England v Australia, NatWest Series, Old Trafford

Australia make sacrifices to focus on Test rebuilding

A 4-0 beating by England will not go down well at home but Australia's ODI fortunes pale in significance when set alongside the Ashes

Daniel Brettig at Old Trafford

July 10, 2012

Comments: 96 | Text size: A | A

Steven Smith played a busy innings before falling for 21, England v Australia, 5th ODI, Old Trafford, July 10, 2012
Players such as Steven Smith have been picked in Australia's ODI side with an eye to their long-term development © Getty Images

During an era in which the Test team slipped to No. 5 and the Ashes were humiliatingly lost at home, Tim Nielsen spoke with pride of retaining Australia's No. 1 ODI ranking. Whenever he did so, Nielsen sounded rather like a sea captain happy to reach home port in a lifeboat after his ship had sunk.

The final time Nielsen said it, in Sri Lanka last year, he had already paid for the Test team's decline with his job. Apart from the former Cricket Australia chairman Jack Clarke, few in Australian cricket appeared to derive any satisfaction whatsoever from remaining No. 1 in the one-day format. Of itself, the ranking meant little, particularly when it was no longer validated by retention of the World Cup. Its value, relative to the equivalent perch in Test matches, is minor.

Ten months later and the team's heaviest ever defeat in a bilateral ODI series will cause plenty of ugly headlines and a spell of navel-gazing about how much ground has actually been gained on England since the last Ashes. Yet it is possible to conclude that this tour is less a sign of Australian cricket's malaise than a side-effect of the national team's more streamlined priorities. While Nielsen's successor, Mickey Arthur, has raged against how his "submissive" team have been "bullied" by England and not shown enough "mongrel", their 4-0 drubbing has taken place at least partly because much of the team's focus and resources have now been funnelled more directly into the development of the Test XI.

The Argus Review made patently clear that greater prominence had to be given to Test cricket, from a "premium" of payments given to Test players to the prioritising of continuity in selections and coaching appointments for Tests over ODI or Twenty20 assignments. In fact, some passages of the review suggested that ODI and T20 matches be used as a proving ground for players of the future, and the squad chosen for these five matches against England had a decidedly developmental slant.

The selection panel, led by John Inverarity and including the captain, Michael Clarke, resolved last summer to use the ODI team as a way of testing the abilities of players who may then graduate to the Test team. They were chosen ahead of others who might be better suited to Australia's ODI XI but with flaws more likely to be exposed at Test level. Earlier in the series, Inverarity stated his intention.

"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," he said. "They've tasted, they've toured, they know the guys, and they're familiar."

This is why a plodding batsman like Peter Forrest has been given an extended run in limited-overs games, for his deliberate approach may one day prove useful in Tests. George Bailey and the recently recalled Steve Smith are another two to find themselves in the ODI team with an eye on future contests in other formats. Perhaps the most obvious casualty of this new priority is Callum Ferguson, who is likely to be waiting quite some time to add to his 663 ODI runs at 41.43 due to a technique deemed unsuitable for five-day examinations. Cameron White's card seems similarly marked.

"Returning the Test team to No. 1 in the world and regaining the Ashes sit well in front of the ODI rankings in the national team's priorities"

Of the more speculative choices on tour, Bailey has fared best by a distance, rounding off his efforts with a sparky 46 from 41 balls to ensure the visitors had something to bowl at in the gloom at Old Trafford. He will follow it up by staying on for Australia A's matches against the England Lions, and further decent scores there will go a long way to pressing his case for an Ashes tour berth. So too will his continued exhibition of leadership skills befitting the man chosen as Twenty20 captain.

In the bowling attack there has been a similar sense of asset management. Three of Australia's best-performing Test bowlers over the past year have been Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris and Nathan Lyon. Yet none have been considered for too much ODI duty in recent times, preferred as five-day weapons. It is a point of considerable contrast with England. Inverarity said earlier this year that he wanted to let Siddle loose in Tests. "He was lionhearted and wonderful [against India] and we look forward to him returning," he said. "But he's not in our short-term ODI plans."

Instead of showcasing Australia's first-choice attack, limited-overs games are now also being used to re-introduce players to the national squad after injury, as has happened with Mitchell Johnson. While his role in the three formats will become clearer with time, Johnson has reacquainted himself with the team and their support staff on this trip, which will help him to be more settled next time he is chosen, even if his bowling has looked some way short of the level required.

The overall standards of Australia's cricket are now assiduously monitored by the team performance manager, Pat Howard, in concert with the selectors and coaches, and he will not be happy with the displays put on against England over the past two weeks. At times the batting, bowling and fielding has reached similar depths to those explored during the 2010-11 Ashes series, much to the mirth of English spectators in London, Durham and Manchester.

Yet the difficulties encountered in England have been faced with future goals in mind, and a wider plan afoot. Returning the Test team to No. 1 in the world and regaining the Ashes sit well in front of the ODI rankings in the national team's priorities. The next World Cup lies three years away; the next Ashes series begins a year today. Australia's ODI team has been poor so far in 2012, but if the urn is regained in 2013 it will be considered a worthwhile sacrifice.

