Posted by: nestaquin | January 27, 2009

Let the Axe Fall

rickyOn the national holiday celebrating the initial invasion of the Australian continent by Arthur Phillip and his motley crew of soldiers, sailors and slaves, the national cricket team performed as poorly as the first seeds sown at Port Jackson, succumbing to a humiliating series defeat at the hands of South Africa in Adelaide this evening.

Rarely have I witnessed the team play so badly and with a dead rubber now lurking in Perth on Friday experimental changes need to be made for it is plain that the current configuration is appallingly out of their depth.

Apart from the captain, the recently injured Nathan Bracken and the improving Shaun Marsh, no player during this ODI series has performed consistently at international standard. In every match despite the loss of an early wicket or two Australia has been in a strong position after 20 overs and not once have the middle order capitalized on the foundation laid before them.

Undoubtedly, vice-captain Michael Clarke has been sorely missed, Andrew Symonds also but that is no excuse for South Africa is playing away from home and without their inspirational skipper.

I’m yet to be convinced of David Warner’s worth to the team. His fielding is impressive but surely a batsman of real class and not real arse is required while Australia rebuild after the exodus of experience that has occurred in the last few seasons. Surely, it would make more sense to promote Phillip Hughes and allow him to adjust to the rigours of international cricket in the 50 over format than to continually gamble on Warner.

Michael Hussey is in terrible form and should be dropped for the next match. No man is indispensible and the man they call Mr. Cricket needs to know that his place isn’t guaranteed. Basically, he needs a good kick up the backside.  A man of his ambition and intelligence will understand and should return hungrier and more focused after the setback.

Like Cameron White, David Hussey does not have the required technique to excel internationally and both have had enough matches to prove their worth. Players of their ilk do well in domestic cricket but at the elite level deficiencies, when discovered, are ruthlessly exposed especially against class opposition.

Brad Haddin, despite his talent is quickly becoming an enigma. He should be a complete cricketer after a decade of first-class cricket yet threw his wicket away slogging to mid-wicket, not for the first time, when his team needed him most. He should be punished for his lack of respect. Luke Ronchi is a good young player and would treat the national cap with the dignity it deserves.

As for the bowlers, Shaun Tait, while thoroughly entertaining, is a luxury that a struggling team can ill afford. His skipper has described him as built like Tarzan, plays like Jane and that seems a fair assessment. He should be confined to the T20 squad until he can bowl a five over spell at top pace.

Ben Hilfenhaus, who I readily confess to be one of my favourite cricketers on the planet, isn’t the best limited overs bowlers in his state let alone the country and while the experience is worthwhile he is far more suited to bowling with the red ball where he has excelled consistently in the past. With Bracken and Johnson playing he should stay but he is far too inexperienced to carry the attack in the international one-day arena.

While Nathan Hauritz has been serviceable, a champion team requires a spinner who is handier with the bat and more attacking with the ball and there is only one choice, Jason Krezja, who has played brilliantly for Tasmania since being inexplicably dropped after the Perth Test.

Disappointment can sometimes cloud judgement and perhaps I will view things differently in the morn but for now I am urging the Australian selectors to make seven changes to the team in Perth and re-evaluate the squad thereafter for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy. It is a golden opportunity that shouldn’t be forsaken, an opportunity that their opponents, coached by the canny Mickey Arthur, will surely grasp.

99.94’s Australian XI for Perth

Marsh, Hughes, Ponting, Voges, North, McDonald, Ronchi, Hopes, Johnson, Krezja, Siddle.

Others worth considering not currently in the squad;  Quiney, Birt, Pomersbach, Doropoulos, Henriques, Harris, Doherty, Geeves, Nannes, Harwood.


  1. That looks horribly cruel, but it’s been coming all season hasn’t it?

    I haven’t seen any of the play, but following it on cricinfo, there was an inevitability about a side containing the experience of the SA top five, the talent of the Morkel brothers and Steyn and the cool leadership of Botha triumphing over a bit of mixed bag of bits and pieces players and gambles like Warner and Tait.

