Uncertainty at three for Australia, still
After the Andrew Hilditch years, there is something nice and warm about John Inverarity's honesty. Even when you don't agree with his take on things.
It's hard to agree when he says that Phil Hughes was hidden from the mighty South African attack, and yet is still strong enough to bat at No. 3 for Australia. That seems like a contradictory message, and one that will be sorely tested if Hughes (caught Guptil, bowled Martin) does make runs against Sri Lanka and ends up on tours of India and England.
If Hughes needs Rob Quiney to be his human shield against a class opposition, then will three Tests against a poorer attack that he has dominated before really change anything?
It's as important to be mentally tough and believe in yourself to bat at No. 3 as it is to be really good at batting. And if you have to hide Hughes, then perhaps the position is not for him. Hughes is not even a No. 3; he'd be a makeshift No. 3 replacing another makeshift No. 3.
It's also possible that Michael Clarke could move himself up the order, although he's shown no intent to do so. Michael Hussey, as a former opening batsman might be the better option. What better way for Hussey, in his last years as an Australia player, to serve his country than to take over the most difficult role and allow some of these more fragile souls to develop their skills batting at five or six, before moving up to three when they are ready?
No. 3 is not a place to build your confidence, it's a place you make work with confidence.
With Quiney not taking his chance and already seemingly out of favour, and Alex Doolan talking up everyone other than himself, it seems that Australia are back to Hughes and Usman Khawaja for now. But even the Australian selectors don't believe Hughes is ready for real challenges, and Khawaja is still not in the side.
It was only a few months ago when Inverarity used all his headmaster skills to sit the two errant boys in the corner and not play them for Australia A. It was a brilliant move, as neither deserved to be picked for Australia A at the time. Both had played horrendous summers for men of their talent, and deserved to be punished for it. So Inverarity, with his honesty, made them earn their places rather than take the easy rides they had received earlier in their careers.
And looks what has come of it, form and hunger.
Selectors aren't perfect, even Inverarity the saintly grandfather of Australian cricket is going to make mistakes. This past week he probably made some with his entirely new bowling attack. But getting Hughes and Khawaja back in form was a massive effort from him.
Khawaja has just given away a start against an underwhelming Sri Lanka. While he'd probably like to rectify that in the second innings, he won't be able to as the Big Bash League comes first when it comes to Cricket Australia's priorities at the moment, and Khawaja forcing his way back into the Test side is apparently not as important as him representing whichever Sydney franchise he plays for.
As if being a selector who uses honesty isn't hard enough, Inverarvity has to do his job around a vacuous vacuum of a tournament that is trying to use his future charges for publicity purposes. It's still not as hard as actually batting at No. 3 though.
As Quiney, Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh may attest to.