The Investec Ashes 2013 August 26, 2013

Australia's batting bingo must stop

By accident more than design, Australia's selectors eventually stumbled on a top five but there remain question marks heading into the return Ashes and an early decision needs to be made
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It was fitting that Australia's series finished this way. Not so much the result, although the umpires playing the final role was especially apt, but the guessing game. Each time a wicket fell in Australia's second innings, the batting-order bingo barrel was cranked around and a name plucked out. Shane Watson promoted to open with David Warner, James Faulkner at No.3. Brad Haddin at No.4. Then Michael Clarke and Steven Smith. Then Ryan Harris and Mitchell Starc. No Chris Rogers. It was Australia's Ashes summed up in 20 overs.

Of course, this time there were discernible reasons. Quick runs were needed to allow Clarke to make the declaration he desired. But the overall effect was a reminder of the lack of clarity in Australia's batting line-up, a theme that began before Mickey Arthur was sacked and has not disappeared. It was notable that England, good enough and consistent enough to win 3-0, retained the same top six through every Test until The Oval; Australia's top six changed personnel and/or order every match.

When asked after the final match what had gone wrong for the Australians over the course of the series, Clarke singled out the batting and added that Australia's first-innings performances especially had been sub-standard. "In these conditions when the wickets deteriorate and the ball spins more, second innings are always difficult," he said. "But our first-innings batting needs to improve."

But the Australians actually held first-innings leads in four of the five Tests. Lord's aside, they were in every other match deep into its second half. More runs in the first innings would have strengthened their positions, certainly, but grabbing opportunities later in Tests is arguably more important. Australia passed 300 only twice in the series; England failed to reach it only twice in completed innings, yet 377 was their best. They were consistent and that was enough.

That they entered the series with a settled batting line-up certainly helped. By accident more than design, Australia's selectors eventually stumbled on a top five. It is not the top five they expected when they chose the squad, nor when the teams lined up at Trent Bridge. There is no Ed Cowan, no Phillip Hughes, no Usman Khawaja. Not every batsman has made an irresistible case but there seems little doubt that Rogers, Warner, Watson Clarke and Smith will line up at the Gabba in November.

But what of No.6? It is not a pivotal position in most Test teams, but Michael Hussey made himself invaluable there until his retirement in January. In a malfunctioning batting line-up with its best player at No.5, Hussey was the back-up, the preventer of top-order collapses flowing further. Since Hussey's departure, Australia have been uncertain how to fill the role. Is it the place for a batsman who can't fit elsewhere or for a wicketkeeper-batsman, which allows an extra bowler?

That Faulkner was picked at The Oval, where the intention was for Brad Haddin to bat at No.6, should not be taken as an indication of the balance Australia will choose at home. The coach, Darren Lehmann, said as much after the series when he declared that six batsmen would be needed in Australia, with Adelaide Oval perhaps the only venue where an extra bowler might be considered. Faulkner took six wickets on debut but he cannot squeeze ahead of any of the frontline fast men.

Certainly Faulkner was impressive on debut, in his attitude and his ability. He made 23 and 22, but in both innings was asked to throw the bat. His wickets largely came when England were batting with similar aggression. It's unlikely Faulkner will feature at the start of the home Ashes, but his entry to Test cricket has at least shown that he has the nerve, he can hold his own. But if Watson is fit to bowl, the balance of the team requires another batsman.

There are two ways the selectors could go: an older, wiser batsman who could add to the side's experience and toughness, as Rogers has; or a younger player, a man who could be groomed in the less stressful No.6 position before potentially moving up the order in future

Problematically for the selectors, they might need to decide on their preference before the Sheffield Shield season begins. The one-day tour of India that runs from early October until the first week of November causes an issue not only in the preparation of the Test batsmen, but in others pressing their case. Should men like Clarke, Watson, Smith and Warner stay at home for some Shield-based Ashes preparation and a second-string side be sent to India, a Test batsman in waiting might be in that ODI group.

Unless that man is identified before the tour. There are two ways the selectors could go: an older, wiser batsman who could add to the side's experience and toughness, as Rogers has; or a younger player, a man who could be groomed in the less stressful No.6 position before potentially moving up the order in future. In neither case is it clear who would be chosen. Lehmann was handed a squad that had already been picked; at home, he will have a greater say in who he wants.

That Khawaja and Hughes were used and discarded during the Ashes does not augur well for them, but an extended run at No.6 would be preferable to the way either man has been treated so far in international cricket. Nic Maddinson is another option after his productive Australia A winter tours - he made centuries against Ireland and Gloucestershire and 88 and 90 against South Africa A - but his patience is a question mark.

Maddinson is also a left-hander and there seems a push in Australia's batting line-up for right-handers. Graeme Swann should be less of a threat in Australia than in England, but turning the ball away from left-handers he will still create problems. Arguments could be made for Alex Doolan or Joe Burns to slot in at No.6 but the pressure in a home Ashes would be intense. The selectors may opt for more experience.

Adam Voges, George Bailey, Shaun Marsh and Callum Ferguson might all be candidates. Voges and Bailey especially appear favourites of this selection panel. A left-field selection could be Andrew McDonald, who captained Australia A last year and may well have toured India had he not needed hamstring surgery. As a batting allrounder, McDonald is good enough to be a Test No.6, offers a canny bowling option and the desired experience. He has more first-class hundreds than Marsh or Ferguson.

The rest of the line-up seems more or less settled. Haddin was disappointing with the bat in England but provided the off-field experience and support to Clarke that was a key reason for his selection as vice-captain. His performance behind the stumps was mixed - at times his feet moved like Fred Astaire, at others like Andre the Giant - but he did enough to claim a world-record 29 dismissals for the series. It is likely he will be retained.

Ryan Harris was outstanding, as anticipated, and lasted four Tests, as nobody expected. He left the field late at The Oval with hamstring soreness but his injury was not believed to be serious. Together with any combination of Peter Siddle, Starc and James Pattinson, Harris forms a pace attack that constantly challenges and in Australia could be even better. Nathan Lyon, wrongly left out for Ashton Agar early in the series, should play at the Gabba but will face pressure from Fawad Ahmed.

It took until the fourth and fifth Tests, but eventually the Australians found centurions who weren't Clarke. Rogers at Chester-le-Street showed how to fight on a tough pitch, Watson and Smith both secured their positions with bold hundreds at The Oval, albeit in a dead rubber against a weakened attack. Both will be judged more on their work at home, but both have earned the right to be there. Warner made starts without going on.

There were enough signs from Australia to suggest that at home they will challenge England again. Whether they can win is another matter, for more pace in the pitches will suit James Anderson and Stuart Broad as much as it will Australia's bowlers. Countering them will require batting solidity and consistency, easier said than done. Choosing a settled batting line-up would be a good start, and a pleasant change. No more batting-order bingo.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • saravanan.s on August 26, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    It would have been Australia Favor (2-1) if they had their yesteryear Killer Instinct. The stage was perfectly setup for Aus to win the 1st & 4th Test, probably 3rd also if the Rain wasn't there. But to me Aus played only one Test badly that was 2nd test. I still blame Aus Batters not showing consistent throughout the series, their batting let them down. But as Author revealed Aus plan was to Push Eng to a Corner which they certainly did it. I'm sure Eng tough days are waiting in Nov & Dec when they go back to Australia. 2005 Eng celebrated BIG but failed to win a Test in 2007, I see the same is waiting for Eng, once again in 2013. Aus must use 2 out of these 3 players "S. Marsh & Hughes & Ferguson"; to me they must deploy S. Marsh at # 6 and keep Ferguson as back up. Say BIG thanks to Roger and give that slot to Hughes (or) Marsh, If Marsh goes to open the batting then ask Ferguson to Bat at # 6. I see Aus is coming back as good unit, the alarm is ringing for the world cricket.

  • Sunil_Batra on September 2, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    @Edwards_Anderson well said mate

  • Edwards_Anderson on August 29, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Amith i agree with you mate, it is important to expose all communities to develop a stronger cricketing nation and Khawaja was the person who took the main step in getting his baggy green on sheer talent and skill and i am predicting that he will be a long term test star for us. Also keep an eye out for Sandhu perhaps not in the coming season but in in 2-3 years time as he develops his game.

  • LewisDuckworth on August 28, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    @Buckers97: To answer your question about who had the better Shield seasons out of O'Keefe, Agar & Ahmed. I can tell you that Ahmed took 16 wickets in 3 matches (just over 5 wickets a match) with a strike rate of 55.5. Agar took 19 wickets in 5 matches (just under 4 wickets a match) with a strike rate of 57.2 and O'keefe took 24 wickets in 9 matches (less then 3 wickets a match) at a strike rate of 59.7.

    So although O'Keefe took the most wickets, he played 4 nearly double the matches of Agar and three times the matches of Ahmed. So to answer your question, Ahmed had the better season, followed by Agar and O'Keefe was the least impressive. He's well down the pecking order....

  • Chris_P on August 28, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    @ Steve Back, The trend with the young (next generation) batsmen averaging far less than 40 is probably a disturbing one for test cricket enthusiasts. I see it at grass-roots level where I play, not too many young batsmen playing top grade & those there play their shots early, it's the experienced guys who invariably grind out the big scores against a seemingly endless supply of quick bowlers trying to knock your head off. The Aussie fc scene has been trending downwards (batsmen wise) as I see very few who have the application to succeed at the highest level (( did post before he performed how much improved Smith was based on what I had seen in NSW). Hughes, believe it or not, seemingly cannot transfer his fc performances to tests, but has looked solid.

