July 16, 2012

Australian cricket

Australia's batting woes come into focus

Jack Mendel
Phil Hughes celebrates his half-century, South Africa v Australia, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 2nd day, November 18, 2011
Phil Hughes has been scoring heavily in the domestic circuit  © AFP
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Before the first ODI at Lords between England and Australia, Shane Watson, Australia's opening batsmen and allrounder, had said England didn't have enough batting depth and that their line-up with five specialist bowlers (including Stuart Broad, Tim Bresnan and Graeme Swann who can all bat) was too bowler heavy. The comment seemed a little out of place because it is clearly the Australian batting line-up that has some serious issues relating to depth.

Watson and Warner get them off to a solid start, but besides them, only Michael Clarke offers any substantial resistance. In the absence of Michael Hussey, who skipped the tour due to personal reasons, Australia sent Steven Smith, a leg-spinning allrounder who led Sydney Sixers to the Big Bash League title last season, at No. 6. He can bat in an unorthodox fashion at that position, but having not bowled, he is essentially reduced to a batsman, who has performed poorly with the bat.

Australia need some more batsmen. With the likes of Michael Hussey, now 37, David Hussey (not picked for Test matches anyway) and Ponting getting old, Australia team is losing players who scored in bulk. They have inexperienced batsmen who are not yet ready to fill their predecessors' shoes. Even Watson and Warner, the supposedly more solid players, are not doing well. Watson has a large number of half-centuries (28) in 154 ODIs, but only six hundreds. In Tests, he has scored only two centuries. Warner, likewise, has only got two tons each in Test and ODI cricket. I think it would be more valuable to score a fifty at No. 5 or No. 6 instead of one at the top of the batting order. Watson bragging about depth should drop down the order to give his side some depth. Phil Hughes should come in. Clarke has 52 fifties and just seven tons in 217 games. Despite this he is now ranked eighth in the ODIs and as the leading batsman he is the only genuine solid option. I feel he should be at No. 3, but he is not converting enough starts to hundreds.

Let's look at some other domestic cricketers. Phil Hughes has been dominant in England. On the other hand he failed to make a century during the last Australian domestic season and seemed to have been worked out. Although, he wasn't incredible in the Ashes but his domestic first-class record is too good to ignore. The amount of runs he has scored is simply staggering. At just 23, he has 17 hundreds and 5810 runs. How can Australia possibly ignore this run machine? Get him in the side, straighten out his flaws and make him a master of his art.

Chris Rogers, who has been in the form of his life playing for Middlesex in all forms of cricket, is a little older and is still waiting, like David Hussey, for a proper chance to play Tests. He has been churning out runs for a long time. In Sheffield Shield trophy this season, he hit 781 runs including three centuries to be among the top run-getters.

Likewise, there is Marcus North who despite already having had a shot at Test cricket was chucked for not being good enough. He is a stylish attacking batsman who can bowl.

Also, seasoned professionals like 32-year old Adam Voges, Michael Klinger and Phil Jacques have all been on the fringes for a long time. Klinger, who was the fourth-highest run scorer in the 2011-12 season, has not been able to break into the side. He scored one century in 19 innings, which isn't breathtaking for one of the top scorers in the domestic league.

Phil Jacques has become so fed up with Australia selection that he has now said he wants to play for English counties. Rob Quiney and Liam Davis have both scored profusely and but have gone unnoticed. Perhaps Davis's long-term record is not outstanding, but having scored three of his four centuries in the 2011-12 season including a triple-century, credit should be given where it is due. If a player is successful then he should get some acknowledgement, bearing in mind the alternatives - Smith, Forrest and George Bailey, and no one else really.

The top century makers in Australia's domestic league were Ed Cowan, Quiney, David Hussey, Forrest, Bailey, Davis and Rogers with three centuries apiece.

The likes of Usman Khawaja, Bailey and Forrest are all decent players or they wouldn't get in the Test side, but they haven't set the world alight and are clearly not ready for international cricket. Who are the fringe players pushing for a spot in the side?

I can't see anyone, which is really worrying, as those in the Test, ODI and T20 side are simply not performing to a high standard. I hope Australia soon find a new Ponting or Michael Hussey because at the moment they are an inexperienced side. I am sure in three to four years there will be good players worthy of international cricket, but until then, Australia need some serious runs from some experienced batsmen.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Belles on (August 2, 2012, 3:04 GMT)

Pakistan Team seems to be full of zeal after long rest they will be in action it will be ineettsring series but its upset to see big Australian Players are not coming to play, but Pakistan is still full of zeal and i would love to watch their win hopefully!.

Posted by Dr. Ahad Khan on (August 2, 2012, 0:32 GMT)

South Africa has the BEST Fast Bowling attack in the world today. Usman Khawaja,in making a solid & a dour 78 runs,withstanding this World's best Fast Bowling attack & won us the Test match against South Africa, from a very impossible situation. The Selectors need to stick with him & give him a longer run. Usman Khawaja has shown his mettle as a no. 3 Batsman. Dr. Ahad Khan

Posted by Mirka on (July 31, 2012, 7:29 GMT)

hahaha.I am not sure anyone wants to see the pelope who is rested. may be ponting. What happen to Mr.cricket. He is in worse slump than dravid. May be pelope figured out his weakness.I really think anyone who is out of form , real reason is they lost mojo , too much sex not much exercize or energy left.if you are fit , you will never be out of form..

