South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Johannesburg, 2nd day February 27, 2009

Australia don't need a Flintoff clone

Instead of scratching their heads for clone of Andrew Flintoff, who haunted them during the 2005 Ashes, the penny has started to drop that attempting to copy natural ability is like trying to replicate the Mona Lisa
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The highlight of Mitchell Johnson's display was a string of lusty slog-swept sixes off Paul Harris that brought an Australian Test record of 26 runs in one over © Getty Images
 

Australia's obsessive search for an allrounder has been so fruitless that it is tempting to look at the brilliant innings from Mitchell Johnson and Marcus North and argue that they have found two in one day. But what they have really discovered is the value of playing their best XI with each man in a position suitable to his skills.

Instead of sending in a solid jack-of-all-trades like Andrew McDonald at No. 6, as they did in Sydney, they chose a genuine top six batsman in North. He rewarded them with a superbly composed century on debut and if he chips in with some handy wickets with his part-time offspin then all the better.

Instead of scratching their heads for a clone of Andrew Flintoff, who haunted them during the 2005 Ashes, the penny has started to drop that attempting to copy natural ability is like trying to replicate the Mona Lisa. At best you'll appear silly for trying and at worst you'll have the credibility of an art-school dropout.

North has proven himself to be a thoroughly capable Test No. 6, which is no surprise given he has spent the past decade holding down a middle-order spot for Western Australia with an average of 44. He entered the game with 22 first-class centuries compared to McDonald's two.

North raised his century with a late cut from the bowling of JP Duminy and became the 18th Australian to score a hundred on Test debut and the first since Michael Clarke more than four years ago. His team-mates, perched in the Wanderers dressing room, offered him a generous ovation - a celebration as much for his momentum-shifting innings as the arrival of a batsman who, finally, adds starch to the middle-order.

He will be a valuable person to have around the group this year in particular. Stints at five different counties have given him more than a taste of the English conditions and he has a spell at Hampshire coming up ahead of this year's Ashes tour.

His all-round skills mean there will be less urgency to rush Andrew Symonds back, whenever he is deemed to be available. But the fact that North has nearly 100 first-class wickets - including a career-best six in last week's tour match in Potchefstroom - is a bonus. If Australia throw in a frontline spinner when conditions suit, in place of McDonald, their balance will look even better.

 
 
The fact that North has nearly 100 first-class wickets - including a career-best six in last week's tour match in Potchefstroom - is a bonus. If Australia throw in a frontline spinner when conditions suit, in place of Andrew McDonald, their balance will look even better
 

There is no reason McDonald can't be a useful Test player but at the moment he appears surplus to needs at No. 8, a position that Johnson can easily fill. His duck - albeit to an excellent, swinging Dale Steyn delivery - looked all the poorer when contrasted with the 117-run partnership compiled by North and Johnson, which broke the eighth-wicket record for Australia in Tests against South Africa.

Johnson was desperately unlucky not to match his partner and score his first Test century. He watched on as Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus fell in successive balls to leave him stranded on 96, but his innings was every bit as century-worthy as that of North. The highlight of Johnson's display was a string of lusty slog-swept sixes off Paul Harris that brought an Australian Test record of 26 runs in one over but to label him a late-overs basher is to do him a major disservice.

Compared to top-order men like Simon Katich and Phillip Hughes, who score runs in spite of their weird techniques, Johnson's batting style is pure. His stance is so rock solid and his bat so straight that he could have been the inspiration for the little plastic batsman in the Test match cricket board game.

Before he lost a ball by sending it over midwicket and out of the stadium off Harris, he had sent it rocketing to the boundary several times, including with a perfectly timed cover-drive off Jacques Kallis that he has produced so often in the past year that it's clearly not a fluke. In his last three Test innings, Johnson has made 203 runs and has been dismissed once.

When he walked off the Wanderers to a rousing reception, he boasted a Test batting average of 31.47. For the record, Flintoff's average is 31.69. But that's a figure Australia shouldn't get too carried away with.

At some point Johnson will make a Test century but he shouldn't be bumped too high up in the order. North at six, Brad Haddin (who made a valuable 63) at seven and Johnson at eight. Three quality performers in positions that suit them. There's no need to manufacture a Flintoff clone.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ozcricketwriter on March 2, 2009, 2:17 GMT

    Wow. Johnson gets 1 decent score and suddenly he is "a true all-rounder". What nonsense. People were saying the same thing about Brett Lee, who, since then, has proven that he is a number 8 or 9 and that's it. As for McDonald, so he has had 3 innings and hasn't scored too well. So what? His bowling, for the record, is 4 wickets at 22 per wicket, better than any of the other bowlers in the team. Perhaps that is luck, but perhaps if they used him more then he might be good. This kind of nonsensical "1 innings means everything" mentality is why Australia doesn't consider Nathan Bracken to be a test bowler, based on 1 solitary test match in which no bowlers did well. This is the same idiocy that has led to Australia labelling Stuart Clark as a test match only bowler, after just a few mediocre one day matches. Of course, in saying that, I don't think that either McDonald or North should be in the side, or on the tour. What is wrong with David Hussey? Or Brad Hodge?

