Australia in Sri Lanka 2011

Khawaja v Marsh poses selection headache

The two-hour bus trip from Colombo to Galle may not be long enough to accommodate all that Michael Clarke must ponder - particularly the Khawaja v Marsh selection tussle, and his own batting form

Daniel Brettig in Colombo

August 28, 2011

Comments: 137 | Text size: A | A

Michael Clarke celebrates his century, Sri Lanka Board XI v Australians, Colombo, 3rd day, August 27, 2011
Michael Clarke: " I couldn't ask for better preparation but it doesn't guarantee you too much unfortunately, I wish it did" © AFP
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As he sat back in the team bus from Colombo to Galle, the Australian captain Michael Clarke had plenty of selection questions to contemplate. The shape of his bowling attack will likely be defined by the state of the pitch for the first Test, but it is a little more difficult to weigh up the merits of his two candidates for No. 6 batsman.

On the strength of a strikingly composed 101 retired in the Colombo tour match, Usman Khawaja has made arguably the more convincing case. Though he opened the batting, Khawaja stayed long enough to see the wicket wear and the spinners wheel away, showing he had developed a more convincing method against spin than the one that saw him defeated by Graeme Swann on debut in the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG in January.

Yet Shaun Marsh's hold on the No. 6 berth has appeared much the stronger in the weeks leading up to the match. He was not taken on the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe, where Khawaja failed to make a score of note in four innings, because he was deemed almost an automatic selection for the tour of Sri Lanka. Marsh has also seen far more of the Sri Lankan Test attack than Khawaja, and has the game to dominate an attack, whereas Khawaja is more likely to accumulate with a game best suited for the top four. Should the merit of one silken innings in a tour match overrule earlier conclusions?

"I don't know, I'm not sure. [Khawaja is] another one who grabbed a hold of his opportunity and that's all you can do," Clarke said. "Obviously he hasn't made too many runs leading into this three-day game in the Australia A set-up, in county cricket and the back-end of NSW.

"He's another one who has put his hand up and said `give me a chance'. I also thought SOS [Marsh] did well in that first one-dayer he played, when he made 70 and creamed them. He played the spin really well. We've got to have a real good think about the position.

"Usman's opened the batting here and he played his Test at number three for Punter [Ricky Ponting], but in saying that what more can you do? It doesn't matter where you bat, you get an opportunity and try and make a big score and that's exactly what he's done. It's going to be an interesting couple of days."

Once he has finished thinking that over, Clarke can devote a unit of time to his own batting, which has appeared nicely grooved so far on tour. That groove is a new one, for it is 10 Test matches and more than a year since Clarke last passed three-figures for his country. It is a streak that has coincided with his move from No. 5 to No. 4 in the batting order, a change that is minor in number but major in intent.

At No. 5 Clarke was reacting to the agenda set by either his top order colleagues or the opposition's bowlers. A place further up and he is setting that agenda himself. It is a task he is yet to adapt to.

"My preparation's been good. I'm hitting the ball well," Clarke said. "It means nothing to be honest going into the first Test apart from getting the confidence in my mind that I know I'm batting well. Starting your innings in these conditions is as hard as anywhere in the world.

"Generally batting four I'd imagine I'll be coming in facing spin early with a couple of bat pads, a slip and things like that so I've got to stick to my plan. That's what I've tried to do in the one-dayers and this game here - back the way I've been training, back the way I feel I play my best against spin and it's worked so far. Things could change for the first Test.

"I really want my momentum to go on and I'm really keen to make sure I'm building it. I couldn't ask for better preparation but it doesn't guarantee you too much unfortunately, I wish it did."

As for the barren run of Tests without a century, Clarke is concerned less with numbers than he is with making sure that his batting has the presence required of an Australian captain. His predecessor Ricky Ponting stood as a most outstanding example of that presence, until the burdens of captaincy dragged his batting down.

"I don't really think too much about that. I know I haven't really performed as well as I'd like to. I had a poor summer against England," Clarke said. "I know I need to be leading from the front, put it that way, especially now that I'm captain.

"My form hasn't been as good as I would like in Test cricket. I've always said Test cricket is the ultimate to me, the pinnacle, and I want to be at my best. I couldn't ask for better preparation but now I've got to do it when it counts."

The bus trip from Colombo to Galle takes around two hours. It may not be a long enough journey to accommodate all that Clarke must ponder.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Blazedragon on (August 30, 2011, 19:19 GMT)

Ponting bashed around Malinga in the 2nd ODI.

Posted by 5wombats on (August 30, 2011, 15:05 GMT)

@jonesy2; "marsh is better than matthew hayden, so why wouldnt he play test cricket"? - is that meant to be taken seriously?

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 30, 2011, 13:33 GMT)

Exactly the same XI & also the batting order which I suggested; Any Selection panel jobs for me in CA???

Posted by Winsome on (August 30, 2011, 13:17 GMT)

C'mon Hyclass, aggregate stats don't tell the story with Marsh as you well know, as he's been injured so much in the past couple of years. It's his temperament that is the issue. He just doesn't look like a player with much self-belief at international level and at his age, that is something that is not going to improve. Personally, I'd like to see Khawaja and Hughes opening and Watson at 4 (as Punter will cling on with white knuckles to the no 3 spot). Watson just isn't a player who can bat long and you need that at opening.

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 30, 2011, 12:08 GMT)

Although I want Marsh to play because he's my favorite because of his technique but at the same time I think he don't deserve a place in the Test team since Australia have better performers (run-getters) & that is what matters the most & not the technique.

