The Investec Ashes 2013

Australia's problems by the hundred

Australian batting has been plagued by a century drought, and Darren Lehmann wants his batsmen to score at least a hundred in each Test

Daniel Brettig in Nottingham

July 6, 2013

Comments: 88 | Text size: A | A

Ed Cowan was clearly unhappy with his lbw decision, Worcestershire v Australians, Tour match, New Road, 3rd day, July 4, 2013
In search of centuries: Darren Lehmann has set the bar for minimum of one century from his batsmen per Test © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Michael Clarke | Ed Cowan | Chris Rogers
Teams: Australia | England

It will be the earnest hope of every Australian batsman that some of the most significant moments of the visit to Worcester took place not on the field at New Road but in the dressing room. There, for about an hour after play on day two, the tourists engaged in a frank and occasionally spicy batting meeting. Views were shared between players, the captain, Michael Clarke, and the coach, Darren Lehmann. The question of how best to go about batting at Trent Bridge, and the topic of handling swing bowling, were both robustly confronted.

Success or failure in the Ashes series will depend largely upon the ability of a much-doubted and debated Australian batting order to stand up to English pressure, and not fall prey to the moving or spinning ball. As befits his knack for catching the essence of the thing, Lehmann translates the matter to a simple maxim: many more hundreds have to be made.

Among numerous set ambitions Lehmann brought to the coaching job, his desire to drive his players to more centuries was prominent. He wants an absolute minimum of one per Test. Given that Australia managed only one for the entire series in India, to Clarke in the first match at Chennai, it is abundantly clear how much work needs to be done.

"We want a hundred every game, possibly two if not three, that would be great," Lehmann said. "Hundreds will count and that's a big thing for us. I don't think we've made enough hundreds as a batting unit for a long period of time now, there's probably only been a couple in the last few Test series and Michael's made most of them, so we need to make more hundreds as a unit definitely, for us to get to where we want to go to.

"Test cricket we know is going to be a lot harder than the tour games we've played, we're not shying away from that fact, we know we have to bat better. I think we batted really well with good intent and aggressive and all the things we talk about, but there are going to be times in this Test series where it's not going to be as easy I'm sure. We're going to have to find ways to make runs and that's what we've been working on, for Nos. 1 to 11."

Coming from two seasons of state coaching with Queensland, Lehmann was very aware that the supply of three-figure scores had dried up across the country. For most of last summer only the 30somethings - Ricky Ponting, Brad Haddin and Chris Rogers - had notched more than one apiece in the Sheffield Shield.

They were belatedly joined by Joe Burns and Jordan Silk in the closing weeks of the season, the latter's two centuries enough to vault him onto the Australia A tour having only debuted for Tasmania's Shield team in February. Lehmann pointed out that Rogers' elevation to be part of the Ashes squad arose largely through his ability to churn out telling scores. In the case of Phillip Hughes, 21 first-class hundreds demonstrate that he has the hunger to get them even if his technique does not always convince.

Australia's Test centurions since June 2012

  • Michael Clarke - four
  • Michael Hussey - three
  • David Warner - one
  • Ed Cowan - one
  • Matthew Wade - one

"I think it's [a problem] right down the line to be perfectly honest," Lehmann said. "In state cricket we haven't seen enough hundreds, guys coming through have got to make more hundreds. You've seen Chris Rogers obviously make a lot of hundreds, last year in the county system and now he gets his chance in the Test match. It's a big thing for us as a team to make hundreds, it'll make our bowlers' job a lot easier, and we'll make bigger scores."

One of the touring team's most troubling cases is that of Ed Cowan, possessed of an accumulator's method that suggests he should reach three figures regularly. It was with a scoring sequence of 134*, 145, 10, 65, 145* and 109 in the lead-up to the 2011 Boxing Day Test against India that Cowan won his international berth, but since being given his baggy green cap he has made only one century in Tests - against South Africa in Brisbane last year.

Lehmann acknowledged that Cowan had left his place open to conjecture by repeatedly failing to go on to big scores, the latest a typically middling double of 58 and 34 against Worcestershire. "He got some runs, you'd love him to make some hundreds and put his position beyond any doubt at all," Lehmann said. "But we've just got to sit down and work out whether he's in that top six or not."

The meeting at New Road was emblematic of the focus Lehmann and Clarke have committed to the issue of making significant runs, their urgency increased by the knowledge that when the Australians walk out for the national anthems before the first Test at Trent Bridge, they will be facing a team steeped in the art of century-making. Alastair Cook (25), Jonathan Trott (9), Ian Bell (17), Kevin Pietersen (22) and Matt Prior (7) are all better versed at compiling tallies that are not merely handy but monumental.

So when Lehmann speaks of England's batsmen it is not only of their weaknesses but also of traits his side can - nay, must - learn from. "We know them pretty well because they've had a similar side over a period of time now, which is an advantage I think," he said. "For us it's case of making sure we've ticked all those boxes and actually making sure that we're ready to go. So we are talking about cricket, about each player, doing everything behind the scenes to make sure we implement that in the game."

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

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Posted by landl47 on (July 9, 2013, 5:02 GMT)

One interesting thing is that although England's batting line-up is vastly more experienced than Australia's, the Australian batting line-up is older than England's. The England line-up of Cook, Root, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Bairstow and Prior have 398 tests between them and a total age of exactly 200 years, average 28. Australia's line-up, which I anticipate will be Watson, Rogers, Cowan, Hughes, Clarke, Smith and Haddin, have 226 test between them and 213 years, average age 30. Aus has two 35-year olds in Rogers and Haddin, while England's senior batsman is Pietersen, who just turned 33. Even England's youngsters, Root and Bairstow, at 22 and 23 respectively, are younger than Australia's Hughes and Smith, both 24. Bringing in Warner only slightly raises the number of tests and Khawaja would actually lower the number.

