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February 12, 2007
After asking for his team to be tested during the CB Series, John Buchanan's words came back to bite him when England secured a 2-0 success in the finals. However, he has no regrets over the comments, still insisting the loss will have long term benefits for the Australians.
"It's important that's happened because I think it's important to find out where there are some deficiencies, where we do lack some consistency and so on," he said. "I'd rather us find that out now than some time in the West Indies."
Buchanan said he did not believe Australia's three losses constituted a slump in form and felt it would have little effect on how selectors would approach Tuesday's choice of a 15-man squad for the World Cup.
"I don't think two games in the course of the season, and going back to the ICC Champions Trophy, changes a heck of a lot," he said, referring to the finals. "It's just that we haven't played as consistently as we would have liked over a short period of time.
"Certainly, over the last few games we have been tested by England and haven't consistently responded to that. I think the selectors would have the same questions on their mind that they had prior to the finals."
However, Buchanan, who will coach Australia for the last time at the World Cup before standing down, does have concerns over the workload of some of his squad, especially Adam Gilchrist. Even when Gilchrist returns to the squad after the birth of his third child, Buchanan would like Brad Haddin available as a stand-by.
"We've been exceptionally fortunate with Adam in his career that he hasn't sustained any major injury, touch wood," he said. "But it's such an important tournament that my leaning is to take a second specialist wicketkeeper, but that second specialist wicketkeeper has to offer us more than just wicketkeeping.
Haddin, picked for this week's three-match Chappell-Hadlee Trophy series in New Zealand with Gilchrist being rested, is the leading run-scorer in the domestic one-day competition with 406 runs at 67 and has batted in all positions in the top seven during his 18-match Australian career.
Buchanan also defended the timing of allrounder Shane Watson's return to the Australian side after his pace bowling was shown to be underdone in both finals. Watson had just 27 overs in state and club cricket but the selectors did not believe the Chappell-Hadlee series would give him enough time to get back into the one-day groove after being a key player as a bowler and opening batsman at last year's Champions Trophy.
"He bowled exceptionally well at the Champions Trophy and in the lead-up to that and batted well so he's on his way back and the quicker we can give him game time, and finals time as that was, the better," Buchanan said. "Certainly he hasn't got the bowling under his belt and the general bowling fitness, but it was important to inject him into the tournament."
Buchanan added Watson was a "frontrunner" to open with Matthew Hayden in New Zealand but indicated he would have to bat well further down at the World Cup. He listed Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Brad Hodge and Michael Hussey as virtual certainties to remain in their positions despite Watson's game suiting a move higher up the order.
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