Posted by danoz on (July 24, 2012, 8:47 GMT)

for 1 dayers i would open with warner and clarke(clarkes is very good at running singles and doubles and keep the run rate at a run a ball and bat the whole innings,whilst warner is good at belting 6's and 4's, with warner and watson to often where 2 down for not many) have forrest and bailey at 3 and 4 where they can build a innings at a strike rate at 75%,have watson at 5 m,hussey at 6 and wade at 7 this way australia have fire power at the end of a innings.

mike hussey will be to old to play in the next world cup,so the selectors will have to find a young player to replace him,so australia should find a big hitter like m,marsh,white,s,smith.

you could use the number 5 position as the spot to blood youngsters like khawaja,s,marsh,hughes,maddison,fergonson on a rotation policy.

for the bowling line up i would create a rotation policy give young players experience(cummings,pattison,starc,siddle) and existing players(johnson,bollinger,hilfenhaus) time in the middle.

Posted by Jack Mendel on (July 23, 2012, 23:33 GMT)

What i tried to get across in my article, was that anyone scoring domestic runs is already in the national side on some level. They have no domestic depth to call upon.

When i say 'in possession' i am referring to their place in the side such as George Bailey.. currently in possession not only as a batsmen but as the skipper of the T20

Phil Hughes is so consistent in the counties and has such a good average and simply scores so many runs it is un ignorable. In a way it is similar to Cook. lots of runs very young . no way you can really ignore him. much better to try and change him a little to bring out the best !

(i am very happy t get my article here btw.. not annoyed about the editing at all.. but as you say it takes some of the substance away)

Posted by Jack Mendel on (July 23, 2012, 23:33 GMT)

What i tried to get across in my article, was that anyone scoring domestic runs is already in the national side on some level. They have no domestic depth to call upon.

When i say 'in possession' i am referring to their place in the side such as George Bailey.. currently in possession not only as a batsmen but as the skipper of the T20

Phil Hughes is so consistent in the counties and has such a good average and simply scores so many runs it is un ignorable. In a way it is similar to Cook. lots of runs very young . no way you can really ignore him. much better to try and change him a little to bring out the best !

(i am very happy t get my article here btw.. not annoyed about the editing at all.. but as you say it takes some of the substance away)

Posted by Hyclass on (July 20, 2012, 7:51 GMT)

It should be evident that in principle,Argus has accomplished nothing.The methods of selection,planning & accountability that were the hallmark of 17 years of quality output between '89 & '06 were undermined,reversed or completely ignored from 06 onwards.The reversal of any successful process will result in an equivalent reversal of outcomes.The system that Sutherland/Jack Clarke led CA inherited in 06/07 was peerless,internationally respected and emulated.It was devised to prevent the dearth of results that have beset the current team and players.The purpose of CA was to make Test,Shield and ODI cricket appear so fallible that BBL 20/20 would appear a better option.Hayden,as a CA Board member made an unrefuted public statement of non-investment in traditional cricket that told all.He subsequently acquired a BBL side-a clear conflict of interests.The public,State Boards,curators,Shield,Tests,older players & different styles have all been the subject of a deliberate & spiteful CA agenda

Posted by Roger on (July 19, 2012, 12:49 GMT)

For the ODIS, I would pick Phil Hughes to open in ODIs but not for Tests. He, along with David Warner, could either score big, or a zero.Shane Watson should be slotted at Number 3.He has the aggressive, yet responsible style of Ricky Ponting. George Bailey is steady at Number 4.Clarke at 5,David Hussey at 6, Mathew Wade at 7. Notice that I am looking at Australia post the retirement of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey, though David Hussey is close to retirement too. Maybe Callum Ferguson come in his place.For Tests, - Watson,Warner,Forrest,Bailey,Clarke,Khawaja,Wade,then 8 to 11.

Posted by Meety on (July 19, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

@Jack mendel - sorry to hear that editing altered the substance of what you were saying, that would be annoying. That being said, perhaps you can correct them in commenting on here? BTW - what do you mean by "..in possession.."? Please clarify "Phil Jacques has become so fed up with Australia selection that he has now said he wants to play for English counties" - as that is not the drift of several articles on 31st jan & 1st Feb this year (on cricinfo website) indicated? I feel your article was a retort to an unwise comment by Watson & it flip flops from ODIs to Tests & T20s.

Posted by Jahid Russel on (July 18, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

Australia's pace bowling may not be as good as England, or South Africa, but still they can and will give a fight. In terms of spin bowling (oneday) they are worst among all ten test teams. Lyon seems alright for test. Too much dependence on 35+ batsmen is not good. They need to find replacements/understudies in middle order soon. Watson-Warner, opening is okay, not great.

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