Brydon Coverdale
Assistant editor, ESPNcricinfo

Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Brisbane

Blaming rotation is missing the point

It is wrong-headed to suggest that Australia's resting and rotation of players should be scrapped after their awful performance in Brisbane

Brydon Coverdale

January 18, 2013

Comments: 81 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke suffered a difficult return to Australia action, Australia v Sri Lanka, 3rd ODI, Brisbane, January 18, 2013
Michael Clarke returned from his break to take part in a heavy defeat - but his priorities for 2013 lie elsewhere © Associated Press

As each wicket fell at the Gabba, as Australia edged closer to what nearly became their lowest-ever ODI total, the critics of the team's rotation policy found full voice. Commentators wondered if the side had been destabilised by all the changes, a question Channel 9's Mark Nicholas asked Michael Clarke after the loss. Twitter lit up with suggestions that after Lance Armstrong's display of faux contrition, John Inverarity would be the next to grace Oprah's couch and admit fault.

It was a pithy line but one that missed the point. And the point was that Australia's batsmen were undone by the most wonderful display of swing bowling from Nuwan Kulasekara and, later, Lasith Malinga. The three men returning from a break, Clarke, David Warner and Matthew Wade, were beaten by the quality bowling. But so were George Bailey, David Hussey and Phillip Hughes, all of whom had played both the first two matches, in Melbourne and Adelaide.

Certainly Australia's batsmen could have been more circumspect, but it's hard to think of many batsmen around the world who would have handled Kulasekara with ease on a day like this. He was hooping the ball so far from outside off to the stumps, it wouldn't have been surprising to find an industrial fan positioned at short cover. James Anderson will struggle to move the ball that much during the Ashes this year, even in the helpful English conditions.

That is not to say that Australia's batsmen will counter quality swing bowlers comfortably in their Test challenges. Time and again in the past few years the moving ball has been their undoing, as it was in their 47 all-out in Cape Town 14 months ago, and their 88 on the first day against Pakistan at Headingley in 2010. But with the exception of Hughes, who was squared up and caught at slip, few of the batsmen at the Gabba played the kind of strokes they would have in a Test.

And Test cricket is where Australia will be judged in 2013. Not in a five-match one-day international series against Sri Lanka that will be forgotten within a month. Without wishing to disrespect Sri Lanka, one look at Australia's hectic cricketing calendar makes it clear that this series and the upcoming one-dayers against West Indies are the best times to rest key men this year. And as much as some former players resent the idea, today's international cricketers need the occasional break.

Take Warner, for example. Until he was rested for the first two matches of this ODI series, he had not missed a single game for Australia, in any format, since his Test debut in the first week of December 2011. For the sake of neatness, let's consider his workload in the 2012 calendar year alone. He played 49 of a possible 49 games for Australia in that time, along with IPL and Champions League commitments.

Last January, Warner played Tests in Sydney, Perth and Adelaide. Then he had T20s and one-dayers in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. Eight days after the last of those games, he was in St Vincent in the Caribbean, about as far from Adelaide as is possible. He played limited-overs games in St Vincent, St Lucia and Barbados, and then Tests in Barbados, Trinidad and Dominica.

Less than two weeks later, he was in India for the IPL, playing in Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai and Dharmasala. After the IPL he had the luxury of a fortnight at home before flying to England to play a warm-up game in Leicester, an ODI across the Irish Sea in Belfast, then back to England for a game in Chelmsford, and one-dayers in London, Durham and Manchester. Another short spell at home followed.

After that he had games against Afghanistan and Pakistan in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah (again) and Dubai, then it was straight to Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20. His six games there were all in Colombo. It was about the longest he spent in any one city for the whole year.

Then there was the Champions League in South Africa, which he was contractually obliged to play in, and which took him to Centurion, Durban, Cape Town, back to Centurion and back to Durban again. One week later he was back in Australia to play a Sheffield Shield game in Brisbane before Test matches in Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney.

The selection panel saw an opportunity to give Warner a rest over the past week, during what frankly is one of the less important battles of the year, and they gave it to him. Likewise Clarke, likewise Wade

If that was exhausting to read, imagine what it was like to live through. At a rough estimate, Warner would have boarded a plane at least 70 times during the year. There are commercial airline pilots who will have flown less than he did during 2012. But that's the job, you say? That's why he gets the big dollars. True. But money doesn't make him any less susceptible to fatigue.

Inverarity and his selection panel saw an opportunity to give Warner a rest over the past week, during what, frankly, is one of the less important battles of the year, and they gave it to him. Likewise Michael Clarke, who in any case had carried a hamstring niggle through the past three Tests and must surely have benefited from such a break. Likewise Matthew Wade, who in 2012 played 46 of a possible 49 games for Australia.

It is worth noting how close Warner and Wade were to the record number of international matches ever played by an Australian in a calendar year. That figure is 51, set by Michael Hussey in 2009. In the pre-T20 era, the only men at such a level were Shane Warne and Mark Waugh, who each played 50 games in 1999, a year that featured a World Cup, Test tours of West Indies, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, and the usual home summer ODI tri-series.

But bear in mind that in the following year, 2000, Australia's schedule was pruned significantly and they played only 31 games and had four months off in the winter. There is no such luxury for Warner and Wade in 2013. If Australia reach the final of the Champions Trophy in England in the middle of the year, the team will play at least 47 international matches in the calendar year 2013, plus individual commitments such as the IPL and Champions League. The reality of cricket in this era is that those tournaments must be factored in.

Between the ongoing one-dayers, a Test tour of India, the IPL, the Champions Trophy, the Ashes, ODIs in England, ODIs in India, and another Ashes series at home, the gaps on the calendar this year are even harder to identify than they were in 2012.

Did Australia lose one-day momentum by resting Warner, Clarke and Wade? Perhaps. But that is vastly preferable to such men being mentally and physically exhausted when they set off on next month's four-Test tour of India. It should be noted they will need to fly to India within a week of the end of the limited-overs series against West Indies.