  • on August 28, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    @Jared Hansen: Yes but Haddin has maintained a 35 average over 50 Tests - not easy for a wicketkeeper batsman. Wade has performed inconsistently over a far smaller sample, has shown a tendency to get bogged down with his technique in ODI cricket, and is hopeless behind the stumps. I should add, for fairness, that sub-40 averages in first-class cricket are common here in the UK too, with several "Future England Prospects" / "Promising Talents" etc etc ad nauseam averaging around 35, like Alex Hales for instance. Little application at the crease, one fifty a while back and since when been a walking wicket to even part-time bowlers. Hopeless. We do have James Taylor, Jonny Bairstow, James Hildreth, Michael Carberry, Nic Compton, etc, but that's not a great sample to pick from.

  • on August 28, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    @ashik Khan: Henriques' form collapsed after his two half-centuries on debut. I would recommend him to play more first-class cricket.

    @Chris_P: Yes I was agreeing. I have never been impressed with the likes of Shaun Marsh or Rob Quiney. I know they are aged now but the likes of David Hussey and Simon Katich would perform far better for Australia than these average Shield batsmen. Those two experienced players should have about 20-30 Tests from now on in them if they got selected, so why not give them another go? I remember in 2009, after you guys thrashed us in the 4th Test, there was talk of recalling Mark Ramprakash (*laughs*!). Thankfully for Australia, Katich and Hussey are far mentally tougher and should perform well.

  • Gordo85 on August 28, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    The bingo can't stop as long as you are not performing. If you constantly keep on having players fails Test after Test of course you are going to have a bingo. And heck for a start the right players are not even really making the Test squad in all honesty.

  • on August 28, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    What happened to henriques? He was good playing in India?

  • Paul_JT on August 28, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    A lot of limited overs cricket before the next Test. Injury as much as performance in these may yet force the decision. Hughes should go back to domestic cricket and open with an eye to replacing Rogers after the Ashes. Though remiss to not mention Sam Robson of Middlesex. If selecting today, Bailey would be my choice at 5, Smith down to 6, with Johnson vying with Starc till Pattinson is fit.

  • saravanan.s on August 26, 2013, 19:09 GMT

    It would have been Australia Favor (2-1) if they had their yesteryear Killer Instinct. The stage was perfectly setup for Aus to win the 1st & 4th Test, probably 3rd also if the Rain wasn't there. But to me Aus played only one Test badly that was 2nd test. I still blame Aus Batters not showing consistent throughout the series, their batting let them down. But as Author revealed Aus plan was to Push Eng to a Corner which they certainly did it. I'm sure Eng tough days are waiting in Nov & Dec when they go back to Australia. 2005 Eng celebrated BIG but failed to win a Test in 2007, I see the same is waiting for Eng, once again in 2013. Aus must use 2 out of these 3 players "S. Marsh & Hughes & Ferguson"; to me they must deploy S. Marsh at # 6 and keep Ferguson as back up. Say BIG thanks to Roger and give that slot to Hughes (or) Marsh, If Marsh goes to open the batting then ask Ferguson to Bat at # 6. I see Aus is coming back as good unit, the alarm is ringing for the world cricket.

  • Sunil_Batra on September 2, 2013, 10:49 GMT

    @Edwards_Anderson well said mate

  • Edwards_Anderson on August 29, 2013, 8:19 GMT

    Amith i agree with you mate, it is important to expose all communities to develop a stronger cricketing nation and Khawaja was the person who took the main step in getting his baggy green on sheer talent and skill and i am predicting that he will be a long term test star for us. Also keep an eye out for Sandhu perhaps not in the coming season but in in 2-3 years time as he develops his game.

  • LewisDuckworth on August 28, 2013, 22:19 GMT

    @Buckers97: To answer your question about who had the better Shield seasons out of O'Keefe, Agar & Ahmed. I can tell you that Ahmed took 16 wickets in 3 matches (just over 5 wickets a match) with a strike rate of 55.5. Agar took 19 wickets in 5 matches (just under 4 wickets a match) with a strike rate of 57.2 and O'keefe took 24 wickets in 9 matches (less then 3 wickets a match) at a strike rate of 59.7.

    So although O'Keefe took the most wickets, he played 4 nearly double the matches of Agar and three times the matches of Ahmed. So to answer your question, Ahmed had the better season, followed by Agar and O'Keefe was the least impressive. He's well down the pecking order....

  • Chris_P on August 28, 2013, 21:23 GMT

    @ Steve Back, The trend with the young (next generation) batsmen averaging far less than 40 is probably a disturbing one for test cricket enthusiasts. I see it at grass-roots level where I play, not too many young batsmen playing top grade & those there play their shots early, it's the experienced guys who invariably grind out the big scores against a seemingly endless supply of quick bowlers trying to knock your head off. The Aussie fc scene has been trending downwards (batsmen wise) as I see very few who have the application to succeed at the highest level (( did post before he performed how much improved Smith was based on what I had seen in NSW). Hughes, believe it or not, seemingly cannot transfer his fc performances to tests, but has looked solid.

  • on August 28, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    @Jared Hansen: Yes but Haddin has maintained a 35 average over 50 Tests - not easy for a wicketkeeper batsman. Wade has performed inconsistently over a far smaller sample, has shown a tendency to get bogged down with his technique in ODI cricket, and is hopeless behind the stumps. I should add, for fairness, that sub-40 averages in first-class cricket are common here in the UK too, with several "Future England Prospects" / "Promising Talents" etc etc ad nauseam averaging around 35, like Alex Hales for instance. Little application at the crease, one fifty a while back and since when been a walking wicket to even part-time bowlers. Hopeless. We do have James Taylor, Jonny Bairstow, James Hildreth, Michael Carberry, Nic Compton, etc, but that's not a great sample to pick from.

  • on August 28, 2013, 14:00 GMT

    @ashik Khan: Henriques' form collapsed after his two half-centuries on debut. I would recommend him to play more first-class cricket.

    @Chris_P: Yes I was agreeing. I have never been impressed with the likes of Shaun Marsh or Rob Quiney. I know they are aged now but the likes of David Hussey and Simon Katich would perform far better for Australia than these average Shield batsmen. Those two experienced players should have about 20-30 Tests from now on in them if they got selected, so why not give them another go? I remember in 2009, after you guys thrashed us in the 4th Test, there was talk of recalling Mark Ramprakash (*laughs*!). Thankfully for Australia, Katich and Hussey are far mentally tougher and should perform well.

  • Gordo85 on August 28, 2013, 11:39 GMT

    The bingo can't stop as long as you are not performing. If you constantly keep on having players fails Test after Test of course you are going to have a bingo. And heck for a start the right players are not even really making the Test squad in all honesty.

  • on August 28, 2013, 11:19 GMT

    What happened to henriques? He was good playing in India?

  • Paul_JT on August 28, 2013, 10:27 GMT

    A lot of limited overs cricket before the next Test. Injury as much as performance in these may yet force the decision. Hughes should go back to domestic cricket and open with an eye to replacing Rogers after the Ashes. Though remiss to not mention Sam Robson of Middlesex. If selecting today, Bailey would be my choice at 5, Smith down to 6, with Johnson vying with Starc till Pattinson is fit.

  • on August 28, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    The Australian line-up in the fifth test was the one that should have more or less been persisted with from the start. Warner's suspension just before the start of a crucial series exposed the imbalance in the touring squad. One can't help but wonder that if Warner had played from the start, the batsmen in contention for the No. 6 spot would've been all left handed opening batsmen of sorts - Cowan, Huges, Khawaja, Wade. They needed a better plan than that, especially against someone like Swann who can be a threat at any time in any conditions. The likes of having Bailey, Voges or even Henriques would've lent a better balance to the squad.

    When the English tour down under, I would hope the squad consists of more middle order right handed batsmen. Having two left-armers and a leftie at six would play in Swann's hand, hence you would have to chose between Faulkner and Starc, and if the pitch is flat and conducive to batting, then an all-rounder like Henriques over Bailey / Voges.

  • Chris_P on August 28, 2013, 8:39 GMT

    @Steve Back. I think you are agreeing with, read what I wrote, Marsh is TOTALLY undeserving of consideration. He didn't even see out the fc season in the WA shield side. @Amith_S, If & when Khawaja scores the runs needed to deserve a spot in the Aussie side then he should get selected. For now (IMHO), he sits behind Hughes, Henriques, even Wade in the pecking order.

  • Sunil_Batra on August 28, 2013, 7:46 GMT

    @Paulrampley and Amith well said guys

  • on August 28, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    @Jono Makin - Since you asked: On the fifth day, England's lower order scored 130 runs at 4.53 an over in clearing the follow on. Australia then needed quick runs but could only manage 111 at the VERY modest rate of 4.82 and lost no less than six wickets in the process before their bowlers failed to a) take the wickets required to force a win, and b) contain England who scored at 5.15 to leave them with only 21 required off four overs when the umpires decided the light was too bad. In short, Australia has neither the batting nor the bowling to force a win against England even when they get that all-important first use of the pitch. How many times in the series did Harris and Siddle reduce England to ~30-3 without Australia ever being able to turn that advantage into a win? Australia just don't have the tools!

  • Paul_Rampley on August 28, 2013, 6:19 GMT

    Amith in complete agreement with you, Khawaja will come back strong in the home ashes hopefully with a good start to the shield season, also place Hughes in this boat as well. And as this article points out we must stop the batting bingo and give these young batsman the time needed to develop into world class batsman and i think with boof in charge that will happen.

  • on August 28, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    @Steve Back : If Wade isn't even fit for a second string batsmen as you say, what does that make Haddin? Wade has better batting averages in the test side and the shield.