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by A_Vacant_Slip on (July 13, 2012, 21:19 GMT)

@Yevghenny - yes completely agree. @wombat - you never allow nonsense! :-)

Posted by Yevghenny on (July 13, 2012, 9:47 GMT)

India get criticism because of the level of ineptitude and embarrassment they achieved against England AND Australia. Honestly, it was a disgrace to test cricket

Posted by JG2704 on (July 13, 2012, 8:41 GMT)

@TheBengalTiger on (July 12 2012, 13:02 PM GMT) Despite what JG says? Not at all. Eng get labelled green top bullies or "only good in home conditions" all the time.Personally I'm with Meety in that it basically takes a different kind of skill to perform on different surfaces and we've recently seen in tests that Eng struggled to bat in UAE and in India in ODIs and we've seen India struggle in Eng and Aus but India batsmen found it ok in India and Eng and Aus batsmen found it ok in their countries because respective batsmen are more used to playing in certain conditions. This is why I don't use the Flat Track Bullies myself.But it's kind of strange that you still say that India are thee only side to get labelled with their "home conditions" tag when you yourself were saying about Australia's "Tailor made conditions". If you're going to complain about being labelled as a "home conditions" side then it's wrong to label the others the same? Please publish

Posted by Meety on (July 13, 2012, 1:21 GMT)

@TheBengalTiger - prior to the consecutive away whitewashes, India were unfairly labelled flat track bullies. I really dislike the term "flat track bully" as the undisputable fact is, if Indian pitches were easy to bat on, why don't all foreign batsmen excel there? They don't, there is a skill required to play on those pitches (bat & ball). I don't like Indian pitches - as IMO, there is not enough bounce, so a lot of cross bat shots out of play, & pace bowlers are hampered. I believe that the type of pitches India have, mean that they will always underperform away from home. This will forever perpetuate the "flat track bully" phrase. India did have one of their best away periods prior to the whitewash v England. The subsequent whitewash in Oz though, means that India do not have much credibility away from home & it will take a while to get it back.

Posted by Meety on (July 12, 2012, 23:35 GMT)

@RightArmEverything - I think the theory was okay, although it was really the 3rd ODI series in a row it was done & I think it is wearing a bit thin. In isolation, the squad v England was okay with the "blooding" premise in mind, but they "blooded" players in the WIndiies & Oz recently as well. So I would certainly hope, that Tests are not in the equation for the series v Pakistan.

Posted by 5wombats on (July 12, 2012, 22:41 GMT)

@Bhavesh Patwal on (July 12 2012, 08:28 AM GMT) - An excellent clear and unbiased comment. There is a lot of misrepresentation on this England V Australia thread coming from certain people. We tend to be unrelenting on such posters - but when we see a comment like yours - then we see the true side of Cricinfo Conversations. Thank you!

Posted by RightArmEverything on (July 12, 2012, 13:52 GMT)

I think the selectors decided to take on a selection policy for the Aust ODI team that they knew would not be popular but that they see necessary at the moment. I'm certain it's temporary. Some people don't like it, some find it 'repugnant'. We'd all like to see the best possible team play at all times, but I think many are overreacting. Some of the names I've seen mentioned as more worthy of selection based on performance, with good reason, will either be retired (by choice or not) or nearing it by the time the 2015 World Cup arrives e.g. Voges, Hopes, Ponting, Rogers. I'm sure there are some others that could have been in the squad that were unlucky e.g. Ferguson. I'm sure the selectors will have adjusted their policy to pick the best team possible well before the WC. With the Ashes are a year away, giving potential test players a taste of English conditions against some of England's best players isn't a bad idea, even if you don't like it.

Posted by TheBengalTiger on (July 12, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

5wombatz- I didnt realise we were couinting series against Bangladesh/West Indies/ New Zealand, teams that, with all due respect, rarely put up a challenge. India have a;lso beaten all these teams away, it doesnt stop people saying we only win at home etc etc. My overall point is that every single team in this current era is playing poorly in unfamilier conditions. Yet, despite what jg2704 says, India are the ones who get labelled flat track bullies etc etc, when our record in unfamilier conditions over the past decade is much better than Englands. We dont even produce rank turners any more, which i believe we should.

Posted by 5wombats on (July 12, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

@Piyush Nigam. LOL, LOL, LOL. So - winning an ODI series in South Africa is "inconsequential" is it? How insulting to the South Africans. IF india had EVER won anything in South Africa they would be on here trumpetting about it and it wouldn't be inconsequential then. The answer to your question is in the last year, one Vs Sri Lanka. Now, here are some questions for you, and just to make it easy for you we'll supply the answers. How many Tests did india win in either Aus or Eng in their last series? 0. How many Test series have india ever won in either SA or Aus? 0. How many ODI series have india ever won in SA? 0. How many ODI matches did india win in England last year? 0. If india are so great - then how come there are so many zeroes? What makes you think we need to take we need to dismissive comments like yours seriously? please publish

Posted by   on (July 12, 2012, 8:28 GMT)

@Piyush- ENG have won series in SL & Pak in 01 before losing series(s) there in 07 & 12( UAE ) & in India,they lost in 02,but drew in 06 by 1-1 & then lost in 08 by just 1-0.However, at the same time Asian teams`record away from sub-continent is even poorer as IND,SL,Pak have never won test series in SA or Aus which ENG has. And as far as WC goes-ENG struggled all through 90s & early 20s in ODIs, last year they lost to finalists SL & were depleted after the loss of KP,Broad,Shehzad-it was really a 2nd string team. Since then ENG have performed quite well, except 5-0 loss against India, they have won everything and do not ever forget that when ENG won that T20 game at Kolkata, they won the trophy too while India failed to win even a single game in England. ENG are great at home like any other great side, they win in Aus,NZL,SA,Windies away too but struggle in Asia, but even Gr8 Aussie side of late 90s/early 20s won in IND,SL,Pak( in UAE) after 2-3 attempts,then ENG have just started.

Posted by   on (July 12, 2012, 6:55 GMT)

5wombats! You mentio some inconsequential ODI series. when was the last time england made semifinals in ODI world cup? How many tests have england won in Asia?

Posted by HatsforBats on (July 11, 2012, 22:44 GMT)

@jmcilhinney; my point is that the aggregate didn't matter in determining the end result. This is Australias first series loss under Clarke (10 or so series); they deserve to be #1 for their results. It is such a shame though that selectorial issues are impacting on team performance.

Posted by HatsforBats on (July 11, 2012, 22:32 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding, I would say Australia were in worse form last Ashes than what Eng were in 06/07; the results still stand, both sides were flogged by superior sides.

