Australia in England 2012

'They're the best we've got' - Inverarity

Daniel Brettig

July 4, 2012

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Peter Forrest lets a short one go, West Indies v Australia, 1st ODI, St Vincent, March 16, 2012
Despite his modest record John Inverarity says players like Peter Forrest are the most capable players outside the Australian Test XI © AFP
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John Inverarity cannot say why Australia's batting stocks are so thin in 2012, when in the past the country could boast as many as 10 batsmen outside the national team with legitimate claims to a place. But what Inverarity, Australia's national selector, is sure of, is that David Hussey, George Bailey, and Peter Forrest are the most capable batsmen outside the Test XI, and he has resolved to give them the best chances of exposure to England ahead of next year's Ashes series.

The absence of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey from the ODI team facing England in five matches has given Australia's batting a slightly anaemic look, the full-blooded strokeplay and intelligence of the two older men replaced by less certain displays from Hussey, Bailey and Forrest. Opinions in Australian cricket on whether these three are indeed the best batsmen outside the Test side are decidedly mixed, but Inverarity spoke of them with assurance.

"They're the best we've got," Inverarity said. "We made a decision six months ago that if through lack of form or retirement or injury there was a place in the team, we don't want these blokes making their international debuts at Lord's in a Test match, so we've got them going. They've tasted, they've toured, they know the guys, and they're familiar.

"When you select, you do the best you can, given the material you've got, and of all the players I speak to, whether they're in or not in, if they've been dropped, I'm in the habit of saying things like 'we're on your side, we want you to go out and prosper, to do as well as you can, we want lots of people knocking down the door'. We want the players to know we want them to do well, but in the end at this particular point of history, there are not as many prolific run scorers outside the Test team.

"Whether it's a cyclic thing or people going into other sports or the influence of T20 and people concentrating on hitting it over extra cover instead of straight, I don't know. But if you look at the 20-26 age group, we'd love to see more prolific players there."

Others to have tasted international cricket in recent times and not gone on to consistent success include Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh. Inverarity looked to that trio among the next tier, and also made mention of Chris Rogers, the Middlesex and Victoria batsman, who played one Test in 2008 and is one of few players still playing to live up to the "prolific" tag, having reached 50 first-class centuries this summer.

"Phillip Hughes is doing very well at Worcester. It would be unwise to rush him back in but I think he'll come again," Inverarity said. "Usman Khawaja's over here with Derbyshire, which is great, they're playing T20 at the moment, which is not really his game, but it's good for him to be here for a season in wet and seaming conditions.

"Chris Rogers made 173 at Lord's recently and Shaun might come again if he gets his game settled. But the three we've invested opportunity in the last few months are Forrest, Bailey and David Hussey."

An advocate of cricketers who seek to widen their horizons as young men, Inverarity spoke approvingly of the moves Hughes and Khawaja have made to leave New South Wales. "I'm a great believer in when you get to the top of your mark to bowl, and when you've got one foot each side of the batting crease you're on your own," he said. "So you need to grow up as a young man, you need to develop independence, resilience, your own initiative, I think moving away from your support structures and having to stand on your own two feet enhances that sort of thing."

He was also dismissive of the ageist argument against the retention of Ponting and Michael Hussey, pointing out that fitness and health levels had greatly improved over time. "I don't see why age is relevant," Inverarity said. "If you compare now a 37-year-old with a 37-year-old of 25 years ago, in terms of the way they look after themselves, it is very different. Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting are so fit, healthy and hungry, there's nobody fitter than they are. If they're hungry, playing well and they're fit, why do we leave them out?"

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by AKS286 on (July 7, 2012, 17:54 GMT)

@ KHAWAJA fans i read many comments about khawaja since ashes is that tremendous talent, awesome talent, best batsman, very talented, khawaja is the replacement of punter,etc What type of talent he has? khawaja is the very much ordinary just below average batsman. a batsman who can't bats in ODIs. T20s & test.

Posted by AKS286 on (July 7, 2012, 17:43 GMT)

i read one of the column that "Warner will switch hit to swann" for this mr. warner you have be for 15 overs or better option bats in middle order.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 7, 2012, 12:26 GMT)

@jonesy2 on (July 07 2012, 07:35 AM GMT) re your last line - No just you

Posted by   on (July 7, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

Does Australia really have less young talent now than ever before? In the last 20 years or so how many young blokes have actually come in and held down a place for an extended period? Mark Waugh, Clarke, Ponting, Slater and i'm sure a couple of others that aren't springing to mind. In fact most of our 'greats' came in and departed again shortly thereafter. Hayden, Martyn, Langer, Katich, S.Waugh all had to go away and do a lot of work on their games in the manner of Hughes, Khawaja, Marsh and co. While others like Gilchrist, Lehmann and Mussey all came along later. It seems to me that we have a management issue as much as anything, in that recently the seasoned pro's have been summarily ignored while we've been seeing as many as two or three youngsters playing when perhaps we'd have looked a better balanced side, experience wise, with a Rogers, Hodge or Dussey in the team. Quite why the Likes of White and Smith have played any tests at all is beyond me.

Posted by jonesy2 on (July 7, 2012, 8:35 GMT)

is this a joke? arguably the best ODI batsman in the world in callum ferguson is left in australia along with shaun marsh, nic maddinson, chris lynn, james faulkner etc. HAS THE WHOLE WORLD GONE CRAZY!?

Posted by landl47 on (July 7, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

@Meety, I might buy that, but these figures kind of make me doubt it: 513-1, 620-5, 517, 644. If England can make those kind of scores against the top Australian bowling, either England are even better than I thought they were or the top Australian bowling wasn't so hot. I think Cummins, Pattinson and Starc have a chance to be a really good seam attack, but the Aus batsmen haven't compiled their career averages against them. The fact is I can't remember any time when Aus had so few young promising batsmen. You'll know, from what I have repeatedly written, that I admire the Aussie grit and determination and I know that no series against them is ever going to be easy. I'm also sure that new players will come along. However, just at the moment, it's hard to escape the feeling that Australia is in for a tough few years.

Posted by Meety on (July 6, 2012, 23:03 GMT)

@mayan820/Viljoen - you are basing your assumption on 2 games? What about the 3 games in Sth Africa last year? Am I reading it right, you are relying on Pakistan to horribly wound the Ozzy mentality? No wonder Sth Africa are..... CHOKERS! LOL!

Posted by 5wombats on (July 6, 2012, 18:49 GMT)

@Marcio - what a little larrikin; "luck"! C'mon - who are you in real life? - Dave Hughes?

Posted by JG2704 on (July 6, 2012, 16:33 GMT)

@Mayan820 on (July 05 2012, 21:57 PM GMT) I seem to remember the average Aus batting line up chasing a 300+ total against your all conquering bowling line up in the last test and didn't the average OD side also beat SA in the OD series there. It's amazing how we are getting a growing trend of SA fans who believe in their own hype.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (July 6, 2012, 15:58 GMT)

@CricHorizon well said mate, great to see Inevarity metion Khawaja as he along with Forrest will be the key batsman in the coming years for Australia.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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