Before I dive into the Squad it must be said that it is fantastic to have a Chairman of Selectors who provides clarity upon the selections and furthermore bases the selections upon proven performance.
Some questions will still be asked why Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin are still lurking about but we all know it would be mighty bold for the selectors to have axed them from the Squad before the Border-Gavaskar series, which would effectively bring their Test careers to a curtain closure.
Well done to John Inverarity for not leaving us as Australian cricket supporters in the dark with the selections and for providing just enough tactical substance to back the selections. It is a breath of fresh air post-Hilditch and cronies.
The Boxing Day Squad (Baggy Greens):
Michael Clarke (captain), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (wk).
Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon.
I wrote an article yesterday with regards to how things looked to be shaping up for the Squad announcement. The main highlights:
- This is Michael Clarke's second Test series as Skipper in Australia (Boxing Day will be his 4th Test as Captain in Australia) and his first match leading the Baggy Greens against India. Michael has been in good form but like the other seniors he has been lacking consistency but for his good measure it has been a case of a big score or single figures.
He has the skill to keep playing his part and I have a feeling he will piling on the runs this series!
- Shane Watson didn't pull up fit so it allowed for the selection of Dan Christian to potentially make his debut. His selection is based on a solid season as an emerging all-rounder capable at all forms of the game. His batting has been his key to success this season.
- Phillip Hughes was expectedly dropped and he has been vocal that he will be working hard to regain his place and address his technicalities. Best of luck to him.
This has resulted in the inclusion of Ed Cowan, who like Dan Christian, doesn't boast overly impressive career statistics but his current form (which is an element of the Argus Review) has been sublime. He had to be given the call-up to the Baggy Greens and he has earned it. Well done Ed!
- Usman Khawaja has been left out of the side despite scoring an unbeaten half-century in the 2nd innings against the Indians in the second warm-up match.
It would seem Ussie was left out due to the inclusion of Shaun Marsh which I think may have been a slight hiccup as it does seem Shaun may not be ready with his fitness.
Shaun has a serious lack of match time and despite his outstanding step into the elite level doing what many of the others couldn't do, I just feel that with the selectors having also stated that this is a concern maybe Usman would have been a better option?
Ussie had made plenty of starts and is in some ways rather unlucky but it just wasn't enough to cut it with the excellence in reputation of Ponting and Hussey not being cast aside just yet.
Although I am sure we can agree (with all due respect) that this is make or break for these guys, progression is being held back as we wait for their class to re-emerge.
- David "Pitbull" Warner has been retained due to his maiden-century in just his second match and deserves further opportunities to begin his journey as a Test cricketer and I believe he has the goods and with this belief I will continue to back him 100%.
- With Tim Paine in for further delays, Brad Haddin retains his place but Matt Wade will still be eyeing a spot in the side should Hads continue to struggle.
- Ben Hilfenhaus has been given a recall and he will be in competition with Mitchell Starc. Hilfy deserves his opportunity and having worked with Peter Siddle with success, the two of them add experience.
As mentioned by a follower of the blog, Starc struggled to penetrate the Black Caps batting line-up like Hilfy struggled to do so against England.
One must remember a few important points here. Hilfy had been struggling with a knee injury and shouldn't have played. It created a psychological block and his bowling action had come under serious question due to the adjustments he was making to accomodate his injury. Small technicalities affected the synergy of his action and the poor results reflected this. This has now come right and having been dropped (as many other player's should have but escaped) he went back to State level and has delivered with his performances in the Sheffield Shield. He can add experience (a core reason for his selection) and having catched some of the footage from the Tigers games he may reproduce the element of swing again.
Mitchell Starc is a young man and nerves probably resulted in his wayward bowling. A fuller length with a consistent line will see him reap better rewards but I'm inclined to have the experience of Hilfy and Siddle with the young ambition of the impressive James Pattinson.
- Peter Siddle is a beast the MCG and I can't wait to see him lead the attack. Damn he's going to go mental! Throw in his partner in crime James Pattinson (also a Bushranger player) and you will be looking at some brutal stuff. If swing is on offer, Pattinson, Hilfy and even Dan Christian can exploit the conditions.
- Nathan "Wheelhouse" Lyon deserves to retain his place as our spinner. He has continued to impress and has improved game after game. His story is inspiring and he backs himself. Excited to see him have a go at the Indians!
Conditions pending and the fitness dilemma, my gut feeling is that the starting XI may very well be:
Warner, Cowan, Ponting, *Clarke, Hussey, +Haddin, Christian, Pattinson, Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Lyon.
With the starting XI above the worry of inconsistency is still ever present and Marsh will be a solution to the problem given his application to Test cricket but his lack of match time and that he is not quite yet at his best physically is why I left him out of the above forecast. I also can't see Punter and Huss not making the starting XI.
I will do a Podcast within the next few days just to fine tune my opinions but all in all I am pleased with the side. I will make it available via the blog as well.
I was also featured on an Indian bloggers Podcast "Verbal Slogs" presented by Christopher Poshin at Poshin's World, so keep an eye on that!
Yes, I also agree that progression is crucial now for the team and the next 2-3 years have to be looked at. For this reason holding onto some of the senior players has become a worry but I just hope that they can deliver the goods soon.
I do feel that John Inverarity and his panel won't persist with any players who haven't delivered come the conclusion of the SCG. And I am sure we will be given clarity on the tactical dynamics as well.
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