April 26, 2012

What ails Australia's best and brightest?

Chris Rogers
The cream of the next generation of batsmen seem to be struggling with technical flaws
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There have been an alarming number of Test and Sheffield Shield batting collapses of late. From Australia's calamitous 47, to India's frequent capitulations, New Zealand's recent dramatic middle-order loss of 5 for 0, and Queensland almost surrendering the Sheffield Shield final - batting performances in the longer versions seem to have dropped off dramatically.

Perhaps we can blame the wickets. Groundsmen have seemingly been less inclined to roll out flat, docile pitches. James Sutherland's pleas last summer for better Shield pitches have fallen on deaf ears. Or maybe the new breed of bowling coach has stolen a march on his batting counterparts. Certainly Craig McDermott seems to have found the right ingredient for Australia's young band of quicks.

Or are batting techniques in a downward spiral? Perhaps the T20 catch-cry, "Clear the front foot and swing as hard as possible", is playing havoc with the techniques of young batsmen.

During another highly enjoyable summer in the Sheffield Shield, I had lots of chances to get up close and personal with several fringe Test batsmen. The struggles with technique of most were noticeable. For years as Australia ruled the cricket world, we were blessed with champions who churned out thousands of first-class runs before being selected - Mike Hussey passed 10,000 before his ascendency, and before that, Matthew Hayden must have despaired of ever getting a decent go at Test level.

Now as the guard changes, opportunities arrive for the new generation sooner than they did in the past - David Warner was around the 1000-run first-class mark when he got his baggy green. It has underlined the indifferent seasons the likes of Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Callum Ferguson have had.

The cricket public expects these young batsmen to have everything mentally and technically figured out when they are chosen, and that they should be the finished article, with complete understanding of their own games. Some, like Steve Smith, seem to be sorting things out, but others appear to have a fair way to go.

Perhaps my most fascinating time on the cricket field this year was stationed at mid-off while Andrew McDonald went to work on each of these young batsmen with his exceptionally intelligent medium-pacers - and talked me through his tactics. Without the gift of pace, "Ronnie" has had to learn the skill of bowling inside and out, and his mastery on a helpful pitch is comparable to any I've seen.

Perhaps a new type of batting coach is needed - a coach who has played T20 and is skilled in converting players back into the techniques of the first-class game rather than the other way round

I'd reckon quite a few young hopefuls on Shield wickets this summer found batting against his crafty medium pace far tougher technically than fending off Brett Lee at the WACA ground. In the last round of Shield fixtures, Victoria overcame a disappointing New South Wales, with Ronnie bagging amazing match figures of 6 for 50 from 34 overs. In the process he passed the bats of Hughes and Khawaja with alarming regularity.

Hughes' shortcomings have been widely critiqued; less so Khawaja's. I first noticed his difficulty against the away-swinging ball in county cricket last year. In overcast conditions against a Tiflex ball that seemed to go around corners, Khawaja's open blade and front-on position had the slips cordon licking their lips - and sure enough, he obliged twice. In that game against Victoria he was twice out caught behind - a notable penchant that oppositions are sure to be pencilling into their black books.

In conversation with Ronnie and coach Greg Shipperd afterwards, it was commented on how far around Khawaja was turning his back foot during shots. The textbook says the back foot should be pointing towards point, not the bowler. That's causing his back hip and shoulder to swivel around, so that he is "squaring up". Often he seemed to be missing Ronnie's deliveries by six inches. It would seem to be a problem that can be solved, but the question is, does he know he is doing it? And if so, does he know how to fix it?

Swivelling into a front-on position is a left-hander's curse. Hughes also suffers from it, as Chris Martin managed to expose. The difficulty is that these two exceptionally gifted players are trying to fix things under the glare of an impatient media and public, and are feeling the pressure of expectation. The question for each is: when and how to fix it?

I've never believed in the notion of not working on technique because a match is pending. Should we take note of the fact that the top golf pros always have swing coaches on hand? To be the best you can be, you have to keep adjusting until most avenues are exhausted and discarded - even if that means doing it on match eve. Many will argue otherwise, and they will have valid points, but to get closer to the end of the road, experimentation needs to be continual. Sometimes it will be one step forward and two steps back, but that is the nature of the beast of batting.

Marsh is a southpaw with problems different from those of his NSW counterparts. His stem from his trigger movements - he doesn't have any. That's not to say that kind of technique hasn't been extremely effective for others. Hayden stood still and moved just once in his strokeplay - forward to full balls and back to shorter ones; but Hayden is a monster of a man who used his height to sublime and brutish effectiveness - often employing it to lean into wide balls as his foot went straight down the wicket.

Early in his innings, especially, Marsh often moves across very late, presenting his pad as a target and causing his swing to not come down in a straight line. When in form it all works like clockwork and he is imperious. When lacking form, it looks robotic and static.

Ferguson is another who could perhaps think about operating more in straight lines. He is a very clean hitter of the ball, but with a backswing heading towards gully it's almost impossible to be consistently meeting the ball with the full face of the bat. His line of swing is nice and straight when he drives half volleys, but when he has to defend he sometimes chops down on balls as his bat heads in the direction of midwicket.

Ronnie picked up on it and sent one straight through a gap between bat and pad. He then nicked Ferguson out in the return fixture. It is a curious technical dilemma, which might explain why Ferguson's one-day record is so good and his four-day one disappointing. In the shorter formats there is less defending and therefore his problem is less exposed. He is perhaps very much aware of it, but the skill is to fix it.

