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Inverarity's hits and misses

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.

Brydon Coverdale

May 2, 2014

Comments: 12 | Text size: A | A

Chris Rogers performs a quick dance routine for the crowd, Sydney, January 7, 2014
Chris Rogers was reborn as a Test cricketer under John Inverarity's watch © Getty Images
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HITS

Chris Rogers
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.

David Warner
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.

George Bailey
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.


Brad Haddin chats to selector John Inverarity, Melbourne, January 10, 2013
Bringing Brad Haddin back for last year's Ashes Tests proved a wise move © Getty Images
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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.

MISSES

John Hastings
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.


John Hastings prepares to send down a delivery, Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 1st day, November 30, 2012
John Hastings had little impact in his one Test appearance © Getty Images
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Rob Quiney
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.

Xavier Doherty
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.

Ashton Agar
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.

Brad Hogg
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. @brydoncoverdale

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Posted by popcorn on (May 5, 2014, 4:59 GMT)

John Inverarity was the Reason for Australia's turnaround - give the man credit.

Posted by   on (May 4, 2014, 19:15 GMT)

Steve Smith is probably the biggest hit of all as it really was from left field. Lyon continues to impress with limited ability but like, Smith he has a great temperament and that is also reflected in his tail end batting. The Hughes issue would be resolved forever, if he were to be given an extended run like Rogers and Smith....

Posted by 9-Monkeys on (May 4, 2014, 11:58 GMT)

Smith and Lyon should be in the hits column and given Marsh was the selector on duty when Agar was picked (Invers was back home in Australia) how 'bout we drop him from the misses and add Marsh and Hughes. That done, Invers is, for mine at least, in front.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (May 4, 2014, 0:30 GMT)

You forgot the massive miss of picking Hughes, again and again. Not to mention the miss of picking Shaun Marsh, though I suppose that Marsh got that one big score.

Posted by disco_bob on (May 3, 2014, 10:24 GMT)

Another vote for Smith, he seems to improve at every opportunity, terrific temperament. And Lyon is a miss for the way he was treated; dumped for xman in India and again for the England Ashes, which was an absolute travesty.

Posted by   on (May 3, 2014, 8:32 GMT)

The selectors struck gold dust with Warner and Smith. They are the reason that the batting looks so solid now even with Clarke under performing. In the bowling, including Ryan Harris for a continuous run of Tests considering his past has also turned out to be a wise choice. I will never forget his 2 wickets in 3 balls with just 5 overs to go in the final test against SA when SA were looking like "not losing a series again".

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (May 3, 2014, 2:04 GMT)

Hit: Lyon. Developing a respectable record for a young off spinner. Miss: Hughes. For a bloke scoring so many FC runs to continually have him n and out of the side and then select players recently averaging about 25 ahead of him is bad.

Posted by Kernas on (May 3, 2014, 1:58 GMT)

Lyon might have been on the 'hit' list if the selectors showed faith by picking him instead of looking for something supposedly or hopefully better.

Posted by   on (May 3, 2014, 0:43 GMT)

I agree with Trafalgar (as usual) - Smith was a definite triumph. I certainly hadn't wanted him in the side.

There's probably room for some misses, too, though - I think Shaun Marsh is starting to look like he belongs in that pile. And Doherty's recall was really unforgivable given that selecting him was a spit to the face of the Argus Review (which said ALL selections should be based on Shield form) and to the best spinner in the Shield for two years' running, Steve O'Keefe.

Posted by D.V.C. on (May 2, 2014, 12:08 GMT)

The panel's failure in picking Hogg wasn't that they picked him for the T20 WCs, but that they didn't give him regular games in between the two tournaments. Hogg was the best spinner in the BBL, there's really not any question of that when you look at the figures and the way he bowled. But you can't go into such big tournaments without recent international match practice. The selection panel should have been picking Hogg in every T20 game for the last 2 years because he's not playing in other formats. They clearly thought he was one of the best 11 but weren't picking him, that's poor, and it cost Australia later in the WCs.

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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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