Australia in India 2012-13 January 30, 2013

Australia's cast of thousands for India tour


In the present absence of quality, Australia's selectors are expected to opt for quantity when they name the squad for the Test tour of India on Thursday.

The national selector John Inverarity is set to unveil a 17-man squad for the four Tests, covering as many bases as possible after their initial plans were torn asunder by Michael Hussey's retirement and Shane Watson's decision to give up bowling.

Inverarity's blueprint was thrown into a state of further disorganisation by the revelation that David Warner had suffered a fractured thumb while batting in the WACA ground nets on the eve of the squad's announcement. While Warner is out of the first two ODIs against West Indies as a result, he should be named for India with an asterisk against his name pending his fitness.

Apart from the XI that took the field in the third Test against Sri Lanka at the SCG in the first week of January, allrounders Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques are both likely to be taken to India, as is the left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty in the role of Nathan Lyon's understudy and potential partner.

Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith are probable inclusions as batsmen, with the duo to compete against Maxwell and Henriques for the final spot in the top seven. Matthew Wade's position may shuffle between Nos. 7 and 6 depending on circumstances, after he showed a liking for promotion by making a century at the SCG.

Brad Haddin will not be chosen as a back-up wicketkeeper for the tour, given the relative ease with which a player may be flown to India in the event of injury, but his place as Wade's back-up remains unquestioned. Haddin will likely re-take the ODI gloves against West Indies when some members of the India tour party leave early - around February 7.

Among the pace bowlers, James Pattinson is set for a recall after having his recovery from a side/rib injury carefully monitored, while Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson in particular can expect to have to put in plenty of exacting spells on unhelpful pitches. Ben Hilfenhaus will not be considered as he recovers from his side strain.

Having made his return to the Test team against South Africa and then strengthened his place via a series of intimidatory displays against Sri Lanka, Johnson looms as a pivotal part of the team's efforts to win in India. The subcontinent has arguably seen the best of Johnson, where his low, slingy action has afforded him useful skid and the occasional hint of reverse swing on otherwise unhelpful surfaces.

"It'd be really nice to get an opportunity to play Test cricket in India again," Johnson said. "I've always said it's a great challenge in India with the conditions over there, the heat, the wickets, the players we come up against. So fingers crossed I get that opportunity, but first and foremost is these one-dayers, we need to go out there and really dominate the West Indies.

"The experience definitely comes into it, the challenges over in India are very different to what they are here, so hopefully my experience does come into account. But you've got to go by form in the end - if you're performing you should be picked and playing."

Johnson underlined his reticence to be considered an allrounder, despite assuming the role briefly in the SCG Test against Sri Lanka. His unease at being considered a responsible batting part of the top seven provided another reason for the selectors to consider other all-round options for India, namely Henriques and Maxwell.

"For me primarily I'm a fast bowler, I want to go out there and bowl fast, take wickets and do a good job for our team," Johnson said. "The batting side, it is a bit of a bonus for me, I do love my batting and want to have that allrounder status, but the way it's worked for me is if I focus on my bowling and then chip in with runs at the end, we've got a good tail. I do get talked into the allrounder role at times, but I like to do the best job with the bat that I can."

Possible squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Jackson Bird, Ed Cowan, Xavier Doherty, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade (wk), David Warner, Shane Watson.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Doug on January 31, 2013, 11:32 GMT

    @OzWally (January 30 2013, 15:44 PM GMT) - Brilliant post! My sentiments exactly! Everyone should go back and read this post.

  • Geoffrey on January 31, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    @Front-Foot-Lunge- I wouldn't knock the Aussie captain mate, he's played and learnt under the best, remember Steven Waugh? If this Aussie team gets some player continuity then MC can do the job that he was born to do. I agree with the rest of the comment (the minnow comment was surely tongue in cheek), but knock Clarkey at your peril.

  • Dummy4 on January 31, 2013, 8:47 GMT

    Journos and fans are, by and large, more accurate in assessing the quality of players. Selecters, often has a different logic, at least about 3-4 players. In case of Inverarity, he is invariably inverse, in his logic.