While no doubt all four are admirers of Simon Katich's toughness and resilience, I sometimes wonder if they have considered the merits of the somewhat ungainly Katich method of moving across and standing in the so-called corridor of uncertainty. Ugly as he might look to many, Katich is perfectly upright and balanced, his head is over the line of the ball, he knows exactly where his stumps are, and he plays in straight lines. Once he's settled, the bowlers are forced to bowl something other than line and length in the corridor, and Katich has been able to cash in, particularly when they try to hit his exposed leg stump.

Smith played McDonald best of all at the SCG. He was much more selective of the wide ones he loves to thrash through the covers, and there were fewer hoicks over cow corner, yet he didn't lose his ability to despatch bad balls to the fence.

All the five batsmen mentioned are naturally talented players and have been singled out by the national selectors. All have good records in T20 but have some difficulty adapting to the different demands of each form of the game.

Just about any top-class batsman will be able to reel off the mentors who have had the most influence on him. Whether it is fathers or coaches or team-mates or even opposition players, these people are vital in spotting problems and helping fix them. But the demands of T20 have added a new dimension to batting techniques. Teams everywhere are splashing out on full-time bowling coaches, but seem less inclined to recruit batting coaches.

Perhaps a new type of batting coach is needed - a coach who has played T20 and is skilled in converting players back into the techniques of the first-class game rather than the other way round. When that happens, the batting collapses that are causing such consternation in cricket circles may become a thing of the past.

Victoria and Middlesex opener Chris Rogers played one Test match for Australia

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | April 29, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    Hughes finds himself in the invidious position of having been instructed to improve his technique AND score mountains of runs in textbook style or be ignored for Tests.The premise is that it was his own game that failed.By the Ashes 09 series,it was clear that his grip that helped him keep drives & cuts on the ground,trigger foot movement to leg that brought his front shoulder to side on & generated force & weight transfer into shots & game plan,were all different.Who changed it?The right question!It left him out of position for all shots,a game plan full of holes & a sitting duck.Only by reverting to his original style & game plan,can he make runs. Yet if he does so,he will be viewed as having regressed & not be selected.If the champion Steyn,Ntini,Morkel, Kallis & Harris werent good enough against Hughes on their own turf in SA 09,when he was free to play his own game,its absurd to believe that an erratic & ordinary Harmison was.Hughes deserves support playing his own game,not CAs.

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | April 29, 2012, 0:14 GMT

    @Meety..The myopic work of Langer with Hughes might have been well meaning but the tinkering by Nielsen wasn't. In his Ashes plan,he had Watson in as the opener before Eng 09.It was his idea to match the Eng 11,style for style & an all rounder was needed to do that.He instigated the changes after Hughes was simply un-droppable based on his own game and form.That form included 1690 runs at 96 S/R 0f 61 in just 10 games,3 100s & 570 runs in 3 games for Middlesex, records in Wisden from SA,Bradman Young Cricketer,Shield Player of the Year & Steve Waugh Medallist.His Test average was 68 and 1st class 62 & climbing with 4 scores in the 190s.The Argus Review highlighted that certain individuals were abjuring the time honoured processes to suit themselves, creating appalling uncertainty in 1st class & Test ranks.Those who claim technique was to blame should watch Hughes 115 and Hughes 160 v SA on Youtube.His game plan and technique were genius.Anyone mindlessly berating him should be ashamed

  • POSTED BY katandthat3 on | April 28, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    Great article by Chris who certainly had his own style as well (makes me wonder what langer is doing as every new batsman seems to go backwards in the Aussie set up). It's knowing your game inside out but no matter what age or experience you are there will be good patches and bad patches. I wouldn't put a name through any of the lads mentioned. They have all performed at various stages in international cricket, Marsh & Hughes more than Khawaja but if they work hard on all aspects on their cricket they can be very valuable to Aussie cricket. It's up to them who makes the most of their opportunities when they arise with Ponting and Hussey nearer the end (working as hard as those two would help any aspirants). The next Shield season will be very interesting for Khawaja, Hughes, Patterson, Marsh, Davis, Maddinson, Burns, Lynn, Finch, Handscomb, Bailey, Voges, Ferguson, Cooper. The A tour selections will hold a lot of interest to, I'll be disappointed if Joe Burns doesn't get a place.

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | April 28, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    Technique doesn't hit the ball.Focusing excessively on it detracts from mentally imposing oneself on the ball & bowler.The worst technique on display in this WI v Aust series was Chanderpaul who had far & away the best ave & run total. All a batsman requires to succeed,is an attack plan,a defensive plan,& the courage,physical ability & stamina to carry it out.Test cricket is awash with techniques that bear little resemblance to the text book.In principle,Watson & Marsh have good techniques,but no stamina,hence their lack of success.Khawaja has several trigger movements & is inconsistent in their application.Hughes was pushed before the 09 Ashes to change his game & become more defensive by Nielsen.It was exacerbated by Langers play straighter mantra.Good for Langer.Terrible for Hughes.His grip was changed.His trigger movement to leg removed.His back & front foot strangled by coaching instruction.He now has a hopeless half & half technique & no confidence.His original game was genius.

  • POSTED BY Blakey on | April 28, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    I can't believe how many correspondents acknowledged the quality of Chris Rogers' article and then 'championed' the very same players Chris highlighted as having deficiencies. These players are out of the test side for a reason!