When the cricket calendar is that packed, players could be forgiven for forgetting their addresses. Giving them a week at home at this time of year is not much to ask.

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

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Posted by iane on (January 21, 2013, 5:57 GMT)

Agree with Brydon that rotation is a scapegoat for poor performance. That fact is Aust batting stocks are low and batting performances have been poor. On the other hand our fast bowling depth is very good and bowling performances have been generally good, regardless of rotation.

Posted by x-sl-boy on (January 21, 2013, 2:59 GMT)

Problem here for auss is that availability of too many equally performing players, once one player have failed brig in a another and not allowing players to settle. where as SL doesn't have too many players to play with and they have no choice but to play with whats available. That way these young players start performing after couple of matches.

Posted by sando31 on (January 20, 2013, 3:13 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge-What iz 'all those years ago' supposed to mean, with the exception of the 05 ashes fluke England haven't challenged Aus since the mid to late eighties. One of the longest era of constant maulings in the history of the game. Look, atleast i have the guts to admit that England are the much more seasoned side and will most likely win the next ashes in England, however don't come down under expecting to win like in 2010/11. This aus team are very strong at home( just ask the saffas) and are probably at the stage where England were in 2008, yet then u poms were ranked about 6 while we're ranked 3. Says it all doesn't it!! When the current eng players get to old and the new players come in, the aus side will be incredibly strong, so watch out

Posted by Greatest_Game on (January 20, 2013, 1:39 GMT)

Warner was dismissed by Mathews, and not by any great piece of bowling. He simply flat-batted a short, wide ball, straight to mid off & was caught. Can't defend rotation with that - it was just normal Warner rubbish.

Posted by PrasPunter on (January 19, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

Front-Foot-Lunge - not surprised at your musings. All along, for not less than 15 years, your so-called great team was beaten to pulp by us. So this is probably your chance to gloat over your domination. Enjoy it as it lasts !!

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 19, 2013, 10:59 GMT)

HycIass - i will admit he is an adequate player when conditions are tough - there is nothing in his record that would put him anywhere near the great category. However in one-day internationals you get tough pitches 1 in 20 games so were not likely to need him for sometime.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 19, 2013, 10:07 GMT)

Sight of the year so far: RandyOz speechless at seeing Australia slip below Sri Lanka. Unable to face up to the the infamous Australian Slide that was started by England all those years ago, what is there left to do but whinge when your once beloved Australia can't even compete in the 'New Year Minnow Big Bash'. Say is all really.

Posted by zacomaco on (January 19, 2013, 5:03 GMT)

It makes no sense to organise an ODI series or any international match when selectors and organisers know their players won't be mentally or physically fit for them.

Your example of Warner playing in the IPL and so on to get money is a cross road the selectors have to firm up on. Why should selectors take a player seriously when they are going overseas for money and fatiguing themselves for their national team matches?

Selectors need to set a precedent of how much workload a player can hold and organise tournaments and player contributions around this.

i.e. Warner dropped if he doesn't play less IPL or Champions league matches and takes no part in the big bash league to allow him to competently fulfil his Australian team commitments.

Even the third test against SA, when Australia's strike bowlers were rested, was the most embarresing organisational failure. Why put cricketers in a position you know they won't be able to cope with?

Posted by china_vanilla_bear on (January 19, 2013, 4:55 GMT)

Very good article. Your point is clear and true. However I think the angst that the Australian public holds toward the selectors are the mass resting of players. Detailing David Warner's calendar year demonstrated that there were several opportunities to rest him e.g. send him from the ODI series in England early, have him miss a T20 etc. The same can be said for Wade and Clarke.

I think the difference between the Inverarity rotation policy and the Hohns rotation policy is that Hohns would rest one player, not three or four at a time. Resting 3 and 4 players at a time critically damages a team, and is an insult to a poorly financed nation like Sri Lanka who come all the way over to Australia to play 'experimental' or 'B' sides.

As you well may know, there is outrage if Northern teams come south with a B squad. Outrage by the host board and the fans alike. No one wants to pay money to watch a team get belted. People pay to watch an elite contest.

Posted by Meety on (January 19, 2013, 1:57 GMT)

@Jayzuz on (January 18 2013, 11:06 AM GMT) - how does team rotation affect players like Hughes, DHussey & Bailey who played in ALL 3 ODIs. If any one of thos players hit their average (ODI or List A), Oz would of scored 149+ (minimum) & won the match. Reality is, each player rested in this series has had a valid reason for it. The only issue can be is the volume of adjustments in any one match. @jmcilhinney on (January 18 2013, 14:55 PM GMT) - your 2nd sentence is garbage. No Ozzy posters have dismissed the SL bowling performance, it was as Coverdale & others said top shelf. Kulasekara had it on a string. @ ygkd on (January 18 2013, 22:07 PM GMT) - I can live with that "...I don't see why ODIs can't be the training ground anyway. Pick players who are clearly ready in the Tests and leave most of those with more room for improvement to the shorter versions." - but people will complain about how Forrest got selected etc. Also need to groom for W/Cup!

Posted by bjg62 on (January 19, 2013, 1:53 GMT)

I don't claim to know all about current selection policies... but doesn't the rotation policy in some way contradict merit-based selection as recommended by the Argus Report?

Posted by docbob on (January 19, 2013, 1:36 GMT)

Player rotation had nothing to do with last night's loss. SL bowled brilliantly, Oz batted poorly and both captains seem to have misread the pitch! If Mahela had won the toss we mightn't even be talking about this. The fact that "unexpected" results occur is one of the beauties of cricket. It always has, and always will, occur. On another note, I just wish the selectors would stop trying to manufacture an all-rounder to replace Watson. Good international all-rounders announce themselves and so far, no-one has. Just choose 5 good batsmen, one of whom can bowl a bit (Hussey), bat Wade, Haddin or Paine at 6 and pick 5 good bowlers, one or more of whom can bat a bit (Johnson/Starc/Pattinson/Cutting/O'Keefe). I don't see that an all-rounder is needed to balance the side.

