January 5, 2007

Ashes

The contenders

Nishi Narayanan

Peter English

Australia's Test team will undergo an enforced shake-up later this year after the retirements of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Justin Langer. Peter English takes a look at the players jostling for a place in the side.

Opening batsmen

Phil Jaques hits out on day two, Bangladesh v Australia, 2nd Test, Chittagong, 2nd day, April 17, 2006
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Phil Jaques
He's been hot for years on the domestic scene but has gone cold after a couple of centuries against England at the start of their tour. An aggressive left-hander, Jaques stormed into the one-day side with 94 on debut in 2005-06, but was promptly dropped in favour of the incumbent Simon Katich. He's played two Tests and four ODIs so is already in the selectors' thoughts.

Chris Rogers
The Jaques push from New South Wales is strong, but the voices in the west are demanding the promotion of Chris Rogers. A conversation with David Boon, the Australia selector, where Rogers was told to bat all day instead of aiming always to attack, has led to outstanding results. He has scored 799 Pura Cup runs this summer, including 279 at Perth and a century on a tricky Hobart pitch, and worked on his slow-bowling play with Monty Panesar during an off-season stint at Northamptonshire. Australia's Test players know him too - he scored 219 against them when at Leicestershire in 2005.

Michael Hussey
Opening is his favourite spot and after starring for Australia in the middle order during his first two summers he deserves to be asked where he wants to camp.

Spin bowling

Dan Cullen celebrates his first ODI wicket, Bangladesh v Australia, 3rd ODI, Fatullah, April 28, 2006
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Stuart MacGill
Replacing Shane Warne is going to be impossible, at least in the short to medium term, but Stuart MacGill is the most qualified after being the perennial understudy. His 198 Test wickets at 27.20 are an impressive return and he has the second-best strike-rate of any Australian with more than 100 Test scalps, although he was overlooked for the Ashes for the second series in a row. A knee injury and a club suspension for abuse disrupted his summer and at 35 his international career is teetering. It could be over unless Australia need him desperately, so he might be back in a couple of Tests.

Dan Cullen
Young and critically acclaimed, Dan Cullen shares the same mentor as Shane Warne. Terry Jenner spends hours working on Cullen's offspin in Adelaide and he made his Test debut alongside Warne and MacGill in Bangladesh. He burst on to the state scene with 43 wickets three summers ago, surprising people with his control and a version of the doosra, but his average has expanded (27 wickets at 46 in 2005-06 and 3 at 76 this season) and he also struggled during a stint at Somerset. It is a crucial year.

Cullen Bailey
Cullen Bailey, a legspinner, is another in Jenner's South Australia stable and has been given a licence to attack under Darren Lehmann's captaincy. He's only 22 so don't predict miracles, but he has shown enough to be a contender as he matures. Bailey has captured 17 wickets at 40 in four Pura Cup games this season and will battle for recognition with the New South Wales pair of Beau Casson and Nathan Hauritz.

The fast men

Mitchell Johnson impressed against Western Australia with four wickets, Western Australia v Queensland, Pura Cup, WACA, November 12, 2006
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Stuart Clark
The next McGrath will soon be the now McGrath. Five hundred Test wickets might be a bit much to ask for, but three or four years of solid service will help the transition while Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait develop into frontliners.

Mitchell Johnson
A bouncy left-armer, Mitchell Johnson may benefit most from McGrath's departure as it will open up a space. Johnson has spent the Ashes series travelling the country as the 12th man after he was superb at the Champions Trophy and the Malaysian tri-series. Now he waits for a Test chance.

Shaun Tait
The shoulder injury that stopped Shaun Tait's progress after he played two Tests on the Ashes tour is fixed and he is back to slinging reverse-swinging yorkers and un-playable short balls. Like Johnson, he has been in Test squads this summer. Like Johnson, he hasn't found an opening.

Ben Hilfenhaus
A bricklayer before last season, Ben Hilfenhaus has quickly built himself an impressive reputation as a swing bowler. A fast man from Tasmania is a rare breed - the last one to play a Test was Greg Campbell in 1989 - and he now needs to prove he can get consistent wickets away from Bellerive Oval.

Nishi Narayanan is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Scott on (May 27, 2007, 6:01 GMT)

TO REPLACE: SHANE WARNE: START WITH STUART MACGILL, THEN CULLEN BAILLEY GLEN MCGRATH: START WITH STUART CLARK, THEN BEN HILFENHAUS JUSTIN LANGER: GET MICHEAL HUSSEY TO OPEN AND BRAD HODGE 4TH

LINE UP SHOULD THEN LOOK LIKE 1. HAYDEN (THEN MABYE MARCUS NORTH OR ROGERS) 2. M. HUSSEY 3. PONTING 4. HODGE 5. M. CLARKE (FUTURE CAPTAIN) 6. SYMONDS 7. GILCHRIST (THEN BRAD HADDIN) 8. LEE (THEN TAIT) 9. CLARKE (THEN HILFENHAUS) 10. BRACKEN (THEN HILFENHAUS) 11. MACGILL (THEN BAILEY)

Posted by Gaz on (January 10, 2007, 21:47 GMT)

we have a few spin options, in the short term macgill is the best but there's also cullen, hauritz, casson, krejza, bailey. our pace attack will be fine with bracken and hilfenhaus and also tait and johnson. for batsmen i think hussey is too good in the middle to move him up which means bring in either jacques, rogers or possibly klinger later down the track. if we were to move hussey or someone else (clarke, gilchrist?) up the order i do think we have greater selection options with players such as david hussey, cosgrove, voges, north, hodge, katich, marsh, haddin. for allrounders i think henriques has a great future, should probably start getting him ready for international cricket.

