12 December 2010

Its Official....Hilditch et al have lost their marbles

I usually avoid criticising selectors. My logic being that they have more information at their disposal than I do, they have the opportunity to watch far more first class cricket than I do, and while I like to think I'm fairly knowledgable about the game I would assume that those entrusted with selecting our national teams have slightly more cricket knowledge than myself. But really........

I've bitten my tongue long enough! Here goes.
I'll start with the most obvious question. Who on god's green earth is Michael Beer? Well he's a man with two months first class experience, which equates to five matches, 16 wickets, best innings figures of 3/39, best match figures 5/207 and an average touching 40. I remember when baggy greens had to be earned! One of the reasons quoted for selecting beer was his home ground advantage given that Beer plays for WA. Well, WA recruited him in the off-season from Victorian grade cricket. He's played two Sheffield Shield games on the WACA for six wickets. Nathan Hauritz played one game and took seven. They seem obsessed with finding a left arm spinner, but have neglected the most obvious choice. Stephen O'Keefe has played only ten first class matches, but he has 37 wickets at 24.83. Best figures of 7/35. And he can bat, he actually averages over 50 with 4 half centuries and a highest score of 91. He was considered good enough to play for Australia A less than a month ago against England and was, along with centurion Cameron White, Australia's best performed player in that match with 4/88 from 24 overs and scoring 66 and 27. Two of his wickets were tail enders, but the other two were Cook and Pieterson. Unfortunately, since that match he hasn't played another first-class game because Hauritz has come back into the NSW side pushing him out. I could understand dropping Hauritz for the first test, he was bowling without confidence, but I always thought O'Keefe was next in line. And he's a left arm finger spinner! In his favour, Beer does seem to be fairly highly rated by some influential people. His name was thrown up by his former St. Kilda team mate Shane Warne during the week. I also read that WA coach (and former South African coach) said early this season that if he was South African, Beer would already be playing test cricket in front of Paul Harris. Seems a big call. Anyhow, maybe these testimonials have swayed the selectors.
OK.....that rant is over, onto the other selections. I was amazed that Hilfenhause was dropped for Adelaide, but if in the opinion of the selectors he wasn't in our best lineup for that test, does a week bowling in the nets change that......ditto for Johnson. Bollinger was deemed not good enough for the first test, came in for the second due to poor form of other bowlers, but then is axed for those same bowlers after one test. Surely the selectors should know who they believe are their best bowlers. If they lose form, drop them and promote the next in line, but you don't then drop a newly promoted player, for the same player he replaced only a week ago. I can not accept that a week bowling in the nets has suddenly solved all of Johnson's problems. It just smacks of indecision.
The selectors also seem to be in love with Steve Smith. To my mind, his bowling is too eratic to be considered anything other than part time, in which case, there are far more consistent batsmen that should be ahead of him in the pecking order. Khawaja and Ferguson to name a couple of young players, but I would have gone with Dave Hussey, I don't care how old he is. He also brings some part time spin to the table and some good old fashioned hard nosed experience. He's not a long term solution, but I don't care, this is the ashes. He was the Shields leading runscorer last season and has a first-class average this season around 43.
The other addition to the squad is Phil Hughes. He is not in great form, but to be honest there aren't too many option around at the moment when it comes to opening batsmen. The only other option I can see would have been to promote Mike Hussey to open and bring in a middle order player, but this would be too risky considering Hussey's form in the middle order.
I apologise for the length of this post, but I just needed to get this of my chest. One final thought, I bet the selectors are regretting ignoring Brad Hodge for so long and forcing him into first-class retirment.


Ed said...

Pretty much agree with everything you said. Hilfenhaus (assuming he's fully fit) is australia's best seamer so not sure how he got dropped unless the rumoured hamstring issue was true. If it was true, why not explain that was the reason for his omission?

All makes sense what you say about o'keefe but I still don't know why you don't play the best spinner in the country...Hauritz. He would help lengthen the tail too. Smith I agree doesn't appear to be be a leading first class bowler, let alone test bowler. But I fear he'll get a hatful if I slate him so best to say he's undercooked as a test bowler. Of the two, I think he'll make it as a batsman, or he won't make it at all.

Fair shout about David hussey but why are you so concerned about his age? He's only 33 so he's got at least 2 years at the top left, probably 3 or 4...

Winks said...

I see what you are saying about not opening with M Hussey, but to me the last thing you would want is a walking wicket at the top of the order. If the openers can put on a good start it takes the pressure off the middle order and hopefully allow it to find form. As M Hussey is in good form and could demoralise england along with Watson that would be a positive approach rather than saying you need him to prop up a failing middle order.

Aussie Dave said...

I thought Hauritz should have been dropped for the first test. He was bowling without confidence, the Indian batsman had just toyed with him for a few weeks. Unlike Johnson and Hilfenhaus though, he went back to Shield cricket and performed, so I would have no problem if they recalled him now.

I think the reason they like Smith is his attitude. He's very attack minded with both bat and ball and has the ability to turn a game very quickly in either discipline, but for me consistency is more important. If you have eleven consistent players in your team, you won't need anyone to turn the game.

I think it is important to start injecting youth into the team, hence my slight concern with D Hussey's age.

Winks, pretty much agree with your points, but although he's been out of form I don't think he's quite a walking wicket. I'm happy enough to take a punt with him.