  • POSTED BY Tumbarumbar on | April 28, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    I am afraid Khawaja hasn't been perceived as the most diligent trainer to ever enter the Australian test ranks and given that issue it is a pity he wasn't sent to the West Indies and told to stick to Ponting like super glue. Ponting after all, as suggested by Chris Rogers with regards to golfers and swing coaches, is still, at the age of 38, in the process of rebuilding a 30 year old batting technique to correct a technical fault that had crept into his game. Staying back in the rain and facing throw downs with Ricky when your team mates are snug and warm at the hotel sounds like just what Usman's needs.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | April 28, 2012, 0:36 GMT

    @jonesy2 - of the batsmen you mentioned - 2 are not close atm, Maddinson is going backwards (can turn around), & Mitch Marsh has done almost nothing as an FC batsmen, he is a bowler who MAY bat @#8 atm, (plenty of room to improve).

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | April 27, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    only two need to come in when the two legends retire. one of them will be khawaja who is world class and had no reason to be out of the australian team, the other can be mitch marsh or joe burns or even a younger batsman who is in good form like kurt patterson, nick maddinson or chris lynn, depends on who is scoring the runs at the time. there are so many options its not funny, to be honest it looks to me like young batting stocks are huge at the moment

  • POSTED BY 9-Monkeys on | April 27, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    I'm with Rogers, Hughes and Khawaja have work to do. Right now they simply are not good enough to make runs and average 45+ batting in the top six in Test cricket. Dashgar also has a good point, both of them also need to greatly improve their fielding.

  • POSTED BY Kaze on | April 27, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    @Beertjie Remember when people said Steve Waugh was weak to bouncers and he worked out his issues and look at what he did to WI etc. To write off Hughes is silly at best.

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | April 29, 2012, 0:47 GMT

    Hughes finds himself in the invidious position of having been instructed to improve his technique AND score mountains of runs in textbook style or be ignored for Tests.The premise is that it was his own game that failed.By the Ashes 09 series,it was clear that his grip that helped him keep drives & cuts on the ground,trigger foot movement to leg that brought his front shoulder to side on & generated force & weight transfer into shots & game plan,were all different.Who changed it?The right question!It left him out of position for all shots,a game plan full of holes & a sitting duck.Only by reverting to his original style & game plan,can he make runs. Yet if he does so,he will be viewed as having regressed & not be selected.If the champion Steyn,Ntini,Morkel, Kallis & Harris werent good enough against Hughes on their own turf in SA 09,when he was free to play his own game,its absurd to believe that an erratic & ordinary Harmison was.Hughes deserves support playing his own game,not CAs.

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | April 29, 2012, 0:14 GMT

    @Meety..The myopic work of Langer with Hughes might have been well meaning but the tinkering by Nielsen wasn't. In his Ashes plan,he had Watson in as the opener before Eng 09.It was his idea to match the Eng 11,style for style & an all rounder was needed to do that.He instigated the changes after Hughes was simply un-droppable based on his own game and form.That form included 1690 runs at 96 S/R 0f 61 in just 10 games,3 100s & 570 runs in 3 games for Middlesex, records in Wisden from SA,Bradman Young Cricketer,Shield Player of the Year & Steve Waugh Medallist.His Test average was 68 and 1st class 62 & climbing with 4 scores in the 190s.The Argus Review highlighted that certain individuals were abjuring the time honoured processes to suit themselves, creating appalling uncertainty in 1st class & Test ranks.Those who claim technique was to blame should watch Hughes 115 and Hughes 160 v SA on Youtube.His game plan and technique were genius.Anyone mindlessly berating him should be ashamed

  • POSTED BY katandthat3 on | April 28, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    Great article by Chris who certainly had his own style as well (makes me wonder what langer is doing as every new batsman seems to go backwards in the Aussie set up). It's knowing your game inside out but no matter what age or experience you are there will be good patches and bad patches. I wouldn't put a name through any of the lads mentioned. They have all performed at various stages in international cricket, Marsh & Hughes more than Khawaja but if they work hard on all aspects on their cricket they can be very valuable to Aussie cricket. It's up to them who makes the most of their opportunities when they arise with Ponting and Hussey nearer the end (working as hard as those two would help any aspirants). The next Shield season will be very interesting for Khawaja, Hughes, Patterson, Marsh, Davis, Maddinson, Burns, Lynn, Finch, Handscomb, Bailey, Voges, Ferguson, Cooper. The A tour selections will hold a lot of interest to, I'll be disappointed if Joe Burns doesn't get a place.

  • POSTED BY hyclass on | April 28, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    Technique doesn't hit the ball.Focusing excessively on it detracts from mentally imposing oneself on the ball & bowler.The worst technique on display in this WI v Aust series was Chanderpaul who had far & away the best ave & run total. All a batsman requires to succeed,is an attack plan,a defensive plan,& the courage,physical ability & stamina to carry it out.Test cricket is awash with techniques that bear little resemblance to the text book.In principle,Watson & Marsh have good techniques,but no stamina,hence their lack of success.Khawaja has several trigger movements & is inconsistent in their application.Hughes was pushed before the 09 Ashes to change his game & become more defensive by Nielsen.It was exacerbated by Langers play straighter mantra.Good for Langer.Terrible for Hughes.His grip was changed.His trigger movement to leg removed.His back & front foot strangled by coaching instruction.He now has a hopeless half & half technique & no confidence.His original game was genius.

