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England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 4th day

Australia still don't make much sense

If the rain holds off Australia could still win this Test and keep the Ashes alive, but a lot of their decisions continue to suggest confused thinking

Jarrod Kimber at Old Trafford

August 4, 2013

Comments: 59 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke was not happy with the bad light decision, England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 4th day, August 4, 2013
David Warner's promotion in the second innings made sense, but not all Australia's decisions have done © Getty Images

David Warner replaced Shane Watson at the top of the order. A solid gold pony, a woman wearing a Punisher costume could have just as easily replaced him or Hank Williams singing "Your Cheatin' Heart". Australia are in deep panic mode this Ashes. They have created a situation where nothing could surprise. They're gambling with Test wins and players' careers by keeping their team on random.

There was logic to sending Warner in to open the batting in this situation. Australia needed quick runs. Warner opens the batting in Twenty20 and limited-overs cricket for Australia. But so does Watson.

Chris Rogers doesn't open for either of those sides. He never will. Rogers doesn't even play in the Big Bash that often. In the entire history of the Big Bash, he has played eight matches. So why was Rogers still opening and Watson was not? Someone on Twitter suggested it was because Rogers was a better runner between wickets than Watson. It was a ludicrous suggestion, except that, it made as much sense as anything.

You could suggest form. Rogers was stroking the ball around the field with glee and pomp in the first innings. Watson sat on his bat like it was a prop for much of his innings. But Watson is Watson, and an out-of-form Watson could have sprung to life with a bit of freedom and a chance to dominate. This could have brought him back to form, back to life. His chance to be the Shane Watson he should be. Instead he watched Rogers make 12 off 23 balls, and then Usman Khawaja come out to bat ahead of him. Of the top four, Watson would end with the top strike rate.

Australia are still in a good position to win this Test. They also had plenty of chances to win the first. They are not as bad as Lord's showed, nor as good as their ninth-wicket partnerships suggested. With a few more flukey runs they win the first Test, and they are one England collapse away from winning this one. This against a team that out does them in almost every single important thing.

They have flaws and weakness in their team. But many teams do. What they have mostly is a completely random and unexplainable way of making decisions. Perhaps some of this isn't their fault. A coach got dropped on them a few minutes before the first Test. One who had a very different way of looking at cricket from the previous coach, and was a completely different personality. Had Australia decided to allow all coaching decisions to be made via a sponsor's app (not out of the question), it would have only slightly made things more complicated.

It started with Steven Smith being picked from outside the squad for the first Test. All the selectors saw Smith bat in India; if they had wanted him to play, they would have picked him for the squad. It was the new management that wanted him to play. But once he had batted at Trent Bridge, the thought that he wasn't even in the squad to begin with was an obvious error.

Ashton Agar was picked out of the squad too, and also out of the ether. There is no doubt that part of the reason that Agar was picked was because of his batting. But he batted at No. 11. It turned out he batted at No. 11 like a magic pixie dream girl. But why bring in someone to solidify your batting, and bat him at 11? And why drop your senior bowler after taking nine wickets. And why pick a 19-year-old over him?

In the second innings, Agar was promoted ahead of Peter Siddle and Mitchell Starc in the batting order. Starc had made 99 a few Test innings before. Siddle had made back-to-back Test fifties and a first-class hundred. It was the sort of move you make as you hum, "Do you believe in magic?" to yourself.

After that Test Australia dropped Ed Cowan, despite it being his first attempt at batting at No. 3, and with full knowledge that he had spent the entire first Test vomiting. His entire bile-inducing Test was enough to show he wasn't good enough for three. Starc was dropped despite taking five wickets and having the luxury of having a five (or six with Smith) man bowling attack. Starc was seen as a bowler who took the pressure off England and was too random. He is now back, even though he plays the same.

Agar went from the saviour to the discarded in two Tests. His selection may have been odd, his 98 even odder. But to drop him after only one bad Test showed that his original selection was terrible. As talented as he is, he has now done more press opportunities than bowled quality deliveries in Test cricket. Despite mention of a hip injury, and his movement around the field looking more KP and Watson like than the smooth cougar moves of Agar, he bowled in the tour match against Sussex.