Posted by hyclass on (August 30, 2011, 2:18 GMT)

Marsh again?Give it up!Since the start of the 2008-2009 season,3 years ago,the 1st class season totals for Marsh are as follows:167 runs, 477 runs, 414 runs.1058 runs in 3 years.His biggest seasons were only 676 & 663,most recently,4 years ago.David Hussey has season highs in Australia,of 878,911,970,1008.Between Dec 08 & May 09,in 10 games,Hughes scored 1637 runs with 8 centuries,2 in one Test,on 3 continents,at 96.Currently,his last 7 innings total 633 runs at 90 with 3 centuries.Marsh was picked for this tour,because he had experience in the IPL. He made 4 and 0 in his two T20I, supposedly his strong suit. That brought his T20 average for Australia to 11.4 at a S/R of 98. He then announced he would play Mendis and the spinners better after practice in the nets. The result? He was dropped at slip off Mendis for 8.Then caught behind of Prasanna for 70. In between were two edges through slip off pace. His first class 12 was no better.His 2, failed against pace,being dropped AND bowled.

Posted by straight_drive4 on (August 30, 2011, 0:18 GMT)

ahsan you are spot on with your team

Posted by AusieBangaleeShameem on (August 30, 2011, 0:13 GMT)

Khawaja and Marsh both should play. Can't find any good reason why Phil Hughes is there to be considered as opener ahead of Khawaja. Marsh should be batting at number 6 --- Done! Good luck to Aussie team!!

Posted by morethan20-20 on (August 29, 2011, 17:29 GMT)

Webba84. thankyou for reading my comment....with regard punter..he has not shown any test match form in how long ?? and against quality pace bowling his "going hard at the ball" isnt that tidy. Much respect is owed to punter and history does show that players can play on deep into their 30's and early 40's BUT we all saw his attitude and the ugly incident in melbourne, did you notice how siddle jumped into the act when it wasnt his problem....what does this suggest about punters influence. Also, since K Roach hit him he hasn't adjusted his game....Ricky is human and his reflexes will slow but he is supposed to use his brain/experience and adapt his game, not continue to pull to prove himself. Its time for Punter to give to Aust. cricket in a different shield and let the TEST team rebuild.

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 29, 2011, 15:20 GMT)

My playing XI (in batting order) 1.Watson, 2.Hughes, 3. Ponting, 4. Clarke, 5.Hussey, 6.Usman, 7.Haddin, 8.Harris, 9.Johnson, 10.Lyon/Beer (doesn't matter both are hopeless), 11.Copeland

Posted by naveenpnayak on (August 29, 2011, 13:40 GMT)

What is Philip Hughes doing there, I have hardly seen him playing well.. Both Usman and Marsh need to be given a chance.. My Final Squad would be- Watson, Khwaja, Ponting, Clarke, Mike Hussey, Shaun Marsh, Haddin, Copeland, Harris, Beer, Pattinson/ Siddle

Posted by Winsome on (August 29, 2011, 13:32 GMT)

I'll believe that Punter is 'back' when I see him face proper pace bowlers and not be very slow reflex wise. He's been top-edging the pull shot for a couple of years now when up against quick bowlers. He appears to think that it's the captaincy that has led to him not scoring big runs. The Sri Lankans won't bother him too much as they are no more than medium/fast. He'll be interesting to watch in South Africa.

Posted by ravi_hari on (August 29, 2011, 13:22 GMT)

I would go with Marsh. Marsh has played a lot of cricket in the sub-continent in the past couple of years thnaks to IPL. He has been very successful and on helpful tracks he has tackled spinners very well. When called for duty he did very well in One-dayers too in the West Indies and in Sri Lanka. Marsh has a very good temperament and has played alongside many international cricketers. He is mentally and technically better equipped than Khawaja. Playing spin on Asian tracks is not easy and you need the unorthodox technique of Marsh to handle it. Eventhough both are left handed, Marsh plays a little late which helps against spinners where in he can wait for the turn and they play the ball. Marsh can gain experience at No. 6 to be promoted to No.3 or to open later. Clarke needs to look at the right bowling combination which can take 20 wickets and stay fit in these conditions. A real test for the Aussies. Hari Ravi

Posted by sawifan on (August 29, 2011, 13:03 GMT)

@Aussasinator, have you seen all of Ponting's performances over the last 2 years? Highly doubtfull! He had a terrible Ashes, no doubt, but in the series that preceded it vs IND in IND, he scored 3 70's in 4 bats. Not really terrible if u ask me, and in conditions that'll will be similar to here in SL. It's true that Ponting has not been anywhere near as prolific as the past, but the fact remains that he is still one of the best 6 bats in Oz. Any cricket fan without bias can see this. Saying that, if runs don't come here, he'll be in big trouble, and the Aussie summer may be his swansong.

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 29, 2011, 12:05 GMT)

@Webba84: I compared him to Mathew in terms of age factor only because some ppl say Marsh is too old to be Australia future but I think this is not the point, his run scoring frequency is the problem which won't enable him to the permanent Test berth.

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 11:26 GMT)

Khaeaja>>>>Marsh certainly. Marsh's technique is below par with respect to Kawaja's. What the hell is Phil Hughes doing in this squad? he is more like a dasher.

Posted by Aussasinator on (August 29, 2011, 10:18 GMT)

@Blazedragon . Did u observe the way he was unable to play Malinga on all occasions he played his bowling ? He was ducking awakwardly at the short balls. See his test performances in the last 2 years , especially the manner of his batting. Australia has been paying the price for keeping Ponting in the test team and still not learning. Khwaja should replace him before Khwaja gets too old and Ponting is on crutches!

Posted by ali00 on (August 29, 2011, 10:15 GMT)

Usman Khawaja should Bat at No:3 because he is expert in no.3 position as with Ashes i have seen his performance which is impressive.

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 9:59 GMT)

@Hyclass. Full of respect for your straight down the line analysis however your dismissal of Marsh on his career record, i believe, is a mistake. Recent form and figures (the last two years, in itself a good spell) indicate that Marsh has improved. Watching him bat he has always looked fluid with a good range of strokes and pretty tight in defense. He is by no means an old cricketer and after a long string of injuries may just come into his own, certainly i find his case to be no different to that of a Langer, Hayden, Katich, Martyn or Hussey who all looked good early, followed with a trough and then finally found 'game'. Having said that i'd certainly be giving Khawaja the first go! Cheers

Posted by KP_84 on (August 29, 2011, 9:36 GMT)

Stick with Marsh for now, but he will want to get some runs in Galle to shore up his position. They will have to play Copeland, though. There's no extra bounce on Sri Lankan surfaces, so Siddle will struggle.