  • POSTED BY Blakey on | April 28, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    I can't believe how many correspondents acknowledged the quality of Chris Rogers' article and then 'championed' the very same players Chris highlighted as having deficiencies. These players are out of the test side for a reason!

  • POSTED BY Tumbarumbar on | April 28, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    I am afraid Khawaja hasn't been perceived as the most diligent trainer to ever enter the Australian test ranks and given that issue it is a pity he wasn't sent to the West Indies and told to stick to Ponting like super glue. Ponting after all, as suggested by Chris Rogers with regards to golfers and swing coaches, is still, at the age of 38, in the process of rebuilding a 30 year old batting technique to correct a technical fault that had crept into his game. Staying back in the rain and facing throw downs with Ricky when your team mates are snug and warm at the hotel sounds like just what Usman's needs.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | April 28, 2012, 0:36 GMT

    @jonesy2 - of the batsmen you mentioned - 2 are not close atm, Maddinson is going backwards (can turn around), & Mitch Marsh has done almost nothing as an FC batsmen, he is a bowler who MAY bat @#8 atm, (plenty of room to improve).

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | April 27, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    only two need to come in when the two legends retire. one of them will be khawaja who is world class and had no reason to be out of the australian team, the other can be mitch marsh or joe burns or even a younger batsman who is in good form like kurt patterson, nick maddinson or chris lynn, depends on who is scoring the runs at the time. there are so many options its not funny, to be honest it looks to me like young batting stocks are huge at the moment

  • POSTED BY 9-Monkeys on | April 27, 2012, 13:23 GMT

    I'm with Rogers, Hughes and Khawaja have work to do. Right now they simply are not good enough to make runs and average 45+ batting in the top six in Test cricket. Dashgar also has a good point, both of them also need to greatly improve their fielding.

  • POSTED BY Kaze on | April 27, 2012, 13:05 GMT

    @Beertjie Remember when people said Steve Waugh was weak to bouncers and he worked out his issues and look at what he did to WI etc. To write off Hughes is silly at best.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | April 27, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    @LewisEdwards - I like Khawaja, & felt he didn't get the same opportunities afforded to Marsh. That been said, he has not gone back to Shield & scored a mountain of runs. If he knuckles down, improves his fielding/fitness or whatever it is the heirachy aren't happy with, funnily enough, I think a spot in the ODI side could be an option. I think he is more of an ODI player than Forrest. @Rowayton - don't think anyone is knocking The Chanders, however, I don't think I could ever put "orthodox" & Chanderpaul in the same sentence (except for just now)!!!! @Chris-P - I think the tinkering with Hughes was well meaning, but that sorted caused another leak which got filled with putty & then another leak sprung up because of the fix up, it got puttied up & he sprung a leak somewhere else. That's the only problem with a homespun technique like Hughes, at some stage it will probably need some tinkering, but that could pass problems down the line.

  • POSTED BY Paul_Rampley on | April 27, 2012, 7:21 GMT

    @Meety, agree with you mate on Khawaja, he is a world class player and will be back strongly this season, watch out for him in County as well as he is playing county from June onwards

  • POSTED BY Mary_786 on | April 27, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    Khawaja will be back, he is a champion batsman who is already averaging 50 in state cricket and has a great technique. Hughes on the other hand needs alot of work.

  • POSTED BY on | April 27, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    Well done chris,one of the best articles written by an australian that i have ever seen. Justin langer lacks the same insight in my opinion but it must be the case that having several forms of the game defeats most young batsmen. Lets hope that you have coaching aspirations,chris. I remember you batting in perth when you had that purple falcon convertible. Go mt lawley!

  • POSTED BY on | April 27, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    Excellent article, along the lines of Ed Cowan's occasional pieces. Can we have more like this by current players please? Would be good to hear from the bowler's point of view... how about Dougie?

  • POSTED BY heathrf1974 on | April 27, 2012, 1:48 GMT

    This is Australia's underlying weakness. Our lack of batting depth is of great concern and some players need to work on their mental toughness. I hope Shaun Marsh can improve because he has great potential.

  • POSTED BY Dashgar on | April 27, 2012, 1:26 GMT

    People talking about Hughes and Khawaja as though they are champions waiting to happen need to remember how tough it has been for all Aussie batsmen starting out. Hayden, Langer and many others needed to score a mountain of runs before getting chances in the aus team. These guys have been very poor, both averaging under 30 since coming into the side last ashes. They have no rights to a spot in the test team and should be listening to guys like Rogers, Katich and Jaques to fix their techniques. They both happen to be poor fielders as well unlike Cowan who has replaced them.

  • POSTED BY Rowayton on | April 27, 2012, 0:22 GMT

    Very interesting article. I think people who criticise Chanderpaul are basically wrong - at the moment where he plays the ball he is in an orthodox position, all the previous movement is irrelevant. As a left handed opener, maybe Rogers could have a go at explaining how come Warner recently seems to have made a habit of getting caught at slip to balls that are coming in to him. How does he manage to do that? And I agree with Rogers about Smith. I don't know if he will go to the next level but I confidently predict he will be a prolific Sheffield Shield batsman over the next few years. Like Chanderpaul, his style can look odd but he is in a good position when the ball arrives.

