Australia v England 2010-11 January 15, 2011

Australia leave World Cup plans to last minute


A crane sits atop Cricket Australia's head office in Melbourne, and scaffolding surrounds the building. It's somehow fitting that after the Ashes debacle, even the physical structure of the organisation is being reviewed, along with the internal workings. More pressing are the modifications to Australia's one-day team, which is still being assembled four days from the naming of the World Cup squad.

On Sunday at the MCG, several men will have 100 overs to prove they should be part of the World Cup defence. It's hard to fathom that after four years of preparation, the selectors could be so undecided that one match could influence their decisions. But Andrew Hilditch said as much when he named the 14-man squad for this game against England, the first in a seven-match series.

What have the selectors been doing for the past year if not finetuning their one-day side for the World Cup? David Hussey hasn't played ODI cricket in 15 months, but has suddenly been thrust in for one game and told that he could earn a World Cup place. If the selectors didn't want him for the 50-over tour of India in October, why is he considered now, when his domestic one-day form is poor? And what of Callum Ferguson and Shaun Marsh, who appeared to be groomed for this world event?

There are even more questions over the make-up of the attack Australia will take to the subcontinent. Brett Lee is back from injury and fighting for a place, Shaun Tait is in with a shot, and together with Mitchell Johnson they could form a fearsome, but potentially expensive, pace trio at the World Cup. That leaves Australia's defensive bowling options thin, but the stand-in captain Michael Clarke believes the mix can work.

"I definitely think you could get the overs out of your spinners, Watto [Shane Watson] and your part-timers," Clarke said in Melbourne ahead of the first ODI against England. "Dave Hussey adds to our bowling as well, bowling his part-time off-spin. I certainly see those three guys [Tait, Johnson and Lee] as quite attacking wicket-taking bowlers.

"As you saw last night, Mitchell, Brett and Shaun, when they're bowling well they can also dry the runs up, especially once the ball gets a little bit older. If you get any sort of reverse-swing with a bit of protection for the guys, they can also do that role of bowling pretty fast and straight and dry the runs up. Any time the ball is coming over 140kph or 150kph at you, it's hard to start against."

The job of tying up an end has often been filled over the past year by the medium-pacer James Hopes, the seamer Clint McKay or the offspinner Nathan Hauritz. But for some reason, Hopes appears to be out of favour and will battle to win a World Cup spot, despite having played 17 ODIs over the past year. McKay is injured and Hauritz is competing with Xavier Doherty, although there is a slim chance both spinners could make the 15-man squad.

It was also odd that the selectors bothered choosing 14 men for Sunday's game against England, especially when all along they were intending to leave Hauritz out. Hussey, Lee, Tait and Doherty need to play to press their claims, meaning that Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle will have to rest. Rarely have individual performances mattered more in a single game.

"I don't think it will compromise my captaincy or the team's performance as such," Clarke said. "We've got a squad here, we've got one game tomorrow. It's the last opportunity for players to be looked at before the World Cup selection. That will play a part in selection for this game. But our goal is to win every game we play and to definitely win this series."

The squad for the remaining six games will be chosen after the opening match, and it will almost certainly be the World Cup group minus Ricky Ponting, who is recovering from surgery on his finger. Along with Ponting, Tim Paine is likely to make the World Cup squad, meaning at least one man in the 14-strong group for the first ODI will be axed.

By Wednesday, construction of the World Cup side will be finished. But the work at Cricket Australia headquarters is only just beginning.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on January 17, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Why is Steven Smith taken in time and again? He doesn't know either batting or bowling. Why are Finch and Brad Hodge ignored? What is so special in David Hussey? Why is James Hopes ignored? He is a good all-rounder. Aussies don't need Johnson in the line-up. let Ricky Ponting rest.