  2. Nesta, they can swap players around, but i doubt it’ll help. think it’s time for ponting to let go. this team’s hanging on to something that isn’t theirs anymore – they’re stuck in a moment. time to rethink, rebuild.

  3. Roebuck made many of the same points in the SMH today – great minds and all that… I’d just add that the lessons England have never learned is that building a team takes time, and wholesale change – which we’ve been prone to – rarely succeeds.

  4. If I read Nesta right, he is suggesting these changes for the dead rubber. That is fair and gives the selectors more to choose from (hopefully).

    “think it’s time for ponting to let go”…

    Let go the captaincy? Who is going to replace him as skipper?

  5. I think you missed some Tasmanians there Nesta ;)

    Why isn’t Simon Katich in the ODI squad? He’s more than capable of scoring at the required rates, and a solid opening option.

    Nannes should get a shot. His performances for Vic in both T20 and D50 warrant it. Bollinger should be close as well, and why not give him another shot at the saffas before picking the touring squad?

    I like Tait, while his figures aren’t crash hot, he does keep injuring them. AB ‘c’ De missed a few games and Boucher is now out, both thanks to Tait.

  6. I expected so much more from David Hussey. And he’s been fairly unconvincing. It’s like he’s trying to play for his place in the side. Same could be said of a few other players. And what’s the point of selecting White if they skipper doesn’t bowl him.

    The way things are going Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds will be straight back in the side when available as no-one is making a convincing claim for their spots.

    They need to figure out a way to pick up the boring humble runs in the middle overs against the slow bowlers. There were any number of frustrating dismissals yesterday, but the one that took the prize for me was Haddin’s. He needs to craft his innings to the occassion sometimes.

    I expect they’ll stick with pretty much the same squad for the remainder of the summer.

  7. Henriques??? If he lives up to the hype we won’t need to worry about selection issues, he will single-handedly destroy every other team with both bat and ball. In the meantime he take a wicket a game and averages 20 in fc cricket and less in the one-dayers.

    No point picking Harwood – he’s 34.

    I like Warner. I’d keep picking him for a bit. With Hopes coming in at 8 we can afford to have Warner opening.

  8. Admittedly, I wrote the above at 3:30am and picked the team and the ‘others’ from the top of my very fuzzy head.

    More succintly, players need to discover that their places in the First XI are not guaranteed and the next match, which is a totally meaningless affair, should be used by the selectors to put pressure on the rest while giving some fringe players an opportunity.

    It is a sensible option and one that the selectors have predictably chosen not to implement. At the very least they should of had the sense to give Ponting, who by the way has been Australia’s best batsman by a considerable distance, a well deserved break with his family.

    The squad for Perth: Shaun Marsh, David Warner, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, David Hussey, Cameron White, Brad Haddin, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Bracken, Ben Hilfenhaus, Shaun Tait.

  9. Good to see that all the talk about rotating players has so far come to nothing.

    I’m so over ODI’s anyway, lets dump them and just have Test’s / T20 matches.

  10. Reading between the lines, Mo, it would appear that Ponting would like a planned sensible approach to selection and the selectors, coach, administrators, whoever makes the decisions, is determined to take another path.

    It does not bode well for the future.

  11. I think Symonds needs to be brought back into the team asap.

    Right now this Australian team lacks solidity. For years they knew the team they wanted on the field. Now it seems they are not sure who should play where.

    They have at least 2-3 players to fill the void left by a great but they just cant seem to pick the right one.

    This will probably go on for sometime, until they arrive at the right combo.

    On the other hand they can look at all the available players, pick XI they think will make it and give them a fair run.

  12. Good call Damith, although I am losing faith in the selectors quickly. The Perth dead-rubber begins in a few minutes and I see South Africa are using it to blood some youngsters. I may write of the match later on tonight.

  13. Meanwhile Phillip Hughes has hit yet another century in the Shield match against Tasmania. With Jaques failing in the same match I still wouldn’t be surprised if the selectors selected him to go to South Africa but Hughes is making their life pleasantly difficult. Not one day team related I know.

  14. […] and Warner, with Michael Clarke batting at number four, but the batting order is more fluid (and less certain) than it has been for some […]

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