Phillip Hughes was dropped for the first third Test of his first Ashes. He was recalled for the third Test of his second Ashes. Now has been dropped for this third Test of his third Ashes. In many ways, this is one of the most consistent things Australian cricket has done in the last four years. In Hughes' last three Tests he has batted at No. 3, 4 and 5. This from a player who started as an opener. It's surprising he hasn't got confused and gone out at the wrong time. Now he has been dropped. Three whole innings after making an unbeaten 81 and very nearly stealing a Test.

Jonny Bairstow has played ten Tests and he averages 32. He has some technical problems with playing the ball across the line. If Bairstow was Australian he would have batted in many different positions in this series, and then been dropped already. Not just because Australia are losing. They would see his technique as a reason to drop him. A weakness they couldn't help. And in two Tests they would have seen enough and needed to move on. Even if England lose, and Bairstow fails again, there is a very good chance he won't be dropped.

England have only dropped one player this series. They thought Steven Finn let the pressure off. And they knew Tim Bresnan would keep it tighter. They were right.

"They were right" is not something the Australian management have been hearing much this Ashes. If the rain stays away, and they win this Test, they will have done it on the back of their captain and fast bowlers. It won't be a random win, and it won't be because of all these changes.

It will be in spite of them.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Posted by Micky.Panda on (August 7, 2013, 4:48 GMT)

Jarrod, Some good points and some silly ones. O.K. was silly to bat Agar at No. 11. It was not silly to promote him up the order. Tail enders typically get placed in the order based on who has the highest score. Agar then had a very high score and significantly a batting average better than Starc and miles better than Siddle. Surely you don't want to claim that Siddle is a better bat than Agar?

Starc was dropped as changes had to be made. Harris has been in form and was a good replacement. Pattinson was unfortunately out of form. Bird is in form consistently but not being used.

Cowen has never had the form batting at any position at any stage. Is batting at 3 harder than opening? Scored big in just one match where everyone scored big. A batsman's paradise. Hopefully Cowen will never be used again.

Posted by Reececonrad on (August 5, 2013, 18:44 GMT)

Watson should have opened in the second innings because as much as he is flawed around his front pad, he is more at ease when given license, if I was Lehmann I would give him full license to get Jimmy and Broad unsettled early, Warner should have done better when he got given the opportunity at 6 to be blunt, there was turn for Swann, but other then that he should have done better with a good pitch and an old ball.

Steven Smith looks like a good, not yet solid investment, he has a solid defense and plays spin better than most, keep him in the side. Bird has to probably take 15 wickets in a match to be considered I suppose, he is a great prospect I would have hoped he would have got a game or two by now.

Clarke could not have done anything better besides probably reviewing the KP lbw, but he puts his body on the line for his country and his optimizes what a team man is, he is the symbol of the grit and determination that is associated with the baggy green.

Posted by short_cover on (August 5, 2013, 15:41 GMT)

If anything that didn't make sense was the deciion to declare too late in the game ... rain or no rain.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 15:18 GMT)

I kind of agree to the author bt not much with all the process of team selection for aussies....... the best team in such scenario is ....

1 Hughes 2 warner 3 khwaja 4 clarke 5 watto 6 smith 7 hadin 8 starc 9 harris 10 siddle 11 lyon with same batting line up and bowling line up u can still beat this english team with trott and cook struggling !!!

Posted by ZuluFlow on (August 5, 2013, 10:29 GMT)

Well then - Root and Cook to open. Eng obviously playing for the rain. .I mean, the draw ;-)

Posted by jmcilhinney on (August 5, 2013, 10:00 GMT)

@Rahul_78 on (August 5, 2013, 5:44 GMT), but if Wraner opening instead of Watson is such common sense then why did it not happen in the first innings?

Posted by Jaffa79 on (August 5, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

As someone who watched England during the 90s, I have lots of experience of watching a team misfire for a long period of time. We then and Aus now seem to have a fundamental problem and that is, not knowing your best team. We shuffled the pack with ridiculous regularity and the Aussies are doing the same now. From the start of the 2010/11 Ashes when they picked 17 for the first Test and have had a revolving door policy ever since (particularly the spinners). Just like in the late 80s, they need to identify who they think is up to the job for that series and stick with them.