Posted by Bart on (January 10, 2007, 8:42 GMT)

What about Beau Casson or Daniel Doran or Nathan Hauritz for the spin option. For the Fast bowler what about Steve Magoffin or Ben Edmondson. May as well even throw in Joey for a spot. For the Batsmen what about Travis Birt, Mark Cosgrove, David Hussey, Clinton Perren, Tim Paine or Marcus North.

Posted by Max on (January 9, 2007, 22:46 GMT)

I think Cameron White would be a good inclusion due to the fact he is a fine leg spin bowler but also to sure up our tail end batting as Adam Gilchrist wont go on forever unfortunately. Our tail end batting has been one of the major reasons Australia has been so dominant recently, it seems regardless what situation Australia finds itself in, you can never write them off till the last man has been dismissed and by then the job is usually done.

Posted by rod on (January 9, 2007, 7:52 GMT)

move ponting to opener/hussey to 3 adam voges to 4 or 5

Posted by Huw on (January 9, 2007, 5:52 GMT)

Nathan Bracken offers variety as a left-armer and was Australia's (tied) top wicket taker in ODIs last year. Plus, as a Welshy, he has a baggy green hidden in a brown paper bag somewhere!

Posted by Calvin on (January 8, 2007, 9:29 GMT)

Come on there are a few really younger guys not even getting a look at here. Theres the Victorian pairing of Lloyd Mash, He has the temprement and the shots to make it in Test criekt, He is a handy fielder and is a very young fit guy. Aidan Blizzard has to be on selectors thoughts after a wirlwind 46-ball 89 the other night against the likes ok s.tait and d.cullen. And the NSW allrounder Moises Henriques. I have never heard so much about a player who has only played a handful of first class matches. Obviously a ver good player after leading Australia to a World Cup victory in the U/19 world cup when he was just 18. A talent to be looked at. And obviously the other talent has been looked at. Cullen Bailey. I like his style. very wristy and flighty. could be a very good bowl by the time terry jenner has taught him everything. and what about one S.Marsh. plenty of potential there and the gouy in WA are finnaly giving hime a fair go at no.3. Obviously he would be an ideal number 4 or 5 as he can continually roteate the strike over. Not to be overlooked.

Any ways a possible squad for the 2009 Ashes in Engand. 15 Man Squad

C.Rogers P.Jaques R.Ponting M.Clarke M.Hussey S.Watson A.Symonds B.Haddin C.White M.Johnson S.Clarke B.Hilfenhause S.Tait M.Henriques

Posted by John 350 on (January 8, 2007, 7:57 GMT)

Nathan Bracken was the best bowler in theone day series in South Africa--by far.It was he who stemmed the West Indies assault in the One day final of the ICC trophy. Had he been selected for the 2005 Ashes tour he would have ensured that the Ashes were never lost.He should be picked immediately after Clark and before Lee and the young hopefuls.

Posted by boris on (January 8, 2007, 6:25 GMT)

I have a lot of time for Phil Jaques but one shouldn't forget Brad Hodge's efforts when he was in the side either. Hussey could open and Hodge slot in or Hodge could open.

Posted by David on (January 8, 2007, 1:46 GMT)

I cannot believe the ommission of Hodge in this list!!!!

He is leading run scorer in Twenty20 (showing versatility and a healthy strike rate), in the top group at 50 overs and the is the secong leading run scorer in the Pura Cup despite playing at home on the MCG (shown to be a far tougher wicket than the run feasts at the WACA). If the selectors even look at domestic comp. you would think a bloke averaging 58 in test cricket (behind only the Don, Hussey and Ponting on the all time list) would at least get a game and a more than serious mention in these lists!!!

Move Hussey to open (where he wants to be), bring Hodge in at No.4 (where he should be) and the batting retains that very strong look to enforce a continuatoion beyond 12 wins in a row. Lets give the younger guys (like Voges) a bit longer than a few good innings to prove themselves.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nishi Narayanan
Staff writer Nishi studied journalism because she didn't want to study at all. As she spent most of the time at j-school stationed in front of the TV watching cricket her placement officer had no choice but to send out a desperate plea to the editor of ESPNcricinfo to hire her. Though some of the senior staff was suspicious at that a diploma in journalism was the worst thing that could happen to ESPNcricinfo and she did nothing to allay them, she continues to log in everyday and do her two bits for cricket.

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