England v Australia, 3rd npower Test, Edgbaston

Hughes confirms axing on Twitter

Alex Brown

July 30, 2009

Comments: 119 | Text size: A | A

Andrew Flintoff, arms aloft, celebrates the wicket of Phillip Hughes, England v Australia, 1st Test, Cardiff, 2nd day, July 9, 2009
Phillip Hughes struggled against the hostility of Andrew Flintoff, and has been dropped for the third Test © Getty Images
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Phillip Hughes has confirmed his axing from the Australian XI for Edgbaston via a posting on the social networking site, Twitter. After a string of modest totals prompted by a susceptibility to short-pitched bowling, Hughes was dropped for Shane Watson in the most surprising selection move of the Ashes series to date.

"Disappointed not to be on the field with the lads today," Hughes posted several hours before the Australian team announcement. "Will be supporting the guys, it's a BIG test match 4 us. Thanks 4 all the support!"

Hughes managed 36, 4 and 17 at Sophia Gardens and Lord's, and posted scratchy innings of 10 and 68 in the most recent tour match against Northamptonshire. He had been expected to retain his place in the Australian starting XI on the back of his sublime debut series in South Africa, during which he posted centuries in both innings of the Durban Test, but fundamental flaws in his technique have prompted the selectors to act.

It is understood Watson will open the Australian innings in what represents a substantial gamble for the tourists. Despite impressive innings of 84 and 50 against Northants, Watson posseses a modest Test average (19.76) and has never batted higher than No. 6 in the five-day game. He has posted single-digit totals in his last four Test innings.

Watson has experienced moderate success batting higher in the order for Queensland, but has fared better opening the batting for the Australian one-day side. He has posted ODI centuries at the top of the order for Australia in the past year, having worked with Greg Chappell, the Australian centre of excellence coach, to tighten his technique.

Still, the move to replace Hughes with Watson comes as a shock on the eve of the third Test. Hughes, 20, arrived in England amid much fanfare following his prolific tour of South Africa (415 runs at 69.16) and a similarly successful stint with Middlesex (574 runs at 143.50). Hughes achieved the latter feat in just five innings, including three centuries, bettering Don Bradman's impressive start to his maiden first-class stint in England - 566 runs in five innings in 1930.

Any move to install Watson as Australia's new opener would also come as a surprise, given the quality of top-order candidates around the country. Chris Rogers, who played a solitary Test against India two years ago, has scored 408 runs at 45.33 for Derbyshire in 2009, following on from his successful debut season with Victoria. And Phil Jaques, who has reportedly recovered from a second round of back surgery, scored a century in his last Test innings and averages a robust 47.47 in 11 Test innings.

Evidence of the selectors' stunning move was on display at Australia's final pre-match training session at Edgbaston's indoor nets centre on Wednesday. Watson batted with tremendous intent during an extended net session with Tim Nielsen, the Australian coach. Several pundits had speculated the all-rounder could slot in for Marcus North at No. 6, but he will now be posted higher up the order as Australia seek to level the Ashes series.

"In the end, all I can do is perform and see what the selectors are going to do with the team," Watson said during the tour match at Northampton. "I'm not targeting one specific spot. I've just got to go out there and perform when I get the opportunity and see what happens.

"I feel like I've got the game and the technique and the mental side of things in the order to be able to give myself the best chance to combat [England's fast bowlers]. They're some of the best bowlers in the world and it's one of the biggest challenges you could really face in world cricket facing those guys with a brand-new ball on a fresh pitch. But I feel like I've got the game to handle that and it would be an awesome to challenge to have that opportunity."

England will undoubtedly view the move as vindication for their tight, short-pitched tactics to Hughes. South Africa also attempted to bounce the diminutive opener earlier this year, but offered him too much width and paid a heavy price.

Speaking to FoxSports prior to his axing, Hughes said he was enjoying the challenge of batting against Andrew Flintoff, who had dismissed him in two of his three innings on tour. "I see it as a challenge and it definitely has been, he's bowling beautifully, I suppose their whole unit has been coming out pretty well and you've got to really adapt to that," he said.

"I'm not going to change things right now, halfway through a series and I won't. There's things that I will be adapting to, a couple of things I want to change. I'm a little bit disappointed about not playing well in the first Tests but I can turn things around."

It is understood Australia will retain the same bowling attack from the opening two Tests of the series, albeit with Mitchell Johnson bowling at first-change, and Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus taking the new ball. The move will come as a desperate disappointment to Stuart Clark, who has performed strongly in all three tour matches and was hoping to force his way into the Australian XI for Edgbaston.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (July 30, 2009, 20:04 GMT)

I love Watson as Australia's only true all-rounder and am very happy to see him in the side, predictably at the expense of Hughes. One issue though is that Watson should be batting at 4, not opening. Hussey should be opening instead. North is in Watson's spot as the "all-rounder". It is all a bit mixed up. The big surprise, though, is that Stuart Clark is *STILL* not in the side. That is somewhat unbelievable. Hauritz has a dislocated finger, Siddle is a bit all over the place and Johnson, well, he is bowling like Gillespie in '05. Yet in spite of all of that, with 3 viable options to drop so that Clark, the number 4 bowler in the world, could play, there was no room for him. I also hate that Manou gets his debut, when he shouldn't have even been on tour. Hartley! When is Australia going to go with a real wicket keeper and play Hartley?

Posted by pablo99 on (July 30, 2009, 17:27 GMT)

Where's Chris Rogers? Australia lost the last Ashes series in England because of bad selections - they didn't play Stuart McGill, even though he was in the squad. Chris Rogers isn't even in the squad - the selectors should be sacked!

Posted by wanderer1 on (July 30, 2009, 16:29 GMT)

Twitter, what a twatter. Back in my day we kept inside news to ourselves and did as we were told. Not cry about it on the internets.

Posted by Sorcerer on (July 30, 2009, 16:14 GMT)

It's a stopgap measure. Hughes has, in essence, paid the price for the ineffectiveness of Johnson as the bowling reserves had to be propped up, and Watson was the ideal guy for the task as he can open the batting too lending Aussies an extra bowler although at the cost of a specialist opener.

Posted by tnargwr on (July 30, 2009, 15:35 GMT)

Very suprising, reminiscent of English selection policy in the 90's. (Dropping newish players, potentially destroying their confidence). Hussey should have been dropped before hughes in this situation if recent form is anything to go on.

Posted by crankypete on (July 30, 2009, 15:04 GMT)

Hey Brownie, that Watson to open campaign that I started on the Tonk last year finally bore fruit! Not sure Hughes was my target - maybe the grown up thing would have been to keep him in the team but drop him to 6 for a year or two... but another big, last chance for Watson. 37 years ago it was his namesake and better allrounder Graeme Watson who was opening the batting and bowling (in tour games) for Australia on an Ashes tour.

I was remarking that North might have been dropped for Watson (with the latter to open and Hughes to be at 6 - although Hussey deserves to go, too), because, with the benefit of hindsight and some cruelty, North scored too slow at Cardiff and we needed 10 more overs. and that made his innings the equivalent of Collingwood's Adelaide... when I realised that this week it's Collingwood v Adelaide! you had to be there. or not.

ps make the rain stop, or I'll call John Fogerty.

Warrington

Posted by Roger_Allott on (July 30, 2009, 14:20 GMT)

Bringing Watson in for this test match was very predictable and sensible, although it seems to mean that Clark has even less likelihood of playing if Johnson plays. Axing Hughes was less predictable. But using Watson as the replacement opener just seems incredibly potty to me. Hussey would be far better suited to the opener role, with Watson coming in at 7, straight after Haddin, with Clarke, North and Haddin moving one up the order from the Lord's XI.