Posted by papadum_man01 on (August 29, 2011, 9:15 GMT)

Maybe Aus cricket team should have both and take out players out of form and too old........ not mentioning names.......Ponting

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 8:37 GMT)

Hey aussies, don't get carried away by a 101 made against a weaker spin attack. ;-)

Posted by Webba84 on (August 29, 2011, 8:15 GMT)

@indianzen: Yes, more international exposure and his batting average is still way way lower. I do hope all the Sri Lankan fans posting comments and trying to convince everyone that Marsh is better realize that the selectors don't actually read this. You may as well just say you hope they choose Marsh because he is a worse player, nobody is actually going to believe an opinion to the contrary.

Posted by Fauzer on (August 29, 2011, 7:06 GMT)

I hope for SL sake, they really do the stupid thing and select marsh ahead of usman, other than that it is no brainer, and this whole article is a waste of time.

Posted by crickstats on (August 29, 2011, 6:36 GMT)

Marsh is an aggressive player, but to survive in a middle of spinner spell needs different skills, I think they rejig the batting order to accommodate Usman, he too should struggle at 6 in a similar situation. Evey Mr. Cricket, a good player of spin struggled against Prasanna

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

@Nikhil98: If Clarkey could choose 13 players in a team, there would be no debate!!!!!! You've got Marshy in twice btw..

Posted by indianzen on (August 29, 2011, 6:28 GMT)

Shaun is better than Usman, Shaun has had better international exposure than Usman.

Posted by Mary_786 on (August 29, 2011, 6:21 GMT)

Khawaja to play over Marsh for sure, the 101 proves it, it was a chanceless innings scored under pressure, Marsh got 12. Marsh had dropped catches in both his one day innings.

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 5:59 GMT)

wats d big deal? Any day a classy hundred iz betr than edgy 70. .pick khawaja let him open wid hughes. . watto sud bat at 4 that will allow him to bowl a few ovrs as well nd clarke can bat at his favorite position 5. .though hussey had a fabulous ashes i gues pressure is on him. .he iz nt getng younger nd lot of young guys lyk marsh, ferguson r waiting. .nd haddin i gues his days are also numbered with paine and wade waiting. .wats d big deal? Any day a classy hundred iz betr than edgy 70. .pick khawaja let him open wid hughes. . watto sud bat at 4 that will allow him to bowl a few ovrs as well nd clarke can bat at his favorite position 5. .though hussey had a fabulous ashes i gues pressure is on him. .he iz nt getng younger nd lot of young guys lyk marsh, ferguson r waiting. .nd haddin i gues his days are also numbered with paine and wade waiting. .

Posted by Webba84 on (August 29, 2011, 5:49 GMT)

Also agree with all those calling for blooding Khawaja as soon as possible. If you haven't looked at him and realised that this is Australia's next first drop then Cricket might not be your sport. Get him in at no 6 or no 4, not important, just get him playing test cricket now.

Posted by Webba84 on (August 29, 2011, 5:47 GMT)

sanzo5: Nice to see the Sri Lankan fans getting involved in the discussion :P Seriously mate, thats a woeful, woeful team, There's no way Marsh or Siddle should be in there and frankly Haddin is not being very convincing either.

Posted by Webba84 on (August 29, 2011, 5:45 GMT)

morethan20-20: Yes, by all means lay the blame on Punter for the mistakes he made as captain but here's the things, and you may have notice this, but Ponting isn't the captain anymore. And as a batsman he is still one of the best, if not the best, in the Australian side in addition to displaying some very good form recently. Dropping him as a batsman based on his captainacy is about as stupid as choosing a batsman because, desipte being unable to get runs and win matches, his technice is, ahem, 'tidy'.

Posted by Nikhil98 on (August 29, 2011, 5:43 GMT)

I think the batting order should be like marsh ponting khawaja clarke hussey marsh watson haddin johnson lyon beer cpeland

Posted by Webba84 on (August 29, 2011, 5:38 GMT)

Ahsan_Shere: Are you seriously comparing Marsh to Matthew Hayden? No, no, no a thousand times no. It's not his age that should stop Marsh being part of the test team, it's that fact that he is a very average player. Australia can do better, as the first class averages of Hughes and Khawaja both prove.

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 5:26 GMT)

If they posses headaches, then don't call them...

Posted by anver777 on (August 29, 2011, 5:25 GMT)

No real selection problem for Clarke !!!!! i guess after Khawaja's century in warm up match & also he's best suited for tests should play the 1st test...

Posted by jonesy2 on (August 29, 2011, 5:09 GMT)

marsh is better than matthew hayden, so why wouldnt he play test cricket?

Posted by Jed23 on (August 29, 2011, 4:50 GMT)

@TheJames. You sir, are an intelligent man. I find your use of plain logic very refreshing.

Posted by proudpommy on (August 29, 2011, 4:50 GMT)

Khwaja easily in test match format. For one dayers are t20 Marsh is the obvious choice but in test matches you need a player who has self restraint and control, that of whom is not Marsh

Posted by Jed23 on (August 29, 2011, 4:45 GMT)

How long does it take to get comments modified around here?? I'm trying to school people and provide a free lesson to the masses but it's just taking too damn long. The people need answers cricinfo.

Posted by Shahrukhkazmi on (August 29, 2011, 4:35 GMT)

Khuwaja of course, he reminds me of the Great Saeed Anwar.

Posted by onehorsetown on (August 29, 2011, 4:33 GMT)

i can't believe hughes is still being talked about - get rid of him, allow marsh to open and play khawaja as well. hughes will not do well in test cricket. ever.

Posted by RightArmEverything on (August 29, 2011, 4:22 GMT)

According to Cricinfo, Marsh batted 7 times in Sheffield Shield in 2010/11 averaging 59, with one century and 4 half centuries. That's not too bad for recent form.