Posted by Rahulbose on (January 19, 2013, 1:31 GMT)

Aussie rotation during the ODI series in Jan is nothing new. Steve Waugh tried it back in 2000s. What Aus should do is rest players for a series rather than 1-2 games. A good month long break will give them time to recover, 1 week seems too short.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 19, 2013, 0:40 GMT)

@wixx and Junikamra are on the ball, well said, get Khawaja in and also get Cutting in as well.

Posted by snarge on (January 19, 2013, 0:36 GMT)

What are you talking about? The three players returning from a break, Clarke, Warner and Wade all played woeful shots. How could you argue that Warner was undone by good bowling? Watch the game.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 19, 2013, 0:33 GMT)

@Junikamra you have stated some valid points and no doubt Khawaja should be in the team at present.I agree we need to stop picking players that bat a bit and bowl a bit pick the best 11 J Bird and P Siddle are 2 of that 11 U khawaja is in our to 6 best bats he needs to be in and stay in it may take time for all to feel secure and perform, how many baggy greens an odi caps have been given out in the past yr or so , way to many to ordinary players how Hastings got picked in front of Bird is so odd. And selectors get Khawaja in.

Posted by hycIass on (January 19, 2013, 0:25 GMT)

@Junikamra agree with you 100%, we need solid top order batsman who can play the swining ball and none bettre in the domestic circut then him, get him in. Thought Kulasekara's length was as important as the inswing. Bowled much better than in the tests. We need someon like Khawaja ni now as he is a very good player in bowler friendly condii. And why didn't Johnners get a rip after tea? Not that he swung a ball but he is lethal to righthanders with the short stuff.Anyway this lot has got issues and appear a batsman short. While I inderstand they need a bowling allrounder for the other 10 overs, there is no point if the don't mount a total. Maybe they should trust the Huss D with 10 if he's getting belted then chuck it to Warner or Clarke.Lets not waste our time on aallroudners who are not ready for the top level i.e Maxwell and get a solid top order batsman in such as Khawaja, Shaggy076 you have to acknowledge tht Khawaja is a great player in tough conditions and we need batsman like t

Posted by Mitcher on (January 19, 2013, 0:22 GMT)

@KingOwl: You can't be serious. How is this about excuses? The most prominent 'excuse' in the article is that Kulesakera bowled some absolute beauties. As for 'seaming' wickets. Well this wasn't a seaming wicket. For anyone who watched the match or understands the basics of the game the batsmen were undone by quality swing bowling with the new ball. Not really much to do with the pitch so much as the humid Brisbane atmosphere.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (January 19, 2013, 0:18 GMT)

@ygkd "Ă„ustralia has not progressed at all in the past 5 or six years". What an absolute load of tosh! Australia have lost ONE test series and ONE ODI series in the last two years, and they finished equal 3rd in the T20 world cup. Only SA have a better win/loss ratio in tests during that period, and they struggled to beat Australia both at home (1-1) and in Australia. Two ODI losses and the issues with the rotation policy at present don't change that. And this series isn't over yet. It's amazing how quickly people lose perspective.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (January 19, 2013, 0:12 GMT)

Yours is a pretty optimistic take, @Landl47, but it's how I'm looking at things after losing my cool over this yesterday. This was the first time I thought Clarke made some really bad captaincy errors (he'\s been great), the bigest of which was batting first, which cost Australia the game beyond any reasonable doubt. You are dead right about rotation for batsmen, and that is the key distinction that has to be made - and learned - about this policy. You can't rest batsmen in form. Clarke and Warner looked really rusty yesterday. And you can't bring in a new guy and tell him he has one or two games. If people can't work out why that's not goo, they have never played cricket! If they drop Henriques after one game, then it shows they've learned nothing in that regard. But I think the lessons here are painfully obvious, and despite my reservations about what has gone on with this misinformed player management fiasco, I don't think the admin are stupid or so dumb that they won't modify it.

Posted by Jayzuz on (January 19, 2013, 0:03 GMT)

I liked that Clarke made no excuses. So Australia will bounce back very soon. It's always doom and gloom from supporters and trolls after a bad performance, but somehow the sun always shines again. (well, for English trolls its doom and gloom for AUS even after a massive win). Wouldn't be the least surprised to see Australia win the series, although it has to be admitted they have really bungled the selection process and screwed up the momentum of the team. They have also screwed around with the minds of both established players and the new guys. The policy has genuine negatives, and they are major. But despite the arrogance of the whole idea of using this series as a trial run for 20 odd players, they will cop the hit, and learn from it. They have after every other hit, so this one will be no different.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2013, 23:16 GMT)

C'mon people, open your eyes ... why do we really need a Rotation Policy??

Only 2-years ago Australia Toured India in October (2 Tests, 3 ODI's), then played England (5 Tests, 7 ODI's, 2 T20), then played the World Cup. But now we need a rotation policy?? Truth is we do not need a rotation policy.

The rotation policy only started since MC became Captain and is really only for bowlers, despite the fact that it is often the bowlers who have saved/won Tests through their BOWLING and BATTING!!! Having a rotation policy for bowlers ensures that they are not in the spotlight and they cannot receive accolades like being named MAN OF THE SERIES.

Michael Clarke was names MOTS against SL, this is despite the fact that - 1) his Captaincy was terrible in the 3rd Test, 2) Hussey had an average over 100, while MC's batting average was inflated by a century where he was dropped twice and missed stumped 3) he ran out Hussey.

I think that the Rotation Policy is about someone loving the spotlight.

