India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 1st day March 2, 2013

Two problems, one solution?

Unless Phillip Hughes turns his tour around in the second innings, the time may have come for a reworking of Australia's batting order
74

Just as the script for a Michael Clarke innings has become predictable - score big after coming in at three for not much - it is also easy to guess how he will answer certain questions. When asked by the media about team selections, Clarke generally replies that: "We need to pick the 11 players who will give us the best chance of success in these conditions". And when pressed on a possible move up the batting order from his No. 5 position, Clarke usually says: "I'll bat wherever the team needs me".

It is becoming increasingly clear that in Indian conditions, Australia need Clarke to come in higher than No. 5. It is also apparent that Phillip Hughes has little chance of contributing to team success in India given his ongoing struggles against the turning ball. Unless Hughes finds a way to overcome his problem in the second innings, Australia's selectors should consider whether there is a common solution to the two issues: Hughes out, Shane Watson to No.3 and Clarke to No.4.

Hughes is a fine batsman who piles up centuries in first-class cricket and he has made improvements to his game since he was dropped from the Test team in late 2011. Unfortunately for Australia's hopes on this tour, his game against quality spin remains a weakness. On the first day in Hyderabad, Hughes showed some positive signs against the seamers and struck four boundaries on his way to 19. But here is a visual representation of his work against spin in this innings:

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . w

Twenty-three dot balls and then he fell, caught behind trying to force a cut. The past 30 deliveries of spin that Hughes has faced in this series have brought not a single run but have cost him his wicket three times. A nasty spitting ball got him in the second innings in Chennai, but he could not blame the pitch for his first-innings wicket there, or in Hyderabad. And in the tour match against India A he was dismissed by spin in both innings, for 1 and 19.

Clarke says his batsmen need their own individual plans to counter spin in India; it is not clear that Hughes has one. He is watchful but just cannot score. He feels forward tentatively to defend or plays back nervously. Sometimes he gets caught in between. Simply finding a single to rotate the strike becomes an impossible task. When he tries to force the ball through off it seems an edge is inevitable.

In his last Test match in Asia before this tour Hughes scored a century, but that was on a pitch at the SSC in Colombo that Wisden said "might just be the best road in the country". There, Hughes was driving with the confidence of Sebastian Vettel; here he has looked more like roadkill. If the selectors are serious about picking the best XI for the conditions, Hughes in this form is not part of it. If the bowling attack can be altered from match to match to suit conditions, why not the batting line-up?

Of course, the question is whether the backup batsmen in Australia's squad would do any better. Usman Khawaja was unbeaten on 30 when the warm-up match against India A in Chennai was declared a draw. When Steven Smith was picked as another reserve batsman, the national selector John Inverarity said it was in part because "he uses his feet really well and plays spin bowling really well". If the selectors have that faith, then either he or Khawaja is worth a try at No.5.

That would also allow Watson to move up closer to the new ball at first drop and Clarke to come in at No. 4. Alastair Cook led England's successful tour of India late last year by scoring a mountain of runs from the very top of the order. He set the tone. As well as Clarke is playing, it is difficult for him to do the same when he is followed only by the wicketkeeper, allrounders and bowlers. But it is also hard for him to bat any higher in a side that has four openers: Watson, Hughes, Ed Cowan and David Warner.

On the first day in Hyderabad, Clarke came to the crease with Australia at 57 for 3. He had support from Matthew Wade during an Australian record fifth-wicket stand in India but that was followed by a lower-order collapse. He fell for 91 hitting across the line and trying for quick runs before he ran out of partners. There is no guarantee that wouldn't happen if he batted at No.4 as well, but the chances should be a little slimmer.

Clarke has now scored 2544 runs as Test captain at an average of 70.66, second only on the average list to Don Bradman among captains who have led their countries in at least 10 Tests. Most of those runs have come at No.5 but there is no reason he should not succeed at No.4 as well. Coming at three down for very few, as he has so often, is akin to a top-order position anyway. And by moving up, he can stabilise things with an extra specialist batsman still to come.

Hughes is not the only man struggling in this top order, though Watson, Cowan and Warner have looked more likely to score. And such a change would not necessarily need to extend to the Ashes. Hughes would enjoy facing England's fast bowlers more than India's spinners, despite the fact that they found him out in England in 2009. Sidelining him in India does not mean he cannot play a part in conditions more suited to his style. Certainly he could keep the pressure on Cowan as an alternative opener.

And of course, there is still another innings of this Test to go. Perhaps Hughes has learnt from his mistakes. Maybe he will redeem himself with a second-innings hundred. If he does, good luck to him. Australia are a better team when Hughes translates his state form to Test cricket. But if his travails against spin continue, for Australia's sake in this series alone it might be time to reconsider his role in the short term.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • lil_rudiger86 on March 4, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    Fair enough points made. I tend to be a believer in the mantra if it ain't broke don't fix it, in that Clarke piles on the runs at no.5, however it would be in the team's best interest for him to play at 4 even if he makes slightly less runs(which is speculative anyway). As mentioned in the article, the balance of the side is all wrong as we have 4 opening bats (5 if we include Usie). Hughes and Cowan will struggle to perform consistently in tests as they have some technical weaknesses despite being very gritty players. On the flip side Warner and Cowan's opening stand average is impressive so that may save Cowan. Hughes should be a mainstay to the ODI and T20I opening position if you look at his record. I would be in favour of 5 bats, (Warner Watson Khawaja Clarke DHussey) Wade, and 5 bowlers as that is our strength.

  • Rashgul on March 2, 2013, 19:19 GMT

    It may seem that Hughes is having his troubles, but we need to remember that so did Ian Bell in November and December. After a number of failures, he finished the series with a ton and is a much better batsman for it. Keep him there and let Hughes learn. He will be better when Aus tour India again. He is young and therefore has all the ability to learn and adapt.

  • StoneRose on March 4, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    I feel sorry for Hughes because despite not being up to it he constantly keeps getting picked. It doesn't matter where he bats. Get Khawaja in.

  • on March 4, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Very dissapointing 2 see the aus team performences in tatters but i feel dat they deserve it as well.................not only 4 their cunning ways of winning matches but also 4 lack of respect dat their senior members wer met wid....wer is simon katich,marcus north,nathan hauritz why did mike hussey retire b4 da test series??? i reckon the presence of some of these seniors wud hav made a diff....huss 2 me is the best player of spin all da above players have been scapegoats 4 overall team performances.......it sucks 2 see only indian spinners dominate nd da series slowly is loosing a proper fight nd seems alien 4 aus maxwell nd cowan not doin a gr8 job,watson gettin diff ways of dismissals hughes prbly not seems 2 even play a club level spinner prply nd warner seems 2 flirt wid danger everytym nd lastly wade seems 2 b moody nd plays only wen feelin fine.........clark nd henriques r doin a gud job da least can b spoken abt siddle,dohertynd lyon only pattinson luks a wkt taker no m johnsn

  • peter.suen on March 3, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    If Watson is not bowling he shouldn't be in the team. His batting has always looked good. But he finds way to get out after a start. I was pleased with the selection of Cowan when he was first called up. But he also seems to get out after starts. Australia need batsman who can bat long innings. I don't care if they bat slow.