    I agree with you on Shaun Marsh, though. And I'm puzzled that there are people who don't. I was disappointed to see even Trevor Hohns bringing his name as one of the likely future prospects. (And confused, since he's been in and out of the Shield so much lately I have no idea where/if he's playing)

  • Amith_S on August 28, 2013, 5:28 GMT

    Khawaja should be given the number 6 spot, unlike Cowan and Hughes he has only had 3 tests in which he top scored at Lords, got a complete howler at Manchester and then a test in Durham. Give him a full series and i am sure he will come through for us, granted that like all the lefties in the team he needs to work on his ability to play good quality off spin.

  • on August 28, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    @Chris P: Shaun Marsh is a credible Test fixture in the same sense that Jade Dernbach can hold up an end with the ball. He's just totally overrated - I know Australia isn't exactly renowned for being a hotbed of batting talent at the moment, but Marsh? Come on.

  • Chris_P on August 28, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    @SirViv1973 Finally another person who also cannot see the kigic why people are on the Shaun Marsh wagon. Do these people ever look at his performances away from the IPL? His last test series (you were very kind in describing the Indian attack btw) was 17 runs in 6 innings, he scored 152 runs @ 19 in fc cricket last season down under BEFORE he was dropped from Western Australian Shield team, continued his lack of run scoring in Perth grade cricket, continued his poor fc performance in SA with the "A" side (53 runs @13.25) & he still gets put forward as an option? WHen I see people put his name up, I immediately discard them as a credible source of posting & skip reading posts. Unbelievable is it not? His fan club must be huge in India.

  • on August 27, 2013, 23:23 GMT

    time for different teams in different formats. And for god's sake none of this ODI's performances and then moving to tests crap. Pick players based on first class performances. Guys like watson, marsh, maxwell and warner were only picked for same reason and were ordinary at test level. Even Symonds, and excellent ODI player, barely averaged 40 in tests. And make domestic pitches that allow matches last for 4 days. If they only last for 2-2.5 days, then u have a ton of fast bowlers but all will break down, and batsman won't be able to survive more than 1-2 hrs.

  • OttawaRocks on August 27, 2013, 22:25 GMT

    The Aussies inflicted some of the suffering on themselves. Although there is risk in sticking with veterans for too long in any sport, sometimes you do want to stick with them if no one is coming up the developmental ranks. In the Aussie case, the traditional approach has been to push out the older vets (even if they are performing adequately) in order to blood younger players. This strategy is great if the younger players manage to succeed. However, if they fail, then the whole team could unnecessarily go down the sewer. In this case, constant pressure and talk of removing Ponting and Hussey spooked both into retiring 1-3 years too early. If they were still there the Aussies would have been able to win a few more tests if not series altogether. Too late now with both vets long gone (not to mention Katich as well).

  • Jaffa79 on August 27, 2013, 20:02 GMT

    Beyond this series, Rogers (one of the few with any heart) will be gone after this series, as well as Harris and Haddin. I cannot see Clarke being able to continue with his back much longer and he probably doesn't want to either after the recent thrashings at the hands of England, SA and India. Aus play England at home then SA away and Pakistan away!! Tough times ahead! Australia might be 7th very soon.

  • crazytaurean on August 27, 2013, 16:46 GMT

    I sincerely believe that its time to blood outsiders and fresh blood into the Aussie test side. Ferguson, Maddinson, Finch, McDonald and others should be tried. Maybe someone who has performed on the A-Tours or the local SShield. By doing so they may not just discover new talent but also look to the future. May the best 11 play.

  • SirViv1973 on August 27, 2013, 16:05 GMT

    @Henrik Loven, I agree re your comments about Harris. For all the hype regarding Aus young seamers he was completley head & shoulders above all of them. Siddle started well but seamed to fade as the series went on. All in all I thought the young guys were dissapointing, perhaps they will be better in more familiar conditions, but from what I saw I think Hilfenhaus might be a better bet than all of them for the 3rd seamer role in the return series behind Harris & Siddle.

  • Yevghenny on August 27, 2013, 16:04 GMT

    What Henrik Loven doesn't realise is that if you took Ian Bell out of the England side then they might not have won any matches. ===== this is such a silly thing to say. What if you took Ryan Harris out of Australia's side? People who say this make out like England cheated by having Ian Bell a shed load of runs - the reason he was selected to play for England after all!

  • SirViv1973 on August 27, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    @ Steve Back, I don't understand all the fuss about Shaun Marsh either. He did have a very good series in SRL 2 yrs ago but since then has hardly been able to buy a FC run. Given his performances against an extremley moderate Ind attack 18 months ago I'm surprised any Aus fan would want to see him in the baggy green ever again. I also find it quite amusing that so many Ind fans who post their best Aus XI have Marsh in it. This is purley based on what they have seen from him in the IPL, which as we all know has no comparism to test cricket.

  • on August 27, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    @Henrik, so needing 16 wickets on the last day and with a late start, Australia doesn't manage to pull a win out of the hat, how exactly is that a big failure? By the way, if Clarke is not a match winner with the bat, tell me exactly which international batsman is?

    Australia needs plenty of work, yes, but what people are forgetting is that on two ocassions, when we took first innings leads of 160 and 120 odd, the match was then effectively washed away by rain. The Aussies really aren't that far off putting together a decent team, some of the young blokes just need to get a couple of years experience under their belts, drastic overhauls at this stage simply aren't warranted, just anoth middle order bat or two who can average 40+ and we are right in it against most teams, barring perhaps SA.

  • on August 27, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    @ Jared Hansen: No. Nobody hates Matthew Wade on here. We just don't think he's very good. He catches like a two year old and is a second-string batsman who wouldn't get into the top 7 of any quality team. Just forget about him. Really.

    @Buckers97: Mitchell Marsh averages 20 with the bat in first-class cricket. Andrew McDonald I'll give you because his stats are pretty good, but he's only medium-pace. Is that what Australia need or want?

    And why is there so much love towards Shaun Marsh? Surely there are better batsmen in Australia? Average in first-class: 35, with 7 hundreds in nearly 80 games. Test average: 27. It would be like us selecting Alex Hales for England. It just doesn't make sense.

  • on August 27, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    You're forgetting David Hussey, he can fill Michael Hussey's shoes easily.

    This is the XI I would be going for.

    Rogers, Warner, Watson, Smith, Clarke, D. Hussey, Haddin, Starc, Harris, Siddle, Lyon.

    Pattinson can be alternated with Starc, if Starc is being inconsistent. Though I would keep Starc anyway, as he is a wicket taker and Harris, Siddle and Watson can provide accuracy.

    Though I would give Johnson a run at the WACA. Something seems to work for him there. Also, Clarke is at 5, because something seems to work for him there. This way, we have three good players of spin (Smith, Clarke, Hussey) to take on Swann when it should be his turn to bowl.

  • Clyde on August 27, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    I would go for ability over promise and choose Macdonald. I don't see how anyone else can come in unless they score remarkably heavily in Sheffield Shield.

  • Charlie101 on August 27, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    The problem I see for the Aussie selectors is that Watson was the one to hit the runs at the Oval . This will now keep him in the side at 3 when he should be the allrounder batting at number 6 .

    @humdrum you may not have realised but cricket is a team game and hence you need different players giving "star " turns to win test matches . I think the selectors and fans are very happy that all 3 bowlers produced match winning performances on at least one occasion and then provided a good back up the other times.

  • on August 27, 2013, 13:32 GMT

    @Nicole Winkler - What you fail to accept is that England had several players with match-winning performances (Anderson 1st, Bell 1st, 2nd, 4th, Swann 2nd & 4th, Broad 4th) whereas Australia only had Harris - who strictly speaking never put in a match-winning performance even if he deserved to. The fifth day of the fifth test really showed just how unable Australia were to force a win; they would have lost had it not been for the light with less than five overs left. Ahead of the Ashes Down Under and given the recent form of the two teams, England have at least four batsmen and three bowlers capable of winning matches for them. Whom do Australia have apart from Harris? And don't give me Clarke! One innings apart, he was all at sea against Broad and Anderson, being dismissed by them seven times for scores of 0, 23, 28, 187, 6, 21 and 7. Hardly inspiring.

  • SirViv1973 on August 27, 2013, 12:30 GMT

    @Andy Tychon, Silk has clearly made a promising start to his FC career & may well end up being an important part of Aus furture. However he has not yet learnt his trade & the test arena in the heat of an ashes battle in a struggling side is not the place to do it. See how he develops over the next 2 shield seasons & get him over to Eng for some CC in between then maybe by the 2015 ashes series he will be ready to make the step up.

  • DragonCricketer on August 27, 2013, 12:21 GMT

    @humdrum I agree Swan, Cook have had mediocre series but they have strong recent performances over the last 12-18 months.World class. They can fall back a bit on this but I don't think Warner has played strong enough over the past 12 months to give him the same leeway as Cook and Swan. I think Root is on thin ice as well. He will need to score well over next few months as Compton is after his spot.

  • Buckers97 on August 27, 2013, 12:08 GMT

    Henriques, McDonald, Faulkner & M Marsh are all the decent all rounders in Sheffield Shield. But with Watson bowling, do we need another all rounder? Also, what about Steve O'keefe? Why is he never mentioned? Ashton Agar & Fawad Ahmed are and who had the better Shield season last year? O'keefe! My First test XI for the Gabba would be; 1. Chris Rogers 2. David Warner 3. Shane Watson 4. Michael Clarke (c) 5. Steve Smith 6. Shaun Marsh/Moises Henriques 7. Brad Haddin (vc, wk) 8. Steve O'keefe 9. James Pattinson 10. Nathan Coulter-Nile 11. Ryan Harris 12. Nathan Lyon/Joe Burns. I believe this would be competitive team and Phil Hughes is not far off getting in the team either. O'keefe makes it in because he is better than Lyon and Ahmed. Henriques would play if Watson is not bowling. I also like th thought of Andrew McDonald playing. But the team I have named above would be the one for Brisbane. Thanks for reading!!