Posted by the_blue_android on (July 30, 2009, 14:14 GMT)

There is a reason why Ricky Ponting does NOT want Hughes in the side. Even when Huighes was about to get selected for Ashes, Ponting said that " Ashes was not the time to experiment with young blood". He wanted average openers who can score some runs and take the shine off the ball.

Ponting is insecure that Hughes who is just 20 will knock off the 10,000 odd runs he has scored in about 8 or 9 years and he will not be the highest run scorer for Australia or in test cricket. But I definitely think Hughes will become the highest number of test run scorer in about 12 years and he will beat Sachin Tendulkar.

Posted by andyjw on (July 30, 2009, 13:48 GMT)

Australia's batting is not a problem. Hughes will come good, he's got the tallent, he's basically been a bit unlucky and a bit rash, bad move to drop him. The bowling is the problem, Johnson's wickets are more luck coming from unpredictability, he's a bit quick and catches a few batsmen off guard, but when was the last wicket he got from wearing a batsman down. Clark should be in, he is tight and get's enough variation to take wickets, especially in England, he would be good in combination with Hauritz. Ponting needs to learn from past mistakes, not get his back up when all doesn't go his way.

Posted by Banksiaman on (July 30, 2009, 13:40 GMT)

This is madness!!?? To start with Bollinger was not selected ( shades of Mike Whitney) and the excuse is that the fast bowlers selected by Oz did the job in Sth Africa. Stuart Clark was injured - give us a break - he would ( or should) have been the first selected. The Andrew Symonds mystery is not all explained either. It seems to me that the " old mates" aspect of Oz cricket is alive and well. God bless the sponsors but give me a maverick who is test quality - who is directing the selectors??!! Punter needs some help to toughen up the captaincy - this job has been beyond many a champion player. Have a good hard look at the Oz selectors and the captaincy Cricket Oz - this " model" is wrong.

Posted by S.C.G. on (July 30, 2009, 12:55 GMT)

I think Phil Hughes getting dropped is extremely harsh also. In the 3 innings he has played, he was out legitimately only once - caught behind of an inside edge off a very good ball. Is S Watson the answer? I have my doubts, but I can only wish him well. If anyone has question marks about their spot it should Mike Hussey, like how many chances has he had in the last 8 Tests for very moderate returns..

Posted by Clarkey_kato on (July 30, 2009, 12:46 GMT)

huss to open wit kato and wato after hads

Posted by The_LionKIng on (July 30, 2009, 12:39 GMT)

It really is hard to believe that these selectors continue to get this side wrong.

Shane Watson is unproven at test level and his body breaks down at the drop of a hat and now they want him to play 5 days, opening the batting and backing up our poor bowlers. if our bowlers are that poor - and at the moment they are - then shouldn't we be replacing them instead of providing so called back up. Hussey has been poor for months, Siddle has been poor for a few games now and the person the selectors drop is Hughes who has had 2 below average innings.

Posted by SidArthur on (July 30, 2009, 12:25 GMT)

Ken Eastwood was discarded after failing in one test to John Snow. After all his success at the state level, Eastwood could feel somewhat miffed at not being given another go. So, like Eastwood, Hughes gets dropped after some failures as well. This was a good decision for the team, and good for Hughes. He is young and in great danger of having his confidence being walloped even further as Flintoff's and Harmison's bunny - he clearly has a real problem with the short one and does not look like getting over it soon enough to keep playing in this series. Pull him out now and give him time to fix his problem, which could take a season or two (remember Douggie Walters and up-periscope? He eventually sorted it out). Otherwise leave him in and have his confidence take a further beating, as will surely happen? Not a good idea. Watson? They are on tour, who else is there? In any case, I doubt if he will open. Probably they will use Mr Cricket, no guarantee at any spot these days.

Posted by dixk on (July 30, 2009, 12:24 GMT)

He didn't deserve to be dropped, nobodys going to score hundreds EVERY innings they play, like the selectors seem to be expecting him to. He's only like, what 20? And it's his first test series in England, plus only second overall! Call me unAustralian, but I hope Watson gets a king pair.

Posted by JT0511 on (July 30, 2009, 12:22 GMT)

Omitting Phil Hughes is tough on the young guy, and what's the likelihood of Mitchell Johnson lifting his bowling game? Shane Watson is injury prone, therefore a risk Above all it will be an act of extreme folly to omit Stuart Clark.

Posted by burra on (July 30, 2009, 12:17 GMT)

In discussion with my mates previous to the commencement of this Ashes series I vented my frustration at the Australian selectors. They chose a conservative squad, with no obvious back up batsmen considering that Hussey was coming in with a string of poor performances, North had only played a couple of tests, as had Hughes, and was slightly suscpetable to the shorter ball. It was very disappointing to see that they did not take a back up opener, such as Rogers, Jacques or Klinger, although the latter is untried and has only performed consistently for one season. Also taking both Watson and McDonald in my opinion was a massive mistake. McDonald is not a test cricketer. Why not take someone who offers something with the bat, e.g. Brad Hodge or Callum Ferguson. Now to the bowling. Bad choice to leave out Stuart Clark again if thats the case. Bowls a beautiful line and length and when not taking wickets creates pressure at one end. All in all though, Hughes should play and North out.

Posted by cricket-vid on (July 30, 2009, 12:05 GMT)

This is the toughest selection dilema the Aussie selectors have had probably in 2 decades.The Aussie obsession with having an allrounder continues-sorry no-ones fooling me that Marcus North was worthing as a spinner at test level. Look at his 1st class avge 40+.Unless Watson really has turned the corner-I still beleive his is not worthy of a position in any one of the disciplines of cricket.It seems the Aussies may be trying to shore up their bowling by picking him as his batting talent is well behind Hughes.I'd keep Hughes -he's has had a couple of off matches and is still very confident.And whilst this may sound contradictory Johnson form has been so terrible of late(and with no confidence)needs to be dropped. There is too much at stake, he is too out of form. Give him sometime away from the big matches to work out what really is going wrong.Stuart Clark is touted as the McGrath clone-anyone care to look at McGrath's excellent english form? He must play-or the kiss the ashes goodbye.

Posted by DubaiCherry on (July 30, 2009, 11:40 GMT)

why is dropping someone who's done poorly in favour of shane watson a suprise? watson is seriously good and reliable....and has monents of brilliance. watson's in my fantsy league team and hasnt scored for me yet so i'm chuffed either way. aussies dont panic by the way whoever said that. anyone who dismisses them for this test is a retard....but come on england....!......if it ever stops raining.....

Posted by vvill on (July 30, 2009, 11:37 GMT)

Not that it'll matter too much with the weather right now, but this is another move that smacks of desperation from the selectors. You can't win every match but you can give yourself a chance blood your up and coming players. If they were going to drop anyone for bad form it should've been Johnson for Clark.

Posted by ahalim on (July 30, 2009, 11:18 GMT)

If Aussie eventually lost The Ashes, then Ponting should step down as captain. He is a great batsman and has been a great servant to Australia, but Australia will need a new blood at the helm. Even though his record is excellent, any ordinary captain will win with Warne and McGrath on board.

Posted by Aussieicon91 on (July 30, 2009, 11:08 GMT)

I'd feel cruely robbed if I were Phillip Hughes. Great young player who didn't deserve axing, hope it doesn't affect him in the long run.

Posted by RajBangalore on (July 30, 2009, 11:00 GMT)

Why not? When fit, Watson could be very effective.

He definately deserves the chance. He can hold his own as No6, batting alrounder.

He lends balance to the team and increases batting depth.

Posted by topeleven on (July 30, 2009, 10:59 GMT)

It's highly stupid of asking Watson to play in the opening slot. May be axing Hughes may not be that much wrong, bcoz of his inability to play short balls. When Australian team was selected for Ashes, I posted my comment that Australia are making mistake by not selecting another opener. My choice will be Phil Jacques. He is more or like a Katich type of player. Also in the bowling front Stuart Clark should be given a chance for his nagging line and length. He should replace Johnson or Siddle.

