Posted by: nestaquin | January 18, 2011

2011 World Cup: Nesta’s Australian XV

Ponting with the Cricket World CupThe most despised group of gentlemen in the land, the Australian selectors, will soon announce the 15 men that will be given the task of retaining what is arguably the most prestigious prize in cricket, the 50 over World Cup.

Surely, everyone that visits 99.94 regularly is cognisant of Australia’s magnificent recent history in regards to the tournament, and also aware of the pressure that the squad will be under to continue the nation’s unprecedented success.

Before naming what I consider to be the best squad for Australia’s tilt at a fifth consecutive final let’s look back on the evolution of the team from 1996 onwards so we can compare the current crop against their forever famous forebears.

1996

Mark Taylor (c), Michael Bevan, Damien Fleming, Ian Healy, Stuart Law, Shane Lee, Craig McDermott, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting, Paul Reiffel, Michael Slater, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh.

1999

Steve Waugh (c), Michael Bevan, Adam Dale, Damien Fleming, Brendan Julian, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Lee, Darren Lehmann, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Tom Moody, Ricky Ponting, Paul Reiffel, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh.

2003

Ricky Ponting (c), Michael Bevan, Andy Bichel, Nathan Bracken, Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie, Ian Harvey, Nathan Hauritz, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson

2007

Ricky Ponting (c), Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson

When you look at those squads it is difficult to imagine Australia’s current crop measuring up but it should be remembered that each of these successful World Cup squads had problems and doubts before the tournaments began.

I’ll allow the good readers of 99.94 to debate which is the best of them below the line and instead present what I believe to be the best combination to continue Australia’s dominance at the World Cup.

Ricky Ponting (c), Dan Christian, Michael Clarke, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Dirk Nannes, Tim Paine, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

Choosing only 15 players is a difficult task and for once the selectors have my sympathy. I expect their squad will differ from mine, as will many of our readers’ preferred selections, and you are all encouraged to criticise, question and speculate in the comments section.

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Responses

  1. My XV would be Ricky Ponting (c), James Hopes, Callum Ferguson, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Dirk Nannes, Tim Paine, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson, Cameron White.

    • Thanks for your input, Mahek.

      As much as I like Hopes I believe Christian has the mojo to do what Andrew Symonds did at the 2003 World Cup and beyond.

      Ferguson instead of Clarke is a big call at this juncture mainly because Clarke has World Cup and sub-continent experience while Ferguson is yet to prove he is back to his best after recent injuries.

      • Christian has this major reputation but from what I’ve seen he’s not as good as Hopes. Since you made the comparison with Symonds, do you really believe Christian can come in at 6 and score 140 against an attack as potent as Waqar, Wasim & Shoaib? Not that I think Hopes can do it either. I think a more apt comparison in terms of roles would be with Ian Harvey.

        I know Ferguson is a bold pick especially in place of the golden boy of Aussie cricket, but I think he would’ve done a better job than Clarke. I’d much rather have a top 6 of Watson, Haddin, Ponting, White, Hussey, Ferguson than Watson, Haddin, Ponting, Clarke, White, Hussey. You’re basically pushing two explosive yet solid ODI batsmen one place down to accommodate someone who’s scored at a strike rate of just 70 over the past 3 years.

  2. I like the 1999 squad, though the others are hardly shabby. They could field and XI that reads

    Adam Gilchrist
    Mark Waugh
    Ricky Ponting
    Darren Lehmann
    Steve Waugh (c)
    Michael Bevan
    Tom Moody
    Shane Warne
    Paul Reiffel
    Damien Fleming
    Glenn McGrath

    That’s an XI that surely only the Windies mid-70s teams could live with (yep SA I know). When you factor in their ages and that there are ten serviceable bowlers in there and only two average fielders (McGrath and Lehmann), where’s the weakness?

    For the 2011 edition, I need to see a bit more of the current series – likewise for my England XI.

    • All the squads are very very good yet the 2007 team dominated the tournament like no other before them. Perhaps, that was due to the opposition.

      The 2003 team also went undefeated but there were a few close shaves that they were lucky to escape from. However, in the final they played the nearest I’ve seen to perfect cricket.

      The team of 1999 are fondly remembered and they just scraped into the final after what was probably the best ODI of all-time in the semis.

      I can’t separate them.

      To win four in a row would be truly amazing and unfortunately for the current team only a place in the final will be accepted. Anything less and they will be considered failures. That’s the price of unparalleled success and in world sport I think only Brazilian footballers would understand the pressure the squad will have to endure.

      • Christian has this major reputation but from what I’ve seen he’s not as good as Hopes. Since you made the comparison with Symonds, do you really believe Christian can come in at 6 and score 140 against an attack as potent as Waqar, Wasim & Shoaib? Not that I think Hopes can do it either. I think a more apt comparison in terms of roles would be with Ian Harvey.

        I know Ferguson is a bold pick especially in place of the golden boy of Aussie cricket, but I think he would’ve done a better job than Clarke. I’d much rather have a top 6 of Watson, Haddin, Ponting, White, Hussey, Ferguson than Watson, Haddin, Ponting, Clarke, White, Hussey. You’re basically pushing two explosive yet solid ODI batsmen one place down to accommodate someone who’s scored at a strike rate of just 70 over the past 3 years.

        • I’ve no argument with your choices. They are sound.