  • Dangertroy on August 27, 2013, 11:51 GMT

    If we really want to win it, someone better start sending champagne and flowers to Mikel Hussey. He retired because he didn't want to travel, so how about one final home series?

    That is of course wishful thinking, so I still advocate Bailey or Voges. Or David Hussey if he has a cracking start to the shield season. Even at 36, I would pick him, the man averages 52 in 1st class cricket. He had a poor shield campaign last year, otherwise I thought he would have got a look in for the Ashes.

    I think we need a veteran campaigner for the next few years. The youngsters either haven't succeeded, or just need more time to develop in the shield. I think Burns is a reasonable chance of developing, but I'd like to see his FC average on the other side of 40 first.

    Hughes is the other long term bet - I think he has been horribly managed and will succeed, but should be developed in the ODI side. He is a top order player, not a number six, lets not try to turn him into something he is not. again.

  • Ozcricketwriter on August 27, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    I think that the current top 5 is the top 5 to persist with (though Warner is now a bit dodgy) and I think that Faulkner should be persisted with at least for another test or two. We do have a problem with having too many good pace bowlers but that is a happy problem to have. We need to stick with Rogers, Watson and Smith now, along with Warner and Clarke who we were already sticking with. At least give them the Australian Ashes series, as a guarantee. And if Faulkner does anything like what he did in the 5th test, he should be persisted with too.

  • Beertjie on August 27, 2013, 11:26 GMT

    @DragonCricketer on (August 27, 2013, 9:36 GMT) and @Joseph Langford on (August 27, 2013, 10:17 GMT) Agree that Agar will be #6, but not just yet. If Oz had the normal quality in batting, Burns would be a natural to slot in there. Now it's all about guessing who'll do a job. But please no Hughes or Khawaja. If and when they return it should be as openers. If they still can't cut it, cut them loose for good and invest in others.

  • RednWhiteArmy on August 27, 2013, 11:14 GMT

    2 wins from their last 15 Ashes tests. It all doesnt look good for australia in australia.

  • on August 27, 2013, 11:00 GMT

    What Henrik Loven doesn't realise is that if you took Ian Bell out of the England side then they might not have won any matches. To say that Australia were lucky to get that close only because of Harris - ie. one of the players who were picked in their team - is ludicrous. You could say the same for any team. India without Tendulkar, SL without Murali, or England without Botham in the early 80's would have been interesting. He proved the difference in numerous tests. I guess Australia were lucky to have Warne and McGrath playing together or they might not have won any matches ever!

  • humdrum on August 27, 2013, 10:57 GMT

    @DragonCricketer:If we are to go strictly by performances in this series,Cook hasn't exactly set the series on fire with his batting,has he ?And as for bowling,broad,anderson and swann have given star turns in only one match out of five. Hardly the stuff of legends. Or is it ?

  • on August 27, 2013, 10:17 GMT

    @ Daniel Sijmons ....

    Hughes footwork is poor. Maybe he should be given some more opportunities at opener, like against SA and NZ a few seasons back, because he is from NSW.

    Watson stepped onto The Oval with an average of less than 25 for his previous 34 innings. Scores a big ton in a dead rubber against a depleted attack and he has secured his spot for another season??

    @ xtrafalgarx ..... Cook was brilliant, he had a plan and ground out the plan. He was too busy congratulating his bowlers to be looking at spotlights.

    Before the start of the series I said that the series would be won by the Australian bowlers with the ball and the bat and I was right. Almost did it in the 1st Test and had a chance in the 4th Test but were without their best ... Johnson, Pattinson and Starc. In don't think Clarke even played in these two tests!!!

    As for the No.6 .... my vote is with Ashton Agar.

  • Tauskid on August 27, 2013, 10:08 GMT

    My team for the ashes in Australia are: 1. Chris Rogers 2.David Warner 3. Shaun Marsh 4. Michel Clarke 5. George Bailey 6. Shane Watson 7. Brad Haddin 8. Peter Siddle 9. Ryan Harris 10. James Pattinson 11. Nathan Lyon

    Reserves: Steve Smith, Callum Ferguson, Adam Voges, Philip Huges, Usman Khawaja, Mitchel Starc, Michel Johnson, Fawad Ahmad, Ben Hilfenhous

  • on August 27, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    If Watson is fit to bowl, the inclusion of Faulkner in the line-up - except as an arrangement for a particular pitch or opposition as an exception - isn't needed. A proper Test batsman needs to be groomed.

  • on August 27, 2013, 9:41 GMT

    None of Australia's batsmen have been on fire, but as a unit they haven't fared too badly besides the Lord's Test, and on two other occasions - in the first innings of the Nottingham Test and the chase in Durham. Rogers is a valuable addition to their side for his calm, tough and simple approach, and Watson, Warner, Clarke and Smith are all handy batsmen and should be the first men to be fit into the jigsaw puzzle, for they showed their ability to score as proper Test batsmen, ie, overcome the conditions and the tactics, and play according to the situation of their team.

    Khawaja got a bad decision in Manchester but failed to make it count besides a half-century at Lord's. And having had enough opportunities before this series, cannot be guaranteed a place in the line-up. Cowan could be given an extended run at No. 4 or No. 5, for he's shown glimpses of what he can do when he scored a century against a quality opposition in the past (South Africa).

  • DragonCricketer on August 27, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    The majestic way that Agar bats it wouldn't surprise me if he scores a ton of runs in shield cricket and ends up being a batting all rounder. A No. 6. batsmen.

  • DragonCricketer on August 27, 2013, 8:50 GMT

    Hey Mr Coverdale, why does Warner get automatic selection for the next Ashes test? After destabilising the Australian batting order by losing his position for the first two tests, he ended up batting 6 times for 5 failures and a 71. Hughes had a higher series average. 27.66 v 23.00. True I think he adds something extra to the team and he is one of the best fielders.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on August 27, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    Anderson, Broad and co will be licking their lips at the thought of pace-friendly pitches. Swann will be licking his lips if the pitches take turn. It just doesn't get any better for the Aussies: whichever way they turn, a superior England side looks set to best them in their own back yard again.

  • on August 27, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    The same old mistake - thinking a constantly changing batting order produces poor results. It's the other way around - poor performances leads to changes as players are left for not delivering. Cook, Trott and the rest didn't suddenly become classy because they got to play multiple tests in a row - they were classy and performed, and so they keep getting picked.

    Itt wasn't that long ago that everyone was complaining about Australia changing its bowling line up too often. It was being changed because the bowlers - Johnson, Hilfenhaus etc delivered results that were somewhere between inconsistant and mediocre. The current line up is settled because it now has bowlers of class, and so those class bowlers kept getting picked, and so the bowling line up became 'settled'. People see that and conclude the reason they're doing well is because they're settled. No - they're quality bowlers, and that is the reason they're both doing well and getting repeatedly picked.

  • muzika_tchaikovskogo on August 27, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    I think the best option for Australia is to identify a young batsman who has the technique and temperament and give him an extended run. It may result in some short term pain, but its best to remember that its exactly what the selectors did in the mid- late 80s.

  • KannanAnanya on August 27, 2013, 6:48 GMT

    Australia should consider Rogers, Marsh, Watson, Clarke, Smith, Voges, Haddin, Siddle, Starc, Harris and Lyon. The back up options can be Bailey, Warner and Hughes and even Cowan. Even, they can send Haddin up the order and keep Voges as No.7 so that he can be spin back up to Lyon... just as Jadeja does for Ashwin. But Aussies definitely need 5 bowlers to contain England, even if their batsmen were off form.

  • on August 27, 2013, 6:36 GMT

    One thing Australian fans do not realise is that without Ryan Harris' outstanding performances, Australia most likely would have been trounced 5 - 0. Harris dismissed Root and Trott four times, Cook three plus Bell and Pietersen twice each in this series in spite of not playing in the first. Of those batsmen, only Bell and - in one innings - Root got the better of him, Bell to the tune of a personal average of 86.50. Without Harris, England's top five would have put the game well beyond Australia regularly, so don't you forget the huge debt owed him and don't read too much into Australia's overall performance!

  • kaos2 on August 27, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    I would think Wade as a specialist batsmen at 5 or 6 is not beyond the realms. I was suprised his number didn't some up in this Ashes Batting Bingo. But he will surely never keep wicket for Austrlia again.....

  • on August 27, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    HELLO!!?? Watson just made his third ton in his 46th match against two pie chuckers in a dead match. He is not the answer. Hughes at 3, Khawaja at 6. Give these two ten matches at these positions and see what happens. All batsmen when coming into the side, debuting or recalled, must be given a 'ten test policy' in which they get ten matches in the same spot. If injury occurs, the replacement goes out as soon as the injured player returns, regardless of their respective form. My team: Rogers, Warner(has brisbane and Adelaide to prove himself, 'ten test policy doesn't apply as he has already had 20-odd), Hughes, Clarke, Smith, Khawaja, Haddin, Lyon and three of Pattinson, Siddle, Harris, Starc or Bird. Maddinson, Burns, Faulkner Doolan and Wadein the wings.

  • niazbhi on August 27, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    Odds of someone averaging substantially higher than their FC average is very low. Australia has talent. A team of Katich, Roger, Warner, Watson, Clark, Haddin, Wade, Harris, Siddle, Strac, Lyon is not weaker than England. Aussies lack wisdom. You donot drop someone who is averaging 50 at 34 so that you can bring someone who is averaging 35 at 27. The guy at 34 can easily play 5 or 6 years and the other guy would nt play for a year. Clark is not a good captain (his top bowlers are averaging 4 wickets at 30 or below, somehow he brings the parttimers and the other team gets away... press goes all gaga.. wow replacing Pattinson after getting 3 wickets in 3 overs. He must be a genious.) Clark is one of my favorite batsman. His dealing with Watson, his rotation of bowlers are should be looked at objectively. He is not a captaincy material. Lehman.. I would get rid of this man now...