Posted by Jed23 on (August 29, 2011, 4:17 GMT)

@EddieGilbert. I like your thinking but I have to pull you up on the omission of Haddin. The team you listed is wayyy too young to throw into a test squad straight away. I feel you, don't get me wrong. Your selections though, are too risky right now. We need guys like Huss and Haddin for experience in tough battles. I'd be inclined to leave Watson up top (he keeps scoring runs man I can't fault him right now shyte technique or not), i'd leave uzzy at 3 and put Ponting at 6. From the Top: Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, M.Hussey, Ponting, Haddin, Smith, Johnson, Starc, Siddle.

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 29, 2011, 3:46 GMT)

@ inefekt, agreed, with sanzo's team we'd be fielding a squad of bunnies!

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 3:01 GMT)

Khawaja looks the better player to me . He shows more of a confident attitude than Marsh . Changing the composition of the team , with the introduction of new faces must be done one at a time . Testing players out against Sri Lanka is a good chance for them to make an impression . We have a long road ahead to get back to No 1 . If we fail against SL we will have a very long road ahead . Clarke gets his opportunity to show that he has the ability to be a Leader . I wish him and his Team well .

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 29, 2011, 2:57 GMT)

@inefekt: Absolutely right!!! The batting-order & playing XI of sanzo will be devastating if followed.

Posted by hyclass on (August 29, 2011, 2:54 GMT)

Ive read a few blogs,suggesting that when Micheal Clarke was first selected,his average was no better than Marsh's is now and there is some truth to it-they were both around 37-38 in 1st calss cricket.Id like to supply the missing detail,so that it can be viewed in perspective,in reply to those trying to use that as point to promote Marsh.When Clarke was selected to play his first Test in India,he had 5 Australian seasons under his belt,not the 11 of Marsh.He was 23.Marsh is 28.He had played 86 innings and scored 11 centuries or 1 every 7-8 innings at a S/R of 53.Marsh has played 112 innings and scored 6 or 1 every 17 innings at a S/R of 46.He was averaging almost 41 playing ODI for Australia.He could bowl.He had spent the previous season,working hard for Hampshire in County Cricket,scoring 3 centuries there.Marsh doesnt bowl and plays IPL,not four day cricket.Clarke was later dropped,validating his ist class record prior to the Indian test series.

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 29, 2011, 2:49 GMT)

To summarize all the comments: Khawaja is an automatic choice, Marsh has to compete Watson or Hughes, but Marsh shouldn't open the batting(many think so) even if he get selected.

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 2:46 GMT)

People keep making the mistake of looking at a player's first class record and assuming it is a complete reflection of the player they are today. Marsh underperformed in first class cricket for a long time, but in the last few years he has come on tremendously - and is averaging more than 50 in the last couple of years despite being in and out of the side with injuries.

Personally, I think they should pick Khawaja, because the warm up match was a classic runs race between two players, and Khawaja made a hundred while Marsh missed out. But to dismiss Marsh based on his long term record is to assume a player is the same now as when he entered Shield cricket, and that's a terrible way of approaching selection.

Posted by inefekt on (August 29, 2011, 2:41 GMT)

@sanzo, I'm glad you're not a selector because that team is woeful

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 2:37 GMT)

Usman Khawaja should be in the Test team. Hughes opens with Watson and Khawaja at 5 or 6. Shaun Marsh is similar to his father Geoff. Average !

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 29, 2011, 2:37 GMT)

You can't play any format without Watson if you are going with your full-strength side. He's such a useful player.

Posted by onlinegamer55 on (August 29, 2011, 2:20 GMT)

"Hughesy get your KFC pocketful! Can't beat it, can't beat it da da do da! Can't beat that taste!" If and when Marsh participates in an awesome KFC advertisement like Hughes, then I'll CONSIDER picking him as a substitute fielder/drinks carrier for Claremont's club cricket side!

Posted by onlinegamer55 on (August 29, 2011, 2:16 GMT)

Also, how come people think "textbook technqiue" is more important than "consistent run-scoring"? Seriously, where is the logic? Marsh might have a "textbook technique" but he is inconsistent at the first class level. Hughes does not have a textbook technique but he scores 15 more runs per innings compared to Marsh with 10 more centuries in less innings! It's true Clarke's first class average was in the mid 30's before he was picked in test cricket but he was very young at the time and the selection was still a huge gamble. Bye bye Marsh, enjoy salvaging a cricket career at club level!

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 29, 2011, 2:14 GMT)

Marsh can also be Australia's future, he's 28 now. Mathew Hayden became regular member of Australian Test team in 2000, he then aged 29. Between 1994 & 2000 he played only seven tests. Between 2000 & 2008 he scored 8000 runs & 29 centuries. But I'm in favor of Khawaja if I have to choose any one them.

Posted by EddieGilbert on (August 29, 2011, 2:13 GMT)

Hughes. Khawaja. Ponting. Clarke. Watson. Marsh. Paine/Wade. Johnson. Harris. Copeland. O'Keefe. Those who quesstion Hughes baffle me. Statistics tell the story and the kids a friggin run machine. Flintoff sorted out all Oz batsmen in 2009 and he shouldnt have been out his last innings which makes 1 failure before being dropped. Ridiculous. Hussey needs to go. Lynn in for Ponting in 2 seasons.Pattinsen, Hazelwood, Cummins,Starc, George, Dixon... the future of Oz fast bowling looks good. I just hope Boyce comes through.

Posted by onlinegamer55 on (August 29, 2011, 2:10 GMT)

I agree with @VivGilchrist, @hyclass and @RandyOz and I'm sick of all this talk regarding Phillip Hughes. Please get your facts straight: Malinga IS NOT PLAYING TEST CRICKET! It's amazing how people fail to notice this. If he's not playing test cricket, how can an argument such as "I prefer Marsh's technique over Hughes' because Marsh will play Malinga's inswinging yorker better" tenable? Seriously? In fact, Hilditch himself said: "The selection panel believes Marsh's ability to play dangerous inswinging yorkers of Malinga gives him the edge in selection over Aaron Finch". What on Earth are you on about? Malinga is NOT PLAYING test cricket!