Posted by Cantbowlcantbat on (January 18, 2013, 22:54 GMT)

To the supporters of rotation: the last time Australia was this bad was the mid 80's. In 1986 the ACB decided to stick with a set of young players that would be persisted with, eventually becoming an experienced group of players- S. Waugh, Boon, G. Marsh, Jones, McDermott that was gradually added to with Healy, Hughes, M. Taylor, M Waugh. It worked. This is the exact opposite of rotation where there is a revolving door with players entering and exiting without developing an experienced, successful team. Australia needs to field its strongest team possible in every game. If they do this, they will get better.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2013, 22:39 GMT)

Of course, rotation is needed: look at the Sri Lankan $eniors: IPL, Tests, 20/20, ODI.... they are burnt out.

Posted by ygkd on (January 18, 2013, 21:38 GMT)

I don't believe that player rotation was responsible for the two losses. This is just the way Australia play these days. They bat like millionaires. It looks good when it comes off. Then it's champagne stuff all the way. When it fails, though, it looks horrible and Sri Lanka is a top one-day side. You don't regularly make OD WC finals without being any good. Kulasekera and Malinga bowled well. Whether Australia rotated or not, it probably wouldn't have made any difference. Yet that does not make a rotation policy correct. Burnout is not a massive problem, but sending unclear messages as to what constitutes the best team is decidedly unhelpful. The other point I would like to make is quite simple. If the schedule is so cluttered, why do we not select more on proven experience? There is clearly not enough room for developing project players in the side. And that is not what rotation is about - it's about rest. Where is the time for newer players to work things out for themselves?

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 18, 2013, 21:30 GMT)

Chris Mcintosh - Test cricket and one-day cricket are completely different games, not playing here is not going to destroy Khawaja confidence because he would no he is a long way down the list when it comes to one-day games. you make an argument about seaming pitches but they are very rare in one-day cricket, this seemeed to be more about the swing which is also very rare in Australia. Please give the Khawaja argument a rest until the next test match. You and your alter egos A Edwards, Fleming_Dean and many more who write in exactly the same style are turning the averahe Aussie fan against Khawaja. He doesnt deserve to be in the one[-day team and you cant base your argument on two very abnormal one-day games. The attention that Khawaja receives for scoring only one shield hundred on a seaming pitch is way out of context, yes I think he should be in the next test but the reality is his career so far is only average.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2013, 20:58 GMT)

Dear Brydon,

Of course you have to say that it was great bowling ..... anything to deflect the attention away from the pathetic performance by Aust.

Clarke won the toss and elected to bat stating that "the wicket looks really good". Good call!!!

Warner ... pathetic mistimed shot Hughes ... terrible shot, caught where 3rd Slip would stand ... like the 4-times it happened last summer. Hussey ... great ball. But why didn't he walk??? Hmmm??? Bailey ... out LBW without playing a shot. Charke ... clean bowled through the gate ... terrible shot ... tried to smash the ball over the infield. At 4/28 after 11-overs you would have thought that a Captain would have dug in. Henriques ... clean bowled though the gate. Johnson ... clean bowled though the gate. Wade ... caught gully playing away from the body.

The bowling was good .... but the batting was terrible. Australia was 9/40. Clarke said that it was the worst day this summer. It was the worst day ever!!!

Posted by   on (January 18, 2013, 20:40 GMT)

rotate players for bbl ipl & champions league. country first not dollars. what , over the course of a hundred years, built this game? not profiteering. get rid of the cheap shots & bring the quality back.

Posted by VickGower on (January 18, 2013, 20:03 GMT)

I must say, this is a very persuasive argument by the author. I think whether the rotation policy was responsible for the debacle or not is besides the point. People needed to be rested and that's that. That most of our (the fan's) lives are so - I dunno - winless(?) that we can't survive a stray loss in what has been a fairly consistent summer for Australia, is really not Australian cricket's problem. And I would love it, if they were to just ask those complaining to suck it up or get lost. What Australian cricket would beautifully find is that most such "fans" will suck it up, and return with tails between their legs. And sometimes a fan needs to be put in that posture.

Posted by BinuSL12 on (January 18, 2013, 19:58 GMT)

Brydon wrote: " Few of the batsmen at the Gabba played the kind of strokes they would have in a Test"..Ooo yeah! Despite facing the looming humiliation of getting demolished below 50, while having plenty of overs remaining to give up (with no rush as a Test) ?? According to Mr. Coverdale's lopsided logic, they would have done differently to stop the rattling stumps behind them or pulled out a different set of skills to deal with, such a display of swing bowling enhanced with accuracy, in a Test M situation! But obvious reality was, they tried their best to shield the kissing edges of their nakedly defensive bats and failed miserably! What went wrong with so "strong" Aus A-team? I wonder what would have happened if Mahela did not show any mercy and decided to persist with Malinga's remaining 3ov and Mathews when the 9th wicket fell at 40, instead of introducing Perera/Eranga at that stage, who gaveaway 24r in the final 5.4ov. Fedup reading lopsided articles filled with pompous hogwash.!

Posted by sifter132 on (January 18, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

Thanks Brydon for 'defending' rotation..err, player management. It's really just a convenient excuse for media and fans to blame rather than the alternatives: SL bowled really well, or that Aussie batting was poor, or even worse that the Aussie batting lineup really isn't that good. I think the only factor might have been a bit of complacency. Getting Clarke, Warner and Wade back may have seen some of the guys switch off a bit eg. their motivation of proving to the country that they weren't in a B team had disappeared, and the first choicers were back to handle any problems. If problems continue in the next 2 matches then I'll start to worry, but honestly some of the 9 commentary stuff was laughable, suggesting that not batting for a week was enough to kill a man's rhythm and confidence. Even if they were right, that kind of player wouldn't last long in

Posted by Adoh on (January 18, 2013, 19:23 GMT)

Coverdale should apply his point missing conclusion to his own view. In form players become out of form players when rested. In form players minimise the risk of catastrophic team batting collapses against quality attacks. Teams should always field their best fully fit in-form players for the conditions.

