The side to tour India hasn't been selected yet, but over at the Forum quite a bunch of guys have already gotten into technical discussion regarding the probable team to tour India for the two Test match series. Some have suggested three seamers, while trying to accomodate two spinners alongside our part-timers and in a few instances two seamers has been a suggestion given the usual average performances from seamers in the sub-continent. This is also keeping in mind that one of our main seamers has been well short of his best, and India isn't the best hunting ground for him.
Here's some ideas posted below for those of you not on the Forum to take a look at.
We're kind of doing our own NSP kind of role here. Alot to contemplate, especially with the Ashes just around the corner, although the general consensus is that India isn't the ideal venue to play at ahead of the Ashes. Will be a good chance for our batsmen to try look half decent again.
* 6. North/Khawaja/White: Suggestion made to be left out altogether, therefore;
6/7. Haddin/ Paine
I think most would be hesitant to see the NSP go fooling about with the Watto/Katto duo up the top of the order. Without Phillip Hughes, Phil Jaques and Chris Rogers in a County stint who's unlikely to feature for the Baggy Green anytime soon, the wisest choice is to stick with an opening duo that haven't done that bad a job.
Watto will probably find batting in India alot easier at the top of the order as opposed to the middle order against the spinners on a wicket that may deteriorate quickly. This is where he batted during the Border-Gavaskar series in 2008, which was an average outing for him by his current playing abilities. All Watto needs is one good innings to get his confidence right back up there and Katto you'd expect to find his rhythm soon enough. All the lists I have seen so far have had these two up top.
The Ponting, Clarke and Hussey trio looks good on paper and looks even better when they have the runs to back their prolific batting. Before Huss' very low career turnaround, India was the last place he would post a century until he scored a century in the final inning of the 2009 Ashes 5th Test. If memory serves he scored 145 runs in that particular innings in India.
Punter has dismal stats in India but he scored his first century in India during the 2008 tour to just tick that box on his CV. His last century was his double ton in Hobart, so a century is due. Punter is usually deadly before an Ashes series in Australia. Clarke debuted in India and his century of 151 during that Test in Bangalore will always spring to mind.
The big question is, 'Will Marcus North be dropped?'
There's a history over the last few years of players under performing but still holding onto their spot. Marcus has probably used up his opportunities, even though he'd find conditions alot easier and his part-time bowling would be useful, perhaps someone else's opportunity is near. Pity, cause Marcus is a might fine batsman. Confidence seems to be the problem he's facing and if his Tour to India happens but he struggles again it could systematically end his Test career.
Call-up's seem to be Usman Khawaja (NSW) who was a part of the Squad to tour England against Pakistan, while Cameron White can't be far off selection. Cam will also be part of the One Day Squad and he has played in Indian conditions for the Baggy Green, his one and only series appearance. He was mistakenly selected as a leg-spin prospect which seriously backfired. Cam doesn't even roll his arm over anymore, and given his maturity and ascendency as a solid top/middle order batsman for the Green & Gold, I'd be pleased if he had an opportunity. He's going to be heading over for the One Day series anyway. Usman or Cam for Marcus' role, unless the NSP surprise us and keep some faith in Marcus.
Should Marcus not play, one suggestion has been the appearance of two spinners while throwing in a three man seam attack. What would this do?
Steven Smith would have to dig deep and show some serious focus with his batting with one less batsman in the line-up with credible experience at the elite level. He can definitely get the job done but it will most certainly be putting him in a pressure cooker situation, especially if our batsmen get up to some of their recent antics and get us in trouble.
Nathan Hauritz deserves to be in the side and while he doesn't exactly impress too many people, he can get the job done and like Michael Clarke, India is where his journey with the Baggy Green began. 6 years ago already, dammit, the time has flown by!
The latest news is that he has recovered well and is well on his way to recovery, but the next few weeks will dictate his progress and whether he can get the thumbs up from the selectors. If Ritz doesn't make the Tour, we will definitely see another batsman slotted in there while Steven Smith will have the spin honours. It'd be even more responsibility than his batting. How to put a young guy under the pump!
I do hope Ritz pulls up fit though, we definitely need the balance in the spin department.
Tim Paine or Brad Haddin? I think this will boil down to your personal preferences.
Hads offers more with the bat but Tim definitely put his Keeper skills on display during the Test series against Pakistan. He was clean with his gloveswork, let through very few byes that were generally a result of poor bowling and best of all was that he took his catches as well as some serious screamers! Tim had a good debut for the Baggy Green.
Brad will probably be fit, but this could also add another angle regarding the Marcus North situation. Do you play two Keepers in one game, pushing one of them in there as a specialist batsman? Just a question, unlikely but not impossible.
Peter Siddle made his debut in India. One hell of a tough place to do so and he was seriously tested. But I am not sure his fitness permits him to be qualified for this Tour. That'd mean it'll be; Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger and Mitchell Johnson. Peter George may tag along for to further his experience around the Squad and Ryan Harris will be out for a while longer after his serious injury last month.
Hilfy was the pick of the three frontline seamers. India will be a different place for him.
If no swing or movement is on offer for him, he'll have to focus on one thing. Consistency in his line and length. This could work but it could also make him ineffective, once again depending on the conditions. I am a huge supporter of Hilfy's cricket, but that'd be the big thing the selectors would probably consider. I'd still throw him in there as he's also currently holding onto Mitchell Johnson's all-rounder tag until Mitch decides to return to his match-winning ways.
The last article I wrote was regarding Mitchell's bizarre inconsistent form. In India, the Stats and his recent performances are definitely a worry leading up to his series on a personal note, even though it's a whole new series.
Doug Bollinger has served the Baggy Green excellently but his Tour of England may have unsettled him a bit. He'll be looking to make a big impact in anyway possible for this Tour.
This bowling trio may have seemed average in England, but I don't believe they are. They are not average and on their day they could trouble the best batsman in world cricket.
Both Mitch and Hilfy have proven their worth. They will be essential for the home Ashes series.
India are still strongest in the batting department. I don't see their seam attack as a threat. This is where we can get one up on them. Their spin department will always be a threat to us, but our batsmen can certainly set the tone for our side this match. They need to!
Taking the recent run-fest against Sri-Lanka out of the equation, our bowlers will have to fight hard against the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir, Dravid, VVS, Dhoni and of course the ever-threatening Tendulkar.
Have a think about it, then have your say fanatics. Looking at the options and things the selectors would probably be considering, our bowling is definitely the area that come under serious analysis.
What are your thoughts?
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Marcus North hasn't toured India for the Baggy Green. His tour prospects are still unknown and could make selection quite interesting. Chances are he'll be missing out on this opportunity.
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