Australia in England 2013 July 5, 2013

My Australian XI for Trent Bridge

Thought only selectors make shocking picks? How about having no frontline spinner for the first Ashes Test?

Brad Haddin: Australia's reply to England's Matt Prior © Getty Images

And so with the tension barely bearable, my Australian team for the first Ashes Test is:

Simon Katich, but given the Australian selectors retired him to keep Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting, and because he didn't get on with the captain, and because he was 35, we'll go with Chris Rogers, 35, at pole, because he has plundered 19,572 runs, many of them in England, at 50.38 with 60 hundreds, 90 fifties and a highest-score of 319. He, friends, will do.

Shane Watson Yes, Mighty Thor, the classically proportioned ball whacker, equally capable of 50s, 60s, or even 70s at a good rate. I asked him once why he struggled to convert his scores into hundreds, Watto said it was because he cares too much about the outcome. I asked a sports psychiatrist about it and he said words to the effect that this was garden-variety choking. Watto, like many of us, is a sensitive soul. But Watto, unlike many of us, beats the cricket ball like it's shot out of a cannon. He is too good not to score hundreds in England this Test series. He will score hundreds. And when he goes big, he will go massive. Go him.

Ed Cowan Because Phil Hughes' wafts outside off stump would reward James Anderson with ten wickets caught at second slip, Edward old chum, you are your country's No. 3. Solid and patient, equally adept and pace and spin. I like you, Ed, always will. I did consider Usman at three given he's batted there, and is good. But I want him coming in a bit later on. And after his captain, who's in next. I want those guys batting together. Talking shop in the middle. Enjoying themselves. Batting. "Playing" cricket.

Michael Clarke Lots of respect. Top, top batsman. The prodigal boy become the main man. He is one of the best five or so batsmen in Test cricket. The Poms' big wicket. How many he gets before they get him will be one of the series' defining aspects.

Usman Khawaja Technique-wise, there's no man the cricket nerdo would rather watch. Fine timing, "classic" technique, a languid streak that almost resembles David Gower's. But he also has a first-class average of 42. And six Test matches at 29. He's looked good getting his runs but is not around long enough, often enough. Batting with the men above him will help. Batting with those below will probably not. Career-defining Test series for Usman Khawaja.

Steve Smith When I first heard Steve Smith had made the Ashes squad, I thought: Who are the selectors? Have they watched cricket before? Steve Smith, help me lord! No! But then I find he has scored a few runs for Australia A. And given I can't have David Warner in so soon after his disdain for the tenets of the No Jerks Policy, and there doesn't seem to be anyone else, Smith gets the gig at six. He also bowls legspinners, but if Clarke tosses him the ball you'll know the Poms are 500-odd for 3. Not exactly SK Warne, SPD Smith.

Brad Haddin The man to take the game up to the Poms' fearsome wickie-blaster, Matthew Prior. Haddin is all Queanbeyan-steel, with punchy pugnacious counter-strokes, and straight driving the equivalent of any man alive in the whole world. The whole world. Think about that. Also a better batsman and keeper than Matthew Wade.

Mitchell Starc Tall, quick, left-handed, Starc is Mitchell Johnson without the tongue-stud and tattoos, and propensity to leak runs like Gandalf Drake riding along in a sled with a tarpaulin covering all his money. Something like it. But Big Mitch is very good from over or around the wicket, is 7ft 4in tall, or something like it, and is a handful from on high. Remember Bruce Reid? Like him but more athletic.

Ryan Harris Bustling and at 'em, shaping it both ways, Rhino Harris is a Test cricket paceman in a breakdancing lawn bowler's body. Man is frail. And if Australia gets three Tests out of him they'll be ahead. Possibly 3-0, because Harris can sling the nut, friend.

James Pattinson Tall, quick, angry and at 'em, James Pattinson comes from a long line of Australian crazy people (President: Jeff Thomson) and will definitely trouble the Pommy top order. But the Pommy top order is bloody good. Alastair Cook has Boycott's patience and Justin Langer's eye for a short one wide. Top batsman. One of the defining contests of this series will be Pattinson, Harris and Starc against Cook and Jonathan Trott, the run machines.

Jackson Bird That's right - no spinner. Steve Smith can bowl his weirdo legspinners and the captain can hurt his problematic back. It's the Ashes, baby, you take the pain. Jackson Bird? As close as Australia has to Glenn McGrath-redux. Not quick, but patient and hyper-accurate. And while these things aren't as sexy as sweat and spittle and Captain Cook's middle peg tumbling back and almost taking out the wicketkeeper's eye, Bird's skillset takes Test wickets. McGrath has 563. Bird has 11 wickets in two Tests. And you reckon there's a couple hundred more in him.