  • Wefinishthis on August 27, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    Easy solution - No.6 should be taken by Maddinson, Cosgrove, Burns or Silk in a home series, just like Ponting and many others started out. The selectors will likely go for Faulkner (thinking he'll have magically learned how to bat properly), Hughes or a wicket-keeper.

  • siddhartha87 on August 27, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    Warner should open in next Ashes .He is a great player in those hard wickets.I really feel sorry for Hughes. Despite scoring heavily in Shields he fails at the highest level.May be he should start playing county. I still believe he is the future,the one who can average 50-55 in tests.I am really not impressed with haddin's batting at all. He scored a gritty half century in the first test. But apart from that his batting was poor.Wade should be given another chance. I would also like to see Bailey in top 6 .His experience will be really handy.As a captain clarke is simply amazing but he don't have a team to support him. He needs to lead the batting from the front.MY XI for Gabba- 1. Warner 2.Rogers 3.Watson 4.Clarke 5.Smith 6.Bailey 7.Wade 8.Pattinson 9.Siddle 10 Harris 11.Lyon

  • on August 27, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    Hughes should fill in the #6 slot!less pressure and he can develop from there!

  • on August 27, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    Joseph Langford, clearly you've never captained a cricket side! I don't think anyone is suggesting that Steve Waugh or Ricky Ponting were fantastic captains - they just happened to be the captains of brilliant teams. Cook, like Ponting before him, is a boring captain, who always does the expected and benefits from leading a talented team. Clarke never lets the game drifts, always attempts to get the most out of the team he leads and is willing to risk a defeat in chasing victory. Also, most of those matches you mentioned were lost due to batting collapses, which Clarke has little to no control over. Captains come into their own on the field, particularly. With the bat all you can ask them to do is play well personally and lead from the front, which Clarke has done brilliantly. If the rest of the top 6 had half his talent and application, Aus would still be beating the top sides regularly.

  • on August 27, 2013, 5:08 GMT

    David hussey is answer for no. 6 ...

  • popcorn on August 27, 2013, 5:07 GMT

    Chris Rogers is a certainty as opener.I am not convinced that David Warner is the RIGHT partner for him. He is no Justin Langer or Mathew Hayden. I would back Ed Cowan or Usman Khawaja who have better technique, though they have not lit up the stands with their batting. 3,4,5 are now settled.Watson,Smith,Clarke. The number 6 position is crucial. Marcus North had it, Mike Hussey had it.Andrew Ronnie Mcdonald had it.Phil Hughes did well at Number 6 in the Trent Bridge Test, so I would slt him there.7 is Haddin.Except for Adelaide where another bowler will be required, 3 pacers and a spinner are fixed. So Faulkner would not come into consideration. Harris, Siddle and Lyon are certainties, the third seamer could be one of Pattinson, Starc, Bird, Johnson. I think the Selectors should send a second string side to India for the ODIs in October and November, and keep the Test hopefuls in Australia to play the 4 day Sheffield Shield. I am confident,that we will lift the urn this summer.

  • my_comments on August 27, 2013, 4:41 GMT

    Captain is as good as his team, Clark does not have bowling of warne, mcgrath & co and the batting of hussey heydon martin & co, he doesnt have a gilcrist behind the wicket. not even the likes of the english counterparts, like peterson, bell, swann, anderson. a good example of this is fleming of NZ, A.Campble of ZIM, Arjuna of SL, they were really good captains but their winning record is not that good.

  • jakeyboy91 on August 27, 2013, 4:24 GMT

    Cricinfo please publish, Surely this is Australias team for the Gabba? thoughts? 1 Rogers- experienced,defensive, consistant, good mentor for younger opener 2 Maddinson, Youth, in form, aggressive 3 Clarke - best bat in the team, experienced, skipper, lead from the front! 4 Jo Burns, youth, in form, good technique. better prospect than Khawaja or Hughes so stick with him. 5. Ferguson, experienced, good technique, consistent 6 Smith, finally showing promise. has to play as spinning allrounder though, not good enough to play as batsman alone. 7 Haddin, experienced, consistant. Although Paine cant be far off. Wade - terrible. 8 Faulkner. 3rd seamer and bowling allrounder. Can replace starc and watson in the team as bowlers who bat a bit! haha 9,10 11 - Harris, Siddle, Lyon for obvious reasons

    Watson can play ODI only. Hughes, Warner and Khawaja need to dominate shield and County for 2 yrs or so before being considered and could be in line to replace Rogers, Clarke in few years time

  • wix99 on August 27, 2013, 4:19 GMT

    I wouldn't include David Warner as a certainty for the next Test. The other batsmen mentioned all made centuries on this tour. Warner is brilliant at his best, but still inconsistent. Perhaps not much different to Shane Watson...

  • Jagger on August 27, 2013, 4:17 GMT

    RE: Australia's batting bingo must stop. 1) It should never have needed to start. 2) Now that it has, it must continue until the goals set down have been achieved.

    No one is entitled to say that our top order is settled until we dominate the world in all three forms of the game.

    The appointment of Mickey Arthur was a fatal mistake, but that time need not to be wasted. It is now clear there are no world-beating Australian batsmen playing Shield cricket. None. Any talk of current Shield players taking us to the top is just nonsense. We must now concede we are looking towards schools and academies and blooding the new blokes coming through. We need genuine cricket people with knowledge on how to identify and produce top-line players placed in the top jobs and for them to be accountable. We need to eliminate cronyism and Teflon politicians.

    Sutherland has been patently derelict in his duty as CEO of Australian Cricket. No amount of politicking can make that fact not stick.

  • on August 27, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    All this talk of rain preventing an Australian win in the 3rd test is funny. For all their big talk about being a good bowling side, they never really managed to bowl England out in under 120 overs. After the kind of behavior they exhibited when they were on top, you cannot blame people for enjoying their misery. Let it pour, let it pour, let it pour.

  • on August 27, 2013, 3:28 GMT

    Man, everyone hates Matty Wade on this site. For my money he's a much better batsman than Haddin, (two centuries from a short period in the test side and Haddin only has three across his whole test caree - plus he knows how to dig in) and I can't see too much of a difference in keeping if we're just talking general technique. Yes, Wade had a couple of high profile drops but I give him the benefit of the doubt - if he's losing those constantly he wouldn't be Victoria's first choice keeper so I reason it's more likely nerves and something that can be sorted out in the nets.

  • Gurudumu on August 27, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    I believe G Bailey should be selected as No. 6 - he has the ability, temperament and has leadership qualities. He reads the game well and plays accordingly. Forget Khawaja, Hughes and Cowan - they've had enough chances (more than they deserve in my opinion) and couldn't nail their respective places in the team. Time to move on - Rogers, Warner, Watson, Clarke and Simth and rope in Robson with Doolan and Marsh in the team. Stick with them for a while - this is the only way OZ will get out of the rut

  • on August 27, 2013, 3:19 GMT

    It's been completely absurd the chopping and changing, like they really don't know what they're doing at all.

    For instance: Before the series, Dave Warner, definitely gonna play at 6. Decision made, that's where he's best. Plays there once, back to opening.

    Watson, definitely an opener now, oops no now he's a 4, now a 6, now a 3, yep he's a 3 look at that knock definitely a 3.

    Clarke says yeah I better move up to 3 in India, for one whole innings, then he's back at 4, then Boof says he needs to be at 4, then Clarke says nah I'm batting at 5, definitely at 5, love batting at 5 I'm batting at 5, then he decides to bat at 4 after all.

    Surely Phil Hughes or Ed Cowan are a better option to partner Rogers than Dave Warner? Especially if you've got Watson coming in at 3?

    Oh well, we'll see what they come up with, but I'd be surprised if Phil Hughes isn't back at 6 when the Ashes roll around again. He needs to get dropped every Ashes remember!

  • bobagorof on August 27, 2013, 3:09 GMT

    Another batsman I would throw into the mix is Sam Robson, who I hadn't heard of prior to the Ashes series but apparently has been scoring well in England and is eligible for both England and Australia. Nabbing him would be a twofold bonus - a young batsman who could be a long-term opener when Rogers retires, and also an 'up yours' to England by selecting him to play Tests and securing his services.

  • on August 27, 2013, 3:07 GMT

    Mark Cosgrove is another man who has been forgotten about... He had a better Shield season than all of the above batsman except Doolan and also has a better career average than all of the above, wheres his article?... If Australia were smart and included O'Keefe at 8 that would help improve the batting as well

  • jmcilhinney on August 27, 2013, 3:01 GMT

    @GrindAR on (August 26, 2013, 18:39 GMT), why exactly do you think that Adam Gilchrist is going to be able to pull a keeper/batsman out of a hat that Rod Marsh doesn't know about?

  • on August 27, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Voges should bat at 6 for Australia if he keeps up his county form... last year his shield average was only 25 but he was back over 50 in this county cricket season and in 2010/11 and 2011/2012 he averaged over 50 in the shield

  • jmcilhinney on August 27, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    Does the fact that Watson made a hundred at #3 mean that he has to play at #3? If you believe that Khawaja or Hughes should fill the open slot, do either of them look suited to #6? If you want to play Watson but not as an opener and either of those two as well, I'd think that you're more likely to get a better overall result with Watson at #6.

  • xtrafalgarx on August 27, 2013, 2:32 GMT

    @Joseph Langford, wow. As soon as the captain makes all the runs, takes all the wickets and catches, then come talk about good captaincy. Your only as good as your players when it comes to captaincy.

