The Ashes 2013-14 November 11, 2013

Stable Australia prepare to unveil squad


For once, it should not be necessary to scour left-field. Australia's desire to carry stability and continuity into the forthcoming Ashes battle will be reflected when the national selector, John Inverarity, unveils the squad for the first Test in Brisbane on Tuesday, in a departure from the chaotic and surprising choices that characterised the start of the past two series against England.

Unlike Xavier Doherty's usurping of Nathan Hauritz in 2010, or the surprising selection of Ashton Agar ahead of Nathan Lyon at Trent Bridge earlier this year, there will be few hunches taken by Inverarity's panel, especially after the cricketers in their Ashes sights put in largely encouraging displays in the round of first-class matches that concluded on Saturday. Mitchell Johnson and George Bailey are heavily favoured to be the additions to the XI who took the field at The Oval, minus the injured Mitchell Starc.

Shane Watson's likely inability to bowl at the Gabba due to his recovery from a hamstring problem has created the only element of uncertainty around the team. As a result, the Tasmania allrounder James Faulkner is expected to keep his place in the squad after a debut in the final Test in England, with conditions then weighed up before it is decided whether to take four or five bowlers into the match.

This decision will be linked to the inclusion of a sixth batsman, with Bailey widely expected to take his place in the squad after performing creditably for Tasmania in his only Shield appearance since returning from India. Bailey's selection would be based as much on his outstanding ODI record and leadership characteristics as his recent first-class record. The elegant No. 3 batsman Alex Doolan is the other major candidate and also the most likely inclusion should Watson's recovery stall.

Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Lyon will form the core of the bowling attack, while Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus are expected to fill the remaining places in the squad. Lyon's retention will make a welcome change from the spin cycle of recent years, rewarding his strong displays in the latter part of the Ashes in England. There remains some chance that the Queenslander Ben Cutting may be included as the final pace bowler ahead of Hilfenhaus following his staunch display for Australia A against England in Hobart.

Otherwise the team is shaping up far more stable fashion than it did ahead of either of the previous two Ashes bouts, something the captain, Michael Clarke, acknowledged at the launch of his Ashes Diary at the SCG. "There's no doubt there's a lot more stability in our teams … honestly I believe if they're going to pick 12 players then 11 of them are no-brainers," Clarke said. "We're looking at probably one spot to know what our first 11 or first 12 are going to be for the Gabba.

"The exciting thing where we sit right now is whether it be batters or bowlers, individual players have stood up, have performed … guys have really picked themselves, which is an impressive thing for our team. It's what Darren Lehmann and I asked our team to do, to go back to state cricket and make sure you were taking wickets or scoring runs to be in the front of the selectors' minds."

Australia changed the composition of their team for every Test match in England, but the subsequent performances of those who took part in the final match of that series has left few places in doubt. Among the batsmen, Chris Rogers, David Warner, Watson, Clarke and Steve Smith have all made runs in various formats, while each of Harris, Siddle and Lyon have been building their form to carefully tailored plans.

Clarke, who had noted Shane Warne's recent comments that he must keep working to improve the team environment, said that communication, trust and respect for differences had increased in recent months. "I think the communication within the team is outstanding at the moment, I think everybody knows where we're going, what we're trying to achieve and how we're going to get there," he said. "I think everybody knows their own personal role in the team as well, which is critical, and I think 'Boof' and myself are trying to create an environment that allows each individual to be themselves.

"In our team now we've got a great mix of some 20-year-old single boys, we've got Brad, a 36-year-old married dad with three kids, so there's a huge gap in between and it's about trying to set-up an environment that allows each individual to be themselves and feel comfortable. Part of Darren's and my job is to get the best out of each of them, and you don't do that on your own, you do that with a lot of people around you."

Possible Australia Test squad: Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson (fitness pending), Michael Clarke (capt), Steve Smith, George Bailey, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chris on November 18, 2013, 4:50 GMT

    ScottStevo - Here's some trivia for you, it was less than 1 year before Tendulkar was picked from his First Class debut in 1988 to his first test match debut at age 16. In applying your argument, Tendulkar was just a "2 minute" wonder after having played just a handful of first class matches and should have kept playing for a number of seasons in first class. This undeniable fact proves that if a player can compete at age 16 with so little first class experience, then there's almost no reason not to be selecting players with excellent performances from a small sample, especially when they're several years older than 16. This means that age/limited first class experience cannot be used as an excuse. Tendulkar was no exception either. I'm sure you've heard of Sobers, Younis, Akram, Imran, Harbhajan, Ranatunga, Ponting etc. They all started young. If there's no proven class at shield level, I'd rather take the risk on finding a prodigy rather than picking players who are a proven dud.