Posted by CoorparooMaverick on (July 11, 2012, 22:15 GMT)

Its quite simple, Eng are at the top of their game, Oz are trying to find then next team which doesn't look like it is there yet, there just isn't the cattle going around, yet. the bowlers will be there in time but the batting looks a real issue. Credit to Eng they have been building for this for 10 years so they will have, the past couple and the next 2 or 3, years as being a quality side by which time i hope Oz have found 4 good bats. I guess the "rebuilding" stage goes for as long as it takes to get you back to no. 1 in tests.

Posted by 5wombats on (July 11, 2012, 21:16 GMT)

@TheBengalTiger. No mate - the thing that gets forgotten is England sweeping the ODIs in UAE, drawing the Test series in South Africa and Sri Lanka, winning ODI series in South Africa, Bangladesh, West Indies and New Zealand and last of all winning the Tests in Australia. Is anyone seriously trying to claim that these AWAY results ( you know - games that are thousands of miles AWAY from England) were on pitches prepared to suit England? Mmmm... Yeah maybe some people are.

Posted by jackthelad on (July 11, 2012, 20:57 GMT)

Of course I adore Mr. Brettig, he is the rock of cricketing wisdom that my world is founded upon, how could he ever utter an incorrect analysis?

Posted by JG2704 on (July 11, 2012, 19:52 GMT)

@jb633 on (July 11 2012, 12:58 PM GMT) Away means sub continent because Australia doesn't count as we play them all the time and they have exactly the same pitches as us and it;s just next door - or so they say

Posted by JG2704 on (July 11, 2012, 19:50 GMT)

@TheBengalTiger on (July 11 2012, 17:11 PM GMT) Sorry but re "All teams have pitches tailored at home. For some reason, its only India that gets abused for it" that is utter rubbish. Eng are always getting the home track stereotype comms and you yourself have just said about Aus tailor made pitches. Which format are we talking here because if we are talking ODIs only then we won the ODI series 4-0 in UAE and if we are talking tests only then that takes out the ODI whitewash in India. If we're talking all 3 formats then I believe our record in Ind/SL/UAE (in non WC matches in the last 9 months/3 tours) would be Played 18 , W 8 L 10 which is not great but hardly as appalling as it is made out to be by many

Posted by cool2cool on (July 11, 2012, 18:44 GMT)

Hard to believe that they surrendered so easily....

Posted by Beertjie on (July 11, 2012, 17:49 GMT)

I too fear another disaster at the 2015 WC (didn't they learn anything from the 1992 WC?). The ODI selections ought to be separate from the test selections, or you'll continue to have 4-0 disasters. But enough of the doom + gloom. Two viable squads can take on the Poms next year in both forms. I like some of the suggestions of @ Huw AtYorkstreet. My test team would be: Warner, Rogers, M. Hussey, Clarke, D. Hussey, Watson, Wade/Paine, Lyon, then 3 quicks on a rotational/conditions policy comprising Siddle, Pattinson, Hilfenhaus, Cummins, Harris. Sure Cummins and Harris are injury prone, but if they are rotated/nursed they can play the role we fans expect. Starc ought to be in the mix, too. The ODI squad ought to be chosen with 2015 in mind: Warner, Wade, Clarke, D. Hussey, Ferguson, Bailey, Watson/Christian, O'Keefe/Lyon, Starc, McKay, Cummins (on a rotational basis)/any other quicks.

Posted by TheBengalTiger on (July 11, 2012, 17:11 GMT)

@Jg2704- I agree. All teams have pitches tailored at home. For some reason, its only India that gets abused for it. Look at England, going and getting whitewashed in India and Pakistan, but its all forgotten as long as they win at home. Thats why it annoys me when India no longer produce rank turners. EVeryone else is producing pitches to suit themselves. Why dont we do the same anymore?

Posted by marlon17 on (July 11, 2012, 16:52 GMT)

poor selection by Aussies selectors cost the series...... how can they ignore experience, effective players like Ponting, White, Shaun Marsh... I think Marsh is way better ODI batsman than Forest, Bailey, Smith .. Still hard to believe he is not in this ODI team

Posted by din7 on (July 11, 2012, 13:37 GMT)

sorry to say but this team will play in ashes then it will be 5-0. I luv aus and will always for the competetivenes they show. But forest, smith are in no way tests material...u guys can't see that. u forgot khawaja who has best technique among all. If aus want success in both odis and t20, then bring bach ferguson, siddle in ODIs and khawaja in tests, drop forest and smith for lifetime. bailey is ok. come on aussies wake up. im indian but i still want to see AUS ON TOP in all formats!

Posted by hyclass on (July 11, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

I may never be witness to a less intelligent policy than that espoused by CA, Inverarity and Co.The only policy that has ever or will ever promote the highest levels of excellence possible,is to mandate selection based on performance over time.The national side is not,nor should it ever be a creche for those whose records oppose their selection in that format or at this time.I fail to understand how a mediocre 1st class player with no supporting statistics is going to be improved by exposure to repeated failure at the hands of far superior players.I find it repugnant that any game in which a player represents their country is treated with such disdain.The policy overwhelmingly suggests the strongest belief that the players lack the credibility and character to make the team based on their own game as generations have for the last 130 years.The rantings of Arthur and equally obtuse and revelatory ones by Inverarity suggest that the lack of direction and character begins at the top.