    Cook looks like a deer in headlights all the time and i could bet my house he has no idea what's happening but just sits and hopes that Swann, Anderson and Broad do something special. The only way to see who is a better captain is for both to captain Zimbabwe over a period of a year and see who has better results.

  • Chris_P on August 27, 2013, 1:57 GMT

    Regular readers of these columns know my feelings of Wade the keeper, but as a batsman I hold him in high regard. In a career where has batted #7 & often had to throw the bat for his team, mixed up among the scores have been some well constructed disciplined innings. His FC career average is far superior to Doolan, Bailey, Burns & Marsh (why is he even being mentioned?) at a touch under 40. Tossing away the gloves must be a given, toss & burn them. He is only worthy of consideration given the lack of credentials being presented by others (Hughes excepted). I am like others, with Watson & Warner, but at least Warner's average in Australia are far superior to overseas (49 vs. 25) so that, in itself means he should stay for home tests at least (possibly Sth Africa).

  • on August 27, 2013, 1:14 GMT

    Wade should give up the gloves and bat at 6... He's more capable than Marsh or Ferguson and has batted well in all bar 3 tests he's played... Handscomb is likely to be a better keeper/batsman than wade by the time handin finishes anyway if paine or hartly don't come into favor...

  • AidanFX on August 27, 2013, 1:04 GMT

    Hughes still eventually, hopefully sooner rather than later belongs in this side. I am still mourning over the way he was mishandled the last time the Aus team toured Eng and ever since then. The Australia coaches are positively responsible for making him doubt his natural game.

  • on August 27, 2013, 0:32 GMT

    In any process you hit the top till you start sliding and hit the bottom. Like all, Australians have had theirbest time and now to rebuilt, and that takes time.

    On this particular instance, the quesrion is whether the Australian should actually won to begin with. So here is someone riding on his luck to the other sucummed to the loser syndrome. But again, after a bold decision by Aust. captain, did they deserve to loose to a final humiliation. Here I think the umpires made the right decision to save the kill, never mind the good or bad light......

  • Nerk on August 27, 2013, 0:16 GMT

    It seems to becoming customary that before every Ashes series Cricket Australia sends the Australians to play an ODI series against a subcontinental team. All the while, the ECB sends the poms to play first class cricket against australian state teams. Hmmm, which team will have the better preparation?

  • smudgeon on August 27, 2013, 0:00 GMT

    If I hear another "Why not Shaun Marsh?", I'm going to scream. On another note, at the risk of raising the ire of many, I'd vote for a spot for Wade as a batsman. He may not have set the world alight with bat or gloves (his bowling was surprisingly sprightly), he has experience at test level with the bat, and has acquitted himself better than much-fancied specialist batsmen like Khawaja and Hughes. I'd pop him in at 6, perhaps, with a corresponding shuffle of Watson and Smith to 4 and 5. Maybe not the most feared middle-order, but Wade is a fighter and hopefully he can apprentice under Haddin to take over when the keeper calls time. I'm not seeing a lot of other hopes in domestic cricket, maybe apart from Burn & Maddinson (whatever happened to Kurtis Patterson?)...

  • Rowayton on August 26, 2013, 23:59 GMT

    In preparation for the return Ashes series, having an ODI tour of India is lunacy, but I will admit this is about the third time I've said this and I'll stop rabbiting on about it. I could accept comments below that Clarke should relinquish the captaincy but somebody has to be captain and I don't know who else they're going to pick. For me, my batting line up for Brisbane would be Rogers, Warner, Watson, player X, Clarke, Smith etc, with player X being the player on top of the Shield averages at that time (apart from the ones already in the team obviously). And I'd have as the rest of my squad Haddin, Faulkner, Siddle, Harris and Lyon, with a Gabba specialist such as Cutting in the 12. Easy.

    By the way, anybody else notice that Cook was out LBW in this series as often as Watson was? But everybody likes to jump on a bandwagon and note that it is only Watto who has a problem.

  • MinusZero on August 26, 2013, 23:47 GMT

    Maddinson should come in for Warner....cue the NSW favouritism comments. Faulkner should stay and Watson should be dropped. One innings from Watson changes nothing if he cant back it up. Faulkner took more wickets in one test than Watson in 5. In fact Watson has only taken 6 wickets in his last 15 innings he has bowled going back to April 2012! How can be claim to be an allrounder. Its insulting to actual allrounders.

  • on August 26, 2013, 22:56 GMT

    @SirViv Interesting your comments on Jordan Silk. Yes he has only played a handful of games but in this has scored a century in the Shield Final. He was also the youngest player ever to score a century in the Sydney First Grade competition. Has to be some talent there to achieve this.

  • on August 26, 2013, 22:49 GMT

    @Joseph Langford Considering Hughes batting in 3 different spots and none of them were his prefered opening slot i think using his numbers there is unfai... incidently Watson was Australias lead run scorer this series

  • on August 26, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    Faulkner shouldn't be so easily over looked, no doubt his comments stired England up, or is it a coincidence they when aggressive the next day? And then he backed up is talk by taking 6 wickets in a day... We are still waiting for Warner to back up his talk

  • LewisDuckworth on August 26, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    @saravanan.s: You're calling for Hughes, test average in the low 30's, Marsh fitst class average in the mid 30's and test average in the 20's and Ferguson first class average in the mid 30's to replace Rogers who averaged over 40 in this series and has a first class of over 50??? That's one of the more bizare things I've ever heard.... For the return leg in Australia expect to see Smith pushed down to 6 and one of Adam Voges (First class average over 40) or Michael Klinger (average of over 50 in County cricket this year) to come in and bat at 5. Voges probably favoured given his handy part time spinners. So Australia's XI for their home series will be Rogers, Warner, Watson, Clarke*, Voges or Klinger?, Smith, +Haddin, Siddle, Pattinson (or Starc if Patto injured), Harris, Lyon. Also worth noting that if Lyon fails to produce in the first 3 tests, expect to see Fawad Ahmed debut on Boxing Day.

  • Enoughchat on August 26, 2013, 22:43 GMT

    In the past Australia usually picked their young and up and coming batsman at 6 let him settle in and then moved him up the order. If it is Maddinson or Doolan or Burns that is fine. But please please please leave them there and let them settle in.

  • on August 26, 2013, 22:14 GMT

    Voges has been on fire for middlesex... if he continues his form there is no reason he shouldn't be picked.... A shame Burns hasn't been up

  • on August 26, 2013, 21:19 GMT

    with clarke as captain, aus has not acheived anything n will not achieve anything. clarke(kid) is not a leader n has a huge -ve impact on team players n their performance. so,they lose match after match after match while they used to win match after match during its dominance.talent wise,aus is clearly capable of beating england in england with watson(man) as captain. watson,a strong character n individual in the team which remind me of players of aus dominance era. when strong characters lead the team, the dominance is seen all over. when true aggressive n dominant aussie culture surfaces, other talented players like harris, hilfenhaus,siddle,smith dominance can be felt. right now, all the dominance of watson is subdued due to clarke because of school culture in the team. as katich said,there r powers in australian selectors n above them to keep clarke as captain even after aussies touched lowest point.so, watson wont be made captain. hence aus stays at this lowest point

  • on August 26, 2013, 20:46 GMT

    Pity to see OZ team struggling to find 11 decent cricket players and especially top 5-6 good batsman. Barring Clarke no body is good and it seems clarke's all old mates (ponting, gilly, hayden, martin) have already deserted him due to age. Once the great OZs used to say that they have the bench strength so strong which can defeat an y team in the world and now they don't even have their main team so strong which can defeat anyone in the world....

  • on August 26, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    Rogers deserves a better opening partner.

    Warner?? 59, 23, 6, 26, 71, 2, 0, 8, 5, 3, 71, 6, 12 Hughes?? 6, 0, 19, 0, 2 69, 45, 6, 81*, 0, 1, 1 Watson?? 28, 17, 23, 9, 17, 5, 13, 46, 30, 20, 19 ,18 ,68, 2, 176, 26

    In the 5-TM's, Australia only had two great inning with the bat. Is that the standard??

    People say that Clarke is a great Captain .... yet over the past 12-mths Australia's record over the top 3-teams is 8-0.

    Should have won in Adelaide 2012 Result - Draw.

    Against India in Chennai 2013 ..... Australia score 380 and India were 2-12 Result - Loss

    Against England in Nottingham 2013 ..... Australia have a 65-run 1st Innings lead and England are 2-11. Result - Loss

    Against England in Chester-Le-Street 2013 ..... Australia have a 32-run 1st Innings lead and England are 3-49. Result - Loss

    I simply do not see greatness in any form of Captaincy that can continually convert a position of advantage to a positive

    People say that Cook is a terrible Captain .... he wins!!

  • on August 26, 2013, 20:32 GMT

    Tim Paine was a much better wicketkeeper than Haddin, and he was a serviceable if not great batsman. Then again, Haddin only averages mid-thirties and that could be a figure within Paine's reach. Has Paine recovered from injury? Matthew Wade is just hilariously poor - worse even than Matt Prior's very early days against India to Sidebottom et all. I never thought I'd say this, but I'd take Kamran Akmal to Wade!

  • SirViv1973 on August 26, 2013, 19:17 GMT

    @AlanF, As I have said before I think Aus have probably left it too late re Robson. He has a chance of making the Eng squad for the return ashes series if Eng decide to take a back up opener. If he doesn't make the squad then he is nailed on for a place in the Lions squad who will be in Aus at the same time. All Aus have offered is the chance to play in a shield team. I doubt very much he will be interested in that if he is selected for the Lions or the full Eng squad he has already stated he is very much settled in London which is bad news for Aus.

  • LeeHallam on August 26, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    Lehmann is an old style coach, who will pick on hunches and instincts. Clarke is a skipper who likes to have an eye catching scheme, or to try something new. Not a combination to pick a settled side, and keep a settled order!