Posted by landl47 on (January 18, 2013, 19:18 GMT)

8 lessons for Australia: 1. That rotation doesn't work for batsmen, since the rotated batsmen were out for 4, 9 and 8. 2.That not rotating batsmen is even worse, because the non-rotated batsmen were out for 3, 4,and 0. 3. That rotating bowlers works, because the rotated bowlers got 5-36 between them. 4. That non-rotated bowlers have catches dropped off them and get bad umpiring decisions. 5. That Doherty, who made second top score and didn't bowl, is in the side for his batting. 6. That Henriques is a genuine all-rounder- he doesn't make runs and doesn't take wickets equally well. 7. That padding up to an inswing bowler isn't a great strategy. 7. That only giving three overs to a bowler who takes 3-11 isn't great captaincy. 8. That Khawaja suddenly became a much better player without even being in the side.

I am confident that if all these lessons are learned, it won't make the slightest bit of difference. Aus batted poorly and bowled well. Stuff happens.

Posted by LeoE on (January 18, 2013, 18:13 GMT)

Most comments today by Aussie fans refer to the Aussie superiority in tests against India and Sri Lanka. However, they were beaten by South Africa and England. Will be thrashed by England again and again in 2013. That's for sure as none of the Aussie batsman can play genuine swing or genuine spin. James Anderson, Steve Finn, Graham Swann and Monty Paneesar will play havoc with this inept, inexperienced line up. If they cannot play Kulasekera at 126 KPH at the Gabba, how do they play Jimmy boy at 140 under English Clouds. ? Let's cut the crap about rotation policy. The Aussie one day side without the Pontings and Husseys and Brett Lees is horrible. They will lose many more ODI's in 2013. Against a top quality bowling attack like SL today, they will suffer. Warner, Wade and Bailey, and even David Hussey are way below par. Michael Clarke can break down any time with his suspect hamstring. The bowlers are all injured, or need to rest to recuperate from niggles. Where are the McGraths ?

Posted by johnathonjosephs on (January 18, 2013, 18:01 GMT)

Asutralia A Team or was this the Australia C Team. Clearly the rotation policy is the best policy for the Aussies now

Posted by whoster on (January 18, 2013, 17:59 GMT)

With the sheer helter skelter of international cricket these days, and the greedy ICC wanting more money at every turn - there's no option for any country but to have a rotation system in place. This result had nothing to do with any rotation policy - it was a mix of poor Aussie batting and a wonderful display of Sri Lankan swing bowling. I bet James Anderson will be licking his lips at the prospect of bowling at most of that lot under cloudy skies at Trent Bridge come July.

Posted by mark2011 on (January 18, 2013, 17:19 GMT)

i have no critique about the rotation policy of Aus, it is ok to check and see different players how well they do with a view to find a good combination of players for 2015 WC, i think that is the aim of that. so its nothing much wrong though current results can be adversly affected to execution of the policy. this Aus team is no great compared to late 1990 and last decade of 2010,but they are good side and can have consistency in their performance.What Aus got wrong in doing this policy was they simply under estimated SL team first after test series win, and then by the 1st ODI, but SL showed great come back and gave them a good beating in last 2 matches. So now Aus r under pressure in the tour for the first time. b cos 2nd match was said to be Aus B team, but today it was their full team, yet, it becam Aus 2nd worst performance by just 4 runs... that put them under lot of presure..rotation policy did affect or not? i dont think. it was their under estimation about SL team

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 18, 2013, 16:40 GMT)

I mean to be honest it is nice that Sri Lanka had a big win, after being humiliated in the tests and knocked out of World Cups time and time again by Australia. As for the English, we'd also be knocking you out of these tournaments to if you didn't keep losing to Ireland and bangladesh instead.

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 18, 2013, 16:32 GMT)

Everyone knows that Australia only cares about ODIs when the World Cup is in full swing. That's why we have 4 of them, far more than anyone else. Remember when we lost to England in the ODIs in Oz? We then went and won the World Cup in the Carribbean. Hardlhy concerning this result at all.

Posted by anuajm on (January 18, 2013, 16:15 GMT)

Some of the comments are difficult to understand. The fact is SL bowled and played much better, lets give them the due. They are a wonderful ODI unit and always play well. Every team has some bad days and Aussies had one today. Remember SL were also bowled out for 43 not so long ago, they don't tinker much with their squad ever. The fact is that this ODI series is not as important for Australia as the upcoming test matches. So they are using this as an opportunity to test some upcoming talent which Aussies have plenty specially in fast bowling. Australia might not be the force they were, but they are still a strong team, and one of the rare teams who will bounce back strongly from defeats. Considering they are week, they still thrashed India and SL 7-0 in tests!! Except for SA and to an extent England and SL in ODI's, Australia is still better than any other teams in the world and a force to reckon with. Today was an aberration and the credit goes to SL, they are a fighting unit!!

Posted by Sinhaya on (January 18, 2013, 16:05 GMT)

Looking at the workload of Warner and Wade, giving them rest was indeed sensible. With the gigantic depth Aussies have in pace bowling and with the fact that Pattinson, Harris, Cummins etc being highly injury prone, Australia's rotation system deserves a big applause.

Posted by 6pack on (January 18, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

The author's earnest suggestion that this current series against SL is not important for the Aussies is the kind of thinking that leads to Australia being battered by other teams with greater skills and depth. If you keep thinking you're too good against some opposition (while that opposition has quietly beaten you in more games over the past 2 years in your own back yard) you face the serious possibility of getting knocked out of your own World Cup in 2 years... simply because you've been ignoring certain sides to put your best team together for the Ashes and such. then again, Australia finds tests far more important than ODI's and therefore probably won't care if they find themselves out of the World Cup at the end of the first round.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2013, 15:50 GMT)

All cricket teams have "real bad" days, once a blue moon. This was one of those days for the over-confident Aussies. They'll be back. Keep fighting, Sri Lanka!

Posted by Bhrams on (January 18, 2013, 15:42 GMT)

SL have performed very well in Australia over the past 30 months or so. They won the bilateral series 2-1 in 2010, made it to the CB Series finals in 2011-12 (where they had the better of Australia overall but lost narrowly in the finals) and now are leading this series 2-1. So some credit is due to SL.