  • POSTED BY Chris_P on | April 26, 2012, 22:58 GMT

    Pretty sound analysis. A few posts here by people who only read what they wanted to read. Nowhere did he suggest they all bat like Katich, he just pointed out he had a different use of placement of his feet, but he was playing straight & correctly despite the ungainly footwork, same as Chanders. Smith is definitely making an attempt to fix up his flaws & looked much tighter in the few games I saw him for NSW last season. I saw Hughes when he first hit the scene and was playing straight and thrashing all bad bowling although he did look a little unorthodox. Then the batting doctors started on him with the result being the mess he is presenting us now. Why did they interfere with a technique that was working? I really believe if Doug Walters came along now, he would never have play fc cricket as they would have fiddled around with his technique. Khawaja, while looking sound does have this flaw Rogers spoke about and until he addresses it, he will not progress any further.

  • POSTED BY Beertjie on | April 26, 2012, 21:59 GMT

    Great analysis! Playing Shield cricket may permit Hughes to succeed despite his "minor technical issues" @ Kaze, but the good test swing bowlers of England, SA, etc will always make him fair game. He might be OK in India, but would be a disaster in England. If it's experience you're looking for when playing next season, why not give Chris's team mate David Hussey a few tests? He could tide the team over till someone with a genuinely sound technique emerges or some overcome their technical issues.

  • POSTED BY Kaze on | April 26, 2012, 18:37 GMT

    Hughes will be back he is too good a player and too young to be left out. I would like to see Warner and Hughes open for Aus, on form they are very aggressive. Just minor technical issues.

  • POSTED BY WickyRoy.paklover on | April 26, 2012, 16:20 GMT

    Got to say,present ausie team lacks quality batsman big time,they gonna strugle against strong spin attack,can't wait to watch them playng against our pak team

  • POSTED BY HumungousFungus on | April 26, 2012, 15:36 GMT

    Excellent article Chris. The last time I was in Sydney (November 2010) I watched a 1st Grade match in Coogee between Randwick-Petersham and another team whose name I've forgotten. Lots of players on both teams playing through the line, on the up, with hard hands and a variety of foot movements. R-P had an extremely quick bowler playing (Bert Cockley possibly?), who was doing nothing with the ball and posed few problems. The bloke at the other end, by contrast, whose name I forget, but who was bowling left arm medium, had them in all sorts of trouble because he was swinging it and nipping it around and nobody had the technique to deal with the moving ball. I do wonder if the quality of pitches allied to the recent paucity of bowling variety is breeding a generation of batsmen who are succeeding without having to learn the batting basics, and who are then getting found out at higher levels simply because the bowling and the pitches offer tests that their technique cannot cope with...

  • POSTED BY sephotrig on | April 26, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    @RandyOZ caught Guptill bowled Martin, thats all that needs to be said about Hughes. He should be nowhere near any test team.

  • POSTED BY Aussasinator on | April 26, 2012, 15:18 GMT

    Hughes is a gone case. But I have a lot of faith in Khwaja, Peter Forrest and Shaun Marsh. They need to be given more chances and not allowed to be intimidated by the presence of players like Ponting who underperform with open weaknesses and yet continue.

  • POSTED BY Gordo85 on | April 26, 2012, 15:08 GMT

    Except LewisEdwards Rogers has a higher first class batting average than Khawaja so I take it he knows a bit more. Rogers should have had another chance at Test level but silly Australia never gave him another chance regardless of his solid first class career. To me Khawaja is overrated and has been given six tests to show what he has got compared to Rogers who has only played one single Test. Just because Khawaja is from NSW does not mean he can just come back into the Test team because of it. Khawaja needs to do more work as does Hughes who I also think is overrated. People would ring up on the phone on the radio calling Hughes the next Don Bradman. You need to perform but if you are from some states then form doesn't come into it which is a real shame. But if you play for Victoria,Queensland and South Australia regardless of how well you are playing you will be ignored as Cricket Australia has done for a heck of a long time now and this needs to change for me to follow Australia.

  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    The question is, who is meant to be helping the players resolve these issues? It seems to me that most of these players are involved in 3-4 different set-ups throughout the year. With a mixture of International cricket, state, big bash and Ipl fixtures, who is responsible for overseeing their development? It would also seem that a batsman is trying to make space for himself to swing at the ball one day, and get in behind the line of it the next, no easy task, especially for a young bloke who may still be learning their game. How well does any richly talented 20 year old really know their game? How much adjustment can they make themselves between different formats and conditions? Can't be easy to go from playing Rangana Herath on a flat ODI wicket one week and trying to keep out Kemar Roach on a fifth day test wicket the next week... I think this is going to be the theme for the Aussie batting for a while to come, you just don't find the experience to adjust overnight.

  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    Solid techniques don't always win matches for you but for sure draw matches for you and now a days who cares about 100s scored by batsmen for a drawn cause? Its not the technique but midset of scoring fast runs which bring the downfall of a batsman in test matches now a days. At the same time, the same batsmen score heavily in one day and 20-20 matches as they are not expected to play for hours in those matches.....

  • POSTED BY Jayco on | April 26, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    @Massive_Allan_Border_Fan, yes Shiv moves across a lot, but when he actually strikes the ball his backfoot is in a very orthodox position.

  • POSTED BY Jayco on | April 26, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Very very good article. I wonder if we could see a technical master like Rahul Dravid put in charge of coaching India's batsmen, as he has seen it all and knows T20 well. Maybe Michael Bevan for australia would know how to adapt from short to long form (he scored mountains of 1st class runs for NSW), or Brad Hodge in the near future.