Posted by onlinegamer55 on (August 29, 2011, 2:06 GMT)

"Khawaja V Marsh poses selection headache". Indeed, I'm getting a headache hearing all of this nonsense! Marsh is a good bloke but not a test cricketer. I'm surprsed he's being picked for WA! If Australia were at their peak in test cricket, then players averaging in their mid 30's in first class cricket would stuggle to get a game for their states. Khawaja is a top bloke and an outstanding first class cricketer - pick him. He is consistent and solid; exactly the answer to Australia's No. 6 test problem. But if Khawaja is indeed picked as he should be, then he should be given an extended run (at least until the end of the India test series) to find his feet at the international level.

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 2:02 GMT)

allow khwaja and hughes to open and watson will be batting no 6. in my opinion a techncially sound batsmen should open in tests and watson suffers from few infirmities . His ability to hadle the moving ball and then spin.Watson however can play a key role of an accelerator when the scoring gets tough in the middle, particularly when clarke gets into a shell.

my ideal batting line up would be Hughes, Khwaja,Ponting,Hussey, Clarke,Watson, Haddin,Jhonson,Lyon, Beer,Copeland

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 29, 2011, 1:54 GMT)

@hyclass - some of your best work there mate. @morethan20-20, another Ponting basher I see. If we go by your theory, why don't we just drop all our +30yo players? Let the youngsters be lambs to the slaughter. By your theory the 06/07 Ashes should've been composed of a completely different team, as opposed to the experienced team which smashed England 5 zip. Get a grip. I agree with the comments about Haddin but if Punter and Hussey are scoring runs they should remain in the team as they are our best players.

Posted by sanzo5 on (August 29, 2011, 1:23 GMT)

Marsh should be in the team.. a batting line up of this sort would be good.. 1.S.Marsh 2.S.Watson 3 U. Khwaja 4.R. Ponting. 5. M.Clarke, 6M. Hussey 7. B.Haddin, 8. M.Johnson 9. N. Hauritz 10. p. Siddle 11. Ben hilfanaus

Posted by jargan83 on (August 29, 2011, 0:39 GMT)

How is Shaun Marsh even in calculation for a Test berth? Look at Marsh's First Class record, it is terrible for someone aspiring to play Test Cricket - been playing for 10 years, only six 100's at an average of 37/38ish? Marsh is a class limited overs batsman but he is not a Test Batsman. It seems the review into Australian Cricket is over but the selection of mediocre players will continue

Posted by morethan20-20 on (August 29, 2011, 0:35 GMT)

Have to agree with the call to drop Ponting... it is time time rebuild!!! Hello !! what was the point of the argus review !? Plenty of blame has to land on punter. The commentators here have constantly called for an overhaul...well Punter ( and Hussey and maybe haddin ) are not the future they are the past... wonderful and talented.. no doubt ! but the past. Yes there may be some uncomfortable short term pain but there is also the inevitable revealing of world class talent. If you want someone to shine don't block their sun. Khawaja in, Marsh in ( get Lynn from QLD in for home series !the guy has the talent and the temperament ) and get a keeper who has keeping as their #1 skill in.

Posted by hyclass on (August 29, 2011, 0:27 GMT)

This is too funny...if Marsh wasnt connected to the extremely ordinary,former opener,Geoff Marsh(50 Tests,average 33,S/R 35,4 centuries-1 every 24 innings)noone would want to know him.If his surname was Brown and i suggested that a player named Shaun Brown,with a hundred every 17 innings and a mid 30s average,who doesnt bowl and is regularly injured,who had scores of 4,0,70,2 and 12 on tour,for 88 runs at 17.6,was being considered for Australia because his technique looked neat,people would laugh.If i told them that besides the 5 dismissals in those 88 runs,he also had 2 dropped chances,people would rightly ask what he is doing there.If i also pointed out that his 1st class record was well behind the much maligned Smith,who is claimed to have no technique,there would be scratching of heads.If i mentioned a debate over his inclusion ahead of a player with 2 more centures in far less innings at 8 runs an innings more and a chanceless century last start,theyd walk away.Shaun Brown anyone?

Posted by redneck on (August 29, 2011, 0:27 GMT)

if they are serious about rewarding preformance then you have to select khawaja, for his ton in the warm up match. however furgeson should be ahead of both of them! he went to zimbabwe and made runs, marsh didnt go on that trip and his first class record is questionable. khawaja went and did nothing so furgeson should have been pick over both! @Winsome why would khawaja have any claim to the number 3 spot over ponting, the best batsman in the country and the best number 3 in the world. when ponting came into the team back in 95 he had to do his time at 6, as boony owned the number 3 spot and langer after that. same thing should apply here!

Posted by smudgeon on (August 29, 2011, 0:25 GMT)

They have a much bigger issue than Khawaja v Marsh (really should be a no-brainer, but meh): Haddin has been awful recently. In fact, aside from his century in the Ashes, he really hasn't done all that well for a while. It really is time to get Paine in there, who is a much tidier gloveman and in his few test opportunities has shown patience, mental strength, and the ability to bat well with the tail. Haddin's really just a middle-order slogger.

Posted by   on (August 29, 2011, 0:13 GMT)

Khawaja shuld b given the chance ...he deserves it

Posted by RandyOZ on (August 29, 2011, 0:10 GMT)

I can't believe people are still going on about Hughes. Look at his record. Marsh is not even in the same league. @ DamieninFrance, you've been in France too long buddy malinga doesn't play tests. If Marsh and Siddle get picked in this test I refuse to watch it.

Posted by shamlaatu on (August 29, 2011, 0:08 GMT)

How hard of a decision is it? Khawaja is light years ahead in composition, temper, and performance.

Posted by joeythekangaroo2 on (August 29, 2011, 0:07 GMT)

It is interesting how perceptions are formed about players but they aren't always true i.e Khawaja is an accumulator and Marsh would dominate an attack. Khawaja's first class strike rate of 52 compared to Marsh's of 46 tells a different story...

