10 October 2010

North holds Aussie batting together

I don't know how to feel about Marcus North scoring a hundred in the 2nd Test against India. There's no doubt he was struggling a bit but as always the extreme opinions were laughable - it's as if most of Australia are baying for his blood. I'm not close enough to Australian domestic cricket to know if he's in the top 3 middle order batsman who can bat 4-6 for the national side, but what I can say is that any batsman who averages a hundred every 3 Tests or so (and has a 96 to his name too) clearly has something, no matter how poor a starter he is.

I'm not sure I'd back those Aussies who are desperate for Steve Smith to come into the side, but if he is to come in, batting 6 and being the 5th bowler is an option. Playing him as your one specialist spinner simply isn't an option yet - he's not that good a bowler. But it's interesting to see how things go in cycles - without the immense depth of talent in Australia that made selection relatively easy in the 90s and early 2000s, the same issues emerge on the other side of the world as happen here when England's international depth is limited. Players are fast-tracked into the side before they are ready in desperation, and there is constant debate about the make up of the side.

North may be no world-beater but the days that Australia could play 6 batsman who'd all have a good chance of playing in a World Test XI are over. And much as I'd like Australia to change their side to give England a better chance of retaining The Ashes, North's century is likely to ensure that they maintain consistency and therefore maximise their chances of success. Good on him for coming through the pressure of immense scrutiny and making his highest Test score.

(I should add that prior to the India series I was backing North to start The Ashes too, if Australia wanted to maximise their chances of success - it's not an opinion that's come after his hundred today!)

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