    My squad would be: Finch, Watson, Brad Hodge, Callum Ferguson, Cameron White, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin/Time Paine, James Hopes, Nathan Hauritz/Xavier Doherty, Brett Lee, Shaun Tait, Bollinger, Siddle

  • Adrian on January 17, 2011, 7:41 GMT

    Tait can't be considered for a 10 over match let alone for the subcontinent for a world cup so anyone suggesting him in the World Cup competition isn't paying much attention. You'd put Tait in the T20 World Cup squad but not the ODIs as it is a different situation. Tait also isn't economical enough. Haddin is a big problem and I wouldn't consider him in the side. We also really need to put Hodge in there. And why are Clarke or Ponting even in the list of probables? Both are out of form, neither captain well and we would be carrying them if either made the 15. Make Cameron White captain and be done with it. My 15: Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, Brad Hodge, Cameron White (c), Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Callum Ferguson, Steve Smith, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Nathan Hauritz, Xavier Doherty, John Hastings, Doug Bollinger. Dan Christian is unlucky to miss out too and I wouldn't mind him instead of Ferguson. Same for Warner instead of Marsh.

  • John on January 16, 2011, 11:26 GMT

    My goodness Popcorn, if anyone is to blame for that missed runout, it's Douggie for his weak throw and Brett Lee for not being behind the stumps and getting in Smith's way. Steve Smith took 2/12 from 3 overs remember. Not bad in a 295 plays 295 game huh?

  • Dummy4 on January 16, 2011, 10:45 GMT

    In addition they give the directive to D. Hussey that you have to perform in this game (1st ODI) and then they don't put him to bat in rather promoting.... S.Smith to save the day... what an absolute load.... And Clarkey looked like he was recruited from the Newcastle U13 4th division team they way he scratched around out there... Unfortunately Aus Cricket needs to sink even deeper before CA opens their eyes to the stuff ups they have caused....

  • Rajaram on January 16, 2011, 3:37 GMT

    Add one more nail in Steve Smith's coffin. He can't bat, he can't bowl, he can't hit the stumps THREE FEET AWAY to run out Andrew Strauss in the first ODI. He is the WORST Selection - EVER.The Selectors can knock him off their ODI probables list.

  • Nadeem on January 16, 2011, 3:15 GMT

    Lets see who wins spot in australian side. They are going to defend WC therefore they have all the right to wait and choose best possible team. Why people are so negative about australia all of a sudden they won 3 consecutive WC and they can easily win 4th.

    Just give a rest to australian board and let the team play cricket. All the fans in cricket should be journalists or should be CEO of boards or Selectors of the team. Just let the people do their job guys.

  • Paul on January 15, 2011, 21:57 GMT

    Andrew Hilditch, James Sutherland, Tim Nielsen and Michael Brown are totally responsibile for the lack of forward long term planning in Australian cricket. I wonder why we are chasing our tails. A conservative English 1980-1999 selection policy to top up our One Day and Test sides was always going to be a recipe for disaster whilst Sutherland approves marketing campaigns to improve the branding of Australian cricket. Winning games and adopting long term forward planning strategies will enhance the branding of Australian cricket. ALlowing the players to do ads for Vodafone, Swisse and KFC whilst our teams are in a mess does not improve our performances. I wonder why former Essendon CEO Peter Jackson and James Sutherland are brothers whilst Matthew Knights and Tim Nielsen are blood brothers. THe respective CEOs awarded contract extensions to coaches who did not warrant one at the time!!

  • Dummy4 on January 15, 2011, 21:53 GMT

    i like it katandthat3. throw in hodge ahead of ferguson and you're on the money.

  • Eric on January 15, 2011, 19:57 GMT

    Well, I'm not sure if the "selectors" are headless chickens or ostriches with their heads in the sand. Either case they seem to be running around in circles with no idea where they are going, as the policies make no sense.

  • Madhavan on January 15, 2011, 17:22 GMT

    There does seem to be a lot poor decisions being taken...i feel Callum Ferguson should be there given his consistency and experience...Hauritz is australias best spinner and must be on the plane..shouldnt make the same mistake they did during the ashes(not that it would changed the result but atleast made a difference)...and i wonder whats gonna happen to Marsh, Hilfenhaus and Bollinger

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