Matt Cleary writes for several Australian sports and travel magazines. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Android on July 8, 2013, 19:33 GMT

    Your writing skills is far more inspiring than the cricketing skills of the team you have proposed to win the TB test. The English resurgence has begun with murray's victory. England will trounce Australia. For a change m gonna b a happy Indian to see the English win.

  • RANA PRATAP on July 8, 2013, 19:14 GMT

    Wow! Swann and Anderson is going to have a ball with so many lefties. I believe all things considered the Aussies are best off going with the following team at Trent Bridge:

    Watson, Warner, Khawaja, Clarke, Hughes, Smith, Haddin, Starc, Siddle, Pattinson, Lyon

    However, Lehmann has already announced that he is going to open with Rogers, which I think is a mistake, in the current crop of batsmen, Warner is a potential match winner and is probably best as an opener. I haven' t seen Rogers but I hear he is making runs in England, but against what attack? Well, I guess Lehman XI should be:

    Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Hughes, Warner/Smith, Haddin, Starc, Siddle, Pattinson, Lyon

    Hate Warner at six, though! This unsettled Batting order and some mediocre batsmen (Cowan, Hughes, Rogers, Smith....Phooey!) is the key weakness of this team. Make or Break series for Khawaja, Hughes and Cowan. Rogers if he clicks (unlikely) going to be a one year wonder at best.


  • Dummy4 on July 8, 2013, 1:22 GMT

    Cowan has had more than enough chances to cement a spot and failed to do so... Had a very mediocre county season to top that all off... If you want khawaja over hughes and only just realize smith has gotten good (remember both men are 24) then you obviously haven't payed much attention to Australian cricket lately... You have also been very steep on Siddle who is the 5 ranked bowler in the world, and highest of either team... I would love 4 quicks but as soon as that happens is the moment the english curators make turning tracks and Australia will be doomed

    1. Watson 2. Rogers 3. Khawaja (no one else to bat there) 4. Clarke 5. Hughes 6. Smith 7. Haddin 8. Starc 9. Siddle 10. Pattinson 11. Lyon/Harris

  • Julian on July 7, 2013, 11:33 GMT

    Warner is not a batsmen...hits a ball nicely...but know matter how hard he tries he will never consistently play with the temperament required to be a test cricketer....also let's not be fooled by one or two decent knocks by Hughes against some pretty average county attacks...his faults still exist and James Anderson is waiting to expose them!

  • Chris on July 7, 2013, 10:40 GMT

    I would say that Australia is best playing Harris in three tests and Peter Siddle in the other two. That is all.

  • Julian on July 7, 2013, 10:20 GMT

    If Darren Lehmann reads this and I really hope he does.....the answer to which OZ team needs to be selected has been gotten wrong by everyone I have read comment on it so far....The template was set by england in 2005....5 bats, 1 WK, 1 genuine all rounder, 3 quicks and 1 spinner....e.g. Watson, Rogers, Cowan, Clarke, Khawaja, Haddin, Faulkner, Harris, Starc, Lyon and Bird...pick something similar to this please....

  • Vishwaksena on July 6, 2013, 12:17 GMT

    I dont see where australia can get their runs form this 11 apart from clarke & watto & maybe a few more from rogers..i dont think the benchwarmerws like warner,hughes are top run getters also..aus need to give oppurtunity to players like bailey,ferguson,s.marsh & atleast selcet them in future in the 11 not just in squad

    regarding the bowling i think peter siddle is the best bet for aussies and he dosent find a place in surpising..this year would definetly be last time ryan harris plays ashes

  • VENKATACHALAM on July 6, 2013, 9:57 GMT

    Lyon is good and getting better. Aussies will drop him at their peril.

  • Dummy4 on July 6, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    I would like to see Fawad Ahamed. He is the best spinner In OZ this moment.

  • Dummy4 on July 6, 2013, 9:12 GMT

    In lot prospect i agree with Matt,but it's just that u need a spinner,a specialization,if u see aussies has struggled just because of spinners over the years after shane warne,there quick's have done there job,just needed spinner in a later part they din't have,I will go with agar in first test in place of Harris,Bird definitely stays,siddle sits out,one one more thing with khawaja wasn't given opportunity i believe lehmann and clarke have different plans with hughes playing,but as i agree with matt hughes a week link at 5,would be good at 3 as he can play anderson for a chance but swann he will be like a piece of cake for him. if u wanna play hughes play him at 3,or the same team as matt says just pick a spinner.

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