    Clarke poor record at 4 might be on the back of his mind. Definitely he needs to move up, and there really is no reason for him to not succeed there. People tend to bat well around Clarke, instead of 3-50 odd, it might be 3-100 instead which makes a lot of difference for inexperienced batsmen coming in.

    Selection of Maxwell is strange. Remember the failure of picking Cameron White as a spinner? Might as well just stick with 6 good batsmen and 4 specialist bowlers.

  • howla41 on March 3, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    i cannot work out why Australia played 10 odi games after the test series with Sri Lanka finished. Our issues with spin were highlighted by Rangana Herath in the SCG test. Our test squad should have been in India, facing as much spin as possible in the lead up

  • piyush_Daredevils on March 3, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    they have made a blunder by picking maxwell. he is more of a batsmen who can bowl.they have gone in the test match with 3 strike bowlers + 2 support bowlers.

    my Aus Xi would be- Warner,watson,shaun marsh,clarke,ferguson ,moises,wade,pattinson,siddle,starc+lyon

  • Dismayed on March 3, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    Once again we have the Cricinfo staff refusing to put the pressure on their mate Cowan. He has had more chances than anyone in the last decade. He unbalances the side as he adds nothing, cant field, cant bowl and averages just 30? Siddle also has done nothing. Maxwell should not have been selected. Drop Cowan and Maxwell play Steve Smith, and bring over S. O'keefe and Bailey and T.Paine for Wade if he is injured. Warner, Watson, Hughes,Clark, (Bailey) , S.Smith, Henriques, Paine,S.O'keefe, Johnson, Pattinson. Lyon.

  • HowdyRowdy on March 3, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    Sensible ideas put forward in this article. Australia has to think about making some changes, otherwise it will be a 4 to nil series result for India.

    ,ime for Clarke to go up the order, so that he can try to establish a platform, instead of mounting a forlorn rearguard action.

    As for Hughes, he is averaging mid thirties after 31 Tests - simply not good enough, and certainly not good enough for him to be untouchable. His lack of footwork against the deviating ball has again found him out.

    If Plan A is failing, you don't stick to it ad infinitum. Time for Plan B.

  • Sljmh01 on March 3, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    Everyone is saying Clarke should move up the order but he probably does not want to because he has a terrible record at 4. He averages 22 after 19 matches there. He was borderline about to get dropped by the end of that. In contrast he has always been brilliant at 5. He averages about 54 after 79 games. Wierd stat I agree but he clearly is not very comfortable at 4 and he is incredible at 5 so I say don't move him!!

  • lil_rudiger86 on March 4, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    Fair enough points made. I tend to be a believer in the mantra if it ain't broke don't fix it, in that Clarke piles on the runs at no.5, however it would be in the team's best interest for him to play at 4 even if he makes slightly less runs(which is speculative anyway). As mentioned in the article, the balance of the side is all wrong as we have 4 opening bats (5 if we include Usie). Hughes and Cowan will struggle to perform consistently in tests as they have some technical weaknesses despite being very gritty players. On the flip side Warner and Cowan's opening stand average is impressive so that may save Cowan. Hughes should be a mainstay to the ODI and T20I opening position if you look at his record. I would be in favour of 5 bats, (Warner Watson Khawaja Clarke DHussey) Wade, and 5 bowlers as that is our strength.

  • Rashgul on March 2, 2013, 19:19 GMT

    It may seem that Hughes is having his troubles, but we need to remember that so did Ian Bell in November and December. After a number of failures, he finished the series with a ton and is a much better batsman for it. Keep him there and let Hughes learn. He will be better when Aus tour India again. He is young and therefore has all the ability to learn and adapt.

  • StoneRose on March 4, 2013, 12:27 GMT

    I feel sorry for Hughes because despite not being up to it he constantly keeps getting picked. It doesn't matter where he bats. Get Khawaja in.

  • on March 4, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Very dissapointing 2 see the aus team performences in tatters but i feel dat they deserve it as well.................not only 4 their cunning ways of winning matches but also 4 lack of respect dat their senior members wer met wid....wer is simon katich,marcus north,nathan hauritz why did mike hussey retire b4 da test series??? i reckon the presence of some of these seniors wud hav made a diff....huss 2 me is the best player of spin all da above players have been scapegoats 4 overall team performances.......it sucks 2 see only indian spinners dominate nd da series slowly is loosing a proper fight nd seems alien 4 aus maxwell nd cowan not doin a gr8 job,watson gettin diff ways of dismissals hughes prbly not seems 2 even play a club level spinner prply nd warner seems 2 flirt wid danger everytym nd lastly wade seems 2 b moody nd plays only wen feelin fine.........clark nd henriques r doin a gud job da least can b spoken abt siddle,dohertynd lyon only pattinson luks a wkt taker no m johnsn

  • peter.suen on March 3, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    If Watson is not bowling he shouldn't be in the team. His batting has always looked good. But he finds way to get out after a start. I was pleased with the selection of Cowan when he was first called up. But he also seems to get out after starts. Australia need batsman who can bat long innings. I don't care if they bat slow.

    Clarke poor record at 4 might be on the back of his mind. Definitely he needs to move up, and there really is no reason for him to not succeed there. People tend to bat well around Clarke, instead of 3-50 odd, it might be 3-100 instead which makes a lot of difference for inexperienced batsmen coming in.

    Selection of Maxwell is strange. Remember the failure of picking Cameron White as a spinner? Might as well just stick with 6 good batsmen and 4 specialist bowlers.

  • howla41 on March 3, 2013, 10:42 GMT

    i cannot work out why Australia played 10 odi games after the test series with Sri Lanka finished. Our issues with spin were highlighted by Rangana Herath in the SCG test. Our test squad should have been in India, facing as much spin as possible in the lead up

  • piyush_Daredevils on March 3, 2013, 10:37 GMT

    they have made a blunder by picking maxwell. he is more of a batsmen who can bowl.they have gone in the test match with 3 strike bowlers + 2 support bowlers.

    my Aus Xi would be- Warner,watson,shaun marsh,clarke,ferguson ,moises,wade,pattinson,siddle,starc+lyon

  • Dismayed on March 3, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    Once again we have the Cricinfo staff refusing to put the pressure on their mate Cowan. He has had more chances than anyone in the last decade. He unbalances the side as he adds nothing, cant field, cant bowl and averages just 30? Siddle also has done nothing. Maxwell should not have been selected. Drop Cowan and Maxwell play Steve Smith, and bring over S. O'keefe and Bailey and T.Paine for Wade if he is injured. Warner, Watson, Hughes,Clark, (Bailey) , S.Smith, Henriques, Paine,S.O'keefe, Johnson, Pattinson. Lyon.