Posted by Junikamra on (January 18, 2013, 15:38 GMT)

i absolutely agree wih chris_mcintosh khwaja has proved in domestic cricket that he can play well in seeming condition on flat deck player can score run easily but real test is in seeming condition which you shown today nd conditions waiting in ashes for aus.. i know khawaja is not a fluent player like warner,watson but he can survive early periods when ball is seeming nd swinging which will help the upcoming player to play in slightly better condition forget it if he score 20 runs on 50 balls real thing is what he benefit for the team nd i know he is not a bad player to score 20 runs on 50 balls nd throw his wicket away nd he has proved in this season best example is his 65 runs inning in africa when we lost 1st wicket on 1st ball i think nd he came nd batted briliantly with ponting nd aus win that match in the end.. Don't see who score most runs in domestic u have to see in what condition those runs are scored.. so he is a perfect guy aus needed this is what i think peple agre or not

Posted by Thomas_Ratnam on (January 18, 2013, 15:34 GMT)

Brydon, the key word is rotation which is reasonably meant to be dropping one important player and perhaps one more per match. These mass changes were undoubtedly ushered in by the chronic undervaluation of Sri Lankan one day cricket. Though it is a loose term, to field the 'best available team' is the ICC requirement and should not that be followed in spirit?

Posted by perl57 on (January 18, 2013, 15:05 GMT)

The fact is Australia are no longer great. That is the point missed even now. What can they do? Hope to get a simple, not an injury prone bowlers into line up. Oz heavily depended on Clarke. People missed that point until now. Once he was out, it was all over for Oz.

Posted by quittthewhinging on (January 18, 2013, 15:02 GMT)

"Giving them a week at home at this time of year is not much to ask."

Maybe Australia should remember this when everybody complains about SA not being prepared to play two Test matches on the other side of the world in the space of two weeks OVER XMAS & NEW YEAR!!

Posted by jmcilhinney on (January 18, 2013, 14:55 GMT)

@ham1990 on (January 18 2013, 13:46 PM GMT), I completely agree. There will be plenty of Aussie fans who will say that they threw it away with the bat but then almost took it back with the ball, crediting their own bowlers with a good performance for taking SL wickets without crediting the SL bowlers for taking the Australian wickets. In cases like this it is generally a combination of both. No doubt Australia's shot selection was poor in many cases but, as you say, Kulasekera in particular had a blinder. If one of the Aussie bowlers had a game like that it would be proof of how wonderful Australian bowling stocks at the moment. I also agree that blaming rotation is the easy option for most fans. Realistically, while rotation may have had some influence, it was not the reason that Australia lost this game. They batted poorly while SL bowled well. The SL batsmen then did their best to throw it away and may just have done so if Australia's catching hadn't been uncharacteristically poor.

Posted by Cricket1960 on (January 18, 2013, 14:42 GMT)

On the other hand, you could argue that practice makes perfect. If Wade has played so many games in the last 12 months, then his wicketkeeping should surely be of international standard by now. Perhaps a little less socialising as the man about town, and a lot more Sheffield Shield, would be the way to go. His time is up.

Posted by miles100 on (January 18, 2013, 14:26 GMT)

Rotation system is good only if you are resting one or 2 players max at a time. Not a whole bunch of key players. When they rest 4-5 players, it is obvious that Aussie selectors/skipper/Coach whoever are fooling them selves around by not showing any respect to the opposition like SL that has been considered as one of the best ODI teams in the world. If SL cricket authorities pay more attention in developing fast bowlers inside the country and bring the bravest young batsmen & bowlers at a very young age to the national side, Sri Lanka cannot be beaten by any team. If Thisara Perera can also become lot wiser/smarter with his bowling like Kula, Mali & Angi, SL will have the most shrewdest & dangerous ODI pace attack in the world for the 2015 WC.

Posted by RohanMarkJay on (January 18, 2013, 13:56 GMT)

Great performance from Sri Lanka. Well played. Keep it up. Go on and win the one day series. Best of luck Sri Lanka.

Posted by ham1990 on (January 18, 2013, 13:46 GMT)

Cannot believe some of the comments here. Yes Australia were ordinary, yes they have lost some momentum by resting key players, but to assert that this loss at the Gabba was entirely their fault is not doing any justice to the quality of bowling. You have to give credit to the SL bowlers for the consistent tight bowling with Kulasekara in particular hooping the ball around in good areas. It's extremely sad that a wonderful bowling performance (particularly in-swing bowling) is virtually going unnoticed. What happened to appreciating good cricket?

The author of this article is spot-on in saying that players are humans and not machines. Everyone would love to turn up to a match and see the home side playing their first XI, but the reality is that with such a hectic 2013 schedule, some of the mainstays of the Australian side need to have a bit of time off in this day and age of international cricket. Wake up people!

Posted by Mary_786 on (January 18, 2013, 13:26 GMT)

@Fleming Dean and Dr.Qwert are spot on, we need Khawaja in the top order, a young man who scores in tough conditions and we can never have enough of those players. Some others rely on flat pitches to get big scores and that's not what's needed for the ashes, which is our ultimate goal. Shaggy076 Next match is on a flat SCG track so i expect runs so its not about getting runs there but on days like today because this is what is waiting for us in the ashes.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (January 18, 2013, 13:19 GMT)

I'm not too concerned about the rotation system. It is more of a case that this Aussie team can play very good cricket but also woeful cricket in the same series. We are the new Pakistan of world cricket at the moment. Very warm to freezing.

Posted by RoJayao on (January 18, 2013, 13:08 GMT)

I think the real question should be why are Warner, Clarke and Wade playing these one Dayers at all?? Why aren't the likes of Finch, Kahawaja, Maxwell and Cutting being given an extended crack at international cricket against a good opponent? What possible benefit does giving the those big three players a rest for just two games provide? Isn't the benefit of resting them for the whole series whilst giving the tyros a good chance to shine far greater? And doesn't the sudden leadership vacuum mean that letting Bailey captain more one day games for Australia is also a good idea? Strange decisions.

