06 August 2009


Shane Watson stated it too the point.
"We need to raise the intensity... We've been able to do it for a period of time, but we haven't been able to do it consistently, to keep it going for the whole five days. That's something we know we need to achieve to win this series."

The hunger to win the Ashes is now a realistic situation where the Baggy Green are hunting for victory by any means possible, and with gloomy weather to dampen our efforts in tasting a victory in this 4th Test, it will be very difficult now.
That 20th wicket we couldn't grab in that 1st Test has come back to haunt us as the Ashes nears closure.
The big question's for Australia are: Who will play, and who can play?
I know that if the team can work as a unit with both the batting and bowling departments, victory is there.
One pattern I have picked up is that when our batting is poor, it exposes our bowling attack, and the results are far from pleasing. However, when our batsmen find their feet and they can wear that ball down with endless cracks against the willow, our position is 9 times out of 10, dominant.
The main issue with our bowling has been the inability to provide pressure from both ends. Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson provided sensational pressure on the 4th day of the 3rd Test. It enabled Graham Swann and Stuart Broad too play their natural game and rattle our top order. Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting fell into the trap but our Middle-order pulled off some needed heroics to save ourselves from a second loss.
So the main thing that will be addressed is how can pressure be applied at both end's of the wicket.
Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle have been in the hot seat with Brett Lee and Stuart Clark coming into contention for the 4th Test.
Judging by some of the statements I have picked up, Peter Siddle looks likely to miss out on the final two Test's to make way for Brett or Stuart.
Shane Watson was very firm that he reckon's Brett needs a practice game before attempting a comeback in the 4th Test. I would like to argue with this, but Watto is the most experienced of players with injury hassles and the risks and precautions that need to be taken. There is also one day till the 4th Test, so no practive matches.
So, with this in mind Stuart Clark looks like his call-up is waiting, and this will be a great inclusion to our team with Stuart in the bowling ranks.
While Brett did bluntly state he is '100% ready to go', and that onlookers believe his net sessions were mighty impressive, the situation is that the risk of including him and a niggle occuring, will throw him off and put us in a risky spot with one less bowler midway through a Test.
After seeing footage of the Lions warm-up match, Brett would have been a demon against the English in this series. Wasn't to be though.
Makes me wonder, with all the ongoing injuries too the players, what the heck are the trainers, fitness and physio staff doing to these guys? Or is too much cricket? It's frustrating stuff!

So Clark in for Siddle? One thing for certain is that Nathan Hauritz must play. Simple as that, we need the spinner option for the Test, which will be more effective if our pace and seam bowlers can nail the pressure as a three man attack.
The other question is 'Haddin or Manou'?
Graham Manou played fantastically well in his debut Keeper duties. His gloves work was clean, quick and agile. He played a natural game under the circumstances of a last minute call-up to debut, and his second innings, while brief, looked promising.
The bloke can bat, and I wouldn't underestimate him too much with racing away to a half-century if needed.
Brad's injury is a slightly serious situation, and his loss affects the batting (no banter upon Manou's abilities intended here) as he has the tendency to steer things well on track. This may seem a bold statement, but there is no reason Brad Haddin couldn't be in this side as purely a middle order batsman.
Although Graham's keeping was a touch cleaner than Hads' keeping has been of recent times. Keeping at Lord's is apparently a tough job, Prior had a rough time himself so the bye's given at Lord's can be understandable.
Had's did manage to get some solid training done accoring to the media articles, and some injections always do the trick, but quite responsibly he did state that that was one session, and at the height of match intensity you have to keep it going for a another 4 days. So, it is a race for recovery there.

In the English camp there is worry over Andrew Flintoff's injury, but I am not too worried if Freddy can't hack another two Tests. The talk is that if Flintoff fails and the weather clears, we will win the Ashes.
It would be a fitting end to Flintoff's test career which has been continually plagued by injuries, which indicate his career stats are not truely reflective upon his raw abilities.

So Phillip Hughes will likely miss out again as it seems Michael Clarke's side strain is nothing too serious, and I guess the real waiting game starts as to whether Clark or Lee come into the side, whether Haddin is ready for a comeback, or lastly whether there will be any changes after the last Test? Change is needed with the standing of things, and just getting some fresh players in there, with experience in their favour, will be beneficial.

Slightly off topic from the Test level, I found a nice interview with Callum Ferguson regarding the ICC Champions Trophy to be played in South Africa in September. (INTERVIEW LINK AT THE END OF ARTICLE)
Australia are the holder's of the 2006 title, and the reschduling away from Pakistan has pushed the event by a year.
For the Australian one-day players, it will be a return to grounds they competed on not too long ago.
Think of David Hussey, should he be selected. It will be his 3rd time too play cricket in South Africa this year where he participated in the One Day series against the Proteas, The IPL and then the ICC Champions Trophy.
It will be a good event. It's a short event, in the 50 over version, quite rightly titled 'the mini World Cup'!
Fergal is one of my favourite upcoming Australian cricketer's and I just see enormous strength in his contributions to Australian cricket.
He has gone about his work so calmly and consistently, that he has rarely not made some kind of impact on our performances since his call-up against the Black caps.
CLICK HERE to be directed to the interview, and enjoy.

SOURCES used, Cricinfo.com


Baiju Nair said...


Your article made interesting reading, in my blog also I have raised that Million Dollar question, Lee....in or out...? Obviously people would love to see a charged up and fully fit Lee sending them flying at 150 K's, but the tricky part for the selectors will be to decide whether they need both Lee and Clark on the field and if so who will make the way..? Batting wise I feel Punter is due for a big one...cheers

Jawad said...

hey bud...

This is it. Do or Die situation for the Australians. The Ashes are at stake. If they want to stay in this series, they must win or atleast draw. Well enough with just barely holding on to draws, lets hope they win and win big!

I would pick Clark over Lee. Simply because Lee has had no match practice. Australia cannot risk having a breakdown in a crucial match. Clark should come in for siddle.

Ian said...

Hi Baiju.
Glad to see you hear again!
Thanks for sharing your input. The million dollar question could also be whether Punter will make big runs!! He has a great record in Leeds, so no doubt he will be backing himself, as will all the supporters. When he gets going, he is just awesome to watch, absolutely the maestro. Similar to Sachin and Brian Lara, although they were/are more solid starters.

It seems Clark is in (90% certain) but the questions still looms about Lee. The reason to not play him makes alot of sense.

Jawad, I'm alright dude. Yourself?
Yeah make or break, and the main thing is the boys heard your cries of 'Don't go 2-0 down!!!'...so let's hear a bit of '2-1 to Aussie'.
Clark 1st then Binga 2nd, agreed. But like Baiju said, it would be epic to see Binga firing them down. He was hostile at the practices and I want to see that!

It seems that Brad Haddin will be back. While Graham Manou is (in my opinion) a better keeper, Brad's overall element is needed as we push on too take the Ashes.

Thanks guys.

Jawad said...

I'm okay bud. You know, you are right! I did notice Manou to be a better keeper. I haven't been a big fan of Haddin but he certainly deserves to be there because he is a good batsman.

Sylvester said...

Was surprised Watson was so open about Lee not being ready. I totally agree that he needs a match to gain the confidence of me and the selectors.

If they want to risk Lee it would have to be over Hauritz and Watson will be required to bowl.

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