  • GrindAR on August 26, 2013, 18:39 GMT

    Dont they have a better choice than haddin and wade? Let Gilly pick one new for them... his pick would give a strong WK batsman who can pay with tails to have further more contribution from tail... The tail has so far been fantastic, but a 6/7 down who can stay longer than they did in the series can allow higher order to score at even better rate... The matches lost/drawn are due to the scoring rate difference between two teams not more than 2-2.5 rpo.... eng know how to drag their stay around 2 rpo.. when they must score at rate of around 3 rpo, to not to loose the match, they are forced to take risks... If Aussie maintain around 4 rpo which I am sure they will in Aus, and score over 350 per innings, they force eng to play shot, not their shameful rubbers... One great positive for Aussies in the finsihed one is their scoring rate was good, but it was under 1.5 rpo difference with eng. If both played at 2 rpo rate, the result would have been 1-0 for eng. eng lost fan base significantly

  • on August 26, 2013, 18:39 GMT

    Unfortunately I believe everyone is making excuses for Australia's top order, Rodgers should be number 1, Watson 3rd, 4 and 5 should be Smith and Clarke. If not Haddin at 6 the who? Wade has very similar batting ability or lack there of so who? To me it's pretty clear that the selectors and Lehman need to suck it up and realise that they simply can't afford to chop and change like they have been doing - take it from England they gave Root 5 test matches and i believe his place solid now, I know they have the luxury of experience to fall back on if he doesn't bat well, but don't we in Watson, Clarke and now a well proven Steve Smith? On top of that Haddin is experienced enough to raise his game, please just give him a chance. We all know that playing at home is going to need consistency, and I firmly believe that fact demands a consistent line up. We all love Australia because of the brand of cricket they play, don't you want to see them play their game with more success?

  • gsingh7 on August 26, 2013, 18:30 GMT

    constant chop and change is the first sign of depleting standard of domestic competition which cannot produce 4 or 5 test level batsmen. england too did some experimenting but that was a big disappointment.aus should invest more in domestic competition as the talent pool have dried up.england too should be alarmed as best county bowler for past 2 seasons have been exposed as below par(generous)spinner in whom cook had no confidence. bairstow , root (apart from 1 century) have been below par and signs are omnious for both australian and english domestic bench strengths.where is talent coming through??

  • SirViv1973 on August 26, 2013, 18:30 GMT

    @Landl47, I would concur with your assessment. Even if we assume the top 5 who played at the oval will be the top 5 in Brisbane is the order right? in particular should clarke bat at 4 or 5 & where should Watson bat? I'm a long way from being convinced that he should be at 3. I also think the back up is sub standard. Hughes is probably worth another try at 6, but it has to be remembered that apart from that 1st inns knock at TB his ashes record is woeful. None of the other candidates look like they can enhance the side. The likes of Doolan, Ferguson, Bailey & Marsh all have FC ave below 40. There's also Voges but he ave barely 40 & is 33! As for the younger options from what i've seen of Burns he looks ok but I don't see him coming in to the side & doing any better than those who have gone before. Many oz fans also say Maddison isn't ready & do they really need another leftie anyway ? & as for those talking about Silk forget it the guy has only played 5 FC games.

  • GrindAR on August 26, 2013, 18:22 GMT

    @Sachin_the Greatest: What r u upto dude? But one thing you pointed out is a real issue. Playing XI on field has to feel free to talk to their captian... It is not usual that captain communicate everything on what/where/how abouts.... But a captain should be easily approachable (without any implications) by his team mates... which clearly an issue for Clarke to address... That very thing will make day and night difference in the team composure... He must communicate well to team sitting in atleast dressing room why he is declaring as he did in the last test. Because, this is not the first time he did so... probably, he would be the record holder of doing so many times in the history of the game. I actually admire his optimistic approach... but it back fired most of the times than it worked in favour of his team (at-least by 3:4 ratio). But by doing so he put his opponent team to shame for their intentional slow batting or batting for a draw from the first ball of their innings.

  • AlanF on August 26, 2013, 18:08 GMT

    My team would be Rogers, Robson, Watson (grudgingly), Clarke, Smith, Burns, Hartley, Pattinson (if fit), Harris (ditto), Siddle and Lyon. Fawad Ahmed's first-class figures are not that encouraging, Warner is overrated, Starc is too inconsistent (if we want a left-armer Faulkner is a better choice) and Hughes and Khawaja are destined to spend their careers demolishing Shield bowling line-ups but not being good enough for Tests (like Graeme Hick and David Hookes).

  • on August 26, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    My Aussie team

    Shawn Marsh, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke, David Warner, Brad Hodge, Chris Rogers, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle , Faulkner ,James Pattinson

  • on August 26, 2013, 17:54 GMT

    simon katich was surely missed because of his experience,105 Lancashire v Worcs, 62 Lancashire v Leics Leicester ,115 Lancashire v Glamorgan , all are guarantee score for selection.And fawad ahmad because of his legspinner ,sharp turner of the ball who works from a short run-up ,Damien Martyn faced Ahmed in the nets and declared him the best spinner in Australia since Shane Warne, if fawad was there then things will be different means a draw series. Faulkner was impressive on debut.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 26, 2013, 17:52 GMT

    @tcherian (post on August 26, 2013, 17:38 GMT): "Has Haddin done enough to retain a spot?" Absolutely! Not every wicket-keeper can be a Gilchrist. Tim Paine looks like a decent prospect, but when the next in line is the likes of Wade who almost ruined Lyon's career in previous series, I'd take the guy who's just broken the record for most dismissals by a wicket-keeper in a series every time!

  • tcherian on August 26, 2013, 17:38 GMT

    Has Haddin done enough to retain a spot? I still think he is a very poor bat compared to wicket keepers around the globe at this point of time

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on August 26, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    Australian selectors still have their blinkers on if they think Warner is suitable for tests. Also Clarke needs to stay at 5, with Smith coming in before him. The bowlers have done well, but there are still batting positions up for grabs before the next series. Ridiculous if short-format specialists like Warner and Hughes are used to fill them.

  • on August 26, 2013, 16:34 GMT

    This Australian team showed character and the ability to win a test at Trent bridge , Old Trafford , Durham and Oval.But I think in Australia , they will be more strong knowing the conditions and how the pitches will behave there . Here is my squad for Return Series -

    Warner , Rogers , Watson , Clarke(c) , smith , haddin , wade , pattinson , harris , starc , lyon , hughes , henriques , siddle and faulkner and shaun marsh(17th)

    Warner's aggresive intent , rogers temprament , watson all round performances , clarke's consistency , smith's pacing innings and leg-spin option , haddin and wade as keepers, Pattinson , Harris , Starc , siddle did well . Faulkner was impressive on debut , henriques style on and off the field and an bowling option and Lyon is my only spinner because Aussie pitches have more bounce and carry

    I think this will do a good job.

  • Sachin_The_Greatest on August 26, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    All right then, may be my comments are not going to sit well with my Australian mates. but this is my view as an outsider.

    first thing that Australia should do is CHANGE their captain. 2 reasons.

    1. It will take lot of pressure from Clarke's shoulders & he will be able to bat little more freely, rather then going in the ground with feeling that everything should be done by himself.

    2. I know he is great tactician, great cricket mind, but somehow i feel he is not a good leader, wherein, his teammates can come & have a frank chat with him. somehow i get the feeling that everybody in the team is unsure of what is going to happen with them & whom to go to.

    I see lot of talks about carrying on the legacy & wearing the baggy green which is fine, but you dint started playing cricket for that, you played cricket to enjoy the game, which i think is missing in there camp.

    Clarke comes from a winning team, may b there should be some1 who can say with the glass of beer & say wazzup mate.

  • on August 26, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    Khawaja should be given an extended run - he should slot in at No 6. He has the talent to succeed in the long term. Line up at Gabba should be Warner, Rogers, Watson,Clarke,Smith,Khawaja, Haddin, Harris, Pattinson or Starc, Siddle, Lyon.

  • ZCFOutkast on August 26, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Rogers, Warner, Watson, Clarke, Hughes, Smith, Haddin, Siddle, Pattinson, Harris & Lyon is the way to go.

    I don't think Smith is a number 5 or higher. He's a number 6. What Lehman&Clarke need to do is find a way of getting Hughes to score more runs. He's a very important batsman to Australia and the game. Such is his immense talent and hunger for runs. I believe an extended run at number 5 in the return series will do the trick. Bear in mind that Watson will disappoint more than deliver, so any mature batsman you have in mind should be reserved for that crucial number 3 spot. In that event, for me it's a toss up between Voges & Bailey - with Bailey shading it for me. Unless of course you like me rate Cosgrove (to partner Warner), so Rogers fills first drop.

    It will take a huge effort for Mcdonald to get back in the frame. Doolan didn't impress against Zim&SA A sides, Marsh simultaneously proved he's no longer a Test candidate, and Ferguson will need to do more in Shield cricket.

  • on August 26, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    I don't know, its all a little easier said than done. One thing is for sure, really strong early season form may just buy you a baggy green for the Gabba, for any middle order batsmen in particular. I think it wil be hard though, if they take a Hughes or Khawaja into the first couple of games and they then fail to go ahead and continue to play them. Frankly I hope they give someone else a run, I don't know who it should be but I reckon one or two youngsters out there are actually capable of grabbing a chance in the same manner as Smith, just a matter of giving them that chance. Khawaja and Hughes need to reel off a few centuries against proper FC opposition before i'd look at either again.

  • on August 26, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    My squad for Return Ashes:Batsman:Warner,Rogers,Nic Maddinson(Back up),George Bailey,Alex Doolan(Back up Batsman),Shane Watson,Michael Clarke(C),Callum Ferguson(Back up Batsman),Steve Smith.