Posted by Periander on (July 30, 2009, 10:56 GMT)

I can't believe they're leaving Clark out. I'm sorry, but in a world class test side Hilfenhaus and Siddle are change bowlers, not your strike bowlers. Clark is the McGrath clone Australia need in the side right about now.

Hughes just needs time. Now is not the time to dump him, certainly not for Watson, (who would be best described as a short game specialist at best). Although, with Watson it is a case of, use him while he's fit, because it might not stay that way for long!

Posted by faraz_baig on (July 30, 2009, 10:53 GMT)

Disappointing, shocking...ITS A PUNT..Sorry to say but some of Ponting's recent decisions have been shocking..Nagpur Test..Cameroon White, Andrew Mc Donald, and now guess what Watto to open, and more importantly young Phil Hughes has played JUST a couple of Tests in England, how can you drop him

Posted by Josh_Schon81 on (July 30, 2009, 10:49 GMT)

There's no doubt the Aussies are panicking and want immediate results. It's not gunna happen tho. The Aussies dropped Krejza after 1 bad test, and wanted him to be great straight away. How will Hughes make hundreds in all of his matches? Give him a break. It's normal to make 3 consecutive scores of below 100 in cricket. Can we realise that and just give the poor kid a chance?

Posted by Jojy.John.Alphonso on (July 30, 2009, 10:46 GMT)

Ive always admired Watson, especially after his stupendous effort at the inaugural IPL. The only problem is that he hasn't been his normal self after that tournament. True, there's flashes of brilliant innings every now and then, but his body keeps bogging him and I don't think introducing him to the opening slot would do any good.

Signs of panic in the Australian camp. Id say this match is going to be a cake walk for the English.

Posted by andrew-schulz on (July 30, 2009, 10:36 GMT)

There's actually a very simple rubber stamp answer to a lot of these questions: 'Because he is/they are not in the squad'. Check how many stupid questions this answer would apply to.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (July 30, 2009, 10:34 GMT)

Aussies would be mad to open with Watson. From Test 13 innings so far he has been bowled or lbw 9 times, which hardly sounds like a good enough technique to open. However, Merv Hughes has hinted at Marcus North or Hussey, who would both be much better options.

Posted by Oldmanmartin on (July 30, 2009, 10:34 GMT)

I expected Watson to come in when fit, and he's proved that. They need a fifth front-line bowler, and he strengthens the batting. Could be Hussey will open with Clarke at 4 and Watson at 5. But it's probably only a matter of time before he breaks down again, so Ponting should bowl him sparingly.

I also expected Clark to come in, but for Siddle - Johnson may yet come good with the ball and Australia need his runs!

Posted by Beggnog on (July 30, 2009, 10:29 GMT)

That's it. I quit supporting the Aussies on this tour. Watson in, Stuart Clark still out. Unfathomable decision. A proven hack in, and Australia's best bowler, fit and in form, still out. Clark may as well go home, and take Australia's hopes of winning the Ashes with him. What has Clark done to be so offside with the selectors and the captain?

Posted by Benkl on (July 30, 2009, 10:25 GMT)

All those people bashing North , Hussey and praising Hughes dont discount the tour matches. Hussey hit a 150 and has averaged 60 on tour , North even more. Hughes has been found out by Harmison ( who is the BEST bowler in England at the moment) and will continue to go cheap . Exactly the same thing happened in 2005 to GilChrist , Hayden and a few others , tightly into the body NONE of them could repair their technique after 5 matches and so much experience so there is no chance Hughes doing it either.

Anyway Australia need a bowler who else do you leave out ? Every other Batsman has at least double his average on tour.( and yes Hussey hit 150 and averaged like 60 so far )

Johnson should have been left out so he can build some confidence the way its now if he DOESNT perform Lee will take his place and it will be much harder to come back . It would be better to have dropped him and bring him back when he is bowling better in a tour game or in the nets.

Posted by Bevo74 on (July 30, 2009, 10:24 GMT)

Will91. You may be a cricket expert, but not so hot on English County cricket, The Australia played Northants, not Nottinghamshire.

Posted by SamBaStaRs on (July 30, 2009, 10:23 GMT)

Isnt Hussey actually an opener?...it says on his cricinfo profile. Shane Watson would be much better down the order. But this time the ashes will be in England's hands. Australia's bowling attack is very weak. Mitchell Johnson should play as a batsmen more then a bowler!haha.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (July 30, 2009, 10:11 GMT)

Arrgh! You did it again! You said "the most surprising selection move of the series". This was NOT a surprise!! Everyone has been predicting this for the last week or so, even Cricinfo staff. Please don't lower yourselves to false-drama-style journalism, you guys are better than that.

Posted by Hoggy_1989 on (July 30, 2009, 10:09 GMT)

I do not agree with Watson being at the top of the order, and being asked to bowl. If he doesn't bowl at all and plays as a specialist batsman, fair enough. I think he's much like Flintoff in the respect that he breaks down regularly. Everyone has been saying Rogers should be in the team...but he too has a massive weakness in his batting in bowlers going around the wicket to him; which Flintoff and Co. do quite frequently to left handers now, and that weakness would be found very quickly. The better solution would have been to fly in Phil Jaques soon after the Second Test ended, play him in the tour match, and he'd be right to go. Failing in that, play Hussey at the top (where he scored 15,000+ first class runs), play McDonald at 6 and shuffle everyone up a spot in the order. Johnson should be dumped until he can get his head in order and his arm up, and play Clark. On a slow surface, his cutters will be invaluable.

Posted by MadMatty on (July 30, 2009, 10:05 GMT)

I'm a England supporter, but anyhow, its wrong Hughes to be dropped, he young and he is learning. Watson should bat 6/7. Hussey could bat opening. Don't know why the Aussie's selector not chosed Clark, he used to English conditions and can play well they as well as any other place. English batsmen would be frightened by him like the Aussies are to Harmy and Freddie. Generally my order for batting would for this test - Hussey,Katich,Ponting,North,Clarke,Haddin,Watson,Clark,Siddle,Hilfenhaus.

Posted by BellCurve on (July 30, 2009, 10:00 GMT)

It's a gamble, but a good one. The track is a perfect match to Watson's batting style. If he gets going he is going to post a run-a-ball century. That will obviously create pressure. It's Australia's only hope to win a match that is destined to be a draw. Hughes will be back soon. He needs a little more time to develop. But a talent that you cannot ignore. He will probably go one to score 10,000 runs at an average of 50.

Posted by inthebag on (July 30, 2009, 9:56 GMT)

Certainly does seem a bizzare move but these guys are closer to the action than I am. Let's reserve judgment till we've seen Australia sent in on a damp wicket with the ball swinging all over the place.

It'd be nice to have Clarke opening the bowling for us should we get the chance to do the same. What happened to horses for courses?

Does this mean they've given up on Hughes?

Posted by Anigo on (July 30, 2009, 9:50 GMT)

Shane Watson should not open as he fills in the all rounder spot which Australia lacks. One opener will definitely be Simon Katich and other one should be brad haddin as he when he comes down the order and most of the time doesn't have a batsman supporting him. He is a good batsman and should be given encouragement at the top.

Posted by fsdb on (July 30, 2009, 9:46 GMT)

Of course the aussies are panicking.

And all those detractors of Ian Chappell can now doff their hats to the master, who predicted right from the outset that the failure to choose a spare opening batsman in the squad would lead to disaster.