          Symonds wasn’t even in the original squad a week or two before that famous innings you mention. He replaced Warne who was busted for using a banned substance. Can Christian do the same? Probably not 160 but I’d back him to make significant contributions in most matches.

          It’s not easy picking just 15 men for a six week tournament. I’m not sure why the ICC limit the number of players each country can bring. I presume it’s for marketing and logistics. Any other ideas?

          • I think it’s because of logistics. Also, the ICC pays for everything so it’s obvious they won’t allow teams to bring as many players as they want.

  3. Mine would be:

    Ponting (C), Watson, Hodge, White, Hussey.M, Hussey.D, Haddin, Christian, Hauritz, O’Keefe, Lee, Johnson, Siddle, Nannes, Tait.

    I don’t rate Doherty or Smith and reckon O’Keefe is a better bet than both, and sacrilege of sacrileges perhaps, but I wouldn’t have Clarke in there either. Brad Hodge gets the nod for me, but perhaps that is because I am a Pom!

    • O’Keefe is an ego on legs and a poor fieldsman. If you look at the previous squads only players with proven records or prodigies like Watson get a cap. The World Cup isn’t the place to gamble.

      Hodge isn’t in good form despite his reputation and Doherty has been the most consistent one-day spinner in State cricket for a few seasons now. His figures would have been better yesterday if Haddin hadn’t stuffed a simple stumping and Watson a sharp chance. Paine and Doherty have developed an excellent understanding playing many years together for Tasmania.

      Christian, if he can get a game is likely to set the tournament alight. His form is good, his confidence is high and he is a clever cricketer who can hit long with a traditional technique and bowl tight when it matters.

      • How can you say Hodge is not in good form?
        Granted he has failed in his 2 T20 hitouts since the ODI squad to face England was announced. But anyone who has followed is career will tell you that has always happened in the week or two following getting shafted by the Australian selectors. I wouldn’t pick him because I’m of the view his good form in domestic limited over cricket is down to the 25 over (mid innings rest!) format.

        • Jim, I guess I’m skewed by Hodge’s performances against Tasmania this season. In the past he has killed us but this season he has looked mortal. Slow and old in fact.

          The split innings aspect could be a factor and it was another careless decision by CA to introduce it the season of a World Cup. If they lose the Cup it will be much discussed in the post-mortems.

        • Hodge is averaging 80 this season in the 45-over games, and averaged 70 last year in the 50-over games. It’s possible that he became old enough this year to need that mid-innings break, but I think he’s still just really good.

          • Perhaps the trip across Bass Strait has been a bit tough for him!

            Seriously, I think it’s no secret that Hodge was never going to be picked. Don’t think it’s fair but he isn’t the first good cricketer to give the selectors a sledge and never be considered again.

  4. Tait for all of you? He’ll never stand up to the workload and is a passenger in the field. On the sub-continent with a soft ball, he’ll be slaughtered!

    • They said the same before the last World Cup in the Caribbean yet he blitzed them. Two or three over spells at most. Soft or hard ball no batsmen is comfortable facing 155kph yorkers. He is a risk for sure but one worth taking. Brilliance wins World Cups and Tait has proved himself to be just that when on song.

      Even so, if Harris was fit I wouldn’t have chosen him.

      • True – but Aus could afford Tait in 2007 as the other players were so good. Not sure that insurance is there this time.

  5. Do you really think the second keeper is required ?? As far as I remember, Haddin hasn’t had any injuries in the last 3-4 months. Plus he is Ricky Ponting’s favourite, so will play ahead of Paine. Maybe picking Callum Ferguson ahead of Paine is a better idea, because Micheal Hussey’s fitness is also an issue.

    Watsay ??

    Also, Hauritz played the 2003 edition. Wow, thanks to Brad Hogg and his consistency, never got noticed.

    • Paine’s an excellent batsman so you wouldn’t be carrying him if he were selected with Haddin. They could both play in the same team. That would certainly sharpen Haddin’s skills up!

  6. I assume that if there are injuries anyone in the final 15 can be replaced. If so I’d only pick one ‘keeper for the 15 but bring a second as part of the”support” staff.

  7. Three of your choices didn’t make it Nesta.

    • Smith for Doherty – I can live with that if Smith bowls.

      Bollinger for Nannes – Haven’t liked Bollinger’s form or attitude this summer.

      Hastings for Christian – No disrespect to Hastings but he isn’t going to be difference between winning and losing whereas Christian can be spectacular.

      • Agree with that and your original squad Nesta. Not fussed on Smith v Doherty – as much as l dislike Smith for some of his pretended batting l think he is a one-day talent at least. Has great hands and energy in the field too.

        Disappointed to see Doug picked after his summer, unless they think his fitness can improve markedly.

        And yes pick Christian, we want to try and win not finish a respectable 3rd.

  8. It’s worth remembering that Jason Gillespie (then uncapped) replaced McDermott in the 1996 squad after the latter had bowled 3 overs.

    I’m not convinced about Hastings. I’m happy with Paine in the squad, as long as he transfers some of his T20 aggression to his 50-over batting – he has been batted disturbingly slowly for much of his List A/ODI career.

  9. Mussey’s injured but CA are allowed to replace him at any time, so it makes sense picking him and hoping that he recovers.

    • He’s a real problem solver for the team. Any replacement, if required, is going to make the team worse off.

      • Hopefully, there is sufficient recovery time and Mike shouldn’t be needed for the first round of matches. He’s better than most of them on one leg anyway.

        • Mussey is the biggest miss of all. He is so adaptable