Posted by hyclass on (August 28, 2011, 23:59 GMT)

My guess,is that Clarke is attempting a diluted version of gamesmanship with SL,by suggesting he has the capacity to fool everyone with a left field selection.The confusion,the last vestiges and stock in trade of the departing CA administration,are all in the Australian camp.SL have chosen an extended squad.Neither Eranga or Prassana were chosen for the Board XI and both are in the squad.Prassana is an excellent chance to play and announce himself internationally as a coming superstar.With the SL pace attack depleted,Eranga could also make the team.I cant imagine a scenario in which Marsh makes the team,other than serious injury.Recent deprecating remarks on Cricinfo redarding batsmen who average mid 30s in 1st class cricket have come from Ponting and Mark Higgs,in an unrelated article,who describes such batsmen as fighting for their state spot.The high probability is that the 1st Test team will read:Watson,Hughes,Ponting,Clarke,Khawaja,Hussey,Haddin,Johnson,Harris,Copeland,Beer.

Posted by RightArmEverything on (August 28, 2011, 23:52 GMT)

It's not all about first class averages, although they're obviously considered. If my memory is correct, I think Clarke averaged in the mid-high 30s when he was first selected and got a century on debut.

Posted by Shane on (August 28, 2011, 23:47 GMT)

That this is even something up for discussion says things are still not right with Australian Cricket. Khawaja was the next man likely all last summer - he got his shot in Sydney and whilst not excelling looks like he has the technique to bat anywhere in the top 6. The question has to be asked - why would he be the only batsman dropped from the Sydney test team(last test Australia played)? It makes no sense. Is this the work of Greg Chappell again?? Can we just pick the best players who have consistently performed at first class level rather than these 'gut feel' selections please.

Posted by MinusZero on (August 28, 2011, 22:51 GMT)

Surely he can't be serious. How is it a hard decision? Khawaja scored 100, Marsh 12. Khawaja's f/c average 52, Marsh 37. Also didnt Khawaja play in the last test Australia played in the Ashes. This is where we will see if Clarke chooses favourites. He claims he wont, we will see. Khawaja should play, he (as well as Hughes) are the future of this team. I guess at least they have stopped talk of Ferguson being in the team, he is as mediocre as Marsh.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 22:40 GMT)

@gunnerr4life, they have picked Hughes. He is OPENING. So I don't know what you're going on about, but Hughes has been picked, and it seems likely that Khawaja will be too.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 22:12 GMT)

The heart may say Marsh because of the general public's feeling towards him but the mind says Khawaja. He played Aus's last test and is an incumbent member of the side. While he didn't get much runs on the A tour, he said he felt in good touch and has scored a ton where it mattered. I would personally push Clarke to 5 and slot Usie in at 4.

Posted by Blazedragon on (August 28, 2011, 20:44 GMT)

@Aussasinator: Drop Ponting after how good he is doing in ODIs? What an idiotic suggestion.

Posted by gunnerr4life on (August 28, 2011, 20:34 GMT)

Why pick Marsh when you have someone like Phil Hughes ?!!! Bring in Usman Khawaja and Phil Hughes because they are the future !!!

Posted by dsig3 on (August 28, 2011, 20:28 GMT)

No Marsh please. He is fun to watch but is just a streaky player. He has very little upside and possibly a poor mentality. Thats what his record says at the moment anyway. Have to get Hughes playing to figure him out. He scored back to back hundreds against Steyn, he is no mug. Aus have to ascertain whether he will be the next Sehwag or a dud. Give him an extended run, his potential is worth the risk. Khwaja over Marsh in a test match every day of the week. Let swampy play the limited overs or something.

Posted by stFleming on (August 28, 2011, 20:08 GMT)

Aah Ricky Ponting is a legend...His stats suggests that...Dropping him at No.6 would be a silly mistake...Ponting can bat at No.4 or No.5 if in case he is unable to adapt to No.3 again...But still Ricky Ponting is the best No.3 in the current Australian line up...He showed that in the ODI series against Sri Lanka...

Posted by stFleming on (August 28, 2011, 20:06 GMT)

Well i think they should select Usman Khwaja as the Australians are looking for youth...They axed Katich in favour of Hughes as they r looking to develop their team for future...The team for the first test should be: 1.Watson 2.Hughes 3.Ricky Ponting 4.Clarke 5.Hussey 6.Khawaja 7.Haddin etc..

Posted by Webba84 on (August 28, 2011, 19:29 GMT)

How about, I dunno, looking at their first class averages or something? :P

Posted by Winsome on (August 28, 2011, 19:14 GMT)

Be nice if they could drop Mussey and play them both. I think Marsh is only a stop-gap till someone younger and better steps up. I love watching him bat, he's makes it look very simple and elegant, but his temperament is dodgy to put it mildly. Khawaja should come in at 3 and drop everyone else down one spot, but that ain't going to happen.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 18:42 GMT)

@ahsan_shere nice analysis on each their batting style..i think they both are par equal, the one whose mental fitness is positive will get to play..

Posted by montys_muse on (August 28, 2011, 18:35 GMT)

Marsh must open with Hughes and Watson can play at no.6 as a genuine allrounder...then aus can afford to include two spinners in their XI....

Posted by 158notout on (August 28, 2011, 18:32 GMT)

Why not drop Ponting down to 6 and play Khawaja at 3 then? I would go with: Watson, Marsh, Khawaja, Hussey, Clarke, Ponting, Haddin, Johnson, Copeland, Beer, Harris/Lyon

Posted by xenon555 on (August 28, 2011, 18:17 GMT)

Let Marsh play. He knows the SL attack so much better. Khwaja doesnt belong in the lower order and Marsh's versatility lets him bat anywhere. I dont even know why we are having this discussion.