Posted by andrew-schulz on (August 5, 2013, 9:36 GMT)

Jarrod, I think you mean tenth-wicket partnerships. For someone in your position, you really do struggle with the terminology and realities of the game.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 8:23 GMT)

I'm all for entertaining various perspectives, but comments disagreeing with this article absolutely baffle me, almost as much as the management of the team. How Sutherland, Howard and the selectors are still in their respective jobs is beyond me. They have no idea what their best team looks like or what they even want from the 11 best cricketers in Australia, let alone who those 11 are. The process of developing players is absolutely appalling and is killing a team which at its best could be described as competitive if they were all given a bit of confidence and some sort of defined role to play.

Posted by milepost on (August 5, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

I think they are close to getting the team right. Warner should open. Agar back in for Lyon. It's a closer series than the score line suggests but the only thing that matters is winning and hats off England have done that and deserved it. I hate their style of cricket with KP and Prior the exceptions but they are up 2-0 and will likely 'retain' the Ashes today. The time wasting and constant subs are annoying but they are in the rules. The 'spirit of cricket' is a joke these days. Players stay when they are out, umpires make senseless decisions and teams disrespect the fans wasting time and with purposely slow over rates.Playing for a draw? What 'spirit of cricket'?

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 5:53 GMT)

Warner looks like a crisp, positive batsmen opening the innings. His punch shots; whilst very effective also look controlled.He seemed to play quite intelligently without any foolhardy flashes outside offstump and after warming up against the pacers where he readily felt bat on ball; he also played the spinners well and was quite nimble on his feet.Should Warner of had more time to construct an innings there is no telling what kind of score he could of got.Watson is becoming more and more a bowling allrounder with every test.His tight spells give Clarke the all important option of playing an attacking bowler the likes of Starc, Pattinson(when fit)or dare I say it;even Johnson.This alone is worth his place in the side as there are no other bowlers we have that can match his control whilst averageing 35 with the bat.Faulkner is no where near as yet a like for like replacement for Watson and it appears that Watsons ideal role for the team is as a 4th bowling allrounder at 6.

Posted by testcric4ever on (August 5, 2013, 5:43 GMT)

Nothing but the views of an arm chair critic, so easy to write articles about how to coach and manage a still developing team, quite another to be in the position of making these desicions with the pressure of fans, administrators and the media seemingly waiting for you to fail. But I'm sure like yourself there are plenty of other experts out there who have their own opinion

Posted by Samdanh on (August 5, 2013, 5:25 GMT)

@John Caulfield: Agree with you. Makes perfect sense. Except that Khawaja should be give more opportunties

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (August 5, 2013, 5:20 GMT)

Your reasoning appears to lack far more sense than Australia, Jarrod. It was clear when shown the balcony at the start of the Aus 2nd innings with Watson & Khawaja padded up that the captain was setting an early innings structure of Khawaja for Rogers and Watson for Warner. Seems logical being a Test match, albeit looking to set a score. What would Clarke have gained if all bashers were out with 4/10 - England with the momentum - and regular top four guys batting at 8/9 trying to avoid being bowled out for 100 and setting the Poms a target of 250 and 4 sessions to get them? Can't believe you'd question Clarke on being an attacking captain, his credentials prove he'll leave a glimmer for the opposition to chase to achieve a win, but there is also a need to settle for the long term benefit as well. Speaking of the long term, Agar should've been given this game and nude baller Lyon sent home. Agar could quite easily take 1/100, but he'd be gaining experience for the next decade.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 4:33 GMT)

That's all good and well if the players in question perform. Watson and Hughes have completely underperformed their whole career except one year each. We have not given one new guy a chance since Quieney in December. He only played because of injury not a real opportunity. When can we decide that these players are not good enough never. Steve Waugh did make it from this type of performance but players like Martyn and Hayden benefited from being dropped. Players like Bevan were decided they were not good enough by this time.