Posted by   on (July 11, 2012, 13:26 GMT)

Poor selections by Aus, for the last 5 years. Not willing to move on Ricky; stubbornly sticking with mediocrity like Johnson, Hughes, Doherty, Smith & Hauritz; dropping people after man-of-match efforts (Hodge and Krezja). PICK THE BEST PLAYERS. My test AND odi team would be: Warner, Cowan, Watson, Clarke, M. Hussey, D. Hussey, Wade, Lyon, then 3 quicks on a rotational/conditions policy comprising Siddle, Pattinson, Cummins, Hilfenhaus, Harris & Mckay. Stick all the other players in the T20 side - Bailey, Forrest, Doherty, Haddin, Starc, Tait, Lee, all the young ones etc.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 11, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

@TheBengalTiger on (July 11 2012, 10:54 AM GMT) HMM - Not sure it's as cut and dry as you say. Regardless of tailor made pitches , surely either all home sides tailor make pitches or none do. Also I wouldn't have thought SL or SA pitches were tailor made for Australia

Posted by JG2704 on (July 11, 2012, 13:23 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding on (July 11 2012, 10:58 AM GMT) Thought so

Posted by jb633 on (July 11, 2012, 12:58 GMT)

@JG2704, just always remember that the only wins that count are those against Inida in India. @Popcorn, even as an English fan, I am worried by the lack of quality in the Aussie batting ranks. I think Aus missed a trick, not selecting D. Hussey a few years ago and making him a permanent fixture of this team. Having watched Aus a fair bit in the last year I think the Hussey brothers are the two best Australian batsmen in ODI cricket and I am sure he would have done well in tests too. Does anyone know why he has not played test cricket? I can't see Warner making any runs against England given his technical fault of not getting into line properly. Watson is a good cricketer and he will be fine. I think Ponting's best days are gone. Clarke is a good player, but struggles against the moving ball. I think it is essential for Aus to get D. Hussey into that line up. He has played for years in county cricket and can playb swing bowling. I think Paine should keep too, Wade wasnt convincing

Posted by joseyesu on (July 11, 2012, 12:21 GMT)

Against a good bowling attack like SA and Eng, AUS is always going to suffer. If the teams played against Ind, then the same team would have performed far better. Remenber the series with NZ where NZ won the match comfortably against AUS, whereas Ind was not able to do in the concurrent series. Apart from Hussey's, Aus will find it's feet planted to the so called no.1 status

Posted by Daniel_Smith on (July 11, 2012, 12:01 GMT)

As much as I'm enjoying seeing England beat Australia I think it's worth bearing the following things in mind. The weather this year is dreadful, that undoubtedly plays into England's hands. We're used to this grey skies and constant rain (although we are a bit fed up of it). If we'd beaten Aus 5-0 in their own backyard I'd be much more impressed. Second point, Australia are re-building. They used this tour to try out players and evaluate them. That's smart thinking. Give it time. Never underestimate Australia. I'm English and remember the punishment beatings the Aussies routinely handed out to us. England don't become smug and complacent.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (July 11, 2012, 11:53 GMT)


Posted by wnwn on (July 11, 2012, 11:43 GMT)

I predict that the Australian test top 3 of Cowan, Warner and Watson along with Wade will really struggle against the English bowlers. Only Ponting, Clarke and M Hussey have the technique to combat them. The Australian bowlers apart from Cummins do not have the pace to trouble England's batsmen and so he is vital to their chances.

Posted by   on (July 11, 2012, 11:24 GMT)

Steve Smith should be just kept for a swish swash role in T20s. They need a genuine marauder at 6 or 7.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 11, 2012, 11:23 GMT)

@HatsforBats on (July 11 2012, 10:19 AM GMT), I don't think that aggregating scores over four separate Ashes series is quite the same thing as aggregating scores over the preliminary and finals stages of a single tournament. My point is that, while Marcio likes to bring up England's admittedly poor series against Australia and India in the last 18 months while ignoring their good showing in UAE, he also likes to ignore the fact that Australia's most recent results have not been particularly stellar. Australia are not playing great ODI cricket at the moment. Whether that turns out to be temporary dip or the beginning of a slide remains to be seen but Marcio's assurances that all will be fine simply because Australia have won previously seems a bit baseless. No, it's not cause for panic but it is cause for concern.

Posted by RandyOZ on (July 11, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

With the extreme depth in Australia, none of which is imported, I am not worried at all about our stocks. What I am worried about is the guys at the top coaching. Langer and Arthur have done absolutely nothing, and it is no coincidence we falted as soon as McDermott left. This is not a good United XI side, mamke no mistake, this is simply just a poorly coached and selected Australian side.

Posted by Rishi_is_right on (July 11, 2012, 11:06 GMT)

Daniel you've hit the nail on the head. Its a shame that the present is been compromised to prepare the future...Lennon said Life is what happens to you when you're PLANNING for the future. In this case it was a limp 4-0 surrender. Spectators PAY to watch the fiercest competition possible not a second choice AMATEUR team being thrashed. Ferguson is arguably the best batter in the country and certainly most stylish from the spectators point of view. Its a pity and a shame. Cameron White could have bullied AUS given a chance....a few of his hard sixes and English bowlers would have ran for cover (remember how the reacted to Yuvi's onslaught). I hope good sense prevails in the end and the selectors get the right idea before AUS gets to the level of BANG or ZIM

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (July 11, 2012, 10:58 GMT)

@JG2704, Langer as been the Australian batting coach since 2009....@HatsforBats, interesting numbers there 8-7 in Aus's favour, boosted by our somewhat dismal showing in the 06/7 series, where we rightly got mauled by the last fling of a great Australian team, and poor captaincy Flintoff.

Posted by TheBengalTiger on (July 11, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

Clearly England have been the better side. This article is just, with respect, making up excuses. The Australian test team is a shadow of its former self. Beating a poor India side in conditions specifically tailored to suit you means nothing. Look at your bowlers now- they looked great on fast and bouncy pitches, but poor when the pitchees dont help them.

Posted by ozwriter on (July 11, 2012, 10:34 GMT)

yes Mr inverarity is giving a few players game time before the ashes. but he also thinks that these players are the best players in the country. so he's not actually sacrificing anything. the problem is that he is not giving the best players in the country the chances. forrest and bailey are not amongst the top 6 batsmen in australia in ANY format. so why have they been selected? the fact that a battling scrappy 46 off 41 balls is bailey's 'highlight' is an indictment on his selection and the current selection policy.

Posted by ozwriter on (July 11, 2012, 10:29 GMT)

Poor analysis Mr Brettig. I think your discussion here is way too hypothetical. It only serves as an excuse to justify the humiliating whitewash we have suffered at the hands of a better prepared, better skilled and better coached England team.

