3.Ricky Ponting ©
Team selection, it’s the hardest thing besides playing to do in any sport, there are millions of questions running through your mind, have I picked the right team? Is there a good balance of batting and bowling? Could I have picked a better player in position X
Currently if you talk to any Australian fans, they have failed in this regard, with the team slumping to three straight test defeats (1 vs. Pakistan and 2 vs. India) and have some batsmen *cough* Marcus North *cough out of form badly. Plus we’re leading into an Ashes series trying to regain the urn taken from us last year in England and I think If Australia picks this team; they’ll go close or even win the series down under.
Openers: Well there is no point in really changing something which is working 9 times of out of ten, that being the partnership between Shane Watson who has proven everything including this article writer wrong since his elevation to opener and Mr consistency Simon Katich who even with his unorthodox batting style has made him the rock of the Australia batting order. Together these two create a good combination that Australia will be hoping will get them off to a good start on a bouncy Brisbane wicket.
First Drop: Ricky Ponting has done the job well coming in at the first wicket, and I don’t think there is any need to change it for THIS series, Ricky might have his days numbered if he doesn’t perform with the bat during the Ashes. At his best, he is a beauty to watch and hopefully that is the Ricky we see and not the one who was scratching around in India and England.
Middle Order: This is the place where the wobbles begin for Australia; currently Australia’s middle order is Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Marcus North and Brad Haddin. If some early wickets fall, there is some vulnerability within these four batsmen. I’ll start with who is safe, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin. Clarke is just having a lean run at the moment, averaging fewer than ten in India but he’ll come good and it should be at Brisbane fingers crossed. Haddin has been injured but Paine hasn’t put enough pressure on Haddin to force a change in this position. Haddin can come in at six and take the innings away from the opposition.
The two positions where I would change something is Michael Hussey who has been a great servant for the baggy green with a great average over the last few seasons but to prolong his career I’d make Hussey an ODI specialist where he can play a run a ball 70 to give Australia a big score. His replacement would be Usman Khawaja who has been piling on the runs in domestic cricket, only recently scoring 214 against South Australia. He’s been around the squad for the Pakistan test series and is ready for the rigours of test cricket.
As for Marcus North, it’s either rocks or diamonds for this guy. He may score a century in one innings, conversely his five centuries have come overseas and all these facts aren’t helping his cause to be picked in the Ashes. Sadly Marcus has had one chance too many and is paying for his form, hopefully this will lead him to score some runs for Western Australia. To replace Marcus, I’d find another young run-scorer George Bailey who has averaged in the forties for the last few Sheffield Shield seasons and has had a taste of Australian action in the T20 arena and would excel in the test match arena.
Bowlers: The bowling attack which has taken the field for Australia has been Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Doug Bollinger and Ben Hilfenhaus. There has been word that Brisbane is going to be bouncy and hard, not being the domain for off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, so he may be omitted. Firstly I’ll state that if Johnson, Hilfenhaus and Bollinger are fit, they would be my three quicks for the first test. If one of those three isn’t fit, Clint McKay has played a few tests and his line and length could test the English batsman. Now Hauritz who struggled in India, ok he isn’t the first guy to go over to India and not come home with a bag of wickets but Nathan hasn’t done much to retain his position, amplified with all the press coverage on his bowling, though I’d persist with Nathan there aren’t many options knocking down the door, with Stephen Smith still raw.
Like usual if you want to praise, abuse or wonder why I haven’t picked your favourite player, you can hit up my twitter account @Dragonpunk12.
Dan's Ashes XI article on Wednesday, Ian's Ashes XI article on Friday.
For fixtures of the current ODIs, see the fixtures tab.