Posted by BigGeorgeMehemood on (August 5, 2013, 3:55 GMT)

Warner is not a test batsman, I would put in Joseph Khan from NSW..he would be a good fit.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 3:49 GMT)

The only thing that should dictate any changes to the Aussie team after this test is injury. The selectors should say to the current players, baring injury, you have the remainder of this series to prove yourselves. That way players go out and perform without the added worry of being dropped. I know people out there will say they will play with complacency, but my opinion is that they will play more relaxed and clearer of mind and play to their full potential.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 3:30 GMT)

great article Kimber.

Hughes gets 81no at 5 in test one and then bats at 4 in test 2. Then is dropped for Test 3 despite having the highest innings score of any Australian top 6 bastmen in the series after the first two tests (aforementioned 81no).

Clarke gets 180 batting at 4 in the first dig of test 3 and bats at 5 in the second innings.

Agar was picked at 11 because Starc and Siddle had (recent) test 50's and Pattinson is a very solid bat with an average over 30. Then because of one innings (where he could/should have been out for 6) he is moved up ahead of them all.

Watson still in the team despite having the lowest average of any Australian recognised batsmen in tests this year (sorry Maxwell you don't count!)

Posted by Thegimp on (August 5, 2013, 2:46 GMT)

I hate to lay down at any juncture but I think the time has come for Aus to say to a few guys "Look, we don't care how the rest of this series goes, we don't care if we get smashed, we are looking to the next three years. Khawaja, Smith, Starc, Agar and Warner you have the next three years to work this out".

The next group of promissing cricketers are all about three years away anyway and a good three years of grinding out First class runs and wickets will do them good. What won't help matters is if we rush this next group through.

Three years of pain and we will either have a competitive side or a new group of established FC cricketers from which to pick. Hopefully this will avoid the Rogers/Hodge situation. These 2 will go down as the two best bats of our time not to have played 50 tests. They were picked and then thrown away only, in Rogers case, to be plucked at age 35.

People in Aus will understand as those of use who follow football see our teams do this every 3-4 years.

Posted by 5wombats on (August 5, 2013, 2:39 GMT)

I agree with Jarrod; Australia are all over the place. I think that the point here is that Clarke is their only world class player. Only 3 others are either good (Harris) or decent (Siddle, Rogers). The rest - ? well I'm sure you can think of a word. Only when Clarke wins the toss and fires on a good pitch do Aussie look respectable. When he does not then Australia look a rag tag. At Old Trafford Australia have pulled out all the stops and still not put England on the ropes, let alone the canvas. 368 was hardly a disastrous 1st Innings score for England. For what was a much touted fast bowling attack Australia have hardly delivered. Best not to talk about Australian spin bowling stocks.... This series is gone for Australia. Their best hope in the return series is to produce spicy pitches that might better suit their supposed world beating pace battery. Whether or not the Aus batsmen can stand up to what the England bowlers will do on such pitches will determine the fate of that series.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 2:12 GMT)

Your pick and stick idea would be great if the people who have had chances converted. Hughes and Watson have had huge careers with no runs. The last bat to get a pick was Quieny in December. The chopping and changing just does not exist.

Posted by pat_one_back on (August 5, 2013, 2:08 GMT)

Australia had been in the field for 5 sessions in which Watson bowled more overs than in any innings in recent memory. He is highly prone to calf injuries, and will be critical in the fourth innings assuming we get one. Is it really that hard to understand why he was not sent out to open the batting, sprint singles & go the heave ho????? He can clobber spin when match situations permit the risk, this would also have been a consideration, ridiculous speculation for a 40 over run chase. The Agar & Starc selections are equally lacking in contoversy, Harris is the better bowler & Agar was to destabalise Eng plans- which he sure did, by Lords the surprise had evaporated and so the better bowler came in. Hughes/Khawaja/Smith/Ed changes aren't ideal but not the cause of our batting woes just a symptom.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 2:03 GMT)

Watson should be replaced by Faulkner (much better bowler and can definitely score the amount of runs currently being scored by Watson while staying in the crease for longer time ) and Warner should move back to opening. This will also open the possibility of Hughsey at 6

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (August 5, 2013, 1:39 GMT)

Watson should have opened with Warner at 3.

Lyon should have played the first 2 tests, but he needs to learn variety and fast.