    Wicket Keepers:Tim Paine,Brad Haddin(VC)

    Pace Bowlers:James Pattinson,Chadd Sayers(Back Up Bowler),Ryan Harris,Mitchell Starc(Back Up Bowler),Mitchell Johnson,Peter Siddle

    Spinners:Fawad Ahmed,Nathan Lyon.

  • indianfan535 on August 26, 2013, 14:28 GMT

    In recent times, we have seen two teams slide from the top of the rankings to number 4 or 5: India and Australia. India had two horror series away and one at home in test matches before they beat the aussies at home. During that period, they didn't tamper with the batting order, contrary to what the aussies are doing now. Now, India is slowly finding its way up by finding good replacements for the batting giants of yesteryear. I think Australia just needs to sit on a combination for a while, even if it means losing a whole lot of tests, because the team will be settled and ready for future challenges.

  • pvck on August 26, 2013, 14:27 GMT

    This is spot on. I was saying before the series that Australia needed to pick a top 7 and stick with them, let them grow and play as a unit. Basically, through luck, the team looks to have settled thusly- Rogers; Warner; Watson; Clarke; Smith; (Player X); Haddin. Whether Warner deserves his spot, time will tell. One of Khawaja or Hughes (or the bolters - Maddinson, Marsh, etc) needs to put some big runs on the board to stake their claim at 6, and then they need to stay there. If Watson is in the team to play as a defensive bowler, then another all-rounder ala Faulkner or M. Marsh shouldn't be considered - Siddle, Harris and one of Starc, Pattinson and Bird should be quality enough on Australian pitches. The (true) refrain is that it'll come down to our batsmen on our pitches.

    So, in effect - Rogers; Warner; Watson; Clarke; Smith; Batsman X; Haddin; Harris; Siddle; Bowler Y; Lyon.

  • anton1234 on August 26, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    Henriques or Marsh at 6. I think Henriques has the talent to become a genuine batsman who bowls a bit. I don't think his bowling is any good at 80 mph for him to be a bowler who bats. It's not really going to trouble test batsmen at tose speeds.

  • jplterrors on August 26, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    What they need is a #4 Clarke never does much there, have him 5, Smith 6 and chuck Bailey or Voges at 4. Haddin cd prob go for Wade aswell on bouncier track. Hughes/Cowan back up openers if/when current ones lose form.

  • Beertjie on August 26, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    Brydon, you say "an extended run at No.6 would be preferable to the way either man has been treated so far in international cricket." Maybe, but not for Ashes II where they'll probably have to face Swann. If they play again, it should be at the top of the order in place of ageing players such as Rogers and Watson. Of course, Alex Doolan or Joe Burns should slot in at No.6 if they show good form early in Shield. If they can't play at home how can they tour, say, South Africa in Feb? No guts, no glory, but keep away from the "more experienced" Henriques, Maxwell, Marsh unless exceptional performances against good attacks are achieved.

  • landl47 on August 26, 2013, 13:26 GMT

    I don't think I've ever seen a side chop and change its line-up more than Aus did this series. Not a single player batted in the same position in every innings. Compare that with England, whose top 5 never changed apart from the use of a nightwatchman in the second innings at Lord's (and even that worked, as Bresnan put on 99 with Root).

    I'm not sure how batsmen can prepare properly when they don't know in what position they will be batting. It's easy to say that they should just bat the same wherever they are in the order, but the fact is that being mentally ready to go in and play is extremely important, especially at this level.

    The only batsman in the whole series who gave Aus hope for the future was Smith. He played well and looked like a test cricketer. Warner looks like a short-format player and fails 4 out of every 5 innings. Rogers is 35. Watson has 3 centuries in 46 tests and is 32. None of the other younger players looked test class.

    It's not a promising situation.

  • landl47 on August 26, 2013, 13:26 GMT

    I don't think I've ever seen a side chop and change its line-up more than Aus did this series. Not a single player batted in the same position in every innings. Compare that with England, whose top 5 never changed apart from the use of a nightwatchman in the second innings at Lord's (and even that worked, as Bresnan put on 99 with Root).

    I'm not sure how batsmen can prepare properly when they don't know in what position they will be batting. It's easy to say that they should just bat the same wherever they are in the order, but the fact is that being mentally ready to go in and play is extremely important, especially at this level.

    The only batsman in the whole series who gave Aus hope for the future was Smith. He played well and looked like a test cricketer. Warner looks like a short-format player and fails 4 out of every 5 innings. Rogers is 35. Watson has 3 centuries in 46 tests and is 32. None of the other younger players looked test class.

    It's not a promising situation.

  • Beertjie on August 26, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    Brydon, you say "an extended run at No.6 would be preferable to the way either man has been treated so far in international cricket." Maybe, but not for Ashes II where they'll probably have to face Swann. If they play again, it should be at the top of the order in place of ageing players such as Rogers and Watson. Of course, Alex Doolan or Joe Burns should slot in at No.6 if they show good form early in Shield. If they can't play at home how can they tour, say, South Africa in Feb? No guts, no glory, but keep away from the "more experienced" Henriques, Maxwell, Marsh unless exceptional performances against good attacks are achieved.

  • jplterrors on August 26, 2013, 13:41 GMT

    What they need is a #4 Clarke never does much there, have him 5, Smith 6 and chuck Bailey or Voges at 4. Haddin cd prob go for Wade aswell on bouncier track. Hughes/Cowan back up openers if/when current ones lose form.

  • anton1234 on August 26, 2013, 14:14 GMT

    Henriques or Marsh at 6. I think Henriques has the talent to become a genuine batsman who bowls a bit. I don't think his bowling is any good at 80 mph for him to be a bowler who bats. It's not really going to trouble test batsmen at tose speeds.

  • pvck on August 26, 2013, 14:27 GMT

    This is spot on. I was saying before the series that Australia needed to pick a top 7 and stick with them, let them grow and play as a unit. Basically, through luck, the team looks to have settled thusly- Rogers; Warner; Watson; Clarke; Smith; (Player X); Haddin. Whether Warner deserves his spot, time will tell. One of Khawaja or Hughes (or the bolters - Maddinson, Marsh, etc) needs to put some big runs on the board to stake their claim at 6, and then they need to stay there. If Watson is in the team to play as a defensive bowler, then another all-rounder ala Faulkner or M. Marsh shouldn't be considered - Siddle, Harris and one of Starc, Pattinson and Bird should be quality enough on Australian pitches. The (true) refrain is that it'll come down to our batsmen on our pitches.

    So, in effect - Rogers; Warner; Watson; Clarke; Smith; Batsman X; Haddin; Harris; Siddle; Bowler Y; Lyon.

  • indianfan535 on August 26, 2013, 14:28 GMT

    In recent times, we have seen two teams slide from the top of the rankings to number 4 or 5: India and Australia. India had two horror series away and one at home in test matches before they beat the aussies at home. During that period, they didn't tamper with the batting order, contrary to what the aussies are doing now. Now, India is slowly finding its way up by finding good replacements for the batting giants of yesteryear. I think Australia just needs to sit on a combination for a while, even if it means losing a whole lot of tests, because the team will be settled and ready for future challenges.

  • on August 26, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    My squad for Return Ashes:Batsman:Warner,Rogers,Nic Maddinson(Back up),George Bailey,Alex Doolan(Back up Batsman),Shane Watson,Michael Clarke(C),Callum Ferguson(Back up Batsman),Steve Smith.

    Wicket Keepers:Tim Paine,Brad Haddin(VC)

    Pace Bowlers:James Pattinson,Chadd Sayers(Back Up Bowler),Ryan Harris,Mitchell Starc(Back Up Bowler),Mitchell Johnson,Peter Siddle

    Spinners:Fawad Ahmed,Nathan Lyon.

  • on August 26, 2013, 14:42 GMT

    I don't know, its all a little easier said than done. One thing is for sure, really strong early season form may just buy you a baggy green for the Gabba, for any middle order batsmen in particular. I think it wil be hard though, if they take a Hughes or Khawaja into the first couple of games and they then fail to go ahead and continue to play them. Frankly I hope they give someone else a run, I don't know who it should be but I reckon one or two youngsters out there are actually capable of grabbing a chance in the same manner as Smith, just a matter of giving them that chance. Khawaja and Hughes need to reel off a few centuries against proper FC opposition before i'd look at either again.

  • ZCFOutkast on August 26, 2013, 15:45 GMT

    Rogers, Warner, Watson, Clarke, Hughes, Smith, Haddin, Siddle, Pattinson, Harris & Lyon is the way to go.

    I don't think Smith is a number 5 or higher. He's a number 6. What Lehman&Clarke need to do is find a way of getting Hughes to score more runs. He's a very important batsman to Australia and the game. Such is his immense talent and hunger for runs. I believe an extended run at number 5 in the return series will do the trick. Bear in mind that Watson will disappoint more than deliver, so any mature batsman you have in mind should be reserved for that crucial number 3 spot. In that event, for me it's a toss up between Voges & Bailey - with Bailey shading it for me. Unless of course you like me rate Cosgrove (to partner Warner), so Rogers fills first drop.

    It will take a huge effort for Mcdonald to get back in the frame. Doolan didn't impress against Zim&SA A sides, Marsh simultaneously proved he's no longer a Test candidate, and Ferguson will need to do more in Shield cricket.

  • on August 26, 2013, 15:51 GMT

    Khawaja should be given an extended run - he should slot in at No 6. He has the talent to succeed in the long term. Line up at Gabba should be Warner, Rogers, Watson,Clarke,Smith,Khawaja, Haddin, Harris, Pattinson or Starc, Siddle, Lyon.