Older but less experienced wouldn't seem to be a good combination. The bowling line-ups are more conventional- England's is older but a lot more experienced.

Posted by Nicely_Time.Man on (July 8, 2013, 17:56 GMT)

@Yes Valkyries I'm agree to you Cowan or Warner should bat on no.3 position. No need of khawaja he got too many chances his SR is also very poor. Cowan can resist. @Mary786 you are the person who told khawaja instead of Hughes and we need batsman like Cowan & Khawaja. Now what happen here? We know that Khwaja is from your homeland but here he is representing Australia not your nation Pak. your always mediocre comments from your side is acceptable but not appreciable. Other batsmen are eagerly waiting for opportunity to perform and impact. and what is the relation between Arthur gone and khawaja's performance?

Posted by AKS286 on (July 8, 2013, 16:29 GMT)

S.Marsh is the next Hodge or may be Rogers. players like below standards khawaja, Cowan, Hughes, Waste, lyon,Starc & Warner are getting chance and chance but players like Hussey. Hodge, Marsh, Smith, Haddin, Johnson, Hauritz, Krezja, Beer, Klinger, Cosgrove, Bailey, Forrest, Ferguson, Paine,Boyce,etc are out completely. VC is the farewell gift of Haddin (Ashes is the last test series for him). Now everyone knows that special fans feeling towards khawaja & Fawad in every comment OMG.

Posted by AKS286 on (July 8, 2013, 15:24 GMT)

Centuries interesting, but it depends upon at which inning it has been score. You can't expect centuries from top 4. A single century by an opener and rest century partnership will build the mammoth score. Opening partnership is more important because the main strike bowler Jimmy is more dangerous with new ball and he showed in CT that he can bowl reverse swing with new ball so, opening stands & couple of half century partnership can do it.

Posted by Yes.Valkyries on (July 8, 2013, 14:53 GMT)

Shaggy076 Mate for Mary786 Australian team is all about Khawaja, His comments starts from Khawaja and end with Khawaja. Leave him If Lyon & Agar fails then Fawad will be added in his bucket. Cowan is ahead of Khawaja, Cowan can also steady middle order if he bats in middle order. i think smith proved himself that he deserve a place. After a good performance in India Moises deserve a place as an allrounder. If Watto & Rogers open then Cowan at no.3/4 is a good choice.

Posted by Mayan820 on (July 8, 2013, 12:47 GMT)

The English are going to win the home series as well as the series in Australia . . . by what margin is a much more tricky question. You would think that the Ausies will draw one test back, maybe two, in each series. The English have not gotten where they are for lack of knowing the game of cricket, backwards, and are are more than a handful to contain in their own conditions, just ask the Proteas. The latter escaped with a series win the last time these two sides met, but it was very far from a pushover. As a Protea supporter I am rather going to enjoy this battle. Hope these two sides thoroughly tire one another out so that the Proteas and India can just come and mop up what is left of them.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (July 8, 2013, 7:29 GMT)

Mary786- I have nothing against Khawaja but sorry to break it to you 190 runs at 30 isn't great form if he was in line for first test he would have played the last warm up game. what advantage does australia have by leaving him out of that game and playing him in the first test? Answer is none. just breaking the news to you now rather than building up your hopes

Posted by satishchandar on (July 8, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

Those were days.. Langer, Haydos, Punter, Martyn, Lehmann/Symonds/Clarke, Gilchrist all capable of scoring a counter attacking 100 and demoralising the opponents within no time.. Even if the current crop dont do it with same flouruishness, they got to do the job atleast like English men.. None apart from KP and Prior are flamboyant but every single batsman knows their limitations and plays according to it.. Don't let the occasion take over your inhibition.. Play every ball on merit and put huge price on your wicket.. Score will obviously follow.. My Aussie 11 would be, Watson, Rogers, Cowan(would still pick him for his ability to stay in wicket and big score might be around corner. 1 100 might bring in many to), Clarke, Khawaja, Haddin(I would play him at 6 certainly. Looks second best batsman after pup in the squad), Smith, Pattinson, Starc, Siddle, Agar(With loads of right handers, England knows how to tackle off spinner unless he is Ajmal)..

Posted by Amith_S on (July 8, 2013, 5:54 GMT)

1. Watson 2. Rogers 3. Khawaja 4. Clarke (c) 5. Hughes 6. Warner 7. Haddin (w) 8. Starc 9. Siddle 10. Pattinson 11. Lyon

Its good to have Rogers and Watson opening, boof bought some common sense by getting these guys to open. I am hoping we get Khawaja at 3 as he is a geniune number 3 and Clarke moves up to 4 with Hughes at 5. Watson and Khawaja to have big series because we can't just rely on Clarke to get all our runs.

Posted by Mary_786 on (July 8, 2013, 5:51 GMT)

Shaggy076 Khawaja top scored in the first warm up so i am sure he will be in the top 6. With Arthur gone Cowan's chances of playing are less so and Smith will beat him to his position. Daniel Simons has the team i would go for too. 1. Watson 2. Rogers 3. Khawaja 4. Clarke (c) 5. Hughes 6. Smith 7. Haddin (w) 8. Starc 9. Siddle 10. Pattinson 11. Lyon

Posted by Shaggy076 on (July 8, 2013, 5:21 GMT)

Claas9ryan are you saying Clarke is maybe in the same class as Ian Bell, with that inaccuracy don't think I need to dispute the rest if your post. its quite obviously a fluff piece.

Posted by svengali47 on (July 8, 2013, 5:19 GMT)

Likely Aussie team we know already, but my Aussie team would be, Watson, Rogers, Warner, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Faulkner, Agar, Copeland, Sandhu, Pattinson. Then second test would be Watson, Rogers, Warner, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Agar, Starc, Copeland, Harris, Bird. Then the worst bowler from the first two tests would be replaced by Siddle if needed.