  • j on January 31, 2013, 7:42 GMT

    "In the absence of quality, Australia opt for quantity". Never was a truer word spoken, I nearly fell of my chair over this one! The fact is that some aussie fans are just waking up to the reality of just how bad Australia is right now, and have been for 5 years. The lack a spinner, they lack decent seamers, one of whom does the job as 'spinner', they lack a test-level top 6 and a captain with a brain. It's a shame to see Australia as one of the minnows of world cricket, but that's where they are.

  • Dale on January 31, 2013, 6:12 GMT

    As usual the selection panel make outrageous selections. Steve Smith? He's a good fielder who occasionally scores runs and often leaks them while bowling. I wouldn't pick that guy for a grade cricket side yet he somehow makes the side. And it's unfathomable that a NSW player actually deserving selection in Steve O'Keefe can't get a callup despite outstanding form for an extended period of time. Complete reverse of the usual trend.

  • Dummy4 on January 31, 2013, 6:02 GMT

    As per yesterday : Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Watson, Haddin, O Keefe/Smith, Starc/Johnson/Pattinson/Bird/Siddle, Lyon.

    Have Wade but what happens if he drops another 6-catches and we are down 1-0 after 2-Tests. Just take Haddin or Paine!!!

    If batsmen don't fire, you have a lot of flexibility, you can keep Henriques but I would have Cutting before Maxwell. But I think Maxwell was promised a place a few weeks back (See January 29 2013, 12:22 PM GMT "Maxwell's bowling 'better and better' - Arthur"). But in reality you only need one of the three. Send the other two off to county cricket. Maybe another batsman??

    Smith is for - Lyon isn't firing and you are up 1-0 with one test to play. The replacement of Lyon with Smith allows you to bat to 11.

    But if you are down 1-0 on spinning wickets and Lyon is bagging a few, O'Keefe is your best option.

    The other BIG PLUS about taking O'Keefe is that he will be able to bowl to your batsmen in the nets between tests.

  • Nik on January 31, 2013, 4:58 GMT

    I think if any team wants to fill its subcontinent win column, now is the time. The Indian team is probably at it's weakest (even worse than the 80's where we could actually manage to draw games at home). But looking beyond that to the ashes, I can't see this Aussie team beating the Poms. Bit-and-Pieces is ok for 20-20 and ODI's, but you need specialists in Tests. Playing a spinning or quick all rounder is good idea, but as long as you have 5-6 other specialist batsmen in there to do the job. Apart from Clarke (and maybe a firing and fit Warner), I can't see too many who will graft their way to big scores.

  • Dirk on January 31, 2013, 4:45 GMT

    As a non-Australian supporter, all I can say is that Mitch Johnson is the one player in the current squad that displays (at least when playing against us) the uncompromising belligerent grittiness that was the hallmark of the Steve Waugh era. Dare I say the mentality of a truck driver -- I'm here, this is my road, I'm turning NOW, don't you dare to pass, if there's a collision you will come off second-best.

  • Paul on January 31, 2013, 3:33 GMT

    This situation is screaming for James Hopes' inclusion. Oodles of experience, more than a little bit of it in tight ODI situations, leadership ability, a genuine allrounder. Is he a star who will take Australia to No 1 and keep them there for years to come? No, of course not, but if you're looking to inject consistency into the middle of the team, pick Hopes and bat him 7 behind Wade. He's definitely Test No 7 quality. He could bowl dozens of overs per day at a miserly rate, even if he doesn't get wickets, allowing the three quicks to go hard, sparing Watson and still leaving room for a spinner. Hang on, though, he's not from NSW, so I guess he's ineligible.

  • Chris on January 31, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    There is no way anyone could possibly justify taking Doherty over O'Keefe. How are they justifying this? Journalists - do your job and question them at the press conferences! I think it's time that we made records a requirement for selection. If you don't perform, you don't get selected. This would have prevented disasterous selections like 'haus, Beer, Doherty etc from being selected. Whilst I don't think Henriques is any good, at least they could justify his selection based on his most recent season, the O'Keefe omission is a scandal.

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