Posted by welders on (July 30, 2009, 9:38 GMT)

Surely promoting Hussey to open would have been a much better move. He has both the temperament and the experience to cope with the new ball. He did it for a long time over here at Northants and was among the best batsmen in County cricket at the time. Watson would be a bit of a gamble. Yes if he comes off he will be explosive and hit the ball hard, but then - so would Hughes. Surely he'd be better off down the order. I feel a bit for Stuart Clark. I can see that bowlers need to have support through the bad times but is Mitchell Johnson really in good enough nick to warrant being kept in the side. For us English I think the same about Broad. There are bowlers in better form that are currently taking more wickets, and we're just picking him because of what he could do in years to come.

I suppose its all a case of ifs and buts really. But yes... from a Pom's POV - its lovely to see the Aussies panicking and making mid series team changes due to poor form and ill confidence in the team.

Posted by davhar on (July 30, 2009, 9:19 GMT)

I'm very surprised Cricinfo is styling this as a "surprise". Clearly it is not at all. As other media have been reporting the Aussie selectors have clearly been looking at this move since the end of the second test. Hughes as he is at the moment is a liability because he has a sign on his forehead that says: "Bowl short to me". The Aussie camp have always rated Watson very highly and he would have been pushed into this type of role much sooner had he been able to stay fit for longer than five minutes. Clearly he is not a long term fix as an opener, but he gives the side a much-needed extra option as a bowler. The Johnson fiasco in the last test shows what can happen if the fourth cog in a four-pronged attack gets the wobbles. And as for his batting, Watson's always had ability. I wouldn't bet against him getting useful scores in the next two tests - and then being injured for the final test!

Posted by chickenpoo on (July 30, 2009, 9:18 GMT)

Absolutly Ridiculous! Im a fan of Watson but he shouldnt open. He belongs at number 6. We should boot that old ape North for Watson. OMG Hughes is gone after 2 test matches?? I think Hussey got more chances than that. Why Isnt Clark in?? OMG If Australia Lose, i wont be surprised!

Posted by chickenman on (July 30, 2009, 9:18 GMT)

What a shame the Aussies didn't have the courage to do the right thing, and that is to drop Mitchell Johnson. Stuart Clark is a MUST for this test, and Andrew McDonald should be brought in for Hauritz, he has done nothing wrong but the balance of the side would be perfect with McDonald included.I feel sorry for Johnson but he has clearly lost confidence, and as a former fast bowler when that has gone you don't know where the next one is going, so he needs to regain that with practice. I can only hope Hughes is not forgotten for the rest of the test matches as he excites the nation with his youth and unpredictability. Godspeed Australia!

Posted by Chris_Howard on (July 30, 2009, 9:00 GMT)

Open with Michael Clarke. Flintoff has never got him out. They surely can't ask Watson to open and be a frontline bowler. How many overs do they want him to last? Even he has said he doesn't want that much workload and pressure.

Posted by kuroneko on (July 30, 2009, 8:52 GMT)

Terrible, terrible idea. The Aussies are panicking.

Posted by capetown-pom on (July 30, 2009, 8:50 GMT)

Oh the joys of listening to whingeing aussies...SORT IT OUT! You go one down and you're bickering like a bunch of old fish-wives.. You should have won at cardiff (thank ponting for some questionable tactics), you lost a crucial toss at lords, then bowled like muppets on the first day and threw the game away (with the help of some shocking umpire decisions) so don't panic, you are playing england for chris'sake. All you have to do is play your usual game and england will drop the bottle...the series is still yours for the taking, you just need to remember your era of invincibility is over, so its now normal to lose ocassionally, so deal with it, stop sounding like a bunch of whining poms, and pray you never lose a series 5-0, as by all accounts you'd all be slitting your wrists.

Posted by Will91 on (July 30, 2009, 8:39 GMT)

JackMacl you obviously have no knowledge about cricket how can you drop a player like north who has made 2 hundreds in his first 4 test matches and to replace him with mcdonald

Posted by Will91 on (July 30, 2009, 8:37 GMT)

dropping hughes is a stupid move especially for shane watson. He is likely to break down and injure himself and he made a 75 and 50 against a weakened nottinghamshire which doesnt say much itself. Personally i would play hughes because you pick openers to play through the series, and there is no backup opener on tour, though chris rogers is in england and performing well so would be the most logical choise. Hughes has a technical weakness but im sure he is being properly coached to fix it or to be able to maneuvre the short ball. Also watson hasnt bowled much because he is unable to physically last in the feild.

Posted by JackMacl on (July 30, 2009, 8:24 GMT)

Excellent. Now drop North and Johnson and add McDonald and Clark and the Aussies can call themselves a cricket team

Posted by Banksiaman on (July 30, 2009, 8:16 GMT)

Have the Aussie selectors decided to drop one batsman ( Hughes) and include Stuart Clark? Hussey to open, Haddin to bat at no.6,Johnson the all-rounder at no.7 and the inclusion of a world-class bowler in Clark proven under the conditions. If Clark is not included ( look at his test record) what is wrong? Or will the selectors pick McDonald to bat at no.7 and ignore Clark?? There have been other notable Aussie batsmen who have failed in UK tests due to technique problems under the conditions ( Doug Walters springs quickly to mind) and Hughes is only 20yrs and the County runs that he scored were not against quality bowlers. Look at all the other batsmen under English conditions - their records are phenomenal in first class games. Hughes needs to add more dimension to his batting - he doesn't look the part.

Posted by gzawilliam on (July 30, 2009, 8:03 GMT)

This is the smartest decision the selectors have made this series.

And reading these comments its plain to see not many have played cricket before. When a very yooung player such as hughes is in such a bad spot. Not meaning his form is low. I mean that he has been found out technically.. What use is there of persisting with him in this series? He is only going to get more mental scars from being bounced out. He obviously hasn't found a way to play the shorter balls. He won't play a pullshot which is very strange in england.

Watson himself i agree has no right to be at the top of the order. Chris rodgers should of been drafted in and put straight into the team.. He is an experienced opener and is excellent against short pitch bowling. But for some reason he is on the outer.

But please guys wake up and smell the java. Hughes will never make it as a test match opener if he doesn't fix these faults. plain and simple. He has a massive fault which will continue to be preyed apon.

Posted by Adhil.mothie on (July 30, 2009, 7:57 GMT)

I think its unfair on Hughes.he's only 20 & lets not forget,he wasnt dismissed cleanly in that last innings ofcourse his got some technical issues & it wasnt his fault that oz lost at lords or if they wanna blame an individual for that,how about mitchel johnson,even malinga isnt as wayward with his chucking action as johnson.i'm postive watson will struggle but that's only if the injury-prone king sirvives the entire test.

Posted by Benkl on (July 30, 2009, 7:53 GMT)

1. Im not sure Watson will open , i Think Hussey will he is an experienced opening bat. 2 Hughes and Hussey are not the same , Hussey has scored a LOT more runs in the current series. Also Hughes has a fundamental problem he was very lucky not to go cheap in the 2nd vs North being dropped twice. Basically he has no chance of getting a decent score until he can handle the cramped Flintoff body balls which better players than him has trouble with in the 2005 series eg Gilchrist . Hussey looks like he is ready for some big scores having scored decently in the tour matches and more in the tests than Hughes. In England this tour Hussey has a 150 and 449 runs at an avg of 64 vs 228 runs at an average of 25 . 3. Its obvious Australia need another bowler unless they work them to death this match , not spin friendly the first few days and no bounce.. 4. You cant drop North as he has scored plenty of runs. 5 . S Clarke should be in the 12 but if there is no bounce Siddle should pl

Posted by Noompa on (July 30, 2009, 7:36 GMT)

I anticipated this move- Watson is being called in as an extra bowling option (they clearly have enough faith in the batting), not as a step-up batting replacement for Hughes necessarily. Mitch, for all his faults, is the only bowler capable of conjuring up a wicket out of nowhere now and then (most of his wickets have come out of blue this series) and the Australians need that, with Lee still injured. I think Mitch will be used in a few short bursts in the hopes of prising out a wicket here and there, with Watson shouldering the greater burden in terms of overs. This just might work; however, they are taking a huge gamble on Hussey, which is acceptable, given the form that their other batsmen are in. Shocking move perhaps, but understandable.