  • suni_kumar on March 1, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    Freddie Flintoff the greatest allrounder in the history of game..? I thought,one of these guys are the best allrounders,..?sobers,botham,imran khan,kapil dev,hadlee,kallis... am I wrong or did they play hockey.

  • GVR1965 on March 1, 2009, 10:13 GMT

    I think that andrew McDonald,is not showing his best and using his chance to prove in the international test cricket of Australia with reference to Marcus North ,Johnson,Haddin,North peter siddle and Ben hilfenhaus . These young players are proving the future of australian cricket team. There are also some performers like Hodge, White , Krezja ,the opener Shaun Marsh,and even adam voges ,Shaun Tait and phil Jaques and so on.So, Australia has an enough choices to replace warne , gilchrist, langer , Mcgrath. And why not a better all rounder than Flintoff in these categories.

  • slogger_rob on March 1, 2009, 8:47 GMT

    Personally I think Flintoff is over rated as an all-rounder... he's only worth a few more runs per innings that Broad. What Australia need is just someone like Johnson who is a frontline bowler that can hold his end with a bat. Nothing more. If the batsmen can't do their job... then get a better top 6... if the bowlers can't then get a new bowling options. If you have a jack of all trades they tend to master none.

  • vinit207 on March 1, 2009, 7:02 GMT

    I think its a mistake to be terming Mitchell Johnson as an all rounder. What Australia need is his bowling. His batting is at best a bonus. Scoring runs should be a top 7 batsmen's job. All this drooling over 'Mitch the next Freddie' will only lead to him taking his batting more and more seriously which is definitely going to affect his bowling. Lance Klusener and Irfan Pathan are classic examples of wonderful bowlers turning into decent ones after their batting took off. Not everyone can be Freddie.

  • leslie3141 on March 1, 2009, 6:47 GMT

    To Freddie_Flintoff_Dhaka, yes, Flintoff may be an excellent all-rounder, but Mitchell Johnson isn't just any old tail-ender. Any no. 9 who makes 96* and hits 26 in an over off a quality spinner like Harris deserves to be called an all-rounder. This article is pretty good. The North, Haddin, Johnson line up at 6-7-8 looks to be very promising.

  • AJ_Tiger86 on February 28, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    Freddie Flintoff is the greatest all-rounder in the history of the game. There will never be a clone of Flintoff. Mitchell Johnson is not half the bowler that Flintoff is and he is nothing more than a tail-ender who can hold the bat.

  • azzaman333 on February 28, 2009, 9:44 GMT

    I'm still not convinced Bollinger is actually a better bowler than McDonald anyway.

    On the other hand, Bracken is a genuine swing bowler with the new ball and has variety when conditions aren't good for swing. Siddle, Bracken, McGain Johnson as a bowling line up, with part time support from North, Katich and Hussey, gives the variety and firepower to consistently take 20 wickets.

    Although, if Hussey can't manage a century on this tour, he should be replaced with Klinger or his brother.

  • blazedog84 on February 28, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    It was great to see the Aussies have a successful day in which they ground down sa with sensible batting and aggressive bowling. I think the make up of the side is fairly strong, except for McDonald who should have made way for a specialist bowler. I think that just shows the selectors slight worry in the form and capabilities of the top 6 which is slightly justified with 2 debutants and the indifferent form of Hussey. The main thing for Australia is to keep the squad together for an extended period of time so that every man in the side knows his role and is familiar with the blokes around him. It may take time but blokes like Hughes and Siddle will reap the rewards of confidence instilled in them of their role with the experince of the older players around them.

  • Chinmuzic on February 28, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Cant say much about North so early. But another a little too-early predictions: i have an intuition that Mitch would gradually bloom into an Alan Davidson & probably much more. Amen!.

  • Ozcricketwriter on March 2, 2009, 2:17 GMT

    Wow. Johnson gets 1 decent score and suddenly he is "a true all-rounder". What nonsense. People were saying the same thing about Brett Lee, who, since then, has proven that he is a number 8 or 9 and that's it. As for McDonald, so he has had 3 innings and hasn't scored too well. So what? His bowling, for the record, is 4 wickets at 22 per wicket, better than any of the other bowlers in the team. Perhaps that is luck, but perhaps if they used him more then he might be good. This kind of nonsensical "1 innings means everything" mentality is why Australia doesn't consider Nathan Bracken to be a test bowler, based on 1 solitary test match in which no bowlers did well. This is the same idiocy that has led to Australia labelling Stuart Clark as a test match only bowler, after just a few mediocre one day matches. Of course, in saying that, I don't think that either McDonald or North should be in the side, or on the tour. What is wrong with David Hussey? Or Brad Hodge?

