Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series, Hobart

In-form Forrest pushes for Test spot

Brydon Coverdale

February 25, 2012

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

Peter Forrest hits out on his way to 104, Australia v Sri Lanka, CB Series, Hobart, February 24, 2012
Peter Forrest has three 50-plus scores in his first four ODIs © AFP
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Michael Clarke believes Peter Forrest's excellent one-day form will boost his chances of winning a place in Australia's Test squad for the tour of the West Indies. Forrest scored a composed century, his first for Australia, in Friday's loss to Sri Lanka in Hobart and it carried on his outstanding entry to international cricket after making his debut earlier in this series.

Forrest has scores of 66, 16, 52 and 104 in his four one-day internationals and his tally of 238 is the biggest total any Australian has compiled in the first four ODIs of his career. Even more impressive was the fact that Forrest scored his century at No.3, shrugging off the pressure that came with replacing Ricky Ponting in the position he had filled for nearly all of his 375-match career.

Ponting will be part of the Test squad on the West Indies tour but there will be one spot available for a back-up batsman after Shaun Marsh's horrendous series against India. Usman Khawaja would have seemed the logical man for the role a few weeks ago but Forrest's strong performances have now made him the front-runner, especially considering he averages 58.10 in the Sheffield Shield this summer and has made three centuries.

"I think it certainly helps, no doubt," Clarke said of Forrest's one-day form. "The key is to make runs or take wickets in whatever form of the game you're playing. Playing one-day cricket for Australia means he can't play first-class cricket at the moment for Queensland, so he just needs to keep making runs and knocking on that door, make the selectors select him. That's his goal, to keep scoring runs and keep throwing his name up there, that's all he can do."

Clarke said deciding who should replace Ponting at No.3 hadn't been easy, and he had considered taking the role himself. But he felt Forrest deserved the opportunity to build an innings, and he certainly didn't let his captain down in his first game in the position.

"I thought long and hard about it," Clarke said. "I thought what was best for the team. At the end of the day the decision to bat Pete at No.3 was about what I thought was best for the team. I could have batted myself there, Michael Hussey there, a couple of the senior players, but I thought it was a really good opportunity for him on a very good batting wicket. I'm really pleased he made the most of it."

Clarke spent plenty of time at the crease with Forrest on Friday during a 154-run partnership that rescued Australia from a precarious opening. As he has throughout the series, Forrest showed that his style involves getting himself in, picking the gaps and finding boundaries along the ground, respecting the good balls and taking as few major risks as possible.

As a result his hundred wasn't quick - it was the third-slowest triple-figure ODI score by an Australian in the past 15 years - but it was no less impressive for that fact. His style should make him an attractive proposition for the selectors when they choose the Test squad, and Clarke said Forrest was comfortable with his game and could have a very bright future ahead of him.

"I'm sure he gets nervous like all of us," Clarke said. "But he knows his game quite well. That's what Pete does do and at the moment he has the confidence to play his way, which has allowed him to walk straight into the Australian team and perform. He's in good form. As we all know, you've got to make the most of that, and he's certainly doing that.

"It's the start of his career and there's a long way to go, but he's got a lot of potential. He's got a lot of talent. He plays spin and fast bowling well. He works hard, trains hard, and he's got everything you need to become a very good international cricketer. He's just got to keep taking it one game at a time and keep making the most of his opportunities. If he keeps batting the way he batted today, he's in for a very bright future."

Forrest also caught the eye of Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lanka captain and one of the best batsmen of the past decade and a half. Jayawardene said he was impressed by the way Forrest rebuilt Australia's innings after they stumbled to 2 for 27, and while Sri Lanka ended up winning the match, Forrest had made their task difficult.

"I think he batted really well," Jayawardene said. "Up against us he had a couple of good knocks but today I think was something special. It was tough up front when they lost the two wickets, the ball wasn't coming on. I thought our guys were bowling really well but he was very patient, building that partnership with Michael. He carried through that middle period which was great to see. He's got a lot of potential. I'm quite impressed with him."

Edited by Siddarth Ravindran

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by zenboomerang on (February 27, 2012, 4:02 GMT)

@Phillip Crutcher... Agree on Forrest - his SR for that match (75) is only 3 lower than Clarke's SR history for 210 ODI's @78... So Clarke has had many slower innings - I have on occasions be critical of Clarkes batting when he has batted much slower than Forrest & one of the reasons he isn't suitable for T20... Looking at Wades, Clarkes SR - they are relatively slow compared to Mike & Dave Hussey & Watson... Even Warners SR isn't really good - but I expect in time that will improve if he starts getting decent scores...

Posted by Meety on (February 27, 2012, 2:02 GMT)

@VivGilchrist - some good points, but I don't think the Marsh analogy worked. It was all about playing the "sheet anchor" role back then. He did it well & Oz improved dramatically with him at the top. @Phil Crutcher - well said. That being said, I think he really needs to work on nurdling a single more often, a minor adjustment, & he could well score 100s in the future at near a run a ball. == == == IMO - ODIs are a guide to test suitability, but the batsmen needs to be scoring FC runs as well. In the past Clarke * then a re-called Martyn, proved themselves in ODIs before getting the nod for a Test debut. I would imagine it is not an exact scientific approach, but I think that ODIs can test a players temprement.

Posted by   on (February 26, 2012, 2:16 GMT)

Everyone keeps saying he took too long to get the century, but that in the end is 100 runs extra that Australia inevitably had added to the total to make it a decent chase. Every time he looked to put the foot down to up the ante, someone at the other end got out, and the last thing you want happen is to have 2 set batsmen getting out within overs, or even deliveries of each other. If someone like Warner or Wade had lasted at the other end, the total would have been higher, and as a result, everyone would be praising Forrest for holding the other end up and ensuring he got the century, something no one else has done in the series at all.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2012, 10:55 GMT)

Gotta back Marsh in the West Indies. Too much talent to drop i know he has struggled but persist.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2012, 10:00 GMT)

Fitting Peter Forrest in the test team would be difficult , given the fact that they have Ponting, Clark , Warner, Mike Hussey .Watson and Cowan would compete for the next opening position. I am amusing that if Punter does not make some runs in the next 3-4 innings they might simply ask him to hang his boots at test levels as well.

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (February 25, 2012, 9:15 GMT)

almost all australien batsmen are attacking stroke makers.. a guy like peter forrest is almost exactly they need.. and now some people here are blaming him for the loss ! ridiculous to say the least.. and why everyone hates shaun marsh.. give him a some time and he will be back.. that century in dusty pitches of sri lanka and 44 against a rampaging steyn and co in SA showed how good he can be.

Posted by   on (February 25, 2012, 9:12 GMT)

where is david hussey? he is scoring a bulk of runs... in this series so far with far better strike rate... compare to the forrest.

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (February 25, 2012, 9:03 GMT)

peter forest is almost exactly what australia needs , they have enough stroke makers like warner , wade , hussey bros to push up run rate if needed.. clarke and forrest brings in some much needed stability to aus batting line up , an inform shaun marsh is a good replacement though..

Posted by Herath-UK on (February 25, 2012, 8:42 GMT)

His role cost Aussies the ODI against Sri Lanka and probably he played a Test innings to catch the eyes of the Selectors for the Test berth!.Sri Lanka is definitely in the final (and lift the CB trophy) and Clarke should concentrate hard now to get into the final. Ranil Herath-Kent

Posted by jonesy2 on (February 25, 2012, 8:26 GMT)

haha youre assuming marsh wont play. why wouldnt marsh play? marsh will play

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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