Posted by JG2704 on (July 11, 2012, 10:22 GMT)

@ RandyOZ on (July 11 2012, 07:27 AM GMT) Were Langer and Arthur instilled since the SA and SL series last year then?

Posted by JG2704 on (July 11, 2012, 10:22 GMT)

@ Graemo Ov Trablus on (July 11 2012, 06:51 AM GMT) Of course home conditions favours any home side , but we do play pretty much the same amount of series away as at home - despite what some on here might have you believe

Posted by JG2704 on (July 11, 2012, 10:22 GMT)

@ tanstell87 on (July 11 2012, 06:24 AM GMT) It's nothing to do with revenge . It's just a fact we won 4-0 and even if it was revenge how would it be relevant to defeats to Pakistan and India? Seems very strange that you mention a 3-0 defeat to India from 1993 - that's 19 years ago - when India beat us 5-0 at the end of last year

Posted by HatsforBats on (July 11, 2012, 10:19 GMT)

@ jmcilhinney; with regards to marcio commenting on Australia's recent odi successes and their record against SL. Yes the home series aggregate went in SL's favour, but Aus won the series and the away series. England have won 3 of the last 4 Ashes series (as I'm sure you're well aware, as I am painfully aware), yet the scoreline for those matches stands at 8-7 in Australia's favour. I know what I'd prefer. Strange times indeed for Cricket Australia; under the previous administrators our test fortunes declined, now under the current, our test stock rise as our odi team is tampered with to its detriment.

Posted by popcorn on (July 11, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

As a Strategy, this looks excellent. I would then have played Usman Khawaja instead osf Steve Smith. Only George Bailey emerges as a sureshot for the Ashes 2013 in England. David Hussey is another, though not as certain as George Bailey. Peter Forrest was a disappointment at Number 3.

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (July 11, 2012, 10:15 GMT)

with the kind of bowling resources they have they can tell watson to concentrate on his batting and forget bowling , kick out MJ and bring in mitch starc , daniel christian for smith , callum ferguson in place of forrest , and did everyone forget about copeland ?

Posted by JG2704 on (July 11, 2012, 10:09 GMT)

@Meety on (July 11 2012, 00:59 AM GMT) Bailey did pretty well in a couple of the ODIs although I find it strange that he's the T20 captain as he looks more of a test player. The one guy who came out of this tour with reputation enhanced is Mckay. As I put on another post I'm sure Aus (even the players who were picked) are much better than they showed in this series

Posted by   on (July 11, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

The Aussies have the IPL to blame. Their attitude and standards are taking a dip. The ECB is not giving in to the BCCI's demands that easy. Hope they remain that way and focus on real cricket. I'd like to see how the South Africans fare against England. I hope they take a drubbing. I'd also like to see India take a drubbing when we host England sometime this year.

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (July 11, 2012, 9:40 GMT)

As someone who loved to watch Australia play their usual fiery brand of cricket this is pathetic. whose bright idea is to make ODI a testing lab for test cricket , don't they have domestic first class and a tours for that ?? all lame excuses , selectors made boneheaded decisions and paid the price for it . these days Australian writers are sounding more like their English counterparts who used to say 'we prioritize test cricket, odi doesnt matter anyway..' (until they started winning odis)

Posted by 5wombats on (July 11, 2012, 9:22 GMT)

@HatsforBats - hey mate! Boy or Girl? :-)

Posted by 5wombats on (July 11, 2012, 8:54 GMT)

@jmcilhinney on (July 11 2012, 07:02 AM GMT) - he got one of those on Boxing Day 2010, but it doesn't seem to have made any difference.

Posted by   on (July 11, 2012, 8:48 GMT)

These statements from before the series: 1) Warner - We're expecting England to play two spinners. (Had noone told him what England was like)? 2) Watson - England's long tail is a problem (Bresnan Broad Swann being a problem tail)? 3) Warner - "Just think it's giving her something to do" - re Gemma Broad turning up to do analysis. (No, it's called being prepared, and finding out about your opponents).

This Aussie team clearly had not been briefed on what either England or the England team were like. When I read Warner's comment about Gemma Broad, my immediate thought was "Well, that's the next two Ashes series wrapped up then. Come back when you're serious". That England are way ahead of everyone in terms or preparation and organization is obvious. That Australia haven't even recognized that is disturbing.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 11, 2012, 8:45 GMT)

@RandyOZ on (July 11 2012, 07:27 AM GMT), as for your constant attacks on Mickey Arthur, while I don't claim that he is the best coach for Australia, or even necessarily a good coach, I have to wonder how, if a tough, never-say-die attitude is so inherently Australian, how experienced players like Ponting, Clarke, Lee and Watson can so quickly lose their way. Are you saying that their ability to win previously was only as a result of the coach and as soon as that influence is gone they revert to slack chokers?

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 11, 2012, 8:42 GMT)

@RandyOZ on (July 11 2012, 07:27 AM GMT), yes, Australia are still #1. We remember that, as instructed, but we're still sitting in the corner drinking tea and laughing when we think about how they "came to get us". We are all waiting with great anticipation for them to come and get us again in next year's Ashes. As for Australia's still being #1 being the main thing, that's rather sad given that, if I'm not mistaken, they are guaranteed to lose it to the winner of the SA/England series. I guess that might end 2-2 with Australia's 12th man, the rain, stepping in to save them again. I'm sure that, after England's loss to Pakistan in UAE, you said that England were still #1 and that was the main thing. If I was you, I'd think that the main thing was that the team were playing well enough to get them back to #1 after they lose it. Maybe when your pace battery all averaging 150 clicks finally tun up they will be able to stop this current slide. You said it: Australia are no England.

Posted by   on (July 11, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

Let's do all we can to take away what was a fine all round Eng performance. If Australia had won, the story would have been how this will have given them a psychological edge for next year. Facts are Australia are just not good enough test team or one day team. Pattinson bowled well against NZ. Hardly world beaters though are they??!! With Aus they must accept that they had their time. just like WI before them and now SA and Eng

Posted by RandyOZ on (July 11, 2012, 7:27 GMT)

Australia are still number 1 and that's the main thing. We just hope that Arthur and Langer get sacked because they are breeding a culture of failure in the team.