  • suni_kumar on March 1, 2009, 11:18 GMT

    Freddie Flintoff the greatest allrounder in the history of game..? I thought,one of these guys are the best allrounders,..?sobers,botham,imran khan,kapil dev,hadlee,kallis... am I wrong or did they play hockey.

  • GVR1965 on March 1, 2009, 10:13 GMT

    I think that andrew McDonald,is not showing his best and using his chance to prove in the international test cricket of Australia with reference to Marcus North ,Johnson,Haddin,North peter siddle and Ben hilfenhaus . These young players are proving the future of australian cricket team. There are also some performers like Hodge, White , Krezja ,the opener Shaun Marsh,and even adam voges ,Shaun Tait and phil Jaques and so on.So, Australia has an enough choices to replace warne , gilchrist, langer , Mcgrath. And why not a better all rounder than Flintoff in these categories.

  • slogger_rob on March 1, 2009, 8:47 GMT

    Personally I think Flintoff is over rated as an all-rounder... he's only worth a few more runs per innings that Broad. What Australia need is just someone like Johnson who is a frontline bowler that can hold his end with a bat. Nothing more. If the batsmen can't do their job... then get a better top 6... if the bowlers can't then get a new bowling options. If you have a jack of all trades they tend to master none.

  • vinit207 on March 1, 2009, 7:02 GMT

    I think its a mistake to be terming Mitchell Johnson as an all rounder. What Australia need is his bowling. His batting is at best a bonus. Scoring runs should be a top 7 batsmen's job. All this drooling over 'Mitch the next Freddie' will only lead to him taking his batting more and more seriously which is definitely going to affect his bowling. Lance Klusener and Irfan Pathan are classic examples of wonderful bowlers turning into decent ones after their batting took off. Not everyone can be Freddie.

  • leslie3141 on March 1, 2009, 6:47 GMT

    To Freddie_Flintoff_Dhaka, yes, Flintoff may be an excellent all-rounder, but Mitchell Johnson isn't just any old tail-ender. Any no. 9 who makes 96* and hits 26 in an over off a quality spinner like Harris deserves to be called an all-rounder. This article is pretty good. The North, Haddin, Johnson line up at 6-7-8 looks to be very promising.

  • AJ_Tiger86 on February 28, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    Freddie Flintoff is the greatest all-rounder in the history of the game. There will never be a clone of Flintoff. Mitchell Johnson is not half the bowler that Flintoff is and he is nothing more than a tail-ender who can hold the bat.

  • azzaman333 on February 28, 2009, 9:44 GMT

    I'm still not convinced Bollinger is actually a better bowler than McDonald anyway.

    On the other hand, Bracken is a genuine swing bowler with the new ball and has variety when conditions aren't good for swing. Siddle, Bracken, McGain Johnson as a bowling line up, with part time support from North, Katich and Hussey, gives the variety and firepower to consistently take 20 wickets.

    Although, if Hussey can't manage a century on this tour, he should be replaced with Klinger or his brother.

  • blazedog84 on February 28, 2009, 8:59 GMT

    It was great to see the Aussies have a successful day in which they ground down sa with sensible batting and aggressive bowling. I think the make up of the side is fairly strong, except for McDonald who should have made way for a specialist bowler. I think that just shows the selectors slight worry in the form and capabilities of the top 6 which is slightly justified with 2 debutants and the indifferent form of Hussey. The main thing for Australia is to keep the squad together for an extended period of time so that every man in the side knows his role and is familiar with the blokes around him. It may take time but blokes like Hughes and Siddle will reap the rewards of confidence instilled in them of their role with the experince of the older players around them.

  • Chinmuzic on February 28, 2009, 8:36 GMT

    Cant say much about North so early. But another a little too-early predictions: i have an intuition that Mitch would gradually bloom into an Alan Davidson & probably much more. Amen!.

  • ea_sharks on February 28, 2009, 5:59 GMT

    It was heartening to see North scoring century on debut ! He looks a compact player and should be given a longer run even if he fails in the rest of the series. Not only does he looks a solid No.6, but he also adds depth to the aussie bowling with his spin. But one thing i m really disappointed about the selectors is that they are not placing trust on one spinner and giving him a long run. we ve seen 3 spinners in 3 series - krejza (india), hauritz (home-SA) and now McGain...this doesnt auger well for the future as i see no spinner being a permanent fixture in the squad..Not to take credit away from hauritz and McGain, i felt Krejza was a good prospect with his flight and varieties. he should have been given a longer run. all bowlers have an off game, and i think it was too harsh on krejza beeing omitted from the squad just because he proved expensive in a couple of games !!!Aussie selectors should understand the importance of grooming a spinner in a side.