Posted by   on (July 8, 2013, 4:50 GMT)

Lehman has hit the nail on its head; Aus cricket is lacking the big scorers in domestic and this is showing in International cricket. What a situation to be in! Surprisingly, you don't find many of these players in 20/20 leagues, hence it can't be the reason. One I can think of is the number of teams in domestic top flight. They need to redraw domestic cricket to create more teams; increase the pipeline. Obviously first few years they will find lack of quality players to fill the team sheets. But on the long run it should help them

Posted by class9ryan on (July 8, 2013, 1:27 GMT)

Kind of line-up England boasts, they can make massive scores in this form of the game - Cook, Trott, Bell, Pietersen have huge numbers alongside their names and Matt Prior has been the best wicketkeeper in Tests in all conditions- subcontinent, English or anywhere else.

Australia lack players like them, maybe Clarke the exception among them. If the Australian bowlers can stand up I don't think any batting is strong enough to bash them.

Posted by   on (July 8, 2013, 1:05 GMT)

reddawn.. Johnson had a terrible series in India and Marsh most certaily does NOT deserve to be there... He made 1 50 in the whole shield season and decided he'd rather play 20/20 than try for a county contract so no chance... aside from O'keefe being absent the squad is perfect

1. Watson 2. Rogers 3. Khawaja 4. Clarke (c) 5. Hughes 6. Smith 7. Haddin (w) 8. Starc 9. Siddle 10. Pattinson 11. Lyon

The good thing for Aus is these players have all pulled their weight in the warm up matches which wasn't the case in India...

Posted by Shaggy076 on (July 7, 2013, 22:53 GMT)

manaswi sorry to cut down your pathetically inaccurate post, nut the Australian test form has been as good as ebglands. just one blemish the manufactured tracks of India. England have too my h pride to stoop to the selective watering practices and bravo to England for that. also on true turning tracks in Sri Lanka Australia came out on top so please try again and maybe try some facts to support your opinion pieces.

Posted by Shaggy076 on (July 7, 2013, 22:49 GMT)

To all the Khaeaja fans, do you honestly believe that if he was to be playing the first test that he would have been left out of the last tour game. Australia had nothing to gain by leaving out a batsman with limited match practice and playing him in the first test. Sorry to break the news but he will not be playing they will be choosing two players from smith, warner and Cowan. I suspect it will be smith and Cowan.

Posted by   on (July 7, 2013, 16:22 GMT)

Its looking interesting but u have to be serious and then u cqn easily think its one sided affair, For Aussies its harsh reality that We are putting too many IF AND BUTS to give them upper hand or even Equivalent.

We must also consider england can go with panesar, swann and a turning track If needed to mentally and physically detoriate Kangaroos

Posted by Yes.Valkyries on (July 7, 2013, 16:17 GMT)

Really Australian team need to score big runs but if we looks at top order then i don't expect centuries but atleast three half centuries. Lehmann can't bat and do only paper work rest depends upon Aus's arrogant and egoistic captain. Hughes, Watson, Rogers, Clarke, Warner, Haddin, Moises, Pattinson, Siddle, Harris, Agar. About overrated Khawaja with the SR of 39 avg of 29. His performance against club and minnows are- 27, 73, 29*, 6, 0, 51, 8, 1 Well is this is the standard to qualify for test spot?

Posted by Mary_786 on (July 7, 2013, 15:28 GMT)

@Babycricketer i think you are close with your team predictions for both sides.

Posted by babycricketer on (July 7, 2013, 15:21 GMT)

Ashes Game 1 Teams (in my view) England Australia 1) Root Watson 2) Cook (c) Rogers 3) Trott Khawaja 4) Pietersen Clarke (c) 5) Bell Hughes 6) Bairstow Smith 7) Prior (wk) Wade (wk) 8) Broad Starc 9) Swann Siddle 10) Finn Pattinson 11) Anderson Ahmed (if called in)/ Lyon

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (July 7, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

Couldn't have said it better myself Ozwriter.

Posted by bushranger27 on (July 7, 2013, 13:10 GMT)

There's a lot of talk about England's batting being far superior to that of England.Well, let's see. A man to man comparison Watson vs Root One would pick Watson

Rogers vs Cook Cook gets the nod here

Khawaja vs Trott Definitely Trott

Clarke vs Pietersen Not much to choose

Hughes vs Bell This interesting. It's class vs recent form.But, you'll have to give it to Bell.

Smith vs Bairstow I'll choose Smith

Haddin vs Prior Again not much too choose

I would say, England have the upper hand just because of their familiarity with the conditions and past performances. Australia are definitely the underdogs, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do better than their counterparts!

Posted by Mary_786 on (July 7, 2013, 10:46 GMT)

Ozwriter spot on, Cowan has had 20 games in a row, how about giving a third of those to Khawaja and Smith. Khawaja will excel for us if given 5 games in a row. Barnsey444 relax no one is suggesting Hughes shouldn't be there, but that he might get exposed to good quality swing bowling at 3.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (July 7, 2013, 10:44 GMT)

Mary completely agree with you on Khawaja, he is a real talent for us and i can't wait to see him make this series his own given Arthur is gone and that he might actually get a chance. Top scorer in the first warm up game he is ready to go at 3. If he can only get half the chances given to Cowan i will be happy. And i thought long and hard about the bowling and i am leaning towards Siddle as the 3rd seamer, i hope we go with that.

