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After two and a half years in the job, John Inverarity has stood down as Australia's chairman of selectors. ESPNcricinfo presents a selection of his winning decisions, and some of those that didn't work out.
May 2, 2014
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Players/Officials: Ashton Agar | George Bailey | Xavier Doherty | Brad Haddin | John Hastings | Brad Hogg | John Inverarity | Mitchell Johnson | Rob Quiney | Chris Rogers | David Warner
For many years, it seemed that Rogers was destined to become a one-Test player, his only appearance filling in for an injured Matthew Hayden against India in 2008. But the departures of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey left Australia in need of batting experience for last year's Ashes tour and Inverarity called on Rogers, who at 35 would not have been considered by some selection panels, despite possessing nearly 20,000 first-class runs. A steady top-order influence, Rogers became the leading run scorer from either team across all 10 Ashes Tests in 2013-14 and added a fourth Test century to his tally in Port Elizabeth.
It is easy to forget that Warner was yet to make his Test debut when Inverarity's panel first convened back in 2011. The first team they picked was for the Gabba Test against New Zealand and the absence of several key men due to injury meant there was no easing in to the job. Warner, James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc debuted and all eyes were particularly on Warner, who had played only 11 first-class games and had to prove he was more than a Twenty20 basher. In his second Test he carried his bat for a patient 123 that narrowly failed to deliver victory in Hobart, and a rollicking 180 followed against India at the WACA. Inverarity will depart with Warner at the peak of his Test powers, having made five tons and averaging 71.06 in the 2013-14 summer, and with Rogers and Warner a strong, established opening pair.
Bailey the Test player may not have been such a success, although he contributed to the 5-0 Ashes clean-sweep, but Bailey the short-form batsman has been one of the triumphs of Inverarity's tenure. Impressed by Bailey's cricketing brain and his leadership with Tasmania, Inverarity installed him as the T20 captain in early 2012, before he had played for his country in any format. A place in the one-day side followed and it was there that Bailey proved himself a match-winning middle-order striker, comfortably topping Australia's ODI run tally during the Inverarity era with 1647 at 53.12. The success of the T20 team under Bailey has been varied, although they were always likely to struggle in the past two World T20s in spinning conditions in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Mitchell Johnson, the comeback
Admittedly, this was due more to circumstance than the panel's judgment, but the selectors still had to write Johnson's name down in their 2013-14 Ashes squad and trust that his past struggles were behind him. Not picked for the tour of England, Johnson impressed the selectors with his pace in the one-day series in India that bisected the two Ashes battles and when they had to pick a Test side minus the injured Starc, Pattinson and Jackson Bird, they turned to Johnson. The rest - as well as a few England careers - is history.
Brad Haddin, the comeback
Unlike Johnson's return, the re-emergence of Haddin as a key Ashes player was purely down to selectorial shrewdness. Having dumped an out-of-form Haddin for the younger Matthew Wade in 2012, Inverarity's panel could have been expected to put a line through Haddin's name and look solely to the future. But as they showed with Rogers, and with men like Brad Hogg and Brad Hodge in the T20 side, they were prepared to ignore age and focus on form and experience when the big moments arrived. At 35, Haddin was reinstalled ahead of the struggling Wade for the Ashes tour and made vice-captain, and while solid in England it was in the home series that he really thrived, rescuing Australia in nearly every Test with the bat. Only Warner scored more runs in the home Ashes.
The Perth Test of 2012-13 will be remembered mostly for Ricky Ponting's retirement, but it was also a low point for the Inverarity panel. The heavy workload imposed on Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus in Adelaide a few days earlier meant the controversial rotation policy, or as Inverarity called it, "informed player management", was brought into effect. At least, that was how it first appeared. Only later did it emerge that Siddle and Hilfenhaus were less than 100% fit, but whatever the reason, the choice of Hastings as a replacement seemed odd when men like Jackson Bird and Ben Cutting were also performing well in the Sheffield Shield. Hastings posed little threat to the South Africans and finished his one Test with 1 for 153.
In the absence of an injured Watson, Quiney was put in at No.3 for the first two Tests against South Africa in that same 2012-13 series for scores of 9, 0 and 0. But it was not just the failures of Quiney that caused consternation among fans, it was the feeling that he had been thrown to the wolves to protect Phillip Hughes, who was brought in for the following series against a friendlier Sri Lankan attack. "We did feel that throwing [Hughes] into a Test against the world No.1 with their attack was probably not the ideal set of circumstances for him," Inverarity said when he announced Hughes was to play Sri Lanka.
Andrew Hilditch's selection panel had discovered during the 2010-11 Ashes that Doherty was a limited-overs bowler who would struggle for impact in Tests, but that did not stop Inverarity and his colleagues picking Doherty for last year's Test tour of India. The selectors said that Doherty's one-day form had played a part in his selection, and not surprisingly when he was included in the side he looked a containing bowler rather than a wicket taker. The decision to include Doherty and Glenn Maxwell, who was promoted before he was really Test-ready, and to drop Nathan Lyon was made when Inverarity was the selector on duty. Lyon returned later in the series and took nine wickets in the Delhi Test.
Another spinner who was thrust into Test cricket at the expense of the accomplished incumbent Lyon was Agar. And while he captured the imagination of the Australian public on debut with his 98 batting at No.11, and with his youthful exuberance, Agar was not yet a Test spinner and was dropped after two matches, by which time Australia were 2-0 down.
It was worth a shot. Inverarity and his panel should be congratulated for their bravery in picking older veterans like Hogg and Hodge, men who are now T20 specialists, in the search for a World T20 title. But ultimately the inclusion of 40-plus-year-old Hogg for the tournaments in Sri Lanka in 2012 and Bangladesh in 2014 made no difference. Despite his teenage-like enthusiasm and BBL success, Hogg managed 2 for 186 across the two tournaments, while costing 7.75 an over, and one of the most adventurous selections in Australia's recent history must be judged as a failure.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdaleFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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