  • fairdinkum on February 28, 2009, 4:34 GMT

    After 2 days of Australia batting it is surely a bit early to tell if the line-up is right. Whilst many comment that McDonald is surplus to needs,like all other newcomers, he needs time to prove himself. He bowled better than Bollinger in the only test match they played in with 3/73 at 24 cf 2/131 at 65 and his first class bowling record is similar. As for favouritism for Victorians, they ignored them for as long as they could but the team performances and numbers of players putting their hands up made it impossible.

  • Andrew_S on February 28, 2009, 4:21 GMT

    Here we go again - one good innings and North is already being proclaimed as the saviour of Australian cricket. Has everyone already forgotten what David Warner (pundits such as I Chappell said he should be fast-tracked into the NSW first-class side at the expense of Hughes or Jaques) acheived (or rather didn't achieve) after his first international innings and Jason Krejza. Let's wait and see what North achieves in the rest of the series (and hopefully in England) before judging him to be the answer to Aus No 6 batting problems. And for those saying he should have been picked for Sydney - hindsight's great isn't it? I don't remember North's name coming up at the time - it was D Hussey and Hodge. As for the selection of McDonald as the fourth bowler - looks like the same mistakes being made as were made in India with the fourth bowler being selected seemingly on their batting ability. Didn't work in India (White and Watson both struggled with bat) and looks like not in SA either

  • mangocube6 on February 28, 2009, 3:28 GMT

    Not only does Marcus North's success hopefully put the futile pursuit of an all rounder to bed for the Australians, but hopefully too for England. The English side has lacked balance for some time and it's partly because of Flintoff's poor recent batting average of only 28 or so. That's just over half a decent batting average, of which no other batsmen would be retained at number 6. Clearly he needs to drop to 7, the keeper to 8, Bopara stays at 6, Swann at 9 and then England have both a very good tail AND they actually show some faith in the 4 bowlers they select of whom there are plenty of excellent perfomers. Their 5 bowler policy has been a vote of no confidence in them for too long.

    In Australia's case, Clarke, Katich and North all bowl well as part timers to support the main 4. If a wonderful all rounder emerges then terrific, but they can't "cultivated" by selectors. They have to deliver themselves and that's always a huge ask to do both well.

  • The_Wog on February 28, 2009, 2:48 GMT

    Good analysis - copy to the selectors please.

    North-Haddin-Johnson looks a very useful 6-8. We don't need another pretend bowler like McDonald (who rarely looked more than a part-timer in Sydney). Symonds is looking like a 20/20 specialist, and his slogfest against NSW has just confirmed that he's not mentally a cricketer for the longer forms at the moment. He may well drop out of the contracted list, and shouldn't even be thought about until some F/C 100's.

    If our bowlers can't bowl sides out, the answer isn't picking more "all rounders" so I hope that fad ends.

    As for "not picking a spinner" (the media didn't like it), can North really be any worse than the nude offerings of "spinners" like White, Hauritz etc?

  • BadCompany on February 28, 2009, 2:43 GMT

    I agree with the article, except, I am not so sure if the selectors have actually learnt anything. I think North was picked primarily for his bowling, much like White in India. Fortunately North is good enough to average 40 with the bat at number 6, so it is a decent outcome from a batting point of view. If Australia win this test match and North bowls alright, I would not be surprised if we are stuck with the mediocrity of McDonald for another match.

    From a long term point of view, I hope North's bowling gets carted to every corner of the ground, to send a message to the selectors that we need to actually give a specialist spin bowler a go (for the current tour McGain, but Krezja in the long term).

  • billybob67 on February 28, 2009, 2:24 GMT

    I really like the current Aussie line up, except for McDonald. Don't get me wrong, he hasn't done anything wrong, I just think Bollinger should have played this match with McGain to replace one quick later on if need be.Thank god they have finally played a true batsman at 6. Even Symonds in form was a bit of a gamble but North just looked like he was born to bat there. My other worry in the team is Hussey, he really needs to get some runs, even a 30 or 40 to start with because this last innings he always looked like he was going to snick one to slips. lets just hope Australia keeps the boot on the throat of the over rated SA team.

  • Sandsie on February 28, 2009, 2:06 GMT

    The penny has started to drop?

    That sounds ridiculous when the current Australian team has McDonald and North. Neither player would have been selected upon their batting and bowling alone, the selection looks OK ONLY because North has succeeded with the bat. Australia will struggle to pick up 20 wickets with only three specialist bowlers in the side.

    The selectors should keep it simple: 6 batsmen, a wicketkeeper and 4 bowlers. If I were a selector, I'd pick Hodge and Bollinger instead of North and McDonald.