Posted by ozwriter on (July 7, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

@Barnesy4444. i think the comparison should be old news. Recent form is only one of factors against cowan. cowan is an average shield player and a below average test player. apart from those 3 games where he scored a few centuries, he has done nothing of note. form is temporary, class is permanent. cowan has average form, and no class. in any case, i'd say cowan is competing with smith for the no. 6 spot. so your favourite player might still be in the team.

Posted by reddawn1975 on (July 7, 2013, 8:36 GMT)

I really hope Lehmann drafts into the squad Mitch Johnson and Shaun Marsh they should be in this side and also Tim Paine should be in the squad

Posted by ozwriter on (July 7, 2013, 8:33 GMT)

warner shouldn't be in the side. Warner has probably had the easiest ride into the Australian test team of any player in the history of the game, he has never had to prove himself at first class level, he got picked for the Australian T20 team before he even played a first class match for NSW on the back of a couple of lusty big bash innings. While most batsmen have to earn their test spot with a mountain of first class runs, with Warner it seems that his perceived 'immense natural talent' shown in his cricket academy days, and that he is a captains favourite is enough to guarantee test selection for him.

Posted by   on (July 7, 2013, 8:10 GMT)

I sincerely hope the Aussies don't make the mistake of going by their batters form in the tour games and completely ignoring their drought of runs during the India test series. They would do well to remember that around the same English team won 2-1 against the Indians at home, while they were routed 4-0 not very long after that. If their top order has learnt its lessons from the India series, they would do well to implement them in the Ashes. They also need to be mindful that Anderson and Co are far superior in their art of swing bowling to most others around the world and they will do well to buckle down and simply follow Lehmann's dictum of atleast 1-2 centuries per match ! Best of luck to the Aussies !

Posted by the_blue_android on (July 7, 2013, 8:03 GMT)

this English team like all English teams of the past team cannot handle pressure very well. It's an excellent team when things are going their way. Once under pressure, they panic and fare very poorly( like losing at home against SA and losing to pak so badly). England is going to lose as they will be under pressure because everyone is expecting them to win 5-0.

Posted by spacebeagle on (July 7, 2013, 7:59 GMT)

@someguy.

'Last time they were in England, Watson got 50 in almost every innings' But you seem to forget you lost that series, thus demonstrating my point that 50s from your senior, established players are not enough to win matches! 'throw in a decent score from Clarke & Haddin' - replace Clarke with Hussey in that comment and you've just described Australia's batting in 10-11, and we know what happened there. Australia's batting is a combination of the inexperienced (Khawaja, Cowan, Warner), the not good enough (Hughes, Watson) and Michael Clarke. For all his experience in the county game Rogers in an unknown quantity in test cricket and that makes him a massive risk. The fact that CA is prepared to take such a massive risk shows the current sorry state of Australian batting.

Posted by thebatsmansHoldingthebowlersWilley on (July 7, 2013, 7:57 GMT)

Top class coaching from Lehmann, telling the batsmen to make centuries. That's sure to make all the difference. No doubt Cowan will now start blasting double centuries and Watson will convert his fifties...the fact is they're not good enough to make test centuries. Clarke is a quality bat...the rest are passengers

Posted by Someguy on (July 7, 2013, 6:31 GMT)

@spacebeagle - Last time they were in England, Watson got 50 in almost every innings, throw in a decent score from Clarke and Haddin and contributions from everyone else, considering most of the tail are pretty handy, and you can get a pretty respectable total without anyone looking particularly threatening. Having said that, I have faith that some of the batsmen will stand up this series.

What happened in India is irrelevant, because the conditions are comepletely different.

I'm backing Clarke, Hughes, Haddin and Rogers for at least 2 100's each. At least 1 from Smith if he gets a run, and Watson to get 30+ in every innings with never going past 80. Pattinson, Starc and Siddle all to average 25+ with the bat for the series.

I am confident they will consistently post decent totals. Pattinson and Starc to be the leading wicket takers for the series (if they can make it through the series without injury).

I am predicting a series as tight and competitive as the 05 ashes

Posted by jimbond on (July 7, 2013, 6:04 GMT)

Khwaja certainly is overrated. He hasnt performed well at the international level- though his first class and test averages are definitely better than cowan

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (July 7, 2013, 2:37 GMT)

Who to bat at 3 is the question. I think most people agree selections should be based on performance. In these warm up matches, Khawaja: 193 runs at 32. Hughes: 289 runs at 72 (Clarke declared once when he looked set for a century). Can someone please tell me how Khawaja could possibly be selected at 3 when his recent performances are worse than Cowan's?

Posted by BlueyCollar on (July 7, 2013, 1:45 GMT)

Just an idea but why not have a fluid batting line up. One - Identify your weapons, (Those that are most likely to win you a test), choose the best time of an innings that suits their particular strengths and the others bat around them. Therefore your weapons may be Watson, (Always opens as he likes the ball coming on and can score quickly), Clarke, (Bats first wicket down after the 30 over mark) and Haddin (Always comes in as close to 20 overs before the second new ball). The balance of the side bats round them. Two - If 1 type of batsmen gets out try to replace them with a like batsmen, (Not a weapon though). eg If Watson falls early leaving Cowen or Rogers at the other end, replace him with another aggressive batsman like Warner or even empower one of the attacking tail enders like Starc, If he gets you through to the time to insert your 2nd weapon, Clarke at 30 overs, and scores a quick 50, all the better. Risky strategy but one day a brave coach may find this successful.

Posted by electric_loco_WAP4 on (July 7, 2013, 1:28 GMT)

Aus 5 , Eng 0. Scoreline for Ashes in coming series and DU is as good as sealed . This has to be 1 of most bog avg. Eng sides in history and SL, NZ, Pak, Aus and a few other sides are far superior to them in all facets. Expecting Clark's 1st big 300+ of the series vs his fav. Eng bowlers in Trent B.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 22:53 GMT)

Chris Rogers adds some much-needed experience to this depleted Australian side, so glad to see him opening along with Watto. Watto, Rogers, Clarke, and Haddin will be the experienced batsmen, so everyone else will be looking to bat around them.