Posted by AKS286 on (August 28, 2011, 18:08 GMT)

no khawaja no usman ONLY one player who can give the solid performance specially in sub-continent is ADAM VOGES & PHILIP JAQUES. watson, jaques,, ponting, clarke, voges, hussey, haddin, siddle, johnson, beer, copeland

Posted by OutCast on (August 28, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

I am not sure Clarke would be reading this, but if I were him, I'd definitely choose Khawaja. Khawaja has Asian blood in him, so expect him to rock on slow & turing pitches and I bet he can play spin as well... if anyone need further comparison, look at Amla...

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 17:31 GMT)

All da best Usman Kwaja.... rock it

Posted by Aventador on (August 28, 2011, 17:17 GMT)

I think Shaun's form is always in bits in pieces and so its still early to give him a test opportunity !! Its better to go with Khwaja

Posted by anurag70 on (August 28, 2011, 17:00 GMT)

watson, usman, ponting, clarke, hussy, marsh, haddin, harris, jhonson, siddle, hauritz (or lyon)

Posted by sawifan on (August 28, 2011, 16:44 GMT)

i really don't understand everyone who is knocking Hughes! If your going to pick a team based on form and performance (which u should), then he should clearly be in the side. Marsh's stats just don't warrant a place ahead of either Hughes or Khawaja. They all play in the same domestic 1st class comp, and Marsh's record is the poorest, by a distance. And his inability to regularly hit triple figures is his biggest downfall. Hughes, Khawaja, Harris and Copeland must play. The new era of Australian cricket can start soon, with correct selection now.

Posted by yamin101 on (August 28, 2011, 16:24 GMT)

Usaman Khawaja can handle the spinners well but Marsh also has his own class. I prefer to watch Usman in the squad.

Posted by rama563 on (August 28, 2011, 16:18 GMT)

no marsh plzzzzz!!!!!!! bcoz he cant understand the mendis magic!!!if u want u score in srilanka u hav to stay in my eleven will be 1.watson 2.phil hughes 3.ponting 4.clarke 5.khawaja 6.michael hussey 7.haddin 8.johnson 9.copeland 10.michael beer 11.lyon

there wil be a good fruitful debut for khawaja in lites of ponting and clarke at 3 and 4.

no need of three seamers bcoz watson can get that nic bacjk with old ball too!!! lets see the team how it will be!!!

Posted by DamieninFrance on (August 28, 2011, 16:11 GMT)

Can only agree with most of the discussion here. Hughes may have a great eye, but with bowlers like Malinga able to pitch swinging yorkers at will, who wants to back the batsman with the precocious talent? Not me. Give me technique any day over that! With Watson already capable of slaughtering an attack if required, he needs a more circumspect partner. Open with Khawaja, drop Hughes, and bring in the silky batting of March at six. Marsh can turn up the pace if needed, or can drop anchor and support the tail if things get tough. Perfect for a number 6! Tell me why Hughes is considered an automatic selection?

Posted by landl47 on (August 28, 2011, 16:07 GMT)

I think Khawaja, age 24, 45 average, 8 centuries, has a lot more potential than Marsh, age 28, 37 average, 6 centuries. I'd pick Khawaja and play him at 4, with Clarke moving down to 5 and Hussey at 6. However, that really isn't Clarke's headache. His headache is how he's going to get 20 wickets on slow, low, turning pitches when his two spinners have only taken 47 wickets between them in their entire first-class careers and each has a bowling average of 45. Since Sri Lanka doesn't have much bowling either, the odds might be on a draw here.

Posted by Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas_Atheist on (August 28, 2011, 15:21 GMT)

Sri Lanka will get thrashed. The Legends Sanga and Mahela will play well as usual.

Posted by Ahsan_Shere on (August 28, 2011, 15:19 GMT)

Aaaaaaaah!!! For the past couple of years I'm waiting for these two lads to play for Australia in Tests....I can't see any of them left behind, plz plz plz selectors pick both of them. Beauty of playing through the off-side in elegant style is done with them, Khawaja playing between gully & point on back-foot & Marsh between cover & mid-off on front, I will pay $100 for watching either of the shots......Best of luck to both of you Guys!!!!

Posted by x-squire-x on (August 28, 2011, 14:38 GMT)

watson, usman, ponting, clarke, hussey, marsh, haddin, johnson, copeland, lyon (only because there's no one better in the squad), harris

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 14:37 GMT)

khawaja all the way !!!!!

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 14:30 GMT)

@ Manan Agrawal now they have to select a team for TEST match not the T20. it is better, they select KHAWJA.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 14:18 GMT)

Khawaja should be given a chance, if Australia want to survive the spin wickets, Usman Khawaja will be really helpful.

Posted by Aussasinator on (August 28, 2011, 14:16 GMT)

Why dont they solve the problem by putting Khwaja in place of Ponting ? That should introduce quality !

Posted by sidzy on (August 28, 2011, 13:55 GMT)

Keep it simple clarkey: watson, hughes, ponting, clarke, khawaja, marsh, haddin, johnson, lyon, copeland, beer.

Posted by jonesy2 on (August 28, 2011, 13:38 GMT)

shaun marsh is the obvious choice. khawaja is going to be a test star and will get his own spot in the team but marsh deserves it based on the last 2-3 years. and like ive said before, having a batsman of usmans quality as the back up speaks volumes for australia's batting power.

Posted by Carllll on (August 28, 2011, 13:36 GMT)

If they pick both Beer and Lyon ill smash my T.V, might as well ask Punter to throw in a few cutters instead. Drop Hughes; Khawaja Open with Marsh six.

Posted by Trapper439 on (August 28, 2011, 13:33 GMT)

I completely agree with TheJames and Francis Fabian. If Khawaja isn't picked it will be a travesty, and I'd be very disappointed with the selectors. The same applies to Copeland. They've both been consistent performers in the Sheffield Shield for a couple of years now, and not picking them would only show that the selectors have no faith in the strength of that competition.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (August 28, 2011, 13:32 GMT)

Shaun Marsh is a much betteropening batsman than Phil Hughes, who surprisingly keeps being selected ahead of several others. For me it has to be Marsh at the top and Khwaja at No 3.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 13:28 GMT)

Francis the point of the article is to illustrate how hard it is to pick on of the two, however I do agree with you that Khawaja does deserve to be picked ahead of Marsh. His technique is far better and safer than marsh's and his ability to score hundreds is far better than Marsh's

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 13:25 GMT)

Remember the ipl 2008 where marsh won the orange cap and was awarded a place in the ipl dream team. Gives clarke ample of reason to select marsh!! MARSH MARSH all the way!!!!!

