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December 6, 2012

Australian cricket

Uncertainty at three for Australia, still

Jarrod Kimber
Phillip Hughes shoulders arms, Australia A v South Africans, Sydney, 3rd day, November 4, 2012
No. 3 is not a place to build your confidence, it's a place you make work with confidence  © Getty Images
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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.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by Anonymous on (December 10, 2012, 9:17 GMT)

It is very imortant for Australia to use this series against SL as preparation for the India tour. With the current stance of Dhoni and BCCI Aus may face turning tracks in all 4 Tests, if not minefields. Batsment who can grind, and build big acores and spinners who could bowl fast and well, and fast bowlers who can bowl wicket to wicket with lot of patience and discipline, with reverse swing skills are the key needs of the hour. It will be ideal for Aus coaching team to get some key member sof Aus team to watch and learn from current tour of England in India. It is a great lesson and will be very helpful

Posted by iforgotwhat on (December 9, 2012, 13:24 GMT)

It doesn't really matter who they pick there is not the talent in Australia anymore so Aussies stop fooling yourself by saying we have depth etc.

Really the only half decent batsman in the line up is a 37 year old Hussey. Before anyone talks about Clark he has done nothing when the ball either swings or seams. As the test against SA shows. In Brisbane the ball did nothing at all the same goes for Adelaide. But look what happened in Perth when the ball was doing something.

Posted by Shyam on (December 9, 2012, 1:23 GMT)

It just suprises me people call Clarke a coward when two recent former Aussie captains (Border and Waugh) both batted at 5 for long periods of time (Waugh moreso than Border) and yet those two are referred to as examples of toughness and strength the current generation should be inspired by. Clarke has scored 4 x double centries this year at number 5 - unparralleled in test history. Why would you move him??

The issue I think is the 'coaching' of players into batting a certain way as opposed to batting in their own way. Bradman had a 'dodgy' grip the NSW selectors didnt like, Doug Walters was "too aggressive" and apparently Ian Chappell should have "never" played the hook shot (although he scored bucket loads of runs with it) and they did ok.

Posted by abdul on (December 7, 2012, 22:32 GMT)

The selectors should bring in more younger batsmen like they did with the bowlers BRING IN YOUNGSTERS LIKE Steve Smith & Alex Doolan + OTHER YOUNG PLAYERS THAT ARE PERFORMING WELL IN SHIELD CRICKET

Posted by ferix on (December 7, 2012, 17:38 GMT)

For all those criticising Clarke, where did S Waugh and A Border bat? How many times has Tendulkar, Lara and Kallis batted at 3?

Posted by Bee on (December 7, 2012, 13:17 GMT)

To those suggesting Clarke is soft not batting at first drop, I have two words for you: Steve Waugh.

My batting order would be Cowan, Hussey, Khawaja, Clarke, Doolan, Watson, Wade.

Doolan interchangeable with Warner (if we must) or another young prospect.

The likes of Hughes, Smith and most certainly Marsh haven't yet atoned for past failures.

Posted by Pete on (December 7, 2012, 6:00 GMT)

Couldn't agree more at how ridiculous Usman has to leave the Chairman's XI game for the BBL. Complete lack or respect for Khawaja's ambitions and the longer form of the game. Could someone please tell me why, if it's not making money, we even have this 20-20 tournament in Australia?

Posted by Robert Barlow on (December 7, 2012, 5:31 GMT)

Hughes, Khawaja and Quiney are not the answer. Hughes has no idea of shot selection and should have benn left in Shield Cricket to make a mountain of runs before being considered at Test level again. Khawaja is an honest tradesman, while Quiney had the opportunities and didn't seize them. Why would you fool with the batting order - especially with Clarke when he is making a mountain of runs. Keep the current list: Warner, Cowan, Watson - OK move Clarke up to 4, Hussey, Steve Smith, Wade, Johnson,Siddle, Starc and Lyon. Hilfenhaus to carry the drinks

Posted by Victor on (December 7, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

Good article. Hussey and Clarke should be occupying the 3-4 spot. Hughes at 5 followed by Watson. I think Hughes will score heavily against Sri Lanka. His real test will be against India and England. Really shows the lack of depth in Australian cricket now. Don’t you wish players like brad Hodge, S. Law, McGill were playing now. Too many good cricketers in one generation.

Posted by Ollie on (December 7, 2012, 3:34 GMT)

Totally agree. The best batsman in the country should be at 3, not someone you think couldn't cut it against SA. Why Clarke is not there mystifies me.

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