  • rohanbala on February 28, 2009, 2:00 GMT

    The present Australian line up appears very solid and I feel the selectors have found a winning combination. With Marcus North coming good with a century on debut and a more than useful contribution from Mitchell Johnson, there is absolutely no need for any major change as the new players need time to find their feet.

  • Go_F.Alonso on February 28, 2009, 1:17 GMT

    You don't have to belittle somebody to make another a hero. Your article sounds like you needed to - bcos both had one good day - shower praise on North and Johnson rather than pure genuinety. I disagree with your take on McDonald. He's a bowling all-rounder and with time on his side will surely prove his mettle - more wickets in less than 40% of matches played compared to North in First Class, while batting his average is about 6 less than North's.

  • India_R_Crap on February 28, 2009, 0:51 GMT

    Why is Flintoff the benchmark anyway??? Yes - he is capable of a lethal spell of reverse swing, ask Ponting and Co for a reference. Yes - he can produce the breezy cameo knock that transforms my wife into a fanatic, even if it's only for the duration of his innings. But he does not deserve the recognition he receives.

    Over the past season Johnson has not only displayed all round ability, he has also displayed the widely admired resilient character of Australia. Flintoff will king hit you when his henchman Harmison, Jones and co have already done the damage. But Johnson, will keep coming at you regardless of the situation. He won't give his wicket away and he'll steam in all day. I know who I would prefer on my team.

  • chipmunk0709 on February 28, 2009, 0:19 GMT

    Very well put. After all the doom and gloom over the Aussie summer, North's performance and Johnson's coming of age as a bowling all-rounder shows what talent Australia have in the domestic competition. Proven performers in the Sheffield shield will have a great chance off success in the test arena. I still back Hughes to succeed (maybe in the second innings), but Australia do not generally need to blood too many young 20 somethings, because we have very good 25-29 year olds who have a proven first class record behind them. Norths debut century showed how Australia's system is working. All we had going wrong up 'til now, was a selection panel trying to fit square pegs into round holes. The only disagreement I have at the moment is why Macdonald is playing. If anything was proved last summer, we need the ability to pick up 20 wickets, not starting Bollinger or Macgain maybe the only mistake Australia will make in this test, and after such a start, that would be most dissapointing.

  • stuartk319 on February 28, 2009, 0:14 GMT

    Superbly written Brydon Coverdale. Surprise, surprise, Australia pick their best 6 batsmen and best 4 bowlers and start playing really well again. OK, we have to wait and see how Siddle, Hilfenhaus and McDonald bowl to the SAf middle order on Day 3 - but as an Aussie I'm feeling equally stoked and relieved that finally the selectors seem to have got out of their mental block re all-rounders. Watson is a good first class batsman, Symonds is dynamite in limited overs games, White needs to be left to concentrate on his potentially lethal batting. These 3 have been picked on personality and forlorn hope - on ability they don't belong in the Test team. On turning wickets pick McGain over McDonald, but otherwise please leave the test team as it is now - the battles with SAf will be awesome, and Eng won't stand a chance.

  • Doccaau on February 28, 2009, 0:14 GMT

    Indeed a very sensible article, and a very sensible comment from kris_mg as well. Why is it that the Aussie selectors are the only ones who can't see that this insistence on including an "allrounder" in every test side is downright insane when you have players such Johnson, Lee, Clarke, Katich, Haddin and even Hussey who can be picked in their specialist role, and fill in by either batting 8/9 or being the 5th or 6th bowler. No offence to McDonald who me is a "jack of all trades" type of all rounder as Hopes as been so effective recently in the one dayers, but the idea that Watson or Symonds "must" be picked to try and impersonate "Flintoff 05" is just plain nutty. Freddy, as much as I enjoy watching him play, has done a pretty poor impersonation of "Flintoff 05" himself since Ashes 05. I thought the major reason England won the Ashes was not because of Freddy "allround" skills, it was the fact he bowled brilliantly in a team of 4 in form and fit fast swing bowlers. 6 bat, wk, 4 bowl.

  • paulbart on February 28, 2009, 0:11 GMT

    to be honest flintoff hasn't really done all that well. his only good series was the ashes in '05

  • dutchy on February 27, 2009, 23:47 GMT

    Wonderful article - no one wants to say it, but Flintoff is actually one of the main reason why England have done so badly over the past few years. All rounders can be a cancer on the side unless they are in the team for a specific reason. Johnson's runs are wonderful but we shouldn't lump the tag of "all rounder" on him - he's in the team to take wickets and his batting is a bonus. The Australian selectors forgot that this summer, picking White as a bowler for his batting, and Watson as a batter for his bowling.

