for a good reason. Given how tough the pitches have been tough to bat on for shield only the likes of Khawaja and Doolan have got runs. Khawaja's top scores in shield came against Tasmania on a green deck where he scored 138 and Tasmania got 95 and 140 which included batsman asuch as Doolan, Bailey and Cosgrove. He also got 2 half centuries against a star NSW attack(Starc, Hazelwood, Bollinger, Copeland, O Keefe) in Bulls win at the AB Oval where both teams scored less then 200. He also got 90 in his first match on an absolute green Gabba deck against the Redbacks. I am not in favour of absolute green decks but at least it gives an indication of who can handle swing bowling which is what we will face in the ashes, so for me it has to be Khawaja.

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

Hughes or Khawaja would be who id choose from for a long term replacement, Hard to pick between the two, Hughes scores a lot of runs but Khawaja also scores well but also he looks to have a more solid technique , especially in defence. But runs on the board count so its going to be a tough call

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 10:02 GMT)

I think it has to be between Kiwajha and Hughes. I love watching Hughes play and he has made huge technique improvements this year. Kiwajha's problem was getting bogged done and not scoring. Since moving to QLD and being coached by Australia's best coach, Darren Lehmann, he has worked out how to score. I think Kiwajha is a much more natural no3 so he would get the nod. Like Doolan this year and also a right hander but needs mo consistency. Hughes to open by end of series though. Surely Warner needs to be more consistent?

Posted by Mary_786 on (December 4, 2012, 9:46 GMT)

@Pras_Punter agree with you mate, Khawaja all the way for the number 3 spot. For me the biggest improvement in Khawaja's game has been his fielding and running between the wickets. In the Ryobi games I have seen intend and urgency in his game which was missing last year. Hopefully he continues to improve and work on these aspects which the selectors gave him as we need this young man in the team as he will add stability to our top order. It was good to see all the commentators(Taylor, Slater, Chappell, Healy, Waugh) put Khawaja in their team. If a opening position was vacant i would say Hughes, but given its 3 it has to be Khawaja.

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

After having a very brief look at the contenders, i can saftely say they Ashes will be 5-0 to England.

Posted by hycIass on (December 4, 2012, 9:43 GMT)

I am a fan of Hughes but Khawaja deserves the number 3 spot. Hughes is a opener and it wouldn't be fair to give the number 3 spot to Hughes when Khawaja has been batting there for his state for all his playing career.Khawaja is a fantastic talent who scored 138 against Tasmania when they as a team only got 95. And that Tasmanian team included the likes of Bailey, Paine, Cosgrove, and Doolan. He also top scored against NSW which included a star NSW attack of Starc, Hazelwood, Bollinger and Copeland. For me the most impressive improvement has been his running between the wickets and fielding which everyone has seen in the Ryobi cup. A big score in the Chairman's X1 game and he will be picked as Punter's replacement which is well deserved.

Posted by wix99 on (December 4, 2012, 9:41 GMT)

I don't think Phil Hughes will get the nod this time. He may well take David Warner's spot in the near future though.

Usman Khawaja is the obvious choice at the moment.

Posted by Masud_BITK on (December 4, 2012, 9:24 GMT)

Usman Khawaza is the best suit for No 3 Position whereas Alex Doolan is hia close competitor. If someone sees Uzzie playing last Ashes or any tough game, then you realize how suitable he is on this spot. Doolan makes himself ready for this position this year just bit behind than Khawaza. On the other hands, Phillip Hughes and Rob Quiney need some mental toughness as of Khawaza. I better place Callum Ferguson in the 3rd choice whereas Phill would be the last man in.

Posted by PrasPunter on (December 4, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

Khawaja all the way - mature , composed and capable of playing crucial innings - like the 65 he scored against SA in Joburg when we chased down 310 ). Please get him in. Go Aus !! God bless !!!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 9:11 GMT)

Nonsensical choices, all of the above. David Hussey bats at 3 for Vic and has a first class batting avg of 55, probably the best in Australia. Plus he bowls spin. He is 4 years younger than Michael but selectors are idiotically looking around for a chronological age under 30. DH should have replaced Ponting at 3 three years ago or at least got the no 6 spot ahead of silly choices like Steve Smith. Watson should bat at 6 so Clarke and Mike Hussey can move up one spot.

Posted by sifter132 on (December 4, 2012, 9:04 GMT)

With Graeme Swann on the horizon for the Ashes next year, I think Aussies will be keen to slot a right hander in if they can. If Hughes/Khawaja/Quiney gets picked they will have 5 lefties in the top 7. I'd go for Doolan, and tell Hughes and Khawaja that they are next in line if they can sustain their good start through the entire season.

Posted by peeeeet on (December 4, 2012, 8:17 GMT)

Definitely a toss up between Hughes and Khawaja. Wouldn't pick Doolan until a consistent season, and Quiney just looked out of his depth. Ferguson also needs consistency. I would like to see him back in the one day team. Before his injury he was soon great thing in the ODI side. Then maybe he could take the Michael Clarke route to test cricket

Posted by smudgeon on (December 4, 2012, 7:55 GMT)

My heart (er, Tasmanian Bias, I mean!) wants it to be Doolan. He had an excellent start to the season, his technique is quite solid, and I drove past his mum's house the other day (small place, Lonny). My head tells me to flip a coin over Khawaja and Hughes, who have both done as much as they can this season to press their cases. I'd say Hughes has the edge on domestic form, but like most people who saw him last summer against the Kiwis, I'd be nervous if I saw his name in the XI. As I've always said, though: Hughes is still young and despite his poor performances (amongst some excellent knocks) at the top level, his domestic record is hard to ignore. He has time to iron out those flaws in his technique, which it sounds like he's been working hard on. Ussie, I think might get his chance (if not here) in a rejigged batting lineup when Hussey retires. Interesting times ahead! Can't wait to see who the selectors go with, and how they deal with the next level.

Posted by Meety on (December 4, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

*Hughes is my preferred option, batting @ #3. He is the most consistantly good batsmen in the Shield & is still young enuff to improve. *Khawaja will one day earn an extended run in the Oz side (probably very soon) & I think he will cement a spot & do very well, but I am leaning towards Hughes atm. As good as he has been in the generally low-scoring matches he has played in, he is still barely averaging 40. (Albeit it is a very note-worthy 40) *Doolan is interesting, he has had a taste of Intertnational cricket with the Tour match, IMO rather he be kept in the Shield this year & maybe asked to tour India or England. *Quinney - nope! Tough luck about the hook shot at the Gabba, 2 metres either side of Steyn & it was a SIX! His window has closed for Tests, but I think he could be worthy of an ODI gig. *Ferguson, IMO is fantastic, but has underachieved. I think the only way he can should be selected is via great ODI batting ala Martyn, otherwise he is an unlucky version of S Marsh!

Posted by   on (December 4, 2012, 7:25 GMT)

Guys, its time Callum Ferguson be given a chance at this level. He is a damm good player and he can slot between Clarke & Hussey. Watto can stay at 3.

He might not have heavy domestic stats to back him overall ( though this yr has been good) but I think he has the talent to survive & prosper. That extra time to adjust that you always look out in a seriously good batsman, he fits the bill.

Time to invest in him keeping the India tour and the ashes in mind. Slot him now and allow him to ease through the lanka series

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

Hughes seems to be the best bet. Khwaja comes close but rest are ordinary. Averaging mid 30s in FC and replacement for ponting? Brydon you must be joking.

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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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