  • HowdyRowdy on March 3, 2013, 9:52 GMT

    Sensible ideas put forward in this article. Australia has to think about making some changes, otherwise it will be a 4 to nil series result for India.

    ,ime for Clarke to go up the order, so that he can try to establish a platform, instead of mounting a forlorn rearguard action.

    As for Hughes, he is averaging mid thirties after 31 Tests - simply not good enough, and certainly not good enough for him to be untouchable. His lack of footwork against the deviating ball has again found him out.

    If Plan A is failing, you don't stick to it ad infinitum. Time for Plan B.

  • Sljmh01 on March 3, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    Everyone is saying Clarke should move up the order but he probably does not want to because he has a terrible record at 4. He averages 22 after 19 matches there. He was borderline about to get dropped by the end of that. In contrast he has always been brilliant at 5. He averages about 54 after 79 games. Wierd stat I agree but he clearly is not very comfortable at 4 and he is incredible at 5 so I say don't move him!!

  • Chris_P on March 3, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster. I have to agree with you on the selection of Doherty & Maxwell, both well short of test class standard & to be blunt the decision has many of us here scratching our heads as well. I do have to point out though, for all his shortcomings in the longer form of the game, Maxwell (IMHO) is or will soon be, one of the most dynamic T20 players about. He has everything needed for this format & I am certain opinions aboOt him will change in the forthcoming IPL. He is dynamic with bat in hand, almost peerless as a fielder & can at least roll his arm over, pretty much the perfect package for this format. Dohery, a good honest bowler in the short form. What we are seeing isn't surprising many of us in the least.

  • Barnesy4444 on March 3, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    I remember the 2001 tour of India. Ponting averaged about 6, Gilchrist wasn't much better. Were we talking of dropping them? Maybe if Hughes played more than 1 warm up innings prior to the first test he may be performing better in India. He will work it out, he's worked out other things. Hughes is a long term prospect, Cowan is not. Another thing, England did not "work out" Hughes in 2009, he had 3 innings, 1 of which wasn't out and in two of those innings he scored over 30. Hardly being "worked out".

  • ygkd on March 3, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    Clarke is Australia's only top-flight batsman, yet he isn't quite top-flight if he doesn't bat in the top order. Number five is for youth finding their feet or someone who bowls handy overs. Clarke is captain. A captain's knock would be best at number three, where Ponting was.

  • on March 3, 2013, 5:53 GMT

    Hughes' problem when it comes to test cricket is self doubt... put him in coloured clothing or in first class cricket and he looks a cut above the rest... put him in the test side however... I still believe Hughes will be a good, maybe even great batsman but he has to get over whatever hes got in his head when he steps into test cricket

  • crh8971 on March 3, 2013, 5:13 GMT

    I would also like to see Clarke at 4 but disagree that the simple solution is to drop Hughes and push Watson up one spot. To me Watson should be dropped as his last 20 test innings have produced only 558 runs at an average of 27. He might look good and I do not deny that he is an outstanding short form player but as a test batsman he has been a liability. Similarly Cowan we know has a very low average for a test batsmen who is now playing his 15th test match. this is frustrating because he gets a lot of good starts (in 7 of his last 11 test innings he has made at least 29 bu never better than 56). We would not put up with this level of mediocrity from bowlers but we do with batsmen. Time to give Kawahja and Smith a game if we don't see an innings of substance from these three batsmen in the second innings.

  • kanzacs on March 3, 2013, 4:47 GMT

    Here's my two cents:-

    Bye bye Cowan, and besides, he's been nothing but a "mouth" since he started playing for AU anyway. Never shuts up.

    Batting lineup as follows:-

    1/2 - Warner/Hughes. 3 - Khawaja 4 - Clarke 5 - Watson (can then also bowl) 6 - Henriques (if good form continues) 7 - Wade (or Haddin/Paine if needed) 8/9 - Bowlers who CAN bat / spinner(s). 10/11 - Specialist pace bowlers

    How bloody hard is that, Cricket Australia?

    Oh and btw, ALWAYS take a reserve 'keeper.

    WTH is going on at CA?

    Cheers

  • on March 3, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    1). Aus in terrible phase due to John Inverarity who axed Ponting & kept putting pressure on Hussey. Poting recently hit 200 in domestic cricket & could have been far better than current crop of useless Aussie batsmen ......................................2). Besides a nonesense declaration (waste of resources) coz historically India has been generous to tailenders..............If Clarke wanted to use morning session he should have asked his last pair to attack spinners in the process they might have added 30 runs in 5 overs before getting out...................3). Clarke should have farmed strike like Dhoni which he didn't do................4). Clarke must have been brave enough to come at 4 & take Indian spin threat head on

  • Chris_Howard on March 3, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    Reminds of Matty Hayden. Pretty ordinary against spin, so took himself to India for an extended period to learn, and the next tour of India, dominated and never looked back. Hughes should do the same - afterall, he will have to face Swann and Panesar in England.

    The way Clarke's playing, I'd rather see him at 3 and Watto lower. Somehting like this:

    Warner, Cowan/Hughes, Clarke, Khawaja, Watson, Henriques/Voges/MMarsh, Wade, Pattinson, Siddle, Starc/Johnson/Hilf, Lyon/Beer

  • BradmanBestEver on March 3, 2013, 3:49 GMT

    out: Cowan, Hughes to open, in: Khuwaja. out: Band Bang Maxwell's silver hammer, in: the Lion sleeps tonight

  • VivGilchrist on March 3, 2013, 3:21 GMT

    Two problems - Arthur and Inverarity. One Solution - Darren Lehman.

  • u.moral on March 3, 2013, 3:19 GMT

    The match is not over by any means but i can see where it is headed. I would swap Hughes,Maxwell and Doherty in the curent team for Usman,Johnson and Lyon. You cant expext to beat India IN INDIA with below average spinners(Englan did because they had two worl class). Remember last when Ozzies won here it was because of McG,Gillespie,Lee,etc not even Warne. Australia's strength is pace and i can only see Johnson and Pattinson being capable of bowling India out. Oh Bird was good but he flew away home

  • ozwriter on March 3, 2013, 2:26 GMT

    well-written article, finally. the australian correspondents seem to find it difficult to criticise what is woeful. hughes is nothing short of absolutely woeful. and surely the batting line up needs to change!

  • smudgemax on March 3, 2013, 2:22 GMT

    Let me get this straight, Hughes struggles against spin and quality swing bowling too. Can you really be a test batsman with these problems. Seems to me that he made a mountain of runs against South Africa when he was riding a crest of a wave and high on confidence when he first entered test cricket. But when he started to have a bad trot he had to fall back on his technique, which is dodgy at best. His unorthodox technique is simply not good enough to pull him through if he is low on confidence.