Cowan should have simply been dropped, not trialled at 3.

Hughes should have stayed at 3 as he had done against S.L. and India. He did actually make two half centuries in India and scored as many runs as Warner for the series. Yet it's Hughes who has the problem? A near match winning 81* (ran out of partners) when others struggle to make double figures is not enough apparently.

Khawaja averaged 39 last domestic season and about 34 this FC tour, yet we expect him to average 50 in test cricket at 3? It's not going to happen.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 1:33 GMT)

@ boundlele cricket is not the game of if n but the result is result nd game is keep continue

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 1:30 GMT)

Good article except I wouldn't have Watson anywhere near the team. His last two series have been disatrous with the bat and he is selected as a batsman. If he can't score runs he shouldn't be out there. His second inningfs here was as poor as I have seen. I felt sorry for him and was pleased he got out so his pain could be eased. The one I felt sorry for was Smith, very, very poor running from Clarke. There was an easy two in the shot, when they needed quick runs, Clarke wasn't watching.

Posted by   on (August 5, 2013, 1:23 GMT)

brilliant brilliant insight Jarrod K!

Posted by PFEL on (August 5, 2013, 0:15 GMT)

I have to say, I think almost every single point in this article is plain wrong. And obviously so. btw to people talking about the Agar stumping decision, it was probably the right decision. It might have been out, but may not have been. You can't say that about a lot of the decisions that have gone against Australia that have been inexplicable.

Posted by RJHB on (August 5, 2013, 0:02 GMT)

Speaking of random, this article has no purpose other than to further ridicule a side that actually hasn't done too badly over all in three tests against a clearly superior opponent. It's all very well to second guess decisions and put on your 20/20 hindsight glasses, but try putting yourself in Clarkes position and see how you go. Quite sure you wouldn't do any better but then I guess that's why they're the ones representing their country at an elite level and you are just writing rubbish about it!

Posted by swalter66 on (August 4, 2013, 23:31 GMT)

I see your point, powerpuff8 but in many cases players were dropped after a decent performance. That would have even stalwarts stealing nervous glances over their shoulders. The really successful sides are usually ones that have been allowed to gel and mature as a unit. That is currently far from true in Australia's case.

Posted by JAH123 on (August 4, 2013, 23:28 GMT)

"Deep panic mode"? Come on, Kimber. There have been a few odd changes, sure, mostly due to instability off the field. But putting Warner up to open wasn't one of them. I think you'll find that Watson would have come in at 3 had Warner gone before Rogers, the idea being that there would be one aggressive batsman batting with one more conservative batsman for the first two wickets. They could have switched that and gone with Watson then Warner but on current form they probably believed Warner was the best bet. The fact that Warner ran off to get ready shows that it was a pre-planned move, not a panic move due to the situation. Also: it's the 10th wicket partnerships that have been productive for Australia, not 9th, and Phil Hughes actually batted at 6 at Trent Bridge, not 5.

Posted by   on (August 4, 2013, 23:18 GMT)

Selectors can't make up their mind on who to chose, players can't make up their mind on where to bat, the captain can't make up his mind on when to declare. Who runs this show? The chopping and changing, the shuffling of the batting order, the captain not declaring early and with time lost to rain, they just keep batting until time runs out or just let the 5th day get washed out.

Posted by AnanthX on (August 4, 2013, 21:29 GMT)

Fantastic article. Nothing the Australian management have done makes any sense whatsoever. And yet, the Australian team (barring the second match) have made a decent fist of it.

Posted by powerpuff8 on (August 4, 2013, 21:10 GMT)

Clarke looks to be trying his best to keep the whole team motivate but Watson just doesn't seem into the game. However he has the ability to take the game away with just one big innings so you can't drop him. As far as the shuffling of players is concerned I don't see why it is such a big issue. Cowan came to bat at 3 instead of opening. Does it make such a big difference? These players are meant to be world class if they play for Australia and should be able to bat anywhere. Also when you drop players within a few games if they don't perform can also be a good thing. It gives players to play each innings to the best of their ability. Given Australia's batting on paper I would say its a big achievement that they have managed a first innings lead not just once but twice already this series. Even though the Ashes in the pinnacle for Australian English cricketers, this series is a good way for Australia determine talent for the near future of their test cricket.