Posted by cric_fan_ on (July 11, 2012, 7:16 GMT)

hehe, this article shows that how much a whitewash dents team's psyche that they start making absurd comments to justify the whitewash. After seeing this performance from Australia, the question which comes to mind is "is Australia going down the windies line?" The symptoms have started to show, let's hope the board doesn't get in denial mode and tries to steer the ship before it hits the iceberg.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 11, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

@Graemo Ov Trablus on (July 11 2012, 06:51 AM GMT), home conditions will generally have an effect and the current conditions may well be more English than is usually the case. That should have been more of an issue for the batsmen than the bowlers though. Just look at the plethora of low scores in county cricket this year. The Australian bowlers failed to trouble the England batsmen significantly, including someone like Hilfenhaus, for whom the conditions should have been ideal. As for the batsmen, David Hussey is an example of a player many Australians are saying should be considered for the Test team and has played plenty of cricket in England, and he played one genuinely significant innings this series. England have work to do away from home, no doubt, but they are playing a brand of cricket at the moment that could potentially win them the 2015 WC. UAE against Pakistan was also a good sign for the ODI team at least so a good performance in India would be a sign of real progress.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 11, 2012, 7:02 GMT)

@Marcio, I'd say that you need a bit of a reality check. Australia's ODI team HAVE been poor so far in 2012. Yes, Australia beat SL and SA, but both of those series were played in 2011, so they have no relevance. Australia won the CB Series, yes, but you are still apparently unwilling to acknowledge that that included a 3-4 head-to-head loss to SL. Even with the series win, they were pushed hard all the way at home by the same SL that they beat away. They also scraped to a 2-2 draw against an (I believe) 8th-ranked WI missing three of their best limited-overs batsmen. Now, despite your confident predictions of victory, Australia have been comprehensively whitewashed by England, most likely retaining the #1 spot thanks only to rain. If that's your idea of mostly good then your standards must be rather low. It looks rather like a slide to me. Australia may well come good but to deny that there are some bad signs at the moment is simply burying your head in the sand.

Posted by wix99 on (July 11, 2012, 6:58 GMT)

I am surprised Dan Christian didn't get picked for this tour. I would put him in the side ahead of Steve Smith. Hopefully Shaun Marsh can rediscover his cricketing talents. He can contribute a great deal to the ODI side.

Posted by   on (July 11, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

I'm an England fan, so don't take this the wrong way.... but.

England have been nigh on invincible at home for the last two or three years, but the last two summers have been... well poor springs really. And we are playing more games in May and September too. Is it possible that we are being heavily favoured by playing whole series conditions that only our players have ever really played in?

Posted by ravi_hari on (July 11, 2012, 6:33 GMT)

It is hard to believe that Aussies were prepared to loose a series against England. However, if they have planned it out, it gives a new dimension to professionalism in cricket. We know players are shielded against the rigours of ODI and T20 cricket to ensure that their test career goes the distance. However, it is surprising to see the entire team sacrificed for superiority in tests. It definitely sounds like an excuse. If Aussies were preparing the side for the future, they should have brought in some more fringe players like Christian, Ferguson, Rogers, etc. Where is Hauritz? They did not evern shuffle the batting order to test players. David Hussey should have been sent in at No.3 and Bailey should have opened. It looked as though Aussies were forced to play this series. No one looked interested and no one made an attempt to perform or win. A rare display from Aussies. They fight till the end, but here gave it up too early. Hope the sacrifice pays in the long run.

Posted by tanstell87 on (July 11, 2012, 6:24 GMT)

England gives 4-0 to another team....first it was India then Pakistan & now Australia...but this is England's revenge for losing to India 3-0(1993),Pakistan 3-0(2012) & Australia 5-0(2007)

Posted by waheed1233 on (July 11, 2012, 6:16 GMT)

Dear Mr. Selector, I have been a great supporter of Aussies since I have understood Cricket. What I understand of Aussie Cricket now is that there was serious lack of succession plan for the post Hayden, Warne, McGrath era. Whatever your plan is with the side, plz include succession plan in it as well. My team for ODIs would be: Wade (Opener), Warner, S. Marsh, Clarke, M.Hussey, Watson, D.Hussey / Christian, Lyon / O'Keefe, Lee, McKay, Hilfenhaus. Team for Tests: Watson, Cowan, S. Marsh / Finch, Ponting, Clarke, M. Hussey, U. Khawja / P. Forrest / Finch / D. Hussey, Lyon, Cummins / Pattinson / Copeland, R. Harris, Siddle.

Posted by Muhtasim13 on (July 11, 2012, 6:15 GMT)

Dear Australia, please have the decency to accept that you were outplayed by the better team instead of trying to blame your ODI performance on prioritizing Tests. If your Test XI is really that good then lets see how well you guys do against South Africa & Sri Lanka this summer down under

Posted by trumpoz on (July 11, 2012, 6:00 GMT)

I'm surprised at all the negative comments about trialling players in the ODI matches to see if they are worth playing in tests. Although it was a different era, the last time Australia had to rebuild ourselves as a cricketing nation (ie border era) this was precisely the thing that happened during summer. I don't think it worked well for this series however as the English bowlers use the conditions exceptionally well and the team as a whole outplayed Australia. But the newer guys have had the experience in English conditions so should they be playing in Ashes 2013 hopefully it will make a difference.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 11, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

Prioritising Test cricket is one thing but deliberately weakening your ODI team is shameful. Maybe CA are arrogant enough to believe that their Test hopefuls are enough to keep them at the top of the ODI rankings but this series result says otherwise. If that is their ply and they keep it up then the next WC in Australia will be an embarrassment.