  • jmcilhinney on March 3, 2013, 2:06 GMT

    @RandyUK on (March 2, 2013, 15:21 GMT), so Cowan's performance justifies Hughes looking awful? If an England batsman performed the way Hughes has you'd be ridiculing them mercilessly, and you have done just that in the past. Hughes is still yet to prove himself to be the batsman that you have often claimed him to be. The conditions will be different in England but I've no doubt that Graeme Swann will be looking forward to bowling at Hughes, assuming he lasts long enough. By the way, has MS Dhoni just ended Nathan Lyon's career?

  • on March 3, 2013, 1:43 GMT

    well written article that's hard to disagree with i'd have left hughes out for khawaja and siddle for johnson and probably picked lyon ahead of maxwell. If watson could bowl i'd replace henriques with smith

  • on March 3, 2013, 1:39 GMT

    Its very obvious Phil Hughes cannot play spin, seam or swing.He can only score when the ball is fast,short and wide of the off stump.I cannot believe he occupies a spot in the batting line up which was once occupied bythe likes of Norman O'Neil ,Neil Harvey and lately by Ricky Pontingl.Incredible!!!

  • thebarmyarmy on March 3, 2013, 1:33 GMT

    Hughes is an average international batsman at best. As a 'specialist opener' (as Geof Lawson calls him) 22 tests with an average of 34 tells us he has serious flaws in his game. He seems to be a confidence batsmen who cant get confident. England will rip him apart in a few months, big time. Shall be fun!

  • onlinegamer55 on March 3, 2013, 0:16 GMT

    Brydon, I can't believe this article. How many runs did Ponting score in his tour of India in 2001? Hughes has been unlucky and has not had much practice against spin. If Hughes is dropped again, then his confidence could be shattered. We really need to persist with our young players who are the future of Australia cricket. A series loss here is worth many series victories in the future against India as Hughes learns to play spin bowling. I do think he will come good but we can't judge a player on two tests. We've done this once already in the Ashes and that dented Hughes' confidence tremendously. And, if his replacement performs, then Hughes will not be playing the Ashes which is terrible for his long-term development. I know you have an agenda against Hughes but why don't you commend him when he's doing well? I never saw any articles praising him after his century in the 5th ODI against Sri Lanka or the 3rd ODI against West Indies. Hughes will prove you wrong and you will admit it.

  • Chris_P on March 2, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    I think, Brydon, there are a few ore than 2 problems. Agree with Hughes, although he was worth considering initially. We have Watson, who I have always supported as an allrounder, in the side for his batting yet his fc average for the past 3 years is less than 30. How does did he justify his recall? We have Maxwell who isn't among the best 12 batsmen around & who is not a front line spinner selected. We have Doherty, who has no form in fc cricket this season selected as our main spinner when he lags far behind others others (including Lyon). Why are the Argus recommendations not being followed? I mean, seriously, who really is surrpised by the way we are playing?

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on March 2, 2013, 23:44 GMT

    It's unbelievable that Khawaja keeps warming the bench while Hughes keeps building the confidence of Indian spinners.

  • landl47 on March 2, 2013, 23:29 GMT

    The weakness in Brydon's proposition is that Watson hasn't been any more capable than Hughes of playing a long innings in these conditions. Moving him to #3, putting Clarke at #4 and bringing in the inexperienced Khawaja, with a test average of under 30, smacks of shuffling the deckchairs on the Titanic.

    I think that Hughes, at 24, has a lot more chance of becoming a good top-order bat for Australia than does Watson, who is 31 and yet has less test centuries than Hughes. Frankly, Australia's batting is what it is; I said before the series that this was a team much better suited to the Ashes than to India.

    The greater selection issue is the bowling. Leaving aside the comical comment of Cpt.Meanster (Steve Smith is a 'handy legspinner'- yes, with a test average of 73 and a FC average of 56), Aus probably didn't pick the best bowling side for the conditions. However, we'll see tomorrow.

  • on March 2, 2013, 23:12 GMT

    Clueless selection of the team. As Jackson rightly says, what happens if the Indians play his 5 to 6 overs safely. How can Johnson be left out? And Maxwell for Lyon is a laugh

  • righthandbat on March 2, 2013, 23:11 GMT

    There is a very obvious first-drop choice, it happens to be the best batsman in the team who is also the captain. Michael Clarke should bat at number 3 from the second innings onwards. Watson, Warner, Clarke is the best top 3 available at the current moment in time. I think number 4 should be occupied by Bailey, given his strong experience in first-class and other international cricket. It would be a stabilising force.

    The rest of the make-up of the team is a bit of a mystery from then on, with players like Cowan, Doolan, Hughes and Khawaja still having pretty large question marks over them, but if Australia used that top 4, I think their batting prospects would improve.

  • Eightfa on March 2, 2013, 23:09 GMT

    Maxwell and Doherty these blokes would not get a run New Zealand cricket. I hate to say it but Lyon got dropped because they couldn't have Doherty Lyon in batting order and they wanted the variaty of left and right armer. Is it just me or did SOK solve all those issues fast losing patience with this mob maybe warnies manifesto isn't to far off the mark.

  • hycIass on March 2, 2013, 23:00 GMT

    The top order Is certainly all over the shop, Warner is a keeper as is IMO Watson however Cowan and Hughes are flakey. It seems the selectors are going to stick with this group heading to England. Would love to see Khawaja get a run and he is a future test star if he can get just half the chances Cowan has had. There is talent in the batting group however we are not getting it done on a consistent basis. Obviously the spin bowling ranks are ordinary and the cupboard is bare. Not a good scenario going to India, of course we knew this was the case. Australian cricket has not produced a good spinner since Warnie and McGill. This is ridiculous. Wade is getting runs but what of his glove work ? Aussies had a poor first day in Hydrabad and not hard not to think another drubbing is on the cards. The Poms must be absolutely salivating, the beat India recently in India, our blokes will be doing well not to lose 0-3 with a draw going on current form.

  • on March 2, 2013, 22:53 GMT

    Surprised with many Aussie selections - Siddle (why not Johnson - he is fast and Indian batsmen don't like pace over 135kph), Hughes (why not Doherty, Maxwell and Lyon - Lyon bowled well against Indian batsmen who play spin well. I think Doherty will not be as successful against a good spin playing batting lineup). Surprised with Indian selections although some have prospered. Jadeja has been better than anyone could have thunk. Ishant needs to be given a rest and replaced with Shami Ahmed and if Sehwag and Vijay don't fire, well fire them and get Rahane and Rohit Sharma. Harbhajan continues to bowl medium pace and should be replaced with the all-rounder Rasool or Ohja. Tendular has surprised but cant' imagine him getting to another 50 the rest of his Test match career. Dhoni should continue to play with attacking instincts not only as a batsmen, but as a captain (have close in fielders and dare the batsmen to score runs). If the BCCI wants me as a selector, please respond.

