Australia in India 2012-13 March 12, 2013

Inexperience rife for Australia in Mohali


There were 16 Australian players at training in Mohali on Tuesday but as few as 12 might be available for the Test starting on Thursday. James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja wore sheepish looks as the team gathered for its on-field meeting before the practice session began. Brad Haddin was there, newly arrived from Australia as cover for Matthew Wade, who walked without any obvious signs of pain from his sprained ankle but did not train.

Australia will not rush a decision on Wade's place in the side but he is running out of opportunities to prove his fitness after hurting his ankle while playing basketball on Saturday. The team has only one training session left, on Wednesday afternoon, and given all the crouching and quick footwork required of a wicketkeeper in Test cricket, Wade would need to go through a rigorous test before he was ruled fit to play.

Should Wade sit out, it will mean the inclusion of Haddin for his first Test since January last year and his presence would provide some valuable experience to the side. Haddin flew out of Australia on Monday to provide cover for Wade and could nearly have crossed paths at Singapore airport with Shane Watson, who departed Chandigarh the same day to be with his pregnant wife, Lee Furlong.

But Watson's departure had more worrying undertones, for it came hours after he, Pattinson, Johnson and Khawaja were told they would not play the Mohali Test for failing to complete a task set by the coach Mickey Arthur. His comments about considering his cricket future have raised questions over whether he will remain a Test player, but for now the only thing that is certain is that Australia will not have his experience to call on in Mohali.

That leaves Michael Clarke in charge of an extremely green outfit in which the second-most experienced Test cricketer will be either Haddin (43 Tests) or Peter Siddle (39). Should Wade be passed fit and Haddin left out, Australia would be in the remarkable position of Phillip Hughes (22 Tests) being their third most capped Test player, with Nathan Lyon (20) fourth if he is included.

With that in mind the selectors might consider Haddin as a batsman only, to add some much-needed experience to the XI. The make-up of the attack is the other question, for the sidelining of Pattinson and Johnson leaves Siddle and Mitchell Starc as the only frontline fast bowlers on the one pitch of this tour that might offer some pace and bounce. That means two of the three spinners in the squad - Lyon, Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell - will have to play.

The other question is where Clarke will bat, after his announcement following the Hyderabad loss that he would move up the order from No. 5. On Monday, he once again confirmed that he would bat higher but said he would not decide on whether to come in at first drop or second drop until he had discussed it with the selector, Rod Marsh, who joined the squad on Tuesday, and Arthur.

"I don't know if I'm going to bat four or three but I'm not going to bat five," Clarke said. "If it's best for me to bat three, give me a go. Get me up there. I want to have a good chat to Rod and to Mickey, to think what our best team is and then we work out what's the best batting order."

That conversation has been complicated by the absence of Watson and Khawaja, which means Phillip Hughes will probably retain his place despite his struggles against spin in the first two Tests. On a surface where pace could play a role early, Australia would prefer for Hughes to come in as high up the order as possible, which could mean Clarke bats at No. 4.

Possible team: 1 David Warner, 2 Ed Cowan, 3 Phillip Hughes, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Steven Smith, 6 Brad Haddin/Matthew Wade (wk), 7 Moises Henriques, 8 Glenn Maxwell, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Xavier Doherty/Nathan Lyon.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • j on March 13, 2013, 11:08 GMT

    Inexperience, poor leadership, and a lack of skill to compete at this level are the afflictions of Australia right now. Dropping their only test-level seamer Pattison for not doing a Powerpoint presentation is symtematic of Clarke's desperation at his own ineffectual leadership and frustration at having a group of players at his disposal who just aren't up to the task. Australia, this doesn't bode well for the B2B Ashes.

  • Murray on March 13, 2013, 10:52 GMT

    Why do test batsmen need experience before they can play well? Clarkes debut looked ok, Ponting's too, Greg Chappell and Neil Harvey went ok on debut, even someone like Doúg Walters - an obvious non toe the team line type.

    When did people stop being able to bat BEFORE they got a test match ?

    I suppose Pattinson has shown his inexperience this tour. Probably thought they mean that rubbish for those that aren't busting their guts ?

  • Philip on March 13, 2013, 10:47 GMT

    Although Haddin's batting record in the sub-continent is hardly great, we should perhaps also point out that Wade has thus far exactly the same average there without ever facing the likes of Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan.

  • Sriram on March 13, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    I have a wierd feeling that Aus is going to WIN!!!!

  • Roo on March 13, 2013, 10:41 GMT

    @Chris_P... Better go back over the records - Gilchrist was a specialist batsman for NSW...

  • Philip on March 13, 2013, 10:36 GMT

    After 11 Tests, Haddin had a higher average, a higher strike rate and a much higher score than Wade has at the same juncture. At this point, saying that Wade's career is already better than Haddin's is decidedly premature. Wade has only played one quarter of the Tests Haddin has. Wade has however, one more century and two more half-centuries for the same number of Tests, which perhaps indicates correspondingly more low scores. The problem lies with the second dig. Wade averages 16 and 12 in the third and fourth innings. By comparison Haddin's full-career averages there are 28 and 41 and that's after his much publicised batting woes. Perhaps we can say that Haddin figures show him to likely be a more consistent player of spin. Haddin also had more keeping dismissals than Wade has after 11 Tests.

  • Ben on March 13, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    Get Alex Doolan over there immediately. An inform no 3 batsman would be handy. Maybe even add Chris Rogers for experience (definitely needs to be on ashes tour). I don't understand the Australian selectors obsession with 'looking to the future' Look to the PRESENT, you might actually do alright.

  • Mashuq on March 13, 2013, 9:48 GMT

    @balajik1968 (March 13, 2013, 2:18 GMT) You ask why Haddin wasn't in the original squad. Most respondents on this site took the view that "the original selection was crazy in the first place". As for why Oz didn't want to use Haddin's experience, the answer can only be surmised. My guess is they wanted to back youth and didn't want to use Wade's failings behind the stumps as a justification for dropping him and picking Haddin! And they have the hypocrisy to speak about an inexperienced squad! Hussey and Bailey were rightly not considered because their batting form in Shield cricket this season was poor. But Doherty (as bowler) had comparably poor figures and he was selected ahead of O'Keefe. Maxwell too was picked on short form, so I must conclude that these are players Pup himself wanted (since he is a member of the NSP). For my money, Arthur is taking the flak for him. But the whole management culture seems problematic to outsiders, which is not to say the 4 should not be punished.

  • sri on March 13, 2013, 9:34 GMT

    I fear haddin (as batsman) most among wade, paine. I remember Tim pain scored some 90 odd runs last time but he had his share of luck and often edgy.

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    drop hughes andplay the rest. my line up will be cowan warner,maxwell,clarke,Haddin,Wade,Henriques, smith,Siddle, Starc,Lyon.if Wade sits out then it will Doherty who should come in. this could lend more options for clarke and variety in bowling. Hughes is a good for nothing and should not be persisited with.