That being said, it's time Australia stop relying on Clarke so much. I'd like to see Hughes - if he plays - to get some runs under his belt. Khawaja needs to prove himself, or else with all that talk of talent, he'll end up being Australia's Rohit Sharma.

Steve Smith actually isn't such a bad choice like many suggest, the man can bat, and well. Now obviously, the England batting line-up look much better on paper compared to the Australian batting unit, but how the actual Test is played is what counts. Hope to see a evenly matched contest!

Posted by landl47 on (July 6, 2013, 22:21 GMT)

Darren Lehmann demonstrates that he is a top-class strategist by revealing that he wants the batsmen to make centuries.

In the next day or two, watch out for the second part of his master-plan as he tells us that he wants the bowlers to take wickets.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 22:02 GMT)

Time will tell. Watching players developing into good test cricketers is sometime better than waiting on a group of guys that have never really fulfilled test cricket potential. Wait for a big upset here.

Posted by wellrounded87 on (July 6, 2013, 21:53 GMT)

@Eskimo,

We won in India in 2004. And were competitive in 2008. Last year was the worst showing we've had in India , but you are right in it's a completely different kettle of fish. In England conditions suit our bowlers and batsmen. But they still need to lift their games

Posted by crikkfan on (July 6, 2013, 21:38 GMT)

Isn't making hundreds just an incidental consequence indicative of a batting form rather than a symptom in itself? would lehmann take it if cowan, warner and hughes score flowing 80s or 90s and they score 450 in 100 overs that sets up their seamers well? a lots of times arguments over 100s tend to move in the direction of the players being selfish particularly in reference to sub-continental players whiile the reality is that everywhere around it is viewed as a significant milestone whether it contributes to team cause or not. I myself don't see a necessary correlation between this statistic and the poor batting form of oz.

Posted by Eskimo on (July 6, 2013, 19:49 GMT)

For the first time I think the Aussies have sorted out their batting line-up. Cowan reminds me of our Alviro that makes 30/40 consistently then gets out. And Hughes is starting to go down the Ramprakash route. Maybe he could benefit batting down the order, he is after all an attacking batsman. Smith I'd only play on a dry wicket. Siddle or Bird, under normal circumstances Bird would be an obvious choice, but then you'd have an inexperienced attack so I honestly don't know. If any Aussie fans are concerned about their recent performance in India, they shouldn't be. If memory serves they haven't done well over there (great team or no) for decades and still dominated everywhere else.

If Australia win this first test this Ashes will be in the balance. Now if England prepare dry-spinning wickets...

For the record (if it matters), my team would be:

1) Rogers 2) Watson 3) Khawaja 4) Clarke 5) Hughes 6) Warner/Smith 7) Haddin 8) Pattinson 9) Starc 10) Siddle/Bird 11) Lyon

Posted by AKS286 on (July 6, 2013, 18:53 GMT)

Rogers(10)+ Hughes(10) + Warner(20) + Wade(20)+ khwaja(5) +Siddle (35) = 100. So simple equation.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (July 6, 2013, 18:42 GMT)

HIclass, you forget that before the 2009 Ashes series Hughes played a few county games. From memory he made about 550 runs in 4 games averaging about 110. This was shortly after he smashed Steyn and Kallis in S.A. People were comparing him to Bradman, remember that? Last season he dominated county cricket. These warm-up games he is averaging 70. If he is so terrible against swing then why does he dominate in England so much? Khawaja averaged only 39 when Hughes averaged 55 last Shield season. I hear a lot about a century Khawaja made in Hobart. The Shield final in Hobart a couple of years back Hughes made 130 and 93. Only 7 runs short of a century in each innings of the final! Of course the ball did swing during that match. All of this as an opener, against the new swinging ball, hard seam and fresh bowlers. Even Arthur could see Hughes is a talent and wanted him in that top order long-term. Khawaja needs to do more and will be lucky to play the first test, I'm sorry.

Posted by KARNAWAT33 on (July 6, 2013, 18:35 GMT)

The insertion of Darren Lehmann will definitely help the side, as he is an Ashes winning member from the Australian Invincible Era. The point that I would like to highlight is that though the Australian batting may seem fragile, even their bowling if a matter of concern. Australia have been doing well, getting the required EARLY BREAK THROUGH, maybe more, but they LACK a quality spinner who can wrap things up. Plus, there have been A NUMBER OF INSTANCES where they have failed to take the Final couple of wickets, in some cases even the FINAL WICKET. This has been a trend since 2007 now, since India toured them. The capability of their bowlers has to been put to question, they just don't seem to find that extra gear, the OZZE SPIRIT is lacking, the killer instinct - of wrapping up a match, singing the victory song and enjoying a beer or two, that motivation is just not there, I'm sure we will see better things and I hope Pup and Clarkey can turn things around for good. OZZE OY! :)

Posted by jackthelad on (July 6, 2013, 17:35 GMT)

Darren - come on, mate. A batsman can make more money with a couple of fast flashy thirties or forties than by getting his head down and batting for a crafted century. That, really, is where the problem lies - the financial base of the game has moved to the T20 format, and that's where aspiring Australian batsmen (with a few exceptions) see their future. You can't blame them, but it has devalued the skills of cricket and the game has lost its way by appealing to the micro-attention span generation weaned on soundbites, highlights, flash-bang-wallop hitting and complete disregard of any talent but walloping sixes (however ugly they may be). With the 'Big Bash' competition, and australian players' deep involvement with IPL, Australian cricket has bought into this lock, stock and barrel. It will produce exciting but brittle batsmen with no powers of concentration beyond 12 or 15 overs - as, indeed, it has. The problems are more fundamental than bussing in a cheery coach can solve.

