Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Ashes 2-0 down with 3 to play, time for some bold decisions

Given the unsurprising revelations in Micky Arthurs' lawsuit that emerged before the Lord's test and the manner and size of the 2 defeats so far this series, I think the national selection panel should take some bold decisions to change things. Declare a goal-long term building of the side, or short term fix to ensure we don't lose the ashes 10-0.
At the moment, I'd take the short term approach, as i don't think we have the necessary batting talent to make wholesale changes to the team. With this in mind, I'd do the following, 1. drop Watson from the side and bring back Katich to open the batting with Rogers. Watson's has talent to burn but without the ability to make more than the occasional 50+ score, he doesn't fulfill the role of an opening batsman. Added to that,  he keeps wasting DRS challenges on out plumb LBW decisions because he is too stubborn to accept he has a technical flaw in his batting, he has to go.

Bring in Cowan back at 3, although Cowan didn't make many in the first test and went out quite softly, he has the ability to face high quality swing bowling better than Kawaja or Hughes, and uses his feet to spin.

Kawaja showed mental fortitude in the 2nd test and seems to be in better form than Hughes at the moment, so I'd retain him at 4.

Clarke at 5, ideally he should bat at 3 but he doesn't seem to have the self belief to succeed in the position, its as though he's seen his stats at various positions and its become a self fulfilling prophesy.
Haddin at 6, still a better keeper than Wade and makes useful runs at the lower middle order and bats well with the tail, almost got the Aussies home in the 1st Test.
Faulkner( a better all round option than Smith, even though he got wickets in the last game) at 7, and his bowling will help apply pressure to the English batsmen, who to my eye, found the going too easy against tiring bowlers.
I'd then round out the XI with Siddle, Harris, Starc and Lyon. Yes, Lyon. Ashton Agar impressed on debut with the bat, playing with the simplicity of a batman unfettered by over-analysis and coaching, relying on his hand eye coordination and the old chestnut of playing each ball on its merit. However, the  but his bowling requires improvement, with a return of 2/248 off 84 overs not good enough at this level, though with training, he will soon replace Lyon as Australia's best spinning option.  With Pattinson out for the rest of the series, I'd back Starc and Faulkner as left arm bowlers to provide an alternative threat tothe front line pacemen Siddle and Harris.
Even though conventional wisdom says that Australia's batsmen let down the side so far, and that Agar, Haddin and the tailenders have bailed them out, i think reinforcements in the bowling department are required as well, especially given how easy Bell and Root made batting look at Lords.

Being a bit more adventurous with selection- almost abandoning this series of the Ashes with an eye on winning at home, I'd give as many younger players an extended opportunity in the side, to give them the chance to show their true colours, 6 innings to cement a spot for the Australian series or have their spot taken by a player whose qualities are already known. I'd have the side consisting of the following players;