  • jrock on February 27, 2009, 23:41 GMT

    I agree with much that the Brydon Coverdale says about picking the best players in their positions, however his specific comment about Marcus North at no.6 - "the arrival of a batsman who, finally, adds starch to the middle-order" - is almost laughable. Isn't that what Brad Hodge was doing? I don't mean to take anything away from North - he is a fine player and it is right he should be there at 4th drop - but Hodge, with a current test average of 55.88, he surely is the most hard done by player in Australian Test history. To be as good as he is and be treated like he has been is a disgrace. The myopic handling of the injury prone and less talented Shane Watson, and the arrogance-and-swagger-making-up-for-ability that is Andrew Symonds is a joke. Throw Andrew McDonald in there too and you've got an all-round mess. The selectors are the ones who need to be dropped. Hilditch has some settle to score it seems. He wasn't a very good player, and now it appears he is enjoying lauding his pow

  • kickittome70 on February 27, 2009, 23:21 GMT

    I totally agree with your piece. Mc Donald is not really up to test cricket right now. It makes me wonder what the selectors have been smoking. Imagine, after posting 466 - having a Doug Bollinger along with the 3 other decent quicks? Mc Donald was and is an error. I think that the selectors are just trying to get 1 decent game out of him before he consigned to the scrapheap. I was scrathing my head for most of the ODI's in the Aussie summer at the selection policy. David Warner was picked for populist reasons. Katich and Hodge were not within a roosters call of being remotely considered for selection in these ODI's.2005 was a traumatic time for Aussie cricket. We were only just beaten but the constant pressure by the Poms was immense and we simply wilted.Since then, we've faced some pretty ordinary bowling attacks, but when up against quality attacks like India and SA - our top order looks distinctly weak.The main problem with Aust's batting right now is an out of form Huss

  • D.V.C. on February 27, 2009, 23:18 GMT

    Had McGain played he would have batted at 9 with Johnson at 8 and Johnson would have had a few more balls to make his hundred.

  • Rusty_1 on February 27, 2009, 22:57 GMT

    hear hear! It's a pity the selectors don't agree with you! My cry of anguish when McDonald was included over Bollinger must have been heard for suburbs around! You can't seriously tell me that he was going to take more wickets than Bollinger? - He was batting at 8, so he must be in the side for his bowling right? I hope you replace him with McGain or Bollinger - depending on the conditions.

  • bonaku on February 27, 2009, 22:01 GMT

    Who is going to bowl spin. North looks like a pub spinner without direction. This leaves Aussie with out any quality spinner. To win against England in Ashes they need quality spinner.

  • ALLROUNDCRICKET on February 27, 2009, 21:43 GMT

    There we go again! First it was someone to match Beefy after his performance in the Ashes and now onto Freddie! The Aussies are truly haunted....after 2 decades!! Symonds who clearly is a flat track bully against mediocre bowling and has struggled against quality pace, seam or spin was never a batsman nor a bowler. That makes Brydon's article all the more sensible. Perhaps it is time that Australia resort to their old strategy of 6 batsman, keeper and 4 bowlers. Gilchrist was a luxury and the absence of Warne and Lee, no mugs themselves, will only amplify that. The question is, does Australia have a Potent enough attack to take 20 wickets???? That is the Question.....They'd better find one before the Ashes are wrested and returned once again triumphantly to ENGLAND!

  • dnarmstrong on February 27, 2009, 21:33 GMT

    Will be very interesting to see what the selectors do with a fit Shane Watson if he starts making runs and taking wickets again. At 27yo he'll be lucky to get one more chance if it occurs.

  • Statsmatter on February 27, 2009, 21:20 GMT

    The Australian selectors are on the right track with current team. Why they even tried Cameron White stills amazes me. Doug Bollinger also another strange selection based on current form. Players need to be picked on form and record. Only the very best servants of the game 'earn' the right to be selected when their form is missing - eg Hayden, Taylor, Border, Chappell. Good to see Hilfenhaus finally rewarded for his record. Lets hope Hughes shows his form was not just a domestic achievement. McDonald has been very lucky to receive a baggy green and only by default and the selectors desire to clone Flintoff. But it is still a little early to compare Johnson to Flintoff, perhaps better compared to Hadlee of Khan - bowlers that could bat!

  • bubloo on February 27, 2009, 20:41 GMT

    It's so nice to see Aussies producing some fine test players and now they have quite a few quality players in the backup whenever the injury-ridden players like Jacques, Lee, and Clark makes a come back. I think Hughes got carried away with all the hype about him and he got over confident by volunteering to take the first strike, and that too from Steyn, only to lose his wicket off the 4th delivery. Although it's still too early to judge him since he may get to bat as many as five more times in the series but I think Jacques is a much better option in the best playing XI. North seems to have cemented his place for the time being but with players like Watson and Symonds also vying for the #6 slot, the competition will surely be stiff. To complete their best XI, Australia need to find a quality spinner because they can't play with four seamers all the time. Johnson's batting is always a pure joy and he perfectly suits the #8 model in tests.