Posted by hhillbumper on (July 6, 2013, 17:33 GMT)

I thought this team was going to win 5-0.I keep hearing about how this team is like 89 team.Difference is that according to this Aus team they are the greatest ever. Do they have the batting line up to do this.We all know that obviously the bowling will get England out for under a Hundred in each innings so surely do they need to get a century. i mean this team has got it all sown up already.5-0 to Aus.

Posted by spacebeagle on (July 6, 2013, 17:00 GMT)

Compare these conversion ratios of 50s into 100s: MJ Clarke 47%, ML Hayden 51%, JL Langer 43%, AN Cook 46%, IJL Trott 36%, IR Bell 33%, KP Pietersen 42%, SR WATSON 9.5%, and he is your 2nd most experienced batsman! I'm sure that this must play on Watson's mind & I'm also sure that England's bowling attack will exploit it ruthlessly. This is the worst Aussie batting line up since Kim Hughes was captain. The quality of your bowling attack is irrelevant, your batsmen will not post a match winning total in the series.

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (July 6, 2013, 16:48 GMT)

@James_Murphy. Exactly how many 100s has Hughes scored in more than 20 tests? 3. Warner in 19? 3. Smith? 0. only 6 in all first class matches. Watson in the last 3 years? 1 or 2 in first class only. I wouldn't pick Cowan either, but Usman deserves a chance. At least as good as Ed and Warner have received with very mixed results. Rogers, Watson, UTK, Hughes, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon, Bird.

Posted by gsingh7 on (July 6, 2013, 16:07 GMT)

so true. aus lacks hundreds as we seen in india series . 1 hundred of clarke in 8 innings and result was 4-0 loss at hand of youthful indian side who had 3 double centurians in pujara dhoni and vijay. in this ashes expecting atleast 2 hundreds each from watson and clarke. maybe a double hundred too. hughes , smith, warner , rogers all capable of providing a match winning knock.

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (July 6, 2013, 15:57 GMT)

Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Hughes, Warner does well for me. 2 of our better openers in their, Khawaja who is the best 3 in the squad, Clarke as our best batsman moves up one spot followed by Hughes and Warner. Bowling attack for me would be Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon, can't wait for the ashes to start.

Posted by hycIass on (July 6, 2013, 15:49 GMT)

Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Hughes, Warner for me for the top 6. Barnsey4444 Hughes is a good batsman but swing bowling will catch him out at 3, lets not expose him to that. He looks fine at 5 with Khawaja the best option at 3.Clarke has been great so far but boof is the real difference, his coaching is already changing things. Clarke can't do it alone and like Fleming mitch i tip Watson and Khawaja to be the other guys who will make a big difference in the batting provided Khawaja can finally get his chance. I am also really looking forward to seeing Starc in England. He has always had the ability to produce unplayable balls, and unplayable spells. His first test in Brisbane against Sri Lanka was great. He knocked over the West Indies in an ODI in Perth with a spell that still sticks in my mind. I think he is the sleeper here. English conditions should be ideal for him.

Posted by anupkeni on (July 6, 2013, 15:48 GMT)

Given that Australia managed only one for the entire series in India, to Clarke in the first match at Mohali, it is abundantly clear how much work needs to be done.

Michael Clarke scored his hundred in the first test in Chennai, not in Mohali.

Posted by Jagger on (July 6, 2013, 15:32 GMT)

Watson, Rogers, Hughes, Clarke, Smith, Warner, Haddin, Faulkner, Harris, Pattinson, Bird.

I would have liked O'Keefe in there and Starc, both left armers, but O'Keefe wasn't picked and Starc is a proven limited overs bowler. Starc has not yet learned whether he's a wicket taker or an economical bowler, whereas O'Keefe would be the perfect foil for Watson, Pattinson, Harris and Bird. Plus he has a first class batting average similar to Cowan.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (July 6, 2013, 15:25 GMT)

James Murphy, Michael Vaughan and Gilly are right. It's the 5-6 spots that are up for grabs between Warner, Khawaja and Smith. If Warner is looking good in practice then they might go with him. Smith really is good against spin, nearly as good as Clarke. They may go with Warner 5, Smith 6 as Warner can make big hundreds so get him in a little earlier, he's also more experienced.

Posted by Partyman on (July 6, 2013, 15:11 GMT)

All is going to be OK with Australia. Pattinson wants vengeance and Starc is going target Cook. Also Pattinson is going to sledge the hell out of our batsmen. Forget about the runs - you big talking bowlers will deliver you the Ashes.

Posted by prosanto on (July 6, 2013, 15:03 GMT)

1. Watson 2. Rogers 3. Hughes 4. Clarke 5. Smith 6. Haddin 7. Faulkner 8. Siddle 9. Starc 10. Pattinson 11. Lyon (12 Warner)

best team to win.. with this batting line up they can score 400+ every innings and see the bowling combination.. pace( 8,9,10) medium pace ( 1,7) spin ( 11,5,4) Clarke will never run out of bowling options.... if this is the team i am going to see Australia winning 2-1.....

Posted by James_Murphy on (July 6, 2013, 14:29 GMT)

Adam Gilchrist and Michael Vaughan have both picked their 1st test teams and the top 6 are identical. Watson Rogers Hughes Clarke Smith Warner. I think that is how Boof will go. Makes common sense. Both Khawaja and Cowan are the two most likely not to score the hundreds Australia need. They also lack the intent and aggression needed to impose themselves on the game. Seems obvious they will miss out unfortunately for them.