  • whoster on March 2, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    I can't see any logic in Australia's so-overwhelmingly best batsman coming it at no.5. Time and again Clarke gets to the wicket with not many runs on the board, and it's one hell of an achievement of his to score so many runs when his side has been up against it. The honest truth for Australia is their batting is paper-thin without Clarke (and of course, Hussey). Cowan's done little despite being given a good run, Warner is too loose - terrible shot today. Hughes is embarrassing against spin, and Watson is under big pressure because he's in the side as a batsman only. Of course we'll have to wait and see, but Lyon being dropped for Doherty seems barmy beyond belief. If Doherty receives as bad, or worse, treatment than Lyon got, it'll be an almighty blunder. I think Aus should've gambled with Mitchell Johnson - he's a big liability most of the time, but you never know when he could bowl a magic spell. Apart from Pattinson, nothing else to worry the India batting.

  • on March 2, 2013, 22:29 GMT

    Michael Clarke has batted at 4, and has failed, time after time after time. Why would we want to move him from a spot he has been so successful at? Allan Border and Steve Waugh both batted in the middle order and no one seemed to have a problem with that.

  • Fine_Legs on March 2, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    Some of the Australian batsmen looked so good till they got out - Clarke, Wade and Watson! Just felt that the settled batsmen needed to eschew horizontal shots - the default shot should be down the ground when you are building your innings and when the bounce is a bit irregular. Watson in particular looked good for a swift hundred in the short period he played, and if you leave out that attempt at a pull that got him out, he was perfect in his down-the-ground approach. In the next innings, the Australians just need to completely rule out horizontal bat shots - just for a bit - and make the Indians struggle a bit more. The other thing: 30 balls without a run is not such a bad thing if you don't get out off the 31st - batsmen like Sunil Gavaskar, Steven Waugh and Rahul Dravid would tell you it didn't worry them when their teams were in crisis how many dot balls they played.

  • Moppa on March 2, 2013, 21:39 GMT

    I think this article is sensible - Hughes probably should be dropped here, but almost automatically reinstated for the Ashes, where I think he's a better option than Khawaja, Smith, Voges, Rogers, D.Hussey or whomever. I also agree with those pointing out that Watson's presumed departure for the birth of his child means that Cowan is surely safe. You would think that Khawaja (at 3) and Smith (at 5) will come in for those two, with Clarke moving up to 4. Drop Maxwell for Lyon and the team starts to look OK. I was originally critical of Smith's selection in the squad, on the presumption that Inverarity saw him as an all-rounder. If the logic is simply that he's a good batsman against spin then, hey, we need them - bring him in. Incidentally, I feel Australia will adapt to the conditions over time and improve... and so probably lose the series 3-1.

  • on March 2, 2013, 21:35 GMT

    Great article from B Coverdale. Hughes is not the answer on spinning tracks. That does not mean he should be forgotten when in England. The problem does certainly lie with the selectors. Everyone else knew the weakness of Hughes against spin. Also Khwaja, plays spin poorly yet they ignored excellent players in Haddin and Hussey . Obviously it is difficult to change selection mistakes mid tour, but if Smith and Johnson were selected for their potential to succeed in India, then they must play. No doubt, Smith uses his feet to spinners and is energetic.One other crucial matter the selectors can fix mid tour, is to replace the injured Bird with Okeefe. Immediately.

  • bumsonseats on March 2, 2013, 21:17 GMT

    the problem or one of them is so many batters who in reality should bat in the # 5/6 position. warner, hughes and watson, all T20 /odis type batters. with cowans opening spot under a cloud and with a captain that should be batting in the ponting position of #3 that may free a down the order position. by the time the ashes arrive their could be 3 of the top 5 positions all with a different player. the spinning dept well who knows who will end as the spinner then. with the pace bowling the only settled part of the team.

  • shiv_mishra on March 2, 2013, 20:28 GMT

    I am worried with the way our team has no answer to Clarke. Watson and Warner both are quality batsmen. If one of them gets going big, it can be disastrous for India. India needs a plan to counter him and fast. On the other note, very disappointed with Wade today. He should not have played that shot specially when his role was to stick to other side and give company to probably best batsman in the world now a days. I don't find any difference between him and Harbhajan getting out in first test. Both were highly irresponsible. Also saw a comment by Wade that he had a plan against Spin and it worked. This comment just tells how below par test cricket is now a days. When Sachin got out against Pakistan in Chennai, probably one of his best innings, next day every news article was heavy in his criticism.

  • Kapstif on March 2, 2013, 20:26 GMT

    After this series Hughes (c Guptil b Martin) might have to change his name to Hughes (c Dhoni b Ashwin).

    @Rashgul the comparison to Bell is fair to a point but even Bell wasn't 3 for 0 of 30 against spin.

  • Kapil_Choudhary on March 2, 2013, 19:50 GMT

    "The past 30 deliveries of spin that Hughes has faced in this series have brought not a single run but have cost him his wicket three times"

    That is just an incredible stat. Difficult to struggle more than that. Time for Aus to drop him. Though as an Indian, if he does continue playing (and I hope he does) then I will now be cringing every time (if any) a pacer bowls to him...Get both spinners on the moment he comes to the crease irrespective of anything else.

  • Cpt.Meanster on March 2, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    I caught the highlights of the first day and I must say I am not amused by the mediocrity of the Australian selection. Doherty ? Maxwell ? LOL. Give me a break guys. Those two wouldn't even feature in my back alley roster. I mean they are 'okay' players in T20s and ODIs. Since test cricket is sacred and worshipped by many, I was expecting something huge from AUS. Perhaps Mitchell Johnson could have played. I would have kept Lyon in because he bowled decently. It was just that India's batsmen played him very well, especially Tendulkar, Kohli and MSD. I would have gone with Lyon, Steve Smith, and Mitchell Johnson. I say Johnson because he has played in India before during the tour of 2008. Steve Smith is a handy leg spinner and a much better batsman than Maxwell. I cannot see the logic in Australia's selection. With 237 on the board, they have a poor chance of winning this game. India only need to score above 300 and it's curtains.

  • satchander on March 2, 2013, 18:37 GMT

    @Raman12...Did you really see the ind-aus match or was it some other match? Because the Hughes we saw was uncomfortable against spin but not against pace. He played pace extremely well. I really loved some of his cover drives off ishant and bhuvaneswar. He is still going to be a good pick for conditions that suit pace (Aus, Eng, SA).