Posted by pool_shark01 on (July 30, 2009, 7:27 GMT)

It's bogus. If they haven't dropped Hussey in the last year, why would they drop the wonderkid Hughes? He still averages over 60 in first class cricket, and 50 in tests. I would doubt it very much. I'd more more inclined to drop Marcus North and replace him with a seaming allrounder, more so McDonald because he gives away bugger all runs, and bowls stump to stump. Also ditch Hauritz, he won't be required, bring in Stuart Clark, and we have a pronged attack with all vastly different bowlers. All the time still having a formidable batting line up. Watch for Mitchell Johnson with the bat, 2nd hundred coming up, mark my words!

Posted by bobagorof on (July 30, 2009, 7:08 GMT)

I am surprised by this - I thought that Hughes deserved to retain his place for at least the Third Tes, if not the series. But I don't see that bringing in Watson is a bad thing - sure he averages around 20 from 8 Tests, but Andrew Symonds averaged 20 from his first 8 and went on to be a solid batsman. Watson averages 45 at First Class level and has shown himself to be in good form in the last tour match. The question is, where in the order to play him? I wouldn't have dropped Hughes, but as the selectors have... move Hussey to open and bat Watson at 6. Stuart Clark would be desperately unlucky to be left out again - if Johnson is still there, then drop Siddle. Australia could *maybe* carry one underperforming bowler but not 2.

Posted by Batsy on (July 30, 2009, 7:06 GMT)

This is utterly unfair on the part of selectors. When a young lad comes on to the international arena he is bound to be tested with hostile stuff at some point or the other (early in his career) ...it is important for the team and selectors to back him up and see if he rebounds or not. That too we are talking about Flintoff here, even the best of the batsmen around the world cannot guarantee the success when he is fired up and motivated.

Posted by Krager on (July 30, 2009, 7:06 GMT)

The axing has nothing to do with Hughes form (he was unlucky with that Strauss non-catch anyway). Australia know they need a 5th bowler, and someone has to make way for Watson. Johnson is a gamble, he might come good. If we had Warnie, we would only need the 4 bowlers. Hussey has looked nice and North got a 100, the rest of the batting is settled.

Posted by NeilCameron on (July 30, 2009, 7:05 GMT)

Hughes does have a problem with the short pitched ball but this weakness has yet to really dent his form. Granted, his form so far in England hasn't been great, but it is only two matches. As other comments here have pointed out, some players in the top side seem to find it harder to be dropped than others. My gut feeling regarding Hussey was to give him one more test to score runs before dropping him, but this is what I also applied to Phil Hughes as well. I don't think Watson is a good choice as an opener but he is a better batter than bowler so I would prefer him at no.6 and bring Hussey, who has experience opening, in to partner Katich. Nevertheless I am quite annoyed that Hughes has been treated so poorly after such a great start to his career - other players (eg Steve Waugh) were given a lot more leeway early in their careers.

Posted by PeteB on (July 30, 2009, 6:58 GMT)

Watson has a great batting technique, I'm just not sure what extra he'll offer the bowling attack. Good luck to him if the rumour is true. 5 of our top 7 have centuries in this series so it's really the bowling he offers that matters.

Posted by zeek08 on (July 30, 2009, 6:57 GMT)

Watson has been one of the unluckiest & in turn underestimated cricketers on the planet . has the potential to be better than flintoff bowls 145 kpm & has a sound if not untested technique . if he stays fit for more than 1 test in a row he will cement a place in the team , maybe he is due a bit of luck . sad for hughes but he will be back . only question is who will open hussey or watson?

Posted by STRAIGHT_TALK on (July 30, 2009, 6:52 GMT)

Aussie selectors have shown that they are also just ordinary folks and do not show the maturity / right direction when the going is tough. When the Australian team was having great players like Warne, McGrath and other very good bowlers like Kasprowicz, Fleming, Reiffel, McGill, Hodge etc. they used to sound as though they had the right vision to select the best player and groom others to take on the mantle. With the recent retirements and the batting also looking brittle, coupled with injuries to Lee and Clark, the team is struggling and the selectors have actually displayed their hollowness by dropping Hughes for Watson. Even if Watson does not open, dropping a regular opener in the face of some hostile bowling spells, indicates that they are no different from other 'lesser' nations. All said and done, the quality of cricket in general is degenerating fast...

Posted by Umungp6 on (July 30, 2009, 6:49 GMT)

cmon!!!! australia are one down in the series and yet their not tihnking of bringing the best bowler in the country into the game (stuart clark). Note this maybe the only chance to use him becuase lee might be fit for next match so they should use clark. I no Johnson has to be their becuase he's their paceman now but he didnt show any touch durin the 2nd and the nothampshiure tour match. Throw in clark before its too late.

Posted by Deuwl on (July 30, 2009, 6:45 GMT)

This is ridiculous! This bright kid who has had 2 bad tests is getting dropped!!!?? He's only 20!! and the veteran Hussey who has not looked good for so long is still in the side? Matty, Marcus North got a century in the first Ashes test so its a big call to call for his axing!! I really don' t know what these selectors eat. I just don't see the reasoning. Give this kid a fair shot. Dropping him after 2 tests is a huge psychological blow to this wonderful player. And to replace him with Watson?!!! What the!!! Watson who HAS NOT proved himself at all in Tests is a huge gamble!!! Its a shameful day in Australian cricket. This is almost as retarded as the introduction of test players in the Australian team at the age of 30!!

Posted by Benko on (July 30, 2009, 6:41 GMT)

I find it amazing that Johnson can retain his place and Hughes cannot. Hughes has faced 97 balls vs England and probably only 10-15 of those were not good strokes. Johnson on the other hand has bowled 496 deliveries and I would estimate that 75-80% of those were bad balls - some of them terrible. The guy is woefully out of form and has no control whatsoever. It looks like the weather will conspire against us in the 3rd test so whether he plays or not is not likely to matter. But if Johnson plays for the final 2 tests we will most certainly be losing the ashes.

Posted by Wozofoz on (July 30, 2009, 6:37 GMT)

And it just reinforces the current attitude with the Australian team that if you underperform you stay in but if you do well (eg Stuart Clark) you don't get selected.

Posted by Wozofoz on (July 30, 2009, 6:35 GMT)

So let me get this straight. The reason we are one test down is because of our batting, not our bowling which couldn't dismiss England in either second innings, including the first test when we only needed one wicket. That doesn't seem right to me. Hughes may be out of form and his technique questionable, but if Johnson's technique isn't questionable then whose is? I guess we just have to resign ourselves to the same old outcome, as was the case in the test series here. Praising the bowlers for their efforts in the first two tests seems totally unjustified. They might have tried hard, but look at the results. Our only chance would be to win the toss and then we might just not lose.

Posted by Brendanvio on (July 30, 2009, 6:32 GMT)

I'll believe it when I see it, but I would hope the selectors would not be that stupid or willing to hand over the Ashes so easily.

Please please please don't be true. This will be the biggest selection blunder of the modern era.

Posted by kris_mg on (July 30, 2009, 6:24 GMT)

Maybe Watson may fire.. maybe Aussies may win back this test.. but that will be because Watson is a really good player and there was no need to drop Hughes to get Watson back in.. But I still think dropping Hughes was a poor message and it will hurt in the long run.. Aussies always had genuine openers especially in tests.. If they gave Hughes the chance then give him the benefit of doubt also.. And what about Rogers and Jaques.. Are they not getting a raw deal for hoping that the selectors will judge them for what they are... They are bloody openers.. Think how it will affect their morale if they see Watson opening the test tomorrow.. I like Watson and he is a bloody good player but one with a fragile fitness.. And this is a test match for god sake.. Who will answer if he breakdowns in between.. We dont need another player retiring from test cricket prematurely.. This decision is unfair for every player involved if they are planning on asking Watson to open..