Posted by RJHB on (July 6, 2013, 14:25 GMT)

If anyone still doesn't believe in the negative impact of T20cricket on batsmanship, especially it seems in Australia, they are kidding themselves! As poor as the batting has been for quite some time, Clarke and Hussey aside, there most certainly have been times when the likes of Warner, Watson and Cowan have gotten well set and looked primed for hundreds, and then given their wicket away like millionaires. It's a lack of concentration and patience, virtues T20 cricket couldn't give a toss about, that has been clearly evident. I'm not saying T20 is killing the batting of other countries, it actually seems to be helping India's batting, but it certainly is hurting Australia.

Posted by Syd_F on (July 6, 2013, 14:20 GMT)

My team for the first test will be - Rogers, Watson, Cowan, Smith, Clarke, Warner, Haddin, Starc, Siddle, Pattison, Lyon. Call me mad, I'm predicting a poor series Cook and Root. England is putting undue pressure on Root to open here. They should have left him at six, and had Compton partner Cook.

Posted by 214ty on (July 6, 2013, 14:16 GMT)

The big question is Where will the runs come from? I pick Clarke and Haddin to deliver. I have no confidence in the others. I don't like their technique and they are vulnerable too much. I've never seen Lyons vary a ball yet, all balls are flighted like lollipops. I've always said Clarke is the best spinner on the team and he should bowl a few overs. As I said before if U bowl straight to England U stand a chance, but if U cannot maintain good line and length, the series is practically over. Use the NZ series in NZ and the first test against NZ in England to prove that. GO AUSSIES!!!

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (July 6, 2013, 13:13 GMT)

I still can't work out why many here keep putting Khawaja at 3? Is it just because everybody else is? Khawaja has only scored one century and one other score over 80 in 12 months! Even Punter began his career at 6 and had to EARN a move up the order.

Hughes has scored 280 runs at 70 in these warm up games. He won Shield player of the year last year, making about 6 scores over 80 and averaged about 55, khawaja averaged about 39. Khawaja barely deserves a spot in the team let alone push Hughes out of the number 3 spot.

Top 4 will be Watson, Rogers, Hughes, Clarke with 5-6 up for grabs.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (July 6, 2013, 12:58 GMT)

@Fleming i think the team is looking like as you suggest with Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Hugehs and Smith. My worry is that if we put Hughes at 3 then he will be tortured in England,. With the softer ball the ball won't swing as much so best to leave him at 5. Khawaja is among our better batsman of handling swing so keep him at 3.. I think Lehmann knows this and if he plays him it will be at 3…And great to see boof move Clarke up to 4. Don't ask me about hte bowlers, we are spoilt for options there.

Posted by ozwriter on (July 6, 2013, 12:35 GMT)

@jmcilhinney. i don't think anyone needs 'suggestions' to say arthur was awful; the results on and off the field during his reign tell his tragic story. lehmann will likewise be judged on his results and early signs are promising. most cricket commentary experts and former players also say he is and will continue to be better for the team. if you wanted to put it in simple black-white terms then of course yes, lehman = good, arthur = bad

Posted by Amith_S on (July 6, 2013, 12:27 GMT)

@babarazam09 i like your team, Rogers and Watson must open, Khawaja must come in at 3 and Clarke moves up to 4, the real question is who gets number 6 spot. Cowan can't be picked. It was always as a bit rich for cowan to come out and start counting his chickens. he has a history of doing this previously. coming a from private boys school and being seen as a potential leader or good speaker doesn't mean you are guaranteed a position in the team. If Rogers wasn't there i would give Cowan one more chance but now its Rogers turn plus Cowan has had nearly 20 games in a row already. Hughes and Khawaja will fire for us in this series. My X1 is Watson, Rogers, Khawaja, Clarke, Hughes, Warner, Haddin, Siddle, Starc, Pattinson, Lyon.

Posted by babarazam09 on (July 6, 2013, 11:50 GMT)

for me THe playing 11 1 watson 2 rogers 3 khawaja 4 clarke 5 hughes 6 smith 7 haddin 8 starc 9 siddle 10 pattinson /harris 11 lyon khawaja should be given a couple of chances if he fails then i think they should bring in cowan n if any of the fast bowlers fail ibring in either faulkner or bird but my first priority will be faulkner becausee he can be handy down the order n england's weakness against leftarm seamers

Posted by sharidas on (July 6, 2013, 11:38 GMT)

What is making the Ashes interesting is, the yoyo thought process of the Australian batting line-up. It is going to be a very hard decision for Lehmann. Other than Watson,Rogers Clarke, Haddin and the bowlers, there is no player who can stake claims for the other positions based on their recent form. The sooner a line-up is decided on, the better. At least then the players can mentally plan for the task at hand.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 6, 2013, 11:26 GMT)

@ozwriter on (July 6, 2013, 10:53 GMT), really? You think that Australia doesn't do skin-fold tests any more just because Lehmann's coach now? I don't recall Arthur talking about skin folds except when pressed on what the previous transgressions had been during homeworkgate and it's apparently OK for Lehmann to say things like "tick all those boxes" but not for Arthur to talk about "intensity"? I have no issue with people thinking that Lehmann will do a better job as Australian coach than Arthur but statement like yours intended to suggest that Lehmann = good and Arthur equals bad are simply baseless.

Posted by king78787 on (July 6, 2013, 11:19 GMT)

Ver true. A hundred is 100 runs. If someone makes a hundred it would take something spectacular for 250 to be unachieveable.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (July 6, 2013, 11:10 GMT)

That familiar feeling to Oz fans, as the top order falls cheaply and the tail scores more than the top six before being skittled, looks set to return soon. This notoriously brittle Australian batting line up, fresh from the whitewash inflicted by the same team England had thrashed only just before, has had some desperate changes made to it recently. Rodgers is a good bat but completely untested against the quality of England, and the shuffling around that's been going on has looked like the re-arranging of Titanic's deckchairs. Australia's batting problems generally have been always hampered by the fact that their captain, the best bat in the team, has refused repeatedly to move up the order and take charge of the chaos that is the top four. Phil Hughes is a name that makes England fans grin, he always goes down a treat for Eng fans in the Ashes, and they can't wait to see him again this year!