  • POSTED BY Batmanian on | April 26, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    I really wish Australia had the solidity in its batting line up to have a 'junk' spot for a Marsh or a Hughes. Bollinger filled that role admirably as a bowler, as did Brett Lee in his younger incarnation - but you need a pretty tight unit around the big hearted wildcard these days. Khawaja may get his chance when Hussey retires - I could see him at four or five, but he hasn't got the domineering temperament for a first drop.

  • POSTED BY Sunil_Batra on | April 26, 2012, 13:55 GMT

    Khawaja is the most solid batsman in Australia, he has a very good technique mainly because he hasn't played alot of 20 20 cricket. He will be back this summer with a great shield season, world class player and can't wait to see him back in Clarke's team.

  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    @ Anantbio - First ask Mr. Sachin to teach his valuable skills (apart from selfish batting) to guys like Sehwag (this man''s GREAT technique will anyhow remain the same) , Gambhir, Rohit, Raina and a lot more batsmen in our team :P

  • POSTED BY Barnesy4444 on | April 26, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    We expect these young batsmen to begin their careers and be the total package straight away with a full understanding of their games. Couldn't be more true than what happened to Phil Hughes. As a 20 year old he smashed Steyn, Morkel, Ntini and Kallis for 450 runs in his first 3 tests. He hasn't been the same since his premature (and stupid) axing after only 6 tests. He should have been persisted with and allowed to gradually adjust his technique. Graham Pollock wasn't very good off his legs early on, bowlers kept bowling there and before long he was just as good through the on-side as was was the off side!

  • POSTED BY landl47 on | April 26, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    A good article. The question is, have any of these batsmen got enough talent to be able to fix their problems? I don't believe Marsh and Ferguson are good enough to succeed at test level, where weaknesses are exploited much more effectively by top-line bowlers. If a batsmen in his late twenties (Ferguson 27, Marsh 28) has a FC average in the 30s (Ferguson 35, Marsh 37) then the odds are he's not test class. Khawaja and Hughes have more chance, but the disturbing thing about them is that both were averaging over 50 two years ago and have seen their averages drop to 42 and 46 in the last year. Smith has the best chance; he averages 41, but he's young and he's playing consistent cricket. It looks as though he's going to have to succeed as a batsman, though, because his bowling is going in the other direction. The fact that these are Aus's best prospects, with Ponting and Hussey near the end of their careers, is a real worry.

  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 13:14 GMT

    The biggest point and/or question from this superbly written article is.....why isn't Andrew McDonald playing for Australia?

  • POSTED BY straight_drive4 on | April 26, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    Khawagas technique is very sound. He's just in a form slump and lacking confidence.

  • POSTED BY anantbio on | April 26, 2012, 11:51 GMT

    probably these players can do an apprentice under Sachin and gain valuable skills, he has the best and most simplified technique.

  • POSTED BY RandyOZ on | April 26, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    Hughes and Khawaja will be back and in the test squad for the Ashes, mark my words. There is no way such a brilliant bat like Hughes can't translate his form to test. He has done all there is to do in first class and will carve up world attacks for year and years to come.

  • POSTED BY ali00 on | April 26, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    Usman Khawaja is a World Class Player and he can be good as Ricky Ponting and one thing that i dont like about Australian Cricket is that they dont give him a lot of Chances and they give a lot of chances to Ponting.

  • POSTED BY Dashgar on | April 26, 2012, 11:27 GMT

    Great insight from a guy we don't hear enough from. If anyone knows the state of Sheffield Shield players it would be Chris Rogers. Would love to hear the thoughts of some other senior players like Stuart Clark, Michael Klinger and James Hopes to find out more about the strengths and weaknesses of the Aussie domestic game.

  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    Verry well writen and insightful article from Rogers Ill admit i wasnt a huge fan of him a few years ago when we still had langer hayden symonds clarck ponting hussy as batsmen but he is miles ahead of the next firstclass batsmen now

  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 10:06 GMT

    good read, great insights..hope the guys are listening. IF all these 4 can remove the technical flaws then Aus batting would be at its best. Smith as a test Batsman is still some few years away though would love to see him there. @ Chris Rogers : a similar analysis on Watto and Warner and their recent failures, please

  • POSTED BY StoneRose on | April 26, 2012, 9:51 GMT

    Why does 'better pitches' mean pitches have to be better for the batsmen? An even contest is what we all want to see.

  • POSTED BY DocJ on | April 26, 2012, 9:35 GMT

    @mari2619, If you read what Chris said about Khwaja, not only did he get out in the Vic game caught behind the stumps twice, but it happened over in England last winter in the county championship both innings. So I wouldn't be saying it's a case of sour grapes on Chris' part. All he has said is that he's noticed a technical flaw, which may of always been there, or may have developed. It's a question of whether Khawaja knows it's happening or not.

  • POSTED BY bestbuddy on | April 26, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    @mari2619: Khawaja averages 43 in first class cricket, not 50 - that is significantly below Chris Rogers average of 50. Rogers has 52 first class centuries with a top score of 319; Khawaja has just 9 first class centuries with a best of 214. Which do you think has the better record, hmm? Khawaja averaged over 50 in his first2 seasons, but after that has been found out to such an extent he has lost 10 runs per innings on his average. That's not just a slump. He clearly has a technical deficiency that if he doesnt resolve will prevent him from achieving on his promise. Hopefully his stint in county cricket will help him against the swinging ball

  • POSTED BY FieryFerg on | April 26, 2012, 8:27 GMT

    Good article and interesting the comments on the back foot positioning of Hughes and Khawaja. Is this a problem generated by 50-over and T20 cricket as Eoin Morgan has exactly the same issue (he also adds in a massive head movement as well!). Do they feel they have to get closer to everything outside off to give themselves a chance of smashing it?