Posted by ruvvy on (July 30, 2009, 6:23 GMT)

I sense clique action. Which was very prevalent in Border Era. Its very hard on the young Hughes and quite demoralising. Can he be as strong and capable as Katich to be able to kick them in the balls to get back in, whereas the buddy group syndrome lets Hussey stay in?

Posted by jeremiahCharles on (July 30, 2009, 6:21 GMT)

If this is the way they go, it's ridiculous. Our problem is taking 20 wickets, more than it is scoring 400+. Hughes has proven with Middlesex that he can score big in England and adapt to the conditions, Johnson has not. I hope the selectors do not jump on the oft spouted view that a good dropping will make him come back stronger. Sigh...

Posted by sheebo on (July 30, 2009, 6:20 GMT)

well if selectors have taken the decision then i think its better to play hussey or Haddin as opener.Watson can give a balling option but i think it would have been better to drop north instead of hughes

Posted by Cairnzee on (July 30, 2009, 6:16 GMT)

What they should do is open with Hussey. Have Watson 6. With Clarke at four and North at five. Johnson should thank his lucky stars that Lee is unfit because he would've been dropped.

Posted by Big_Oz on (July 30, 2009, 6:15 GMT)

If this is true then I can't see them opening with Watson. I think they would promote Hussey to open, move North to 5, and slot Watson in at 6. I agree with Matty_Gerco - despite North's ton at Cardiff, if anyone was going to make way for Watson I thought it would be him. I still think the squad wasn't balanced and instead of McDonald another specialist opener should have been included.

Posted by jfgvjksnkka on (July 30, 2009, 6:11 GMT)

I totally agree with Matty_Gerco appart from the last point he made. Watson will not score runs. He will also take no important wickets. I dont think anyone should be considered an all rounder just because you are equally bad at each disciplin.

Posted by boris6491 on (July 30, 2009, 5:53 GMT)

Hasty and rash by the Australian selectors which can be easily viewed as a move of utter desperation.Just as Dat said, Johnson gets more chances after some mediocre performances but after TWO tests Hughes gets dropped? Thats silly. Its not to say Watson doesn't deserve his chance but not at Phillip's expense. Had they dropped him after a poor performance at Edgbaston then yes it is understandable. But after two tests? This may be the Ashes but performances here by the younger players could hold them and good stead for the long run. Not happy with the Australian selectors with this. I don't think Watson should open the batting. Rather, Hussey should be promoted as he is a natural opener and Watson slotted in at 5 with Clarke moving up a place.

Posted by Macree on (July 30, 2009, 5:52 GMT)

We replace a batsman with a test average of 52 with a batsman with a test average of 19. Just to prop up a bowler with a test average of 30 and leave out a bowler with a test average of 19. I reckon Merv Hughes and co have lost something - common sense. Only hope is for Freddie to break a leg

Posted by aspurohit on (July 30, 2009, 5:51 GMT)

Aussies are really rattled now.....Dropping Hughes, bringing in Shane Watson whose past record in test cricket arena is below mediocre...Asking Johnson to come as first change.....these are all signs of big turmoil in the Aussie camp. Indeed their reign is on a steep decline and other teams are catching up fast. History has shown time and again that nobody remains invincible. All those who have attended glory are bound to come down. All the very best Aussies......

Posted by popcorn on (July 30, 2009, 5:47 GMT)

This is a brilliant move by The Australian Think Tank! They know that the Edgbaston Test is a must win for Australia, and that it is important to build a good opening partnership. Watson also gives Ponting a bowling option. Australia cannot afford to hope that Hughes will come good, so it is just a temporary break for Hughes.Just as Ricky Ponting,Michael Clarke,Damien Martyn,Steve Waugh have all gone through temporary drops and have worked on their technique,so time for Hughes to work on his technique and battle for the opener spot with Watson,Jacques and Rogers. Test matches against West Indies,Pakistan and New Zealand are coming up this summer. Ponting and the Think Tank have shown realism. Make no mistake - England fear that Mitchell Johnson will come good sooner or later, so it is wise that they have persisted with him.I would have brought Stuart Clark for Siddkle though,but Siddle strikes fear in England, so on the balance, a good selection. Hauritz will do well on the dry surface

Posted by FunkieD101 on (July 30, 2009, 5:42 GMT)

I don't think I shall support Australia in this test match as it seems clear that the Aussie selectors have also switched their allegiances to England. I'll put money on Watson's ego swelling so far it causes him to pull another muscle but I think I might not get very good odds.

Posted by mjmbears on (July 30, 2009, 5:42 GMT)

Lets just give England the Ashes now. Hughes has 3 poor innings and gets dropped, Hussey has been woeful for a year and is still there. What a way to destroy a young man's confidence. It took Ponting years to get over being dumped in similar circumstances. As for the short ball, good short-pitch bowling will get any batsman out, even the best in Ponting has gotten out to the short ball, and Strauss......oh yeah, he is the England captain and still gets out to the short ball. The selectors haded England the Ashes in 05 and look set to repeat it.

Posted by rohanbala on (July 30, 2009, 5:29 GMT)

Looks like a good move by the Australian selectors to bring in Watson in place of Phil Hughes.. Unless Hughes sorts out his technical faults, he might not be able to regain his place in the team. As for Watson, he has to live up to the expectations of the selectors by delivering with both bat and ball in this test. With regard to the bowling department, ignoring Stuart Clark and persisting with bowlers like Siddle (who has only bowled well in short spells) might be a severe set back with the onus being on the poor form of Mitchell Johnson.

Posted by amitkumaronnet on (July 30, 2009, 5:29 GMT)

It is as simple as this. The Australians selectors want their own Flintoff and so they have gone for Watson. But to be a Flintoff You require to be a one man army winning the battles even if you are seriously injured. Why don't the australian selector unearth some very good allround talent from their famed domestic structure? They are now facing the reality that it was once in a century men ( Gilly, McGrath, Warney) who took them to glory and that too because they all played together !!!!

Posted by redneck on (July 30, 2009, 5:28 GMT)

stuart clark is the bowler we need, what good is watson going to be when he'll already be injured by stumps day 1? clark must play!!! his avg against england is excellent and these english conditions suit him perfectly! hughes shouldnt let himself be too disapointed his future is bright and he has plenty of ashes tests to come in the future! i think the other change needed is the axing of the selectors replace them with border, warne & waugh. choping and changing the team only makes the players feel vunrable and that can be a distraction in its self!

Posted by Stevo_ on (July 30, 2009, 5:21 GMT)

"!Doesn't anyone remember Watson's string of low scores in the Sheffield Shield for QLD when he opened a few years back"

Oh please, it was last year, not a few years ago. Watson is a dud! And as you say Watgson is going to score runs on a flat deck when he knows a draw is certainty, so no pressure. He is soft and has proven it, time and time again. If this happens is the higgest travesty in sport that I can remember in my short life time.

Watson has his averages back to front 19 with the bad and 35 with the ball.

I honestly can't express enough how shocked and appalled I will be if this happens, we may as well hand the Ashes over.

Shame selectors shame, Boonie surely you can see Watson is a poser and nothing more???????

Posted by Mercutio on (July 30, 2009, 5:14 GMT)

I don't believe it! Stuart Clark has bowled much better in England than any of the pace men, yet he still sits on the sidelines? I don't disagree with Watson's inclusion, but not at the expense of Hughes, North should have gone. Anyway, it mightn't matter, the rain will probably win the match.