Posted by Puffin on (July 6, 2013, 11:06 GMT)

I think Lehmann should keep expectations under control a little and be somewhat patient with what is obviously a team in a process of rebuilding. Plainly a lot is riding on the back of Clarke, if the "chief tent prop" fails then it's an opportunity for someone else to do something impressive.

England have a some very good bowlers (and some that are good in patches, you know who) and I can see this batting being skittled unless they remember this is test cricket not T20. If not, then it looks a similar situation & result as the 1985 Ashes tour. Except hopefully not as much rain!

Posted by KhanMitch on (July 6, 2013, 10:59 GMT)

Its simple.

1. Watson 2. Rogers 3. Khawaja 4. Clarke 5. Hughes 6. Smith 7. Haddin 8. Siddle 9. Pattinson 10. Harris 11. Lyon

Cowan has been dissapointing from the word go, time we moved on from that experiment and give the likes of Khawaja and Hughes a go. Khawaja, Watson and Rogers will be great for us this series. I've gone with the fast bowlers who have the proven test records, Siddle will lift his game for the first test. Bird is my next in-line replacement for any of them with Starc the last resort.

Posted by Moppa on (July 6, 2013, 10:57 GMT)

Lehmann's right, but of course it's easier said than done. I think it's also true that a reduction in the 50-to-100 conversion rate has been a key part of Australia's broader Test decline, since about the 2009-10 summer by my estimation. It's also true that everyone's had a good hit in the most recent warm up games and the main batting 'problem' has been... you guessed it... not converting 50s to 100s. Somehow I don't think this is going to turn around quickly, on cue for such a big Test series.

Posted by ozwriter on (July 6, 2013, 10:53 GMT)

really liking boof's straight talking. no more beating around the bush. no more management speak with words such as 'intensity', 'ethic', 'attitude', 'skinfolds' etc.

cowan in my opinion has to go. he was drafted in after a sequence of centuries in all of 3 matches. and then? 1 century in 19 tests, thats about 2.5% conversion rate. the really good players make a century in 15- 25% of innings. an average shield player is never going to be a great test player. thats why we need to choose consistent performers from our shield cricket. consistency, unfortunately, is not something we can rely on with mr cowan.

Posted by RednWhiteArmy on (July 6, 2013, 10:20 GMT)

Michael Clarke will soon feel the noose tighten.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 10:18 GMT)

My Australia's playing XI for the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge: Watson, Cowan, Rogers, Haddin, Clarke, Smith, Warner, Faulkner, Starc, Lyon/Agar, Pattinson

Posted by Mary_786 on (July 6, 2013, 10:16 GMT)

Its simple for me, Watson and Rogers open, KHawaja comes in at 3, Clarke at 4, Hughes at 5 and Warner at 6, that's a solid batting lineup. For the bowling its a little tougher, Siddle vs Bird vs Harris for the 3rd seamer, i will go for Siddle because he has been a proven performer.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 10:08 GMT)

If Warner has to play it has to be at top of the order otherwise I don't see where he can fit. He isn't a wicket keeper but if people are looking at him to fill up Adam Gilchrist's boots, I don't think that's gonna happen. Not one down not No 6 but he has to open with Watto. Then what happens to Rogers? Rogers is much versatile player than Warner so he can come one down to support Watto if Warner get our shabbily.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 10:07 GMT)

Watson, Rogers and Hughes all need to step up. Hughes may only be 24, but he has lots of experience and 21 FC centuries under his belt. It's time for he and Watson to repay the faith the selectors and Clarkey have shown in them.

Posted by Batmanian on (July 6, 2013, 9:50 GMT)

Decent target - no more silly than 'winning' sessions, given that Test cricket is usually about risking any advantage in order for it to contribute to a win. The other thing is, 150 has been the new hundred for a while; Clarke's brilliance was only truly consummated by regularly pushing on. A team that can get a first innings 150 from a batsman is one hard to beat, and well positioned to win. Obviously, English conditions vary wildly. In Warner's favour, he's a batsman who often looks good for a quick hundred, and then for a big one, a bit like KP in his pomp.

Let's hope we're not counting cowans as we pray for a dishonourable draw like in India.

Posted by svengali47 on (July 6, 2013, 9:45 GMT)

My playing XI would be, Watson, Rogers, Warner, Clarke, Smith, Haddin, Faulkner, Agar, Starc, Pattinson, Harris (and Copeland/Sandhu would replace Harris in Test 2 if we lose and Harris doesn't take many wickets. Ditto Star and Faulkner.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

my playing xi for australia for the 1st test would be rogers, watson, cowan, warner, clarke, haddin , faulkner, harris, starc, siddle, lyon.

Posted by Potatis on (July 6, 2013, 9:32 GMT)

Yes, it's a shame Cowan hasn't gone on to get big scores. He is very consistent getting to 30, it would be good if he consistentle got to 100+. All he has to do is reset his score in his mind to zero, every time he gets to 30. Then he'll get another 30, and another and another if he keeps resetting his score to zero. Sadly, barring injury or illness to another player, I think his time has passed now as a member of the Aus side.

Posted by   on (July 6, 2013, 9:31 GMT)

You need to keep patience Lehmann. This is just another phase for Australian Cricket where they are not able to dominate like before. It takes time to rebuild a team and I am sure Australia will once again be a team to beat in some point of time. They won't dominate no but they certainly will give every opposition a fight and make the game more interesting for sure... That day will come but it will take time and patience.

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