  • sifter132 on February 27, 2009, 20:26 GMT

    Total agree. North at 6, Haddin at 7 and Johnson at 8, playing 6 REAL batsmen and 4 REAL bowlers is the way to go.

    And I really hope the selectors forget about bringing Symonds back. North is 3 or 4 years younger, is a more reliable batsman and by the looks of it, he seems a bit better bowler too. Symonds bowling has declined, whether it's due to injury, age or more time spent batting. Not to mention Symonds arrogance and unwillingness to change his social habits has an adverse affect on the team. But to be fair there are 2 things Symonds has that North doesn't: Symonds is better in the outfield, and Symonds hits the ball harder and longer. But Australia don't need an outfielder they need a first slip to replace Hayden. Coincidently, where does North field? Slips. So Hughes will be the outfielder. And Australia don't need someone to hit it hard and long, they have Haddin and now Mitch Johnson to come in and smash it.

    Symonds Test career should be over after today.

  • yenjvoy1 on February 27, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    That's obviously the sensible approach, but here's my prediction for what will really happen - Greg Chappell occupies a high up position in the Australian scheme of things still, and he will jump in to work with Mitchell Johnson on his batting with a view to making him a complete allrounder. Soon Johnson will be sent in 1 or 2 down in One day matches, and before long he will be another Irfan Pathan and his career will be over by the summer of 2010. Wait and watch. Guru Greg never fails.

  • evckumar1 on February 27, 2009, 19:51 GMT

    MItchel Johnson Really Rocking wit his bat these days he is becoming good batsmen and more over he is not loosing any concentration on his bowling. Magnificent stuff he has in both batting and bowling and these type of people AUS need now a days since they lost so many Seniors and they are becoming one of the poor teams

  • popcorn on February 27, 2009, 19:21 GMT

    We need to wait for this South Africa Series to get over to come to a conclusion. Marcus North is firmly at No.6. If Philip Hughes plays well in the remainder of the Series, he will hold his spot. I think Simon Katich could have opened, to settle Phil's butterflies. Even if Phil Hughes is not able to hold his spot,the other Phil,Jacques,has proven himself, and we now have a solid lineup till No.7 Brad Haddin. 8 to 11 will be an awesome lineup.Johnson,Siddle.Brett Lee and Stuart Clark and Andrew Symonds will be back in business soon.Plenty of choices.Bollinger,Hilfenhaus,Bryce McGain,Nathan Hauritz,Jason Krejza.The Selectors should concentrate on developing them. The Rebuilding will make Australia a feared,dominant force again. A Number One Team.

  • Gumleaf on February 27, 2009, 18:57 GMT

    I wonder if anyone else is curious about the increased number of Victorian's leaping over others into the Australian team since the appointment of Merv Hughes as a National Selector. Andrew McDonald is at best a solid shield player, yet he made the Australian side ahead of Marcus North and a few other qulaity players with established records who could be classed as all rounders. Loyalty to your state is one thing but compromising the Australian cricket team as a result is another.

  • kris_mg on February 27, 2009, 18:32 GMT

    A very sensible article.. the selectors should not put pressure on Johnson by pushing him up the order since he is too valuable where he is not just in the bowling order but also in the batting order.. With him at 8 no team will relax even after the 7th wicket has fallen and a good tail is something Aussies really need if they are going to beat SA at home.. The futile search for all-rounders was the only reason the Aussie revival has been delayed upto now.. North should have debuted instead of McDonald in Sydney.. But then lets hope things have come a full circle and the team will build from here.. Full solid players who know what they are doing is whats Aussies need now..

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  • kris_mg on February 27, 2009, 18:32 GMT

    A very sensible article.. the selectors should not put pressure on Johnson by pushing him up the order since he is too valuable where he is not just in the bowling order but also in the batting order.. With him at 8 no team will relax even after the 7th wicket has fallen and a good tail is something Aussies really need if they are going to beat SA at home.. The futile search for all-rounders was the only reason the Aussie revival has been delayed upto now.. North should have debuted instead of McDonald in Sydney.. But then lets hope things have come a full circle and the team will build from here.. Full solid players who know what they are doing is whats Aussies need now..

  • Gumleaf on February 27, 2009, 18:57 GMT

    I wonder if anyone else is curious about the increased number of Victorian's leaping over others into the Australian team since the appointment of Merv Hughes as a National Selector. Andrew McDonald is at best a solid shield player, yet he made the Australian side ahead of Marcus North and a few other qulaity players with established records who could be classed as all rounders. Loyalty to your state is one thing but compromising the Australian cricket team as a result is another.