Posted by   on (August 4, 2013, 21:05 GMT)

@Ninety9 on (August 4, 2013, 19:49 GMT) "Watson had the same old look of frustration on his face when Clarke decided not to review the lbw appeal against KP, which replays showed later, would have turned the original decision in their favor."

Only if the point of impact was closer than 3m from the stumps, which is far from certain!

Posted by wix99 on (August 4, 2013, 21:03 GMT)

There was a time when Australia's batting order was written in stone. Now it seems to be written in sand with the tide washing it away after every innings.

Posted by swalter66 on (August 4, 2013, 20:51 GMT)

Good article. Cricket Australia should show a bit of backbone, stand by their selections and show some loyalty to the players by not forever chopping and changing them. Assuming they want to rebuild the side, that is. The Aussie dressing room must be a miserable place right now. On the other hand, it's nice that it's not England in crisis for a change.

Posted by Mitty2 on (August 4, 2013, 20:48 GMT)

Have to disagree with you Kimber. Watson is no where near adequate in any position batting, and despite this, the whole intention was to shield the batters from Swann, so there goes our point. We lost wickets at inopportune times, so we could;t push on the good run rate we were on, but despite that, we still batted at a very brisk and suitable pace, and we went for the win, but not surprisingly, Eng time wasted and are going for the draw. There really can;t be many critiques of how we've played so far, we've defied the 5-0 premonitions and have thoroughly outplayed Eng on a very flat pitch. The criticisms have come in spite of being just 15 runs off being even in the series (albeit we batted terribly at Lord'. If there was no threat of rain, there would be a comfortable assumption that we'd win, and so far Eng have got the rub of the green in the series and this untimely rain proves that luck.

Posted by   on (August 4, 2013, 20:45 GMT)

Watson is one of the greatest all-rounders of this time and he may become a legend but current 'situations' are looking suitable for him.

Posted by 2MikeGattings on (August 4, 2013, 20:39 GMT)

Cowan was hard done by, but having dropped him Australia should probably stick with this 11 except for rotating Harris if necessary.

It's anybody's guess who is deciding the batting order. Boof continues to make announcements to the press about it, Clarke seems to think it's the captains's purview. Perhaps they are drawing lots?

Posted by   on (August 4, 2013, 20:38 GMT)

@Baundele - Are you for real? "The series result currently stands at 2-0 in England's favou only because of the umpires". You made absolutely no mention of the inexplicable decision to give Agar not out on 6 in the first test. A decision that cost England 150 runs. If that is given, which it should have been, England win by a huge margin. But let's not let the facts get in the way eh?

Posted by Baundele on (August 4, 2013, 20:03 GMT)

England are certainly the better side; but Australia have fought hard and pushed England hard. Aus were within 14 runs of winning the 1st test. If that happened, the second test might not be an one way traffic. And then they have dominated this third test from day one. They have played better cricket than England-in-form-at-home. The series result currently stands at 2-0 in England's favor only because of the umpires.

Posted by   on (August 4, 2013, 20:00 GMT)

Warner is an opener so should open, Watson is a middle order batsman so should bat at 5/6. I would bring in Hughes for Khawaja and if Watson keeps failing, give Faulkner a go.

Posted by Ninety9 on (August 4, 2013, 19:49 GMT)

Watson had the same old look of frustration on his face when Clarke decided not to review the lbw appeal against KP, which replays showed later, would have turned the original decision in their favor. Watson is not really mentally strong enough to play sports. He gets too annoyed way too easily and way too many times. I can only imagine what it must be like be to have him around in the dressing room. A team looking to win should get rid of such characters at the first opportunity. Him not making any runs is such an opportunity.

Posted by Fleming_Mitch on (August 4, 2013, 19:48 GMT)

EdwardAnderson couldn't have said it better mate, not too much should be made in the change in openers today, our batsman did what was needed and tomorrow its up to the bowlers assuming rain stays away.