Posted by Lord.emsworth on (January 18, 2013, 13:07 GMT)

I suppose Bryan as a journalist has to take up the rotation issue. Still, he does give Kulasekera magnificent praise for that wonderful spell of swing bowling. I dont agree with some inputs here suggesting that this was a SL 'B' team. This is the best ODI team SL have including Kushal Perera.I miss only Chandimal (injured)and a quality spinner(Herath?) Sanga I never counted as a short form specialist. Malinga & Kula have been SL's ODI spearhead for some time now. The Test pacies, Lakmal, Welegedera, Prassad, Eranga and Pradeep are mediocre..sorry but its true.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (January 18, 2013, 13:02 GMT)

Absolutely agree. This is the only time in 2013 to rest Aussie players, never mind what the broadcasters and public think.

Posted by Junikamra on (January 18, 2013, 13:02 GMT)

i am not defending khawaja but i think he has ability to survive difficult condition nd if he do that it help team cause forgett it if he score 20 runs on 50 balls because he make thing easy for upcoming batsmans.. it's my opinion may be i am wrong..

Posted by KhanMitch on (January 18, 2013, 13:01 GMT)

@Dr.Qwert you are spot on, Khawaja definitly deserved another game. We ended up picking Smith but he has already played five Tests, 32 one-day matches and 20 Twenty20 games for Australia. What more could one game tell anyone. Khawaja should have been given one more game in Adelaide as he is just the guy you need on bowler friendly pitches. Same goes for Finch, he is in great form and should be persisted with though he still got one more game then Khawaja.

Posted by cramedi on (January 18, 2013, 13:01 GMT)

come on mate,u have nicely covered what poor cricket aus played today.funny how u missed the tight schedule SL had during 2012 with them even qualifying for the T20 world cup final when the aus fell off early.anyway the final point is SL are 2-1 up playing in aus grounds(which is ofcourse completely alien for them with the bounce and pace).u LOST when u played ur B team,u LOST when u played ur A team today.but SL isnt the full team for all 3 ODI without sangakkara and the point is play the australian A team or B team SL will always be better in ODI's than would have been better if u had mentioned something about aus been all out for 74 in ur article without all the time talking about what series is more important.this series may not be important for aus.instead they may prefer to take on a much weeker indian(at present) and WI side over taking on SL.but this is a very important series for SL.there is nothing better than beating a full stregnth aus team in aus soil.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (January 18, 2013, 13:00 GMT)

I agree with the author, It's at times like these that the adage of 'Whinging Aussie' is used by many. Australia lost because they're not as good as Sri Lanka, it's that simple. Call it the 'New Year Minnow Big Bash' or what you will, Australia's critics all got proved right again, on a long list of issues: Wade - the worst keepr/batsman in the world again looked club-grade and is time for him to be dropped. Clarke and all the rest got out to average bowling. Everything said about the Aussie batting is proved right. This is what Australian cricket has come to - cheering the odd win against a minnow team and making pathetic excuses when it loses.

Posted by ravi_hari on (January 18, 2013, 12:56 GMT)

I am sure Coverdale is applying for a job in the selection panel. Justifying with figures is the easiest thing to do. He himself has said Hussey, Warne and Mark played over 50 games in year and not long ago. They all were over 30 when it happened. Warner and Wade are in mid twenties. If they do not toil now when will they? Also they have agreed to play in IPL or Champions league knowing very well the work load. Are the Indians and Lankans not doing the same? And you are talking of about 150 working days in a year, which is definitely a luxury. Even if you take 100 days for travel, 100 days of rest is a gift. Moreover, has Australia gained by resting players? Then why is the list of injured players the highest for them? They should have everyone fit. I think the selectors are reading too much into the workloads. They should look at the physical training more and prepare them for sterner tests. Aussies know very well winning is a habit and if they loose it, winning back is very tough.

Posted by Junikamra on (January 18, 2013, 12:55 GMT)

whenever ausies made bowler friendly track there batting will struggle not there batting opponent batting struggle also but i have to think about my team "aussies" a player who can score lot of runs in domestic cricket doesn't mean that he also score runs in international cricket.. but there need an eye who can see wt the temprament player has.. khwaja score a great inning of 62 or 65 in africa when ball was seeming and swinging it was his best inning of test so far.. then in this season he score runs in such condition where every player was struggling.. i want to say that there are certain conditions where some player"s technique are suited.. i know khawaja is not a fluent player like warner,watson he take lots of balls but there are some conditions where khawaja's type of player are suited like today if he was playing he was definetly missing a lot of balls but he can survive difficult period and don't lose wicket at 1 end it will help team

Posted by PrasPunter on (January 18, 2013, 12:54 GMT)

Spot-on Coverdale - exactly my point. These ODIs will come and go and are not going to be remembered at all but the tour to India and Ashes tests will be. No point wasting the energies on some thing totally irrelevant. If asked to pick, I would choose the upcoming test-matches to win than these meaningless ODIs.

Posted by swamistyle on (January 18, 2013, 12:45 GMT)

Michael Clarke needs to take a lot of the blame for this loss. He played a reckless shot & was clean bowled through the gate at a time when his team was in trouble & needed it's captain to settle in & play a long innings. Then in the field he selfishly put himself at 1st slip when he is not a good slipper with a bad hammy & then made a meal out of a regulation slips catch before Dilshan got going. & then why did he not bowl Johnston after tea when he was the only hope Australia had? Was that another directive from Inverarity to prevent injury? Or maybe the ACB & Channel 9 wants the series to still be alive in Game 5? Clarke is a selector too which is the only reason I can fathom why his NSW mate Henriques is in the side when he is barely club standard. Meanwhile promising young talent like Finch, Maxwell & Kawaja are dumped after only 2 games. The fact that Haddin played 2 games has Clarke's prints all over it too & this has affected Wade's confidence.