  • POSTED BY Vivekaks on | April 26, 2012, 8:07 GMT

    An extremely well though and written article...brilliant..i dont knw much about batting...but i cud almost visualise what Chris is talking about here. Chris, may be asking for too much,a similar insight on Indian batsmen....and why their technique was easy bait during the Australian and English summer.

  • POSTED BY Paul_Rampley on | April 26, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Agree that Hughes has technical issues and needs some seriious work but Khawaja has the best technique in the country and making up things on his technique is beyond Rogers who is not as good as Khawaja as a batsman.

  • POSTED BY Mary_786 on | April 26, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    Khawaja is a classy batsman, just because Rogers Victorians got him slip twice means nothing. He hardly ever gets out in slips and will be back in the Aussie team, you can't ignore someone with an average close to 50 in shield cricket. Rogers is just sour grapes because he never got to many games for Australia

  • POSTED BY mukesh_LOVE.cricket on | April 26, 2012, 7:45 GMT

    T20 has to be controlled , why would someone put in hours of hard work and effort when you can earn twice in with half the skills in lbig bash , ipl etc..

  • POSTED BY zenboomerang on | April 26, 2012, 7:42 GMT

    A good article catching the essence of these batsmen to what others have mentioned in singularity... If nothing else, it tells the folly of selecting Shaun Marsh for the Indian Tests after 1 successful shorter format game - it doesn't transfer to SS/Test cricket as many stats show... Though I have been hard on Steve Smith for his bowling, I have been impressed with his batting over last summer & if he keeps his focus, should be pushing for higher duties as a batter... Maybe Hughes & Khawaja can improve their games, but it will be harder for Marsh & Ferguson as age tends to fix habits - maybe ODI's but not Test class...

  • POSTED BY mukesh_LOVE.cricket on | April 26, 2012, 7:41 GMT

    the solution in my opinion is to stop young and upcoming players from playing in t20 matches until they are at least 20 year old , as simple as that , and reduce the number of meaningless t20 matches internationally , dravid in his bradman oration provided a good insight on this

  • POSTED BY Meety on | April 26, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    @Massive_Allan_Border_Fan - actually I would suggest that the Chanders analogy falls in line with what Chris was saying. I think there are some parrallels between The Chanders & Katich. @Romanticstud - yeah I'd much rather see seperate teams for different formats, mentality in the National set up is against that though! @Sebastian Booth - assuming that Rogers won't get selected for Oz, I wonder if he could replace Langer for the Batting coach position with the National squad? == == == What a great article, love to know how someone like Khawaja would handle reading that question though. As far as always experimenting goes, most of the last 2 years there has been articles on Punter tinkering, so I wonder if the "young brigade" do enough of that? Anyways great article, goodonya Chris! == == == After reading this article I have got a strong hankering to see AB Mac re-selected in the National set up SOMEWHERE, ANYWHERE!!! T20 or ODIs mainly, even a Test gig!

  • POSTED BY venkatesh018 on | April 26, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    Nice analytical article Chris. The last paragraph summed up the dilemmas of modern day Shield players. Perhaps a new breed of coach are needed to sort out present day batting techniques.

  • POSTED BY Stone-Aamir on | April 26, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    This article explains the similar problmem that all test playing teams are facing. The volume of limited overs cricket is increasing and it is effecting the techniques of batsman due to their inclination towards front foot and hard swing batting styles. What is interesting to note that 20-25 years ago most of the test batsman used to score good on home grounds and struggle on the unfimiliar abroad conditions as the records of most test batsmen show difference of 15-20 runs per innings in their home and abroad averages, but now young players are struggling badly even on the relatively testing home conditions aginst avearage opposition bowlers. Australia vs india series is a good example of that.

  • POSTED BY SpiderB1964 on | April 26, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    Excellent insight into the cricketing minds of Rogers and MacDonald, two players who for want of that little bit extra (whatever that is?), could have had long and rewarding test careers. Unsure if Rogers is auditioning for the role as Australian batting coach (look out Langer!!), but he could fulfill the role anywhere. Fine line between good and great. Good Shield players do not automatically become good Test cricketers. Interesting that he comments that Steve Smith seems to be sorting himself out? IPL form aside, the jury is still out on that one?

  • POSTED BY theoldmanandthesea on | April 26, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    Brilliant article. I would, despite his age, love to see George Bailey in an Australia test shirt as his calibre is unquestionable and he must be worth a go when the likes of Ponting and Hussey go off into retirement.

  • POSTED BY Romanticstud on | April 26, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    The abovementioned article is the reason why batting collapses have been seen in Australian, English, New Zealand and South African cricket of late as focus has shifted from keeping your guard to slashing out at every ball in the T20 game. It is also why sides in seemingly strong positions when the old guard are batting, suddenly collapse. Of course bowlers have had a lot more help recently with various bowling coaches available. It also seems like the batsmen are too eager to punish bad bowling too quickly in their inninngs that they swipe at it before the eye is used to the track and with strategically placed fielders they have perished. It also seems like the tail have also had to dig in to get teams out of trouble. The basic rule of batting is to play with a straight bat. Maybe they should only pick certain players for tests only and others for ODIs and still others for T20s.