  • popcorn on February 27, 2009, 19:21 GMT

    We need to wait for this South Africa Series to get over to come to a conclusion. Marcus North is firmly at No.6. If Philip Hughes plays well in the remainder of the Series, he will hold his spot. I think Simon Katich could have opened, to settle Phil's butterflies. Even if Phil Hughes is not able to hold his spot,the other Phil,Jacques,has proven himself, and we now have a solid lineup till No.7 Brad Haddin. 8 to 11 will be an awesome lineup.Johnson,Siddle.Brett Lee and Stuart Clark and Andrew Symonds will be back in business soon.Plenty of choices.Bollinger,Hilfenhaus,Bryce McGain,Nathan Hauritz,Jason Krejza.The Selectors should concentrate on developing them. The Rebuilding will make Australia a feared,dominant force again. A Number One Team.

  • evckumar1 on February 27, 2009, 19:51 GMT

    MItchel Johnson Really Rocking wit his bat these days he is becoming good batsmen and more over he is not loosing any concentration on his bowling. Magnificent stuff he has in both batting and bowling and these type of people AUS need now a days since they lost so many Seniors and they are becoming one of the poor teams

  • yenjvoy1 on February 27, 2009, 20:18 GMT

    That's obviously the sensible approach, but here's my prediction for what will really happen - Greg Chappell occupies a high up position in the Australian scheme of things still, and he will jump in to work with Mitchell Johnson on his batting with a view to making him a complete allrounder. Soon Johnson will be sent in 1 or 2 down in One day matches, and before long he will be another Irfan Pathan and his career will be over by the summer of 2010. Wait and watch. Guru Greg never fails.

  • sifter132 on February 27, 2009, 20:26 GMT

    Total agree. North at 6, Haddin at 7 and Johnson at 8, playing 6 REAL batsmen and 4 REAL bowlers is the way to go.

    And I really hope the selectors forget about bringing Symonds back. North is 3 or 4 years younger, is a more reliable batsman and by the looks of it, he seems a bit better bowler too. Symonds bowling has declined, whether it's due to injury, age or more time spent batting. Not to mention Symonds arrogance and unwillingness to change his social habits has an adverse affect on the team. But to be fair there are 2 things Symonds has that North doesn't: Symonds is better in the outfield, and Symonds hits the ball harder and longer. But Australia don't need an outfielder they need a first slip to replace Hayden. Coincidently, where does North field? Slips. So Hughes will be the outfielder. And Australia don't need someone to hit it hard and long, they have Haddin and now Mitch Johnson to come in and smash it.

    Symonds Test career should be over after today.

  • bubloo on February 27, 2009, 20:41 GMT

    It's so nice to see Aussies producing some fine test players and now they have quite a few quality players in the backup whenever the injury-ridden players like Jacques, Lee, and Clark makes a come back. I think Hughes got carried away with all the hype about him and he got over confident by volunteering to take the first strike, and that too from Steyn, only to lose his wicket off the 4th delivery. Although it's still too early to judge him since he may get to bat as many as five more times in the series but I think Jacques is a much better option in the best playing XI. North seems to have cemented his place for the time being but with players like Watson and Symonds also vying for the #6 slot, the competition will surely be stiff. To complete their best XI, Australia need to find a quality spinner because they can't play with four seamers all the time. Johnson's batting is always a pure joy and he perfectly suits the #8 model in tests.

  • Statsmatter on February 27, 2009, 21:20 GMT

    The Australian selectors are on the right track with current team. Why they even tried Cameron White stills amazes me. Doug Bollinger also another strange selection based on current form. Players need to be picked on form and record. Only the very best servants of the game 'earn' the right to be selected when their form is missing - eg Hayden, Taylor, Border, Chappell. Good to see Hilfenhaus finally rewarded for his record. Lets hope Hughes shows his form was not just a domestic achievement. McDonald has been very lucky to receive a baggy green and only by default and the selectors desire to clone Flintoff. But it is still a little early to compare Johnson to Flintoff, perhaps better compared to Hadlee of Khan - bowlers that could bat!

  • dnarmstrong on February 27, 2009, 21:33 GMT

    Will be very interesting to see what the selectors do with a fit Shane Watson if he starts making runs and taking wickets again. At 27yo he'll be lucky to get one more chance if it occurs.

  • ALLROUNDCRICKET on February 27, 2009, 21:43 GMT

    There we go again! First it was someone to match Beefy after his performance in the Ashes and now onto Freddie! The Aussies are truly haunted....after 2 decades!! Symonds who clearly is a flat track bully against mediocre bowling and has struggled against quality pace, seam or spin was never a batsman nor a bowler. That makes Brydon's article all the more sensible. Perhaps it is time that Australia resort to their old strategy of 6 batsman, keeper and 4 bowlers. Gilchrist was a luxury and the absence of Warne and Lee, no mugs themselves, will only amplify that. The question is, does Australia have a Potent enough attack to take 20 wickets???? That is the Question.....They'd better find one before the Ashes are wrested and returned once again triumphantly to ENGLAND!