  • on March 2, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    Hughes was kept away from the South Africans and then was given an easy landing against the Lankans on his test comeback. He did alright in that series, but here he didn't look the part as yet. If he gets going, he could be a handful, but as the article points out, he doesn't have many more chances. But at the asame time, the other question that needs to beasked is about Watson's position. He could have been more effective at the top if he had to play the new ball, in 2 of the 3 innings India opened with pace. Otherwise, Clarke should certainly bat ahead of him. Clarke at 4, Watson at 5 itself could make a difference. Now Watson is also caught in 2 minds, he comes in usually after a couple of early wickets, his natural game is oriented towards attacking, but then he has to deal with the pressure of 2 wickets. Besides, he has his share of problems against spin. So if Clarke comes ahead of him Watson would be in with a chance to come into a situation where he could consolidate.

  • on March 2, 2013, 18:23 GMT

    @ blink182alex - agree with you on the voges inclusion mate. the south australian has it in him to guts it out in tough conditions. a bit like steven waugh in his early days. not sure about chris rogers but khwaja surely merits a spot in this shaky & technically brittle batting line-up. My preferred batting order would be:

    1.Watto 2.Warner 3.Khawaja 4.Clarke 5.Voges 6.Henriques 7.Matty Wade

    Then again, I'm not john inverarity. that man's selection choice baffles me more than you can imagine. Mitch & steven smith ain't a bad shout either to shake things up a little bit. Both of'em are feisty & can prove more than a handful on these pitches. At least go down blazing, what's the point in a meek surrender?

  • on March 2, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    To me, the big question now is Pattinson. Does Clarke feel that Pattinson can bowl 20 overs a day? If not, then the Australians will be relying pretty heavily on Plan A: expose Indian weakness against pace. If that fails, and if the Indian batsmen then start making Doherty and Maxwell look unreliable, then Clarke will have a hard time managing his "five man" attack.

    Last time Siddle had to shoulder the lion's share of the bowling (no pun intended), he ended up having to miss the next match. And Henriques is only in his second test - that would be a big burden for him too.

    So - Australia have to hope that either Pattinson can bowl lots of overs, that the fast bowlers tear through the Indian line-up quickly, or that Doherty and/or Maxwell are at least able to bowl long spells and keep an end quiet.

  • GeoffreysMother on March 2, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    Send for Rob Quiney. He protected Hughes against the pace of the South Africans, now he can do it against spin. Leaves Hughes free to murder medium pacers on flat tracks.

  • Playfair on March 2, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    Maxwell for should have been the only change ... Doherty for Lyon is just cosmetic

  • Ragav999 on March 2, 2013, 17:18 GMT

    Good points made by Rugsy! Aussies will do well to read these knowledgeable comments and learn a few things. Australia needs to pick pure high quality batsmen and 4 best bowlers (even if all 4 are fast bowlers). This Australian side is increasingly looking like the old Indian and WI sides where they depended on one batsman and one bowler. The sad part is we have only reached Day 1 of 2nd Test and the weaknesses are glaring after retirements of Ponting and Hussey. When Ponting and Hussey were going through bad patches, the fans had faith that they will be repaid in bucketfulls by the champions.Now it is not the case any more.

  • blink182alex on March 2, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    Horses for courses in these conditions. Hughes doesn't look like he has a clue how to go about facing decent spin in these conditions, Clarke our best player of spin by a mile is responding to a crisis at 5 every time rather than setting the tone higher up. There is no Mike Hussey around to support Clarke so he can convert his scores at 5 into doubles like he did in 2012. Cowan has played enough now, he showed some promise but hasn't gone on since his 136 v South Africa, averaging 31 isn't good enough.

    For India: 1. Warner 2. Watson 3. Rogers 4. Clarke 5. Voges 6. Wade 7. Henriques 8. Pattinson 9. Siddle 10. Doherty 11. Lyon

    For England 1. Warner 2. Watson 3. Hughes 4. Rogers 5. Clarke 6. Voges 7. Wade 8. Pattinson 9. Harris 10. Siddle 11. Lyon / Holland

  • Mr_Ronan on March 2, 2013, 17:04 GMT

    WHOA, WHOA. Fair enough...Hughes is certainly not suited to the conditions, in which Khawaja looked far more comfortable in the tour matches. Easy selection decision really. But let's shelve the hyperbole about Australia's terminal decline until both sides have batted. There is plenty in this pitch for the pacemen so it would be no great suprise if Pattinson, Siddle and Henriques rip into the Indian batsmen tomorrow. They could also struggle as India rack up a big lead. But until that eventuates it is folly to denigrate a team which prior to this series had lost only 2 of their previous 18 Tests, and which is the only side to cause SA big problems both home and away the past few years.

  • Raman12 on March 2, 2013, 16:48 GMT

    I saw todays match. Phil Hughes is unconvincing in spin and short of confidence in playing fast bowlers .His technique is also not strong . Khwaja should b a definite try

  • ReverseSweepIndia on March 2, 2013, 16:31 GMT

    I know my opinion will not matter much but Watson as all rounder is a player any team will want first entry in team sheet. But as a pure batsman I do not think he will fit even in Pak team which is pretty tight in batting at the moment. The changes from first test, if I would have any say are Khwaja for Hughes, Johnson for Stark, and Doherty for Siddle. I would have kept Lyon in team. I don't think even Warne have ever made any huge impact against India. Lyon bowled well in patches it was just his misfortune that he run in against Dhoni. Whatever kind of wicket, Dhoni's inning was master class not for purity or volume of runs but the tactical acumen with which those runs were acquired. I think Australians know more about such innings with one certain Michael Hussey and another Michael Bevan coming from their range. Leave alone Lyon, even Warne would have found hapless against such thing. If you want to see, then see replay of the ball Lyon bowled to Sachin.

  • OttawaRocks on March 2, 2013, 16:29 GMT

    This might be the weakest Australian batting lineup I've ever seen in my life and that stretch spreads back to the 70s. Clarke is the only worthy batsmen here.

  • on March 2, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    i dnt understand why on earth ishanth is playing while there are many other bowler's who can bowl faster than him and can bowl better far better than him .. i feel pity seeing his bowling at the speed of 130.. hez is uselles in fact i can say injuries made him usless. pls pick some other good bowlers.. pls dhoni pls

  • Webba84 on March 2, 2013, 16:09 GMT

    @RandyOz Dont think Cowan is overrated by many and Id say his days are pretty numbered, it becomes more and more clear that he is not able to take the chance he has been given here but you have to admit that so far in this test series he has scored more runs than Hughes. Honestly if I was to change two players from the last test going into this one lets just say they wouldn't have been bowlers.

