20 December 2011

1st Test: Baggy Greens Squad announced

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).
Daniel Christian.
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.

Welcome to The Baggy Green Blog!
Thanks for reading this article written by Ian.
To comment on this article, click on the 'Comments' tag at the end of the article.



Big Nose Stu said...

The new selection panel is certainly communicating well with us and the players but they are still yet to make a tough decision.

Ian said...

Not yet but I expect it to happen very soon Stu.

Sebastian said...

Ah, I'd forgotten Hilfy's knee in the ashes. He's a certain starter then, being in quite good form and a proven performer in the past.

Great roundup, I completely agree re: the starting 11, a shame its not a 100% squad with injuries to Marsh, Watson, Cummins and Harris (Cutting could be included here as well I guess), but its definitely the best squad we can produce. I'm looking forward to the match, it should be an absolute ripper!

No really tough decisions yet by inverarity & co. But with a new coach just and selection panel, as much as I've been critical of many players, its too early in the post-Hildick times to make those calls... Just.

Alex Jenkins said...

Gee the Big bash taking away first class games has resulted in Marsh and Ryan Harris being short of a run. Very irresponsible from Cricket Australia. Also Hilfenhaus has only taken 20 wickets in 5 matches so far. In my opinion he swings the ball too early and fails to make the batsman play. Very surprised by the recall but we will see what happens.

I will be seated behind the bowlers arm the first 2 days; my first boxing day test so will have a ton of pictures to show you guys.

Ian said...

Hi Sebastian

Seeing you mention those players all it does is make me positive for what is ahead.

While the majority of these blokes are bowlers (an area which was a huge weakness after Pigeon and co. left) the batting has become our worry and this is where those tough decisions yourself and Stu have mentioned need to be made.
No need to mention what they are because we know.

It just upsets me having to mention it especially regarding Punter. Such a legend!

Ian said...

Hi Alex

Be great if you could send some of your favorite pictures to us and with your permission we can pop them up on the Baggy Green Facebook page.
It's a feature I have been wanting to do for some time for fans to send in their "fanatography".

"Gee the Big bash taking away first class games has resulted in Marsh and Ryan Harris being short of a run. Very irresponsible from Cricket Australia."

I have to agree.
It is also why we saw two Tests against South Africa and not three.
Trans-Tasman is always two but could be three.

Sebastian said...

Absolutely, our bowling attack is/could be world class, equal with philander/Motorola/steyn or Anderson/broad/Finn/swann/bresnan. Our batting is the current issue, but maybe not as bad as it could be.

We still have Watson, warner, marsh, khawaja, Hughes (once he works his confidence back), Clarke, wade/paine even once ponting, hussey and haddin leave/are pushed. That's not even counting Cowan, Christian and Cooper (fresh off 185* against 3/4 of Indias best bowlers!).

I think (and hope) the transitional period is ending and we can really start to gel as a squad.

Sylvester said...

Was an interesting comment by one of the BBL commentators, basically they said if Christian plays then Hilfy won't be picked however if Marsh plays then Hilfy could get the nod to keep things tight.

Happy to see Cowan, he certainly hasn't been a flash in the pan, he killed it 2 seasons ago and made runs in the Shield final last year. Looks like the sort of guy our side could use.

If Christian plays and both he and Cowan performs then things could get interesting. Especially if Hussey and Ponting fail and Marsh and Watson are fit.

Big Nose Stu said...

Marsh won't play IMO, it is madness he is even in the squad TBH. He hasn't played for a month. Harris is shot IMO he just won't ever be able to be relied upon to make it through a test series. The Big bash has little to no impact on Marsh or Harris having bowling in them IMO.

Big Nose Stu said...

Marsh made me eat my words tonight, didn't look like he had been out for a day let alone a month. Superb from him.

Ian said...

The main thing to monitor will be how his body holds up over the next 48 hours.
If he comes right then, we may see Dan Christian miss out on debut...or one of our other batsmen miss out. Hmmm?

Awesome innings from Shaun.
He was out for the full 20 overs and if he needed a chance to get any sort of game time prior to the 1st Test that is as good as "some time in the middle" as you will get for T20 cricket.

Let's see how he goes.

india vs australia live streaming said...

all the best to the australian team.. ponting would be under a scanner but m sure he will play well...

Sylvester said...

T20 might not be useful for the bowlers but it can be for the batsmen. Marsh played a superb knock with shots that could be played in any format. Our top 3 is in good touch hopefully it translates to Test form.

Ian said...

I know it's become more of a T20 trademark shot but some of those on the back leg slog sweeps Shaun played were bloody awesome!
Raw power mate, raw power!

Anonymous said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Shaun Marsh in the Boxing Day test. Love watching him bat.


Ian said...

Indeed, I know you up there as his no.1 fan.
Hope he is holding up okay. If he is selected I have a feeling it will mean that Dan Christian won't debut even though it should be one of the seniors/batsman only.

Having the all-rounder would be useful so Michael has that extra bowling option.
In any case I trust they will get the starting XI spot on.