  • Scott on November 13, 2013, 20:06 GMT

    @WeFinishThis, you have some strange ideas on players, mate! Silk has played, what, 5/6 FC matches and he's more deserving of the #6 spot? It's almost not even worthy of response it's that unbelievably ludicrous. As for Sandhu and Sayers, again, these guys are hardly even in the reckoning. It's not forward thinking or left field, or clever suggesting players that are 2 minute shield wonders and playing them up as test candidates. There's more likelihood that if we selected these guys they'd do abysmally than any good. No point reverting to a guy like Johnson with good international form and experience, albeit somewhat up and down, then select a hopeful, hey? Or bring in a rookie into a failing batting line up. Great thinking. Then we'll tell him if he doesn't perform in 2 tests, he'll carry our drinks for 12 months, a la Khawaja. That's the way to bring players on...

  • kieran on November 12, 2013, 6:56 GMT

    @ wellrounded87, the old NSW conspiracy theory hey? What were Hartley & Paine doing when Gilchrist retired? Nothing approaching test-standard that's for sure. Haddin had a long record of devastating batting in domestic cricket and years of leadership experience, he was rightly next cab off the rank. Even if they'd picked the best gloveman in the country at the time that would've been Manou, not Hartley or Paine. And how did Wade got the job? A Tasmanian playing for Victoria, obviously their parts of NSW now.

  • Chris on November 12, 2013, 2:16 GMT

    I expect some high-scoring draws this series, unless the pitches offer some assistance. Australia's bowling is still fragile against the solid England batting lineup. Harris is world class, but Lyon, Siddle and Johnson are all extremely inconsistent bowlers, none of whom will ever go on to be considered amongst the greats and you need bowling greats if you want to win test matches and get back to no.1 for any prolonged period of time. It's a shame that Bird and Pattinson are injured and O'Keefe is ignored, they're our best chances for finding some more greats. Lyon especially will be bowling pies to this English team. I'd be picking 4 fast bowlers for Brisbane and Perth. With Bird and Pattinson out, I'd go for Harris, Faulkner, Sayers and Sandhu. Bailey will probably turn into a walking wicket, but will be happy to be proven wrong. Silk deserves the no.6 spot more.

  • BN on November 12, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    Guess wicketkeeper batsman and a spinner should be there for perfect balance.Probably Nivel and xavier would have been included in the squad.

  • Dummy4 on November 12, 2013, 1:28 GMT

    The concern I have about this probable Australian team is the similarity in the bowling attack to the one which England dominated in the last Ashes series on Aussie home soil. Chad Sayers on form should be in the team (I daresay at Johnson`s expense). Also Alex Doolan, on form, should be selected ahead of Bailey. Selections based on ODI form are fraught with danger.......Maxwell, Henriques, Doherty, are all examples of this. Chris Lynn must also be pushing for a Test batting berth if he can follow up his excellent Shield form.

  • rob on November 12, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    If Warner doesn't come good and have a solid series we should look elsewhere. I'd like to see some consistency from him rather than run a ball hundreds. If he could score say 400 runs for the series I'd prefer to see that spread out over the entire series rather than getting 80% of his runs in one or two knocks. .. as it is, whoever bats at 3 must be nervous every time Davey heads out to the middle. .. Still, his domestic form is pretty good so this is the series to do it.

    As far as the spinner goes, I guess it's Lyon. I like Nathan but I'd go with Zampa. I realise that's a bit out of the box, and I expect to get told to get back in it, but I'd go with him for sure. .. The kid is not going to be the next Shane Warne, he's going to be the first Adam Zampa.

  • Dale on November 12, 2013, 1:04 GMT

    @Henrik Loven If selection were based on ability Brad Haddin would be nowhere near this test side. Hartley and Paine have outperformed him in all facets of the game in the last 2-3 years yet he's got the spot why? well he's from NSW of course.

    I don't like the idea of MJ and Bailey being picked. MJ is a massive liability and his white ball form is hardly any indicator of where he's at. He's always been a good ODI bowler even when he was going for plenty against ENG. Test bowling is about building pressure, something Johnson can't do unless the conditions are perfect for him, i.e. Perth or Wanderers Cutting or Sayers are much more reliable options. Bailey got worked over by Harris in the shield match and his red ball form is awful. I suspect much of the same from Anderson and Broad for him, I'd much rather see someone like Doolan, Lynn or Silk get a selection (provided Watto is fit, if not Pick Bailey for his experience to fill in then pick Faulkner as an all rounder at 7)

  • Michael on November 12, 2013, 0:56 GMT

    does anyone know when the announcement is

  • wayne on November 12, 2013, 0:15 GMT

    I've said this a few time recently, but I am so happy to eat my words when it comes to Steve Smith - the boy's come good. And despite a dreadful year for the test side, I really do see the core of a good team developing here. They may still be pummelled by a strong English side this summer, but the Aussies are looking much more like a team than the trainwreck from the India test series. They seem to be enjoying themselves and playing with some backbone again. Just as an observer, it seems to me the return of Haddin and Harris as wise heads, and the departure of Mickey, have had no small part in this.

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