  • ReverseSweepIndia on March 2, 2013, 15:59 GMT

    I was at the ground today. Problem as a spectator I see is more than technique is attitude I think. With his problem with short ball Steve Waugh, Ganguly and many more has still scored runs in hard & bouncy wickets. Peterson is considered sitting duck against left arm spin. Didn't he scored against Ojha? The shot Wade played today was very poor. You need not force strokes in India and even if you try you can not until you have peculiar methods of likes of Dhoni, Sehwag, Dilshan, Peterson or your own Haydon. You could have been very well 260 for 4 or may 5 if not for that foolish stroke. One bad decision whether its bowling, batting or umpires can sometime change the complexion of the game. If you would have held that Bhuvan catch in Chennai (you would have won), or Clark would have been given out (you would have lost on 3rd evening or 4th morning).

  • Rugsy on March 2, 2013, 15:59 GMT

    I thinks Andy Plowright has hit the nail on the head. You can never be a great side with bits and pieces players. The Aussie selectors who are generally very well focused, should settle on a long term goal instead of looking for instant results. leaving Lyon out and bringing Maxwell in is inexplicable. Unless I am terribly mistaken, I feel India will score 450 plus on this wicket, which is a typical Ranji Trophy pitch, Maxwell and Doherty notwithstanding. Let us see how it goes tomorrow.

  • Rugsy on March 2, 2013, 15:58 GMT

    I thinks Andy Plowright has hit the nail on the head. You can never be a great side with bits and pieces players. The Aussie selectors who are generally very well focused, should settle on a long term goal instead of looking for instant results. leaving Lyon out and bringing Maxwell in is inexplicable. Unless I am terribly mistaken, I feel India will score 450 plus on this wicket, which is a typical Ranji Trophy pitch, Maxwell and Doherty notwithstanding. Let us see how it goes tomorrow.

  • on March 2, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    A very mediocre player at the international level. the very fact that he is piling up hundreds in Shield cricket is a reflection of how average the cricket quality is than his prowess.

  • Beertjie on March 2, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Excellent points in this article. But if Smith "uses his feet really well and plays spin bowling really well" in this desperate situation Australia faces they need to be consiistent and pick him. Likewise, if Arthur talked about Ussie being the next one in line, then pick HIM too! Is it confirmed that Watson will miss Mohali to return for the impending birth of his child? If so, playing both would seem to be the only option available with Khawaja at No.3 and Smith at 5. Agree entirely with all your points, @Mervin John on (March 2, 2013, 14:46 GMT). There's no "hate on" Hughes, @Alex Bicknell! What's unacceptable is picking guys on tour and not playing them despite others failing! Lyon was dropped and so should others if replacements on tour are available. This is not called a revolving door but utilizing resources! Agreed the choices made were not the best but you need to be consistent. Why the different treatment meted out to Khawaja as opposed to Hughes?

  • on March 2, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    I know it looks bad for the aussies right now, but talks of a whitewash are too premature. Things were the same for England up until Monty Panesar showed up in the 2nd innings of 2nd test. And India doesn't do whitewashes. The all-too-familiar collapse against fast bowling lurks somewhere around the corner. It always does. The top order issue for Australia has got nothing to do with spin though. They have an inconsistent top order that has struggled in even in home conditions (look up scorecards of India-Aus in Aus 2011-12). The batting order is over-reliant on Clarke but there is quality support (Wade today and Henriques in Chennai showed that) that just bats too far down.

  • Rugsy on March 2, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    Thanks Brydon for some very perceptive comments. As an Indian, I can say with some degree of knowledge of local conditions, that what Australia need to do is to forget the scoring rate, forget playing extravagant shots (a la Watson, what a horrible shot selection it was) and ACCUMULATE runs as they come.

    You just have to use your feet to the spinners and not get stuck to the crease. In India, the ones and twos on the front foot are the answer to balls that turn. If you watch Gavaskar's or Tendulkar's or Dravid's videos of old, you will see how they settle down to a sedate 50 with singles and twos off the front foot and then turns the juice on once their footwork and eye is set.

    One Aussie batsman who did that with good effect was Matt Hayden in 2001 and just look how he succeeded. Clarke and his think tank should look at the past a bit more carefully to better face the present and the future.

  • drpramit on March 2, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    This is not a test team to be very honest ! In a test team u need 6 best batsmen, 4 best bowlers & best wk. If they can do other aspects of game that is a bonus but certainly u can't pick all rounders like that who r neither the best bowlers nor the batsman by any mean...I think AUS r playing 1 batsman & 1 bowler short in every game..... bring in khwaja at 3 & move clarke to 4 & watson to 6 to bring a proper balance in d team

  • RandyOZ on March 2, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    Very harsh assessment of Hughes considering the disgraceful performances time and time again by Cowan, the most overrated cricketer in the country!!!!!!!!

  • on March 2, 2013, 15:19 GMT

    In the dim past, England tried all manner of bits and pieces cricketers to improve their side. Few succeeded. As a Pom, the overwhelming impression of Australia at the minute is that there's a lot of bits and pieces cricketers in that side. Watson, the all-rounder who can't bowl and is out of form with the bat; Hughes the opener at 3 who wasn't trusted against South African pace and who apparently has no game plan against spin; the million buck Maxwell; Henriques who has been an admitted success so far; Wade the keeper who might be less of a bat than Haddin and certainly has questions over his glovework; the number 1 spinner, whomever that might be.

    Australia's selection policy is a mess. Plain and simple.

  • on March 2, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    Pretty sure there were 3 other experienced top order batsmen who failed to show up so far against spin. Why pick on just Hughes Brydon?

    Clarke moving up the order is a must, but I'm not kidding myself that it will solve everything rotten with the batting order. Top order collapses have become too common, and only one opener has really contributed at a relatively consistent rate (Warner, with an av. of 40+). So Cowan, Hughes and Watto can all be blamed for the poor batting performances.

    However, we must also keep the upcoming Ashes in mind. What's the point of specialising a squad against heavy spin, when quite the opposite will be pointing at us after this test. It's reactionary and foolish.

    Cowan in particular has far more to answer for - and if he fails again, he should be first on the chopping block. He has a VERY lean record, and has had ample opportunity to solidify his postion - but hasn't. Hughes needs more time (plus has shown good form at home). Why the hate on him?

  • on March 2, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    The problem isn´t just Hughes, unfortunately, but the entire top 4. Watson is a walking wicket in these conditions. He is in good touch, no doubt, but he plays as if there will never be a ball that moves off the straight, spins or keeps low, when one comes, well, he is headed back to the pavillion once more. In any case, is Watto not headed home after this test? Kind of rules out dropping Hughes, unless they want to play both Khawaja and Smith! I´d have Hughes play out the series with Clarke moving up to 4 for Watson. Hughes needs the experience and who knows, like Wade today he may just find a way to survive and then prosper. Its experience these young blokes need, not a revolving door. You gotta be prepared to lose a few in these circumstances in order to come out the other side as a stronger unit.