Posted by jackthelad on (July 11, 2012, 5:28 GMT)

How has it become 'received wisdom' that England fielded more or less a Test side while Australia experimented? Bopara, Morgan, Kieswetter, Finn are not regular England Test players, and Bell has had an in-and-out career which has rarely seen him an automatic choice. All these players lined up in the 1st ODI, while England also used the series to give Dernbach,Patel and Tredwell runs-out. England's top seven were missing three major Test figures in Strauss, Pietersen and Prior. No, the fact is that (even Aussies will tell you) the selection policies of Cricket Australia have been clothed in unaccountable nonsense for a number of years now, and this series shows they aint got any better. A humiliation against the 'Old Enemy' seems an idiosyncratic way to forge a bright new future. A cunning plan? No, just the same old wayward foolishness.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (July 11, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

oh so they wanted to be whitewashed? bold strategy!

I seriously dont think 1 australian would make it into the superb england side

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 11, 2012, 4:59 GMT)

If the point of this article is true then I guess Australian fans may as well give up watching ODI cricket with any hope of success for their team because a Test development team is hardly likely to rise far above the middle of the ODI rankings. If Brett Lee isn't already thinking about retiring, I'm fairly sure he would do so if the selectors told him that they aren't really trying to win ODIs any more. Does anyone really think that he would be happy to keep playing on a losing side so some Test hopefuls can get some experience? I also can't imagine that this series has done anything to enhance the potential Test career of someone like Peter Forrest. Would he relish the prospect of coming back next year to face a by-then-improved Steven Finn after this debacle?

Posted by Marcio on (July 11, 2012, 4:34 GMT)

@Julian Walter: "Australia have really lost their way, and long may it continue." All you have to do is look at the fact that (up till this series) Clarke hadn't lost a test or ODI series since he took over 18 months ago (winning 7, drawing 2, incl. 6 away series) to see that this is total baloney.

Posted by Marcio on (July 11, 2012, 4:26 GMT)

"Australia's ODI team has been poor so far in 2012" But wait. It beat SL and SA away, IND and SL at home, drew with WI away... then lost to ENG. A more accurate sentence would read: "Australia's ODI team has been mostly good so far in 2012, till the last series." But let's not let reality get in the way of journalism.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (July 11, 2012, 3:02 GMT)

Aussies will drop to No2 after ENG SA series.

Posted by prashnottz on (July 11, 2012, 2:48 GMT)

Lol it was England who were proclaiming they put ODIs on the backburner to concentrate on tests. Now its Australia's turn to do so.

Posted by Riderstorm on (July 11, 2012, 2:46 GMT)

Accept it, you were outplayed. It is as simple as that. About prioritizing tests, we'll know about that in the time to come.

Posted by unregisteredalien on (July 11, 2012, 2:33 GMT)

I'm finally starting to have some significant divergence of opinion with the new Aussie selectors. If we are focusing on Tests - which is fine - then let's start by getting Cowan* in for Forrest, Lyon in for Doherty, Christian in for Smith, and Anyone in for Johnson. Then can we please try to stabilise the dang batting order. *Cowan may look a plodder in Tests but it can't be denied that he's found an extra gear in domestic one-dayers, amply demonstrated in both Aus and Eng over the past year or so. **Well done England.

Posted by tmd1 on (July 11, 2012, 2:14 GMT)

gloves71 The West Indies were No1 test nation for a decade and a half with all players born in the West Indies ,Australia (apart from Symonds 18 tests at the end of their reign) dominated test cricket for over a decade with Australian born players,India got to No1 with all players born in India however your beloved England got their with JUST 7 players born in England.The sad fact is that over the last 4-5 years the less English born players in your team the better you have become.

Posted by demon_bowler on (July 11, 2012, 2:12 GMT)

So. It was all a cunning plan then.

Posted by   on (July 11, 2012, 1:56 GMT)

This is the kind of article, journo's back in the 90's wrote about England regrouping after yet another disaster. Surely you need to put your best team out, whatever. Australia have really lost their way, and long may it continue. Spent too many years yearning for English success. Please give it the credit its due and write about how even Bopara a second string bowler is better than any of the front line bowlers Australia have...... Classic

Posted by   on (July 11, 2012, 1:34 GMT)

Uh-huh. This is not convincing. If the ODI team is being used to groom future test players, and reintroduce players coming back from injury, then why was Mitchell Johnson only played in one match, and James Pattinson in just two.

As the series progressed, the Australians decided to follow the English lead and select a more test-like side, but that was not their original plan. The Australian squad in the first ODI, the squad that says the most about their original intentions for the tour, included David Hussey, who is almost 35 and has yet to make his test debut, Xavier Doherty, who ten years after his debut, has a first class bowling average of 44, and Brett Lee, who has retired from tests.

Posted by tfjones1978 on (July 11, 2012, 1:21 GMT)

I dont think Australia is sacrificing ODI for Test Cricket, but using a minor series as an experiment to improve the quality of the side. Four wins would have been meaningless but four losses will help. The side put in is Australia A side, one that needed experience to ensure that Australia can increase their depth for both ODI and test cricket. The cricket board is looking at the future of the Australian side and ensuring that our best players of the future have the experience needed now to produce good results in the future. Most readers of this web site think most ODI series are meaningless. I think this series showed how much Australia agrees with those readers.

Posted by aracer on (July 11, 2012, 1:04 GMT)

It's quite a funny excuse given England were largely using their test team to win this ODI series (the only players from the first choice test 11 not playing a part were Strauss, Pieterson and Prior - all clearly completely rubbish ODI players ;) ).

Posted by Meety on (July 11, 2012, 0:59 GMT)

Best article DB has produced in a while. Fact is Ferguson & White have better ODI credentials (throw in Voges too), than Bailey & Forrest. I must say on what I have seen so far, Bailey seems to be the fringe player who is stepping up to the plate (as the yanks say). Whether his efforts translates to potential test success is another matter (has he jumped ahead of DHussey for test selection?), the best thing about the schedule over the next 4 mths, is Oz will have had several rounds of Shield cricket before they pick a Test team to take on the Saffas. Glad that Siddle & Lyon are not in the ODI side, (even though I feel Lyon would excel in the format), I sit on the fence re: Harris. On the one hand he is obviously less of a risk in an ODI, but his Test record is worth considering. I think Pup will go have a chat with Warney & sort his plans out, so I am quite confident we'll more than match the Safricans!