Posted by shot274 on (January 18, 2013, 12:44 GMT)

Youre right. The Aussies will be judged in the test matches against England. But dont hold your breath Brydon; they are likely to get thrashed soundly! The fact is that Australia havent been able to replace the likes of Hayden, Gilchrist,Ponting,Warne and Mcgrath.. There is also no point in having half a dozen potentially top class pace bowlers if all have the fitness to survive,at best,, a couple of matches. The rotation policy works if you have a nucleus of world class players and youngsters come in to contribute alongside. Forget ODIs. One would be hard pressed to name 6 definite players for the next test match.Sports has a certain objectivity to it. If youre not good enough you get thrashed!So prepare to be made mincemeat this summer-or as we say in the UK with a bit of horse DNA for extra flavour!

Posted by Ms.Cricket on (January 18, 2013, 12:33 GMT)

Simple, why don't the boards reduce the matches to be played during the year. That way no player needs to be rested and the best XI is on playing every time.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 18, 2013, 12:31 GMT)

KingOWl - On one hand you say Australia make bad tracks for Sri Lanka and then you say they are flat track bullies - well how did we dominate the test series. Herath-UK : THink you missed the point of the article, he outlined the reasons for the rotation policy but not once did he say the rotation policy have anything to do with this loss. He is not hiding behind the rotation policy but supporting it.

Posted by cricmatters on (January 18, 2013, 12:22 GMT)

You paint such a gloomy picture of the life of an international cricketer, that it almost makes flipping burgers more attractive as a career choice. Australia has lost its form and aura since the current administration started trying to tinker too much with a simple model which meant that if a player is fit and ready, he would play. Cricket is a form game. You have to make hay when the sun shines. Australia will lose this series at home which was unthinkable a few years back. Australia has no hope of winning ashes simply because they lack quality batsmen with right technique and temperament. The top order has caved in way too many times and needs rethink. Against any good side, they will be found out as it happened against SA. Old saying but still valid "If ain't broken, don't try to fix it".

Posted by Herath-UK on (January 18, 2013, 12:05 GMT)

Your piece would have got some credit had you compared with the non stop cricket the Lankans have been playing during the same period to show a major load. No aussie would have dreamt that Sri Lanka would be leading 2-1 after the Gaba game? Ranil Herath - Kent

Posted by Herath-UK on (January 18, 2013, 11:57 GMT)

Come on Brydon,don't hide behind a rotation policy to avoid the thrashing Sri Lankans gave to the aussies.Clark in fact post match admitted having played all the test matches there is no question of form & the rotation is not to be blamed.What about the rotation forced on the Lankans due to injury,this is sort of Sri Lanka B team thrashing aussies A team. Just applaud the Lankans winning handsomely on a pitch they have never won before that too their bowlers doing the talking who are subjected to unfair criticism at times. Ranil Herath - Kent

Posted by Antomann on (January 18, 2013, 11:45 GMT)

@KingOwl - the Aussies made difficult wickets against the Sri Lankans? They just won the Test series 3-0. So if they did make difficult wickets - which they didn't - then it worked a treat.

Posted by wix99 on (January 18, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

I think resting Wade, Warner and Clarke was perfectly reasonable. However, the selectors still seem to be chopping and changing the squad at a whim. Khawaja played one game where he got run out early and didn't get a second match. If he had had a second chance perhaps he would have made runs. Players need to be given a reasonable opportunity to show their form and should not be judged on a single game.

Posted by tfjones1978 on (January 18, 2013, 11:42 GMT)

Australia did poorly as they tried to bat like it was a one-dayer when it wasnt. It was a Day 5 pitch in a test match when the first four days had been washed out. When Srilanka went out to play they knew they just had to bat until they scored the runs like on a 5th day pitch. Lets face it, this match had 16 wickets fall for 149 runs when Australia missed FIVE opportunities. Did anyone watch the match that is making comments here? I did! Australia went into the match with FIVE specialist bowlers, leaving them with five batsmen and one wicky. The commentators believed it was a 280 pitch ... it was a 120 pitch, even the commentators (former players that had been involved for centuaries) said that the pitch was way different then they thought it was at the toss. Australia based their selection on six batsmen (inc wicky) in form on a flat pitch that you could hit each ball for six. Lets not overlook that 16 wickets fall and Australia missed five chances!

Posted by Jayzuz on (January 18, 2013, 11:06 GMT)

Sorry, Coverdale, but rotation had everything to do with it. You can't switch teams around every game. The SLs have been together for three games, and are working well as a team. Australia is getting worse and worse as a team as selectors play musical cricket teams. BTW, take away three dropped catches, a missed snick by the umpire and a missed run-out by Johnson, and you pretty much have an even game. The dropped catches I saw were by players playing their first game in the series.

Posted by KingOwl on (January 18, 2013, 11:05 GMT)

Bring on the excuses! Heh! Heh! Heh! Let's fact it, this Aussie side has many flat track bullies who cannot handle high quality seam bowling. A team, B team - makes no difference. They are pretty much all the same. It is high time the Aussies fans stopped being delusional. Aussies made flat tracks against SA because they were scared of their bowling. They made difficult wickets against SL thinking that it would help them. But it backfired spectacularly here. It is clear that SL benefit from difficult wickets, rather than the other way around.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (January 18, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

It's taken a while but I have finally seen common sense in an article with relation to the resting of Warner, Wade and Clarke. It wouldnt be easy only spending approximately 6 weeks at home in the past year, with this year to be an even greater schedule. i would rather these players have a flat spot here than in the tests in India and England. These players are professional and will be very disappointed with this performance, however them resting would have very little influence on that. it was a bad game lets judge the way they bounce back. The never ending procession of cricket doesnt give the players any opportunity to go in for preventative surgery or do a pre-season to condition there bodies for an upcoming season and this is why fast bowlers need to be treated with caution. However with the bowlers Im not sure missing one game helps they need specified 4-6 week periods out of the game to undergo maintenance.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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