Posted by slow.mo on (August 4, 2013, 19:47 GMT)

Absolutely spot on. To add to your list, why Maxwell was not played against SL in the final test if he were to be picked for India tour? And why Haddin wasnt made part of the original squad to India if he was going to play in the Ashes? If Wade can be considered as a batsman for the Ashes, wasn't Haddin good enough to be considered just as a batsman especially when he is one of the better player of spin among the current lot? These are the reasons Australia are still labelled as a "team in transition" even though the greats retired 5/6 years ago, not because of lack of talent. Just look at the no of spinners have played for Australia since the retirement of Warnie. And many of them have only played couple of matches before being kicked out. Another baffling thing was to play Rob Quiney as a cover up for Hughes against SA. And I am worried a similar fate awaits Fawad Ahmed. To be honest, even Bangladesh team looks more settled than the Aussie team.

Posted by muzika_tchaikovskogo on (August 4, 2013, 19:46 GMT)

With due respect to Mr. Kimber, I think the Australians tried what they thought was most likely to come off. Now that its failed, they are being criticised for not making sense. Its so reminiscent of the articles I used to read about English cricket a generation ago.

Posted by GenuineNumber11 on (August 4, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

Agree with Mary_786 and Edwards_Anderson, Watson has bowled a lot of overs this test and will need to charge in on day 5. It also made sense to drop Cowan, but Jared is right, the selectors made an arse of themselves in the way they handled it. The management of Hughes has been even more barmy and he had full right to complain. Basically, it's a catch 22 - selectors (and the media) like to be seen as "doing something" when a team is losing, but stability breeds success in the long term.

Posted by TheFrogAndTheCricket on (August 4, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

Yes there is common sense in Australia's batting order, and Shane Warne introduced it on Sky way before Australia's second innings: promote Warner, make the left-handers (Rogers, Warner, Khawaja) bat at the top to avoid them facing Graeme Swann, let the right-handers/good players of spin (Watson, Clarke, Smith) face Graeme Swann. Simple, isn't it?

Posted by   on (August 4, 2013, 19:44 GMT)

OZ's are gone. They can't be like they were in 90's and early 2000's. Its impossible to replace warne and mcgrath who could destroy any batting line up and was really outspoken.England will win the series no doubt but only matters wat would be margin of lose.

Posted by   on (August 4, 2013, 19:36 GMT)

They tried to keep the top 3 left handers to keep them away from Swann as long as possible. It did sort of work in this innings and could setup a plan for the coming 2 tests. Watson, Smith and Clarke in the middle order against Swann is a much better plan and it should have been the case from the start.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (August 4, 2013, 19:31 GMT)

Mary and Edward that was my first thought as well that Watson was being rested because it made more sense to send Warner and Watson. Boof has the batting lineup right for this series and i also like having Watson, Rogers and Khawaja as our top 3 with Clarke and Smith in the middle order. We are still on top in this match and only the weather will take it away from us.

Posted by Kirstenfan on (August 4, 2013, 19:20 GMT)

Superbly written, and proper analysis. Most of these decisions are inexplicable, and my concern would be about Clarke's credibility as a leader - he was initially seen as a strategic genius, exciting, innovative and confident, these recent decisions could see his role questioned completely.

Much of these decisions remind me of South Africa's one day thinking and decion making

Posted by   on (August 4, 2013, 19:18 GMT)

clarke had sent three left handers at the start of the innings so as to keep dem away from swann attack nd so as right hnders can do it very well in d middle order.............. I agree with the decision of clarke...........

Posted by Mary_786 on (August 4, 2013, 19:11 GMT)

Good article by Kimber but nothing was confusing about the order. The batting lineup remained the same with the exception of Watto who was given a break given his injury issues. Cowan had nearly 19 games in a row so he had his chance, its time go let the likes of Smith, Khawaja, Rogers now have their chances this series. Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Smith, Warner looks good to me for the coming test matches as well, if weather is not ruining things we are on track to win this test.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (August 4, 2013, 19:05 GMT)

Put it simply Watson came in at 4 to give him a rest as he bowled a few overs, nothing more should be made of it. Its best to leave Watson and Rogers as opener and continue with Khawaja who looks promising at 3 and has only had 1 game at that position. Warner at 6 could be like Gilly was for us. I like the look of our current batting lineup.

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