Posted by JHD123 on (July 30, 2009, 5:14 GMT)

Unbelieveable. Watson's career is a story of continual failures - failures of fitness, failures of performance. He is hardly the first person in any field of endeavour to have talent but with flaws disqualifying him from the highest plane. This should have been easy an easy selection. First, Clark in for Johnson. England will total under 400 per innings, and there will be pressure at both ends for once. Watson maybe in for North (Australia to hammer quick fire runs down the order a la Symonds), but if Hughes stays, North is a safer bet. Keeping Johnson is repeating the mistakes of 2005. Oh, and tell Haddin to catch the ball...

Posted by xblane on (July 30, 2009, 5:10 GMT)

I struggle to understand how this could be true... if it is, this is disgraceful act against a young talented batsmen.

Posted by sifter132 on (July 30, 2009, 5:09 GMT)

Ask Michael Clarke whether being dropped was good for him. Hint: It was!! Hughes can't expect to have some extended run when he has an obvious hole in his game. Dropping him now might mean he won't play for Aus for a year or 2, but in the end he'll probably be a better player because it will make him work harder for it.

Bringing in Rogers of Jaques would be a slap in the face to Watson and would show the rest of the team that the selected squad of 16 was a joke if you have to reach outside it after 1 loss. Not what you want to be doing at this stage of a series. Watson's batting has improved a lot and he's been able to improve it because of his bowling injuries, meaning the only thing he could practice was batting. Judging his batting quality on only 8 Tests, when due to injury he probably only played about 4 in a row at any one time is harsh.

The best thing here is we have another right hander. Flintoff and Swann love lefties.

Posted by dan_smee on (July 30, 2009, 5:07 GMT)

Fantastic. We have a 'bowler's graveyard'. The perfect place to help the hottest young prospect in world cricket since Sachin Tendulkar settle back into form, and we go for one of the biggest crock's in cricket history. Watson, to put it in the kindest possible terms, can not be relied upon to complete a match. The guy gets injured every game he turns out for Australia. This decision defies any logic. If two poor Tests (including a woeful decision in the 2nd innings of the lord's Test) is grounds for dropping a batsman, why is Hussey still there? Why is Johnson still there? Why isn't Clark in there (the ICC ranked 4th best bowler in the world STILL?)

In the end, however this decision may be justified, it is totally counterproductive to the future of Australian cricket. If changes need to be made, they are looking in the wrong places.

Posted by Gaz08 on (July 30, 2009, 5:06 GMT)

A couple of low scores and Hughes is out replaced by someone who averages less than 20 with the bat and was a failure for Queensland when batting in the top 3 in Australlian Domestic Cricket. Watson is no certainty to last the game with his bowling by looking at the number of times he breaks down and can only bat at number 5/6. If Hussey opens are the selectors just trying to prolong his career at the expense of an up and coming talent like Hughes. Hughes should stay as he is our future and Hussey and Pointing are at the end of their careers and Watson has a history of breaking down. What does Stuart Clark have to do to make the side. The only bowler in Australia who can maintain pressure by stopping the batsmen scoring. Shame on the Australian selectors.

Posted by legb4 on (July 30, 2009, 5:02 GMT)

I'm not to surprised that Watson will come in but at the expense of Hughes is very strange. Surely you have to give him a chance especially on a pitch that by all accounts wont have any bounce in it. If you want Watson in bring him in to replace North as a like for like replacement. We make some strange decisions these days.

Posted by finncam on (July 30, 2009, 4:56 GMT)

It's hard to believe Watson, who can rarely get through a series without an injury, will replace Hughes. Of all possibilities, why someone who is so prone to quick exits himself? Watson isn't exactly a successful opener even when he does last the distance. What about Rogers? or Brad Hodge? And what bowling does he really offer? He's had less practice than Lee recently, even if he did take a wicket or two. It beggar's belief, really. Next we'll hear the bowling line-up is unchanged from Lords!

Posted by baldous55 on (July 30, 2009, 4:55 GMT)

Waston hasn't played two matches in a row without being injured. He isn't a tried and true test batsman. Hughes 5 tests with 2 hundreds gets dropped, Australia will pay for not having a spare specialist opener. How they can justify not having Clark in there lineup from the start I don't know. This is all starting to feel like 2005 we had all the heros in then and lost. I hope they prove me wrong but I won't have any money on Aus in this match.

Posted by timrg on (July 30, 2009, 4:53 GMT)

Terrible selection policy as usual from Hilditch & co. A straight swap of Clark for Johnson is a no-brainer. Mitchell wouldn't have a clue where his next delivery is going, relying on him to carry our attack is why we're 1-0 down in this series. He's never had line and length anyway. Dropping our up and coming opener for an allrounder who can't open as Matty said - ridiculous. With 5 centurions in 2 tests, batting hasn't been our problem. Hughes would have come good. Bring back AB as chairman of selectors, we've got the players to win the ashes, they're just not getting picked!

Posted by CharonTFm on (July 30, 2009, 4:47 GMT)

Poor Hughes, it was his valiant effort that saved Aus from losing the No1 Test Mantle to SA and now to be dropped from a few poor innings. His stint in SA and the County matches has shown how good he is. He should be facing more short balls in the nets until he becomes comfortable with it. He has the right attitude but he needs someone to help him along.

I just hate the way Aus is trying to find that magic all rounder.

Posted by MattErby on (July 30, 2009, 4:37 GMT)

Its going to be very interesting reading the justification behind this decision. Can you believe it!

Posted by youfoundme on (July 30, 2009, 4:36 GMT)

The Australian selectors always bedazzle people with their selections. If they had any common sense they would've had Phil Jaques (in for Hughes), Brad Hodge (in for Hussey) and wouldn't have cut Andrew Symonds (in as a reserve) from their contract list. They also should have dropped Mitchell Johnson straight after the 2nd Test and put Stuart Clark in the XI. They won't win this Ashes series relying on their past performances, what matters is now. In my eyes, Australia don't look like the Number 1 Test team to me...

Posted by shahidmahmood on (July 30, 2009, 4:30 GMT)

This is really surprising, Hughes (an opener) failed in 2 matches and dropped for Watson (number 6 batsmen), even though they have 4 other all-rounders (Clarke, North, Katich and Johnson). Anyways Australia need batting performences and Watson doesn't even have a test 100.

Posted by gibsonx on (July 30, 2009, 4:25 GMT)

Wow, I guess the fact that Hughes was actually not out in his Lords second innings made little difference. So he gets 36, a low score and then gets 'stiffed'. Well, the only people that stiffed him are the selectors. And the selectors just 'stiffed' cricket fans as well. Who knows what they are thinking?

Four years ago, selectors left MacGill in the shed while Warne took wickets aplenty. It was a dumb selection mistake to ignore him. Same as it was dumb to tour without a spinner at all this time. Hauritz has a first class strike rate of 92. There are plenty of batsmen with better bowling strike rates in this team. Watson is a good player if he can go five days without injury. Clark is a great bowler who is getting the MacGill treatment. England to win! We don't have the bowlers to take 20.

Posted by yavin11 on (July 30, 2009, 4:24 GMT)

ooooops! what a blunder???? It seems that the australian selectors are not looking at the bigger picture. Even if watson scores a century on a flat pitch, yet he can't be a long term solution to the opening slot vacated by hayden. Actually, australian team is trying desperately to fill those big gaps left by hayden, langer, martyn, gilchrist, warne and mcgrath... but the fact remains the same that this team of australia at present is more concerned about filling the gaps with players like watson rather than sending a strong signal to its opponents...