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 13:18 GMT)

I would trade Hughes, Khawaja, Marsh & Clarke for Katich back.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 13:06 GMT)

My vote for Khawaja if vacancy is at no.4 and Marsh if vacancy is at no.6..

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (August 28, 2011, 13:01 GMT)

Marsh: 6 first class centuries in 11 seasons, 112 innings. Khawaja: 8 first class centuries in 3 seasons, 60 innings. What is the dilemma again?

Posted by TeamRocker on (August 28, 2011, 12:55 GMT)

No, wait, replace Pattinson with Harris in my team.

Posted by TeamRocker on (August 28, 2011, 12:53 GMT)

My team for the first test: Watson, Hughes, Ponting, Clarke, M.Hussey, Khawaja, Haddin(Ugh), Johnson, Copeland, Lyon, Pattinson.

Posted by backwardpoint on (August 28, 2011, 12:46 GMT)

@ Nagendra Hyderabadi - which bear? the Koala Bear?

Posted by sammykent on (August 28, 2011, 12:35 GMT)

Khawaja is clearly the best number three on tour, next to Ponting. The choice is really whether or not Marsh takes Hussey's place. Khawaja has the temperament of a top order batsman and Clarke that of a a 4 or 5, with his skills against spin. Katich should really be there with Watson as the "good cop, bad cop" openers. Khawaja at 3, Ponting 4 and Clarke 5. However with Katich gone I think Khawaja makes a good option at the top. As a young player with loads of potential he needs to be blooded now. So...who opens with Watson? How about: Watson, Khawaja, Ponting, Clarke, M Hussey, D Hussey, Haddin, Johnson, Copeland, Lyon, Harris (should it be a spinner's wicket).

Posted by VivGilchrist on (August 28, 2011, 12:26 GMT)

Are things a little slow down at Cricinfo HQ? One guy retires after scoring a ton, the other makes 12. Why write the article? Although on Australias selection track-record, you would have to say Marsh will get picked. Also, stop knocking Hughes. He was picked when out of form during the Ashes, but he will be good this series.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 12:18 GMT)

Khawaja is a better pick looking at his performance in the Tour match. But one cannot ignore the likes of Shaun Marsh. Let Khawaja open with Watson, & allow Marsh to settle at No.6. Leave out Hughes. This is the best way to test both Marsh & Khawaja.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 12:12 GMT)

Mr. Brettig, are you aware that this selection headache you're talking about between Khawaja and Marsh involves Khawaja scoring more in the one game he played against Sri Lanka, than Marsh has on the whole tour?

Great journalism there.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 12:08 GMT)

Marsh should open with Watson. Khawaja down the order at 6, as he would be the automatic replacement for Ponting upon the latter's retirement. Remember Ponting started at no. 6 and worked his way up. Do the same with Khawaja.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 12:05 GMT)

I like Tanzen Pia's team, except that I'd probably have Harris in for Siddle.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 11:52 GMT)

All Clarke has to do to make this decision is to think back to his first test and the opportunity he was given then...

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 11:51 GMT)

I say pick Khawaja at 4 to move Clarke and Hussey back to 6 and 7.

Posted by Muzgrob on (August 28, 2011, 11:45 GMT)

Don't use Hughes and get them both in the team... Avoid the question completely.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 11:42 GMT)

Can Khawaja keep wicket? Hmm...

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 11:14 GMT)

Khawaja is the incumbent AND he scored a ton! What is the point of this article?

Posted by hmmmmm... on (August 28, 2011, 11:07 GMT)

I don't understand why Hughes remains an obvious selection, the decision to drop Katich from a perfectly good opening pairing, was one of the many mistakes of Commandant Hilditch and gang, why stick with it if a new leaf has been turned by CA?

On balance Australia already have an aggressive opener, so a player with good technique and patience to play with Watson is a far better choice - Khawaja (past versions of this - hayden/langer, slater/taylor, etc). Hughes is not really suited to being an opener, his hit and hope will either make Watson play conservatively out of responsibility or expose the middle order too early - and Ponting becomes the defacto opener 8/10 times.

The contest should be between Hughes and Marsh for the number 6 slot!

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 10:42 GMT)

@tanzen pia....ur right but one change instead of Siddle..we can prefer bear....its a perfect team.....

Posted by TheJames on (August 28, 2011, 10:32 GMT)

are you trying to make a selection dilemma that isn't there? since when did marsh have a 'hold' on the number 6 spot? he hasn't even played a first-class match since december, has an average of 36, and has less tons at first-class level than khawaja despite playing twice as many innings. the only dilemma i see here is that marsh is even being considered for selection. it is bizarre to be honest.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 10:20 GMT)

marsh should be the one. khwaja is new while marsh is more experienced.

Posted by AidanFX on (August 28, 2011, 9:52 GMT)

Oh what the....?... seriously - this one is no brainer - Khawaja Khwaja Khawaja Khawaja (are we loud enough yet), repeat: Khawaja Khawaja, Khawaja, Khawaja - please select the right man

Posted by popcorn on (August 28, 2011, 9:48 GMT)

Go with Khawaja. He's solid. You need a solid guy at no.6 - a very important position to hold up the tail after Haddin at No.7.

Posted by alexbraae on (August 28, 2011, 9:17 GMT)

Khawaja all the way, he's a future superstar. Get him in now so he can move up to 3 when Ponting retires, then bring in Marsh.

Posted by   on (August 28, 2011, 9:16 GMT)

Team for first test: Watson, Khwaja, Poniting,Clarke, Hussey, Marsh, Haddin, Johnson,Copeland,Siddle, Lyon.

Comments have now been closed for this article

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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