Posted by CreamIce on (July 11, 2012, 0:59 GMT)

Pathetic excuses. Using ODI's to find Test players? lol. Ever heard of FC cricket and A tours? Its official then, Inverarity is worse than Hidilch. At least his panel still gave us success in ODI's. Its sad really. They talk these days as if losing everything is all right as long as we win the Ashes and the World Cup. Oh how low Australian cricket have sunk.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (July 11, 2012, 0:52 GMT)

Sacrificing ODIs for Tests could leave us with being top at neither. Simply chose the best players for every format. Purely and simply some players excell at the shorter formats, why sacrifice the career of Fergusson to allow a tortoise like Forrest play in a format he in not suited to? If this theory was used years ago Michael Bevan and Simon Odonell would have never played ODI cricket. Dumb, just plain dumb.

Posted by Gizza on (July 11, 2012, 0:52 GMT)

The best Test teams have nearly always been the best ODI teams as well in the last 40 years. Think of the former West Indies and Australian teams. Also Pakistan for a short period in the early 90's as well as South Africa being No. 2 in both forms for a long time. Even recently India doing well in Tests and the World Cup on home soil. Only Sri Lanka in the mid 90's seem to be a bit of an exception. Point is, try to do well in both. Try to do well in T20 as well. The difference between Tests and T20 is still miniscule compared to cricket and any other sport even baseball. Basic skills like fielding, running between the wickets, bowling accurately and if possible with spin/swing/seam/bounce, and timing the ball and picking the gaps when batting are universals. If a team lacks in any of these it will show in all forms of cricket.

Posted by   on (July 11, 2012, 0:34 GMT)

A muddle-headed policy at best, & one that's backfired horribly in this case, as the players in question - with the possible exception of Bailey - have had their collective confidence not enhanced but dented significantly. Given that Australia A - whose squad includes Forrest, Bailey, Smith, Johnson & Pattinson - now have an England tour ahead of them, wasn't *that* the time to experiment?

Posted by Simoc on (July 11, 2012, 0:30 GMT)

I remember England being weak and pathetic just a few months back against Pakistan and that was in test matches. We will see what happens in the Ashes!

Posted by Chris_P on (July 11, 2012, 0:18 GMT)

So gloves71, by your logic, following England's 3-0 loss from Pakistan in their last test series, England would also be pathetic & have lack of skill in tests?

Posted by tragicmagic on (July 11, 2012, 0:05 GMT)

Anyone notice that George Bailey was the third highest run scorer for the series, av 49.5. Unfortunately he was surrounded by 5 Englishmen.

Posted by bobagorof on (July 10, 2012, 23:47 GMT)

It was perfectly obvious why Peter Forrest was in the team. It is also perfectly obvious that he shouldn't be there. He had a purple patch last season but his form has deteriorated since then. Hopefully he can recapture it on the 'A' tour and for Queensland. He's been blooded now, though, so there's no need to keep him in a format that has never been his strength. The time used to be that Australia would pick its best team, confident that the domestic structure was producing players who could handle the big stage. I guess we're now developing players in International matches, and selection on merit is as far away as ever.

Posted by HatsforBats on (July 10, 2012, 23:18 GMT)

As an Australian cricket fan, not only am I embarrassed by the teams performance on this tour, I am bewildered by the administrative processes which seem to be the root cause. Full credit to England, without being tested they have been magnificent. Their performances have been thoroughly disciplined and professional, whilst Australia have played without cohesion or any great skill. For so long Australian teams prided themselves on their fitness; across the board England look stronger and fitter. If this was to be a tour to blood future test players, why is Lee being preferred to the very promising Starc? Doherty in place of Lyon? Phil Hughes has also been in good form in county cricket, and with his age & talent is surely still in the selectors plans for a test berth. It seems the Argus review was a cosmetic solution for the removal of Hilditch & Neilsen; meanwhile strange selection policies continue and our batting deficiencies deepen under the tutelage of Langer.

Posted by landl47 on (July 10, 2012, 23:12 GMT)

That's all well and good, but exactly what has been gained for the test team on this series? The new bowlers brought along couldn't get the England batsmen out. The batsmen couldn't handle the England attack. No new talent has been discovered; Bailey is almost 30 and although his career FC average of 40 isn't terrible, it's not the average of a dominating batsman. Pattinson has looked ordinary. Starc, one of Aus's real prospects, wasn't initially picked for the tour and when he was brought in wasn't given a game. Wade didn't live up to the pre-series hoopla. Watson and Cummins were injured- and not for the first time. Johnson and Hilf were no better than when England battered them in 2010/11. Smith's a great fielder, but doesn't look test class as either a batsman or a bowler. Warner is still inconsistent. Aus would do better to write off this series as meaningless than to try and pretend it helped them prepare for next year.

Posted by gloves71 on (July 10, 2012, 23:04 GMT)

Haha - what a pathetic "dog ate my homework" excuse. Australia were simply pathetic compared to England! The tables have turned completely and the only reason for Australia's wretched performance is their lack of skill. England are just better and much more professional.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (July 10, 2012, 22:45 GMT)

Nielsen found an excuse. We will see what will happen in the Ashes. The current England team is much more stronger than 2009 England team. On the other hand Current Australian team is much weaker than 2009 Australian team. I can smell what is going to happen next year.

Posted by   on (July 10, 2012, 22:43 GMT)

You can't have a blossoming test team and a shoddy one day team. It use to be what England did. Always caring about the Ashes and tests and not the world cup or one day game. Australia are putting too much focus on the ashes thinking they are gonna win all other series with ease. South Africa is your next test if Pakistan limited overs series is a pushover.

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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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