Posted by 79KAH79 on (July 30, 2009, 4:23 GMT)

Terrible decision, the Australian selectors continue to amaze me. Hughes is one of the most sumpremely talented young batsman I have seen in years. He has only had one bad game and wasn't even out in the second innings at Lord's. His confidence and brashness is refreshing at the top of the order and has the potential to quickly change games. I don't have a problem with Watson but Hussey or North should have gone before Hughes. Granted, Hughes has lookes a little uneasy against Flintoff but he needs to be given more than two games. Flintoff has bowled awesome but these are foreign conditions for Hughes, he should have be given a chance to hit back, learn and develop further as a player.

I honestly think that the Australian selectors get worried when a young player is hyped as much as Hughes. They are sometimes OVERPROTECTIVE. He will be back more hungry just like Clarke did before. I'm bitterly disappointed that I won't be able to watch the Hughes/Flintoff rematch at Egbaston.

Posted by Swagman on (July 30, 2009, 4:19 GMT)

Time for these selectors to get the push I think, they are so guilty of a lack of forward planning its beggers belief. Johnson is now a basket case and yet he's retained???? How in God's name can that possible work - even Ian Bell will take runs off the guy. He needs 7 days extensive work in the nets with Cooley away from the media and not another public humiliation.

Posted by SHARK810 on (July 30, 2009, 4:18 GMT)

I'm surprised that Hughes has been dropped already. I think the player who most deserves to be dropped is Johnson. He has been far too inconsistent in in the 2 tests and useless in the lead up games too. I will be very interested to see the betting order of the team now. I think for it to work Hussey should be promoted to open, with North at 5 and Watson at 6. The biggest shock of this whole article is that they are not going to give Stuart Clark a chance. As a Kiwi living in Australia who is going for the Poms this is fine by me, but rather confusing.

Posted by blacksnake on (July 30, 2009, 4:12 GMT)

So now we have an opener on tour who persumably is out for the series, a fast bowler who wont be fit until the 4th test and an unrequired wicket keeper and allrounder. What we really needed from the outside was a squad that included Brad Hodge or Chris Rodgers and a second spin option.

How could they invest in Hughes without an extra qualified top order bat in the squad and then drop him after two Tests?? Surely Watson wont open!!

Posted by choo_for_twenty_choo on (July 30, 2009, 4:10 GMT)

Totally agree Matty_Gerco but I'm not convinced Watto will make any runs before he implodes and self combusts half way down the ptich in taking a single or running in to bowl his first ball. The guy has FRAGILE tattooed across his chest! And why omit Clark -the guy who performed better than MJ in the last tour match AND has the fuller action to suit this Edgebaston wicket? It all smacks of the same selector desperation and stupidity that left Michael Hussey out of the 2005 series, in favour of players who clearly were not at their best. Finally, I think in addition to Australia's team coach, bowling coach and fielding coach, I think they need to appoint a sledging coach. The poorly directed sledges we have seen in the first two Tests MUST be reversed if Australia have any chance of retaining The Ashes. Maybe some target practice is in order? In which case, with a welcome return to the fold, I nominate Ian Bell - a.k.a 'The Sherminator'. Bless you son; may The Sledges be directed at you

Posted by sammykent on (July 30, 2009, 4:10 GMT)

The Australian selectors are doing the right thing by Johnson. He has a couple of bad games but as Ponting said he has been the most successful and potent bowler in the side for the last 18 months. I also think the Watson move is not a bad one. This game will be affected by rain so the time at the crease will be shorter. Combine that with a wicket that will favour seamers and Watson looks like an inspired selection if the aim is to win and not draw. Hughes has been found out and needs to repair his technique. 1-0 down in an Ashes series is probably not the best environment to do it in but he is a long term prospect so this experience will help him mature. Comments about Hussey are a bit rough. His poor form means he averages a few runs less than an equivalent English top order batsman. Also he has had some rough decisions that have impacted his recent results, he of all people deserves to be afforded the time to come back. Still not exactly the team I would have selected but close.

Posted by hsid on (July 30, 2009, 3:56 GMT)

siddle is useless, they need stuart clark. johnson shouldn't be dropped cause he can score some runs and will probably find his rythym soon after he bowls a good tight spell and picks up some wickets.

Posted by PYC1959 on (July 30, 2009, 3:52 GMT)

I'm not a huge fan of Watson but I do believe he has a place in the side for this Test but probably not at the expense of Hughes. My opinion is for Hauritz to miss this one, put Watson in as back up if Johnson does not perform, watson to bat at 6 and North 5. I do not think the pitch will spin and if we use a spinner he will get pasted. Siddle should probably sit this one out too and Stuart Clark in.

Posted by Rusty_1 on (July 30, 2009, 3:51 GMT)

What a disgrace! The selectors had better come out and make a strong statement as to why they have perpetrated this act of madness! Watson had also better back them up with a century in both innings & 5 for. What's the rationale behind his inclusion? Is it the same as in India? He is a handy bat & he might take a wicket or two, so throw him in? Did we learn nothing from India? What must Stuart Clark be thinking? Here is a man with a test bowling avg of 22..... 22 and he can't get a run on? For mine, the batting line up was strong as it was (certainly strong than the English), it was the bowling that needed assistance. Johnson is off form, Siddle is trying to hard & not effective & Hauritz & Hilfy are only in their test infancy. Why not drop North, move Haddin to 6 & include Clark?? Or replace North with Watson at worst? Looks like the "be like Flintoff" curse has struck the Aussie selcectors once again after his heroics at Lords.

Posted by CricketisMyPassion on (July 30, 2009, 3:26 GMT)

I am not surprised by the selector's move. Nor can it be described as 'stunning' bcoz many of the avid participants in the Cricinfo forum on Facebook have called for or predicted this change. The stats about Hughes failure needs to be toned down. Of the three failures one was a dubious umpiring decision. So it is not as if stats automatically qualify him for dropping. However it is his technique which has been 'found out' by the England paceman that lies underneath as teh real cause for his failures. Phil Hughes is a huge talent. Once he tightens up his technique againt the fast and and the straight ball he wd be fine. The stunning part is retaining Johnson after a a below par performance considering he is the spearhead of the aussie attack. Johnson badly needs a break to clear his head. With Stuark Clark available and doing so well the retention of Johnson and holding back of Clark does not speak very well about the selectors approach.

Posted by eyballfallenout on (July 30, 2009, 3:15 GMT)

thats what happens when you dont take specialist batsman on tour as back up. I dont understand how Clark is not in the team. Ausie selectors should be to blame if they loose the ashes.

Posted by Matty_Gerco on (July 30, 2009, 3:12 GMT)

I'm with you dat. Like the vast majority of Watson's whole career, it seems like a bad dream...

Posted by Lazys0d1990 on (July 30, 2009, 3:00 GMT)

So what now? Move Hussey up to open and put Watson in at six or seven maybe.

Posted by Matty_Gerco on (July 30, 2009, 2:45 GMT)

Delightful. Hughes gets dumped after a few bad innings for someone who averages less than 20, despite batting in the lower order!Doesn't anyone remember Watson's string of low scores in the Sheffield Shield for QLD when he opened a few years back?

If Hughes must be dumped, which in light of Hussey's terrible form recently, seems a bit tough, why not, as the writer points out, either Rogers or Jaques???

Watson should have come in for the Marcus North, whose batted recklessly and poorly at Lord's, and Hughes should have stayed.

I've read about Australia's chop and change era of the 1980s and early 1990's. Hopefully we aren't about to return to the Australian selectors taking the adage "you are only as good as your last innings" literally.

The worst thing about this move is that Watson will score runs on this flat pitch and he will be lauded for it...

Posted by adamtwittey on (July 30, 2009, 2:28 GMT)

I'm not so sure I believe it yet. The selectors have stuck with Johnson through a few mediocre performances, and stuck with Hussey through a year of mediocre performances. The selectors need to look to the future and dropping Hughes now will do no good. Watson will likely go in the Flintoff direction soon, anyway.

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