  • on March 2, 2013, 14:46 GMT

    Well said Brydon, Besides Clarke no other batsman uses his feet to the spinners. All of them play nervously and without confidence. Why is Clarke batting at No 5? I previously mentioned that Watson is not test batsman material and with that batting line up we will continue to see the score under 100 for 3 or 4. I also predicted a whitwash because I dont believe Australian bowlers can bowl India less than 400 runs. I also do not see Australia scoring 400 runs in an inngs and you need to score over 400 runs to beat India. As you said who else can you put in the line up! You need real prolific scorers and attacking batsmen to counter attack, but they are not on this tour. Bring back Steve Waugh to show them how to dig in !!!

  • phunny_game on March 2, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    Phil Hughes is technically not the best batsman around but he has what it takes to succeed at the highest level... he needs time to adapt to different conditions... Not evey player can adapt to contrasting conditions... But he will gain valuable experience if persisted with... Good, gritty player!!!!

  • phunny_game on March 2, 2013, 14:43 GMT

    Phil Hughes is technically not the best batsman around but he has what it takes to succeed at the highest level... he needs time to adapt to different conditions... Not evey player can adapt to contrasting conditions... But he will gain valuable experience if persisted with... Good, gritty player!!!!

  • on March 2, 2013, 14:46 GMT

    Well said Brydon, Besides Clarke no other batsman uses his feet to the spinners. All of them play nervously and without confidence. Why is Clarke batting at No 5? I previously mentioned that Watson is not test batsman material and with that batting line up we will continue to see the score under 100 for 3 or 4. I also predicted a whitwash because I dont believe Australian bowlers can bowl India less than 400 runs. I also do not see Australia scoring 400 runs in an inngs and you need to score over 400 runs to beat India. As you said who else can you put in the line up! You need real prolific scorers and attacking batsmen to counter attack, but they are not on this tour. Bring back Steve Waugh to show them how to dig in !!!

  • on March 2, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    The problem isn´t just Hughes, unfortunately, but the entire top 4. Watson is a walking wicket in these conditions. He is in good touch, no doubt, but he plays as if there will never be a ball that moves off the straight, spins or keeps low, when one comes, well, he is headed back to the pavillion once more. In any case, is Watto not headed home after this test? Kind of rules out dropping Hughes, unless they want to play both Khawaja and Smith! I´d have Hughes play out the series with Clarke moving up to 4 for Watson. Hughes needs the experience and who knows, like Wade today he may just find a way to survive and then prosper. Its experience these young blokes need, not a revolving door. You gotta be prepared to lose a few in these circumstances in order to come out the other side as a stronger unit.

  • on March 2, 2013, 15:04 GMT

    Pretty sure there were 3 other experienced top order batsmen who failed to show up so far against spin. Why pick on just Hughes Brydon?

    Clarke moving up the order is a must, but I'm not kidding myself that it will solve everything rotten with the batting order. Top order collapses have become too common, and only one opener has really contributed at a relatively consistent rate (Warner, with an av. of 40+). So Cowan, Hughes and Watto can all be blamed for the poor batting performances.

    However, we must also keep the upcoming Ashes in mind. What's the point of specialising a squad against heavy spin, when quite the opposite will be pointing at us after this test. It's reactionary and foolish.

    Cowan in particular has far more to answer for - and if he fails again, he should be first on the chopping block. He has a VERY lean record, and has had ample opportunity to solidify his postion - but hasn't. Hughes needs more time (plus has shown good form at home). Why the hate on him?

  • on March 2, 2013, 15:19 GMT

    In the dim past, England tried all manner of bits and pieces cricketers to improve their side. Few succeeded. As a Pom, the overwhelming impression of Australia at the minute is that there's a lot of bits and pieces cricketers in that side. Watson, the all-rounder who can't bowl and is out of form with the bat; Hughes the opener at 3 who wasn't trusted against South African pace and who apparently has no game plan against spin; the million buck Maxwell; Henriques who has been an admitted success so far; Wade the keeper who might be less of a bat than Haddin and certainly has questions over his glovework; the number 1 spinner, whomever that might be.

    Australia's selection policy is a mess. Plain and simple.

  • RandyOZ on March 2, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    Very harsh assessment of Hughes considering the disgraceful performances time and time again by Cowan, the most overrated cricketer in the country!!!!!!!!

  • drpramit on March 2, 2013, 15:35 GMT

    This is not a test team to be very honest ! In a test team u need 6 best batsmen, 4 best bowlers & best wk. If they can do other aspects of game that is a bonus but certainly u can't pick all rounders like that who r neither the best bowlers nor the batsman by any mean...I think AUS r playing 1 batsman & 1 bowler short in every game..... bring in khwaja at 3 & move clarke to 4 & watson to 6 to bring a proper balance in d team

  • Rugsy on March 2, 2013, 15:38 GMT

    Thanks Brydon for some very perceptive comments. As an Indian, I can say with some degree of knowledge of local conditions, that what Australia need to do is to forget the scoring rate, forget playing extravagant shots (a la Watson, what a horrible shot selection it was) and ACCUMULATE runs as they come.

    You just have to use your feet to the spinners and not get stuck to the crease. In India, the ones and twos on the front foot are the answer to balls that turn. If you watch Gavaskar's or Tendulkar's or Dravid's videos of old, you will see how they settle down to a sedate 50 with singles and twos off the front foot and then turns the juice on once their footwork and eye is set.

    One Aussie batsman who did that with good effect was Matt Hayden in 2001 and just look how he succeeded. Clarke and his think tank should look at the past a bit more carefully to better face the present and the future.

  • on March 2, 2013, 15:46 GMT

    I know it looks bad for the aussies right now, but talks of a whitewash are too premature. Things were the same for England up until Monty Panesar showed up in the 2nd innings of 2nd test. And India doesn't do whitewashes. The all-too-familiar collapse against fast bowling lurks somewhere around the corner. It always does. The top order issue for Australia has got nothing to do with spin though. They have an inconsistent top order that has struggled in even in home conditions (look up scorecards of India-Aus in Aus 2011-12). The batting order is over-reliant on Clarke but there is quality support (Wade today and Henriques in Chennai showed that) that just bats too far down.

  • Beertjie on March 2, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Excellent points in this article. But if Smith "uses his feet really well and plays spin bowling really well" in this desperate situation Australia faces they need to be consiistent and pick him. Likewise, if Arthur talked about Ussie being the next one in line, then pick HIM too! Is it confirmed that Watson will miss Mohali to return for the impending birth of his child? If so, playing both would seem to be the only option available with Khawaja at No.3 and Smith at 5. Agree entirely with all your points, @Mervin John on (March 2, 2013, 14:46 GMT). There's no "hate on" Hughes, @Alex Bicknell! What's unacceptable is picking guys on tour and not playing them despite others failing! Lyon was dropped and so should others if replacements on tour are available. This is not called a revolving door but utilizing resources! Agreed the choices made were not the best but you need to be consistent. Why the different treatment meted out to Khawaja as opposed to Hughes?