  • POSTED BY Massive_Allan_Border_Fan on | April 26, 2012, 6:06 GMT

    Great article, great detail. Interesting however that the world's most prominent swivelling-footed left-hand batsman is within a handful of passing 10,000 test runs and is easily the Windies best and most consistent batsman in terms of recent test form. Shiv seems to have honed a batting technique which none can follow. Nevertheless, the examples given in this article show that even decent first-class form does not necessarily translate to an ability to cope with test cricket.

  • POSTED BY dsig3 on | April 26, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    Liked the article up until the point you suggest they should all bat like Katich. Great player, but his style brought alot of limitations to his strokeplay particularly through the offside. I think the boys have to work it out for themselves like Hayden, Hussey, Chris Rogers did before them. There are no quick fixes or magic techniques to help them, they just have to figure out their own way to be successful.

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | April 26, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    Andrew McDonald as the next Test batting coach please !!. The man sounds like a flaw spotting ninja ! Maybe he can spot them and Justin can try to fix them.

  • POSTED BY sifter132 on | April 26, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    GREAT ARTICLE - Love the details here, a delightful change to have an article not filled with fluff, but with useful insight. Of course on the flipside, it saddens me to hear some of Australia's young fellas have holes in their game. Either way, keep writing Chris!

  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 5:11 GMT

    Well done, Chris, I really enjoyed your article. It is clear that you have a great knowledge of batting technique (as is to be expected from a player with your first-class experience). I know that you are out of favour with the selectors, and are not as young as you once were, but if they decide that Ed Cowan isn't good enough (as well they might after the South African series), you would be the best choice to step into his shoes. It is a great shame that you will probably finish your career having only played one Test.

  • POSTED BY unregisteredalien on | April 26, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    Addendum - unless your favourite is Andrew McDonald, in which case this article provides some pretty good ammunition.

  • POSTED BY unregisteredalien on | April 26, 2012, 4:50 GMT

    Fascinating piece! Moar plz! This should quieten down some of the fans who are always criticising the selectors for not picking their favourite fringe player, although that's assuming those people have the attention span to read to the end.

  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    Extremely well written and detailed article.

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  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    Extremely well written and detailed article.

  • POSTED BY unregisteredalien on | April 26, 2012, 4:50 GMT

    Fascinating piece! Moar plz! This should quieten down some of the fans who are always criticising the selectors for not picking their favourite fringe player, although that's assuming those people have the attention span to read to the end.

  • POSTED BY unregisteredalien on | April 26, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    Addendum - unless your favourite is Andrew McDonald, in which case this article provides some pretty good ammunition.

  • POSTED BY on | April 26, 2012, 5:11 GMT

    Well done, Chris, I really enjoyed your article. It is clear that you have a great knowledge of batting technique (as is to be expected from a player with your first-class experience). I know that you are out of favour with the selectors, and are not as young as you once were, but if they decide that Ed Cowan isn't good enough (as well they might after the South African series), you would be the best choice to step into his shoes. It is a great shame that you will probably finish your career having only played one Test.

  • POSTED BY sifter132 on | April 26, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    GREAT ARTICLE - Love the details here, a delightful change to have an article not filled with fluff, but with useful insight. Of course on the flipside, it saddens me to hear some of Australia's young fellas have holes in their game. Either way, keep writing Chris!

  • POSTED BY dunger.bob on | April 26, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    Andrew McDonald as the next Test batting coach please !!. The man sounds like a flaw spotting ninja ! Maybe he can spot them and Justin can try to fix them.

  • POSTED BY dsig3 on | April 26, 2012, 5:54 GMT

    Liked the article up until the point you suggest they should all bat like Katich. Great player, but his style brought alot of limitations to his strokeplay particularly through the offside. I think the boys have to work it out for themselves like Hayden, Hussey, Chris Rogers did before them. There are no quick fixes or magic techniques to help them, they just have to figure out their own way to be successful.

  • POSTED BY Massive_Allan_Border_Fan on | April 26, 2012, 6:06 GMT

    Great article, great detail. Interesting however that the world's most prominent swivelling-footed left-hand batsman is within a handful of passing 10,000 test runs and is easily the Windies best and most consistent batsman in terms of recent test form. Shiv seems to have honed a batting technique which none can follow. Nevertheless, the examples given in this article show that even decent first-class form does not necessarily translate to an ability to cope with test cricket.

  • POSTED BY Romanticstud on | April 26, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    The abovementioned article is the reason why batting collapses have been seen in Australian, English, New Zealand and South African cricket of late as focus has shifted from keeping your guard to slashing out at every ball in the T20 game. It is also why sides in seemingly strong positions when the old guard are batting, suddenly collapse. Of course bowlers have had a lot more help recently with various bowling coaches available. It also seems like the batsmen are too eager to punish bad bowling too quickly in their inninngs that they swipe at it before the eye is used to the track and with strategically placed fielders they have perished. It also seems like the tail have also had to dig in to get teams out of trouble. The basic rule of batting is to play with a straight bat. Maybe they should only pick certain players for tests only and others for ODIs and still others for T20s.

  • POSTED BY theoldmanandthesea on | April 26, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    Brilliant article. I would, despite his age, love to see George Bailey in an Australia test shirt as his calibre is unquestionable and he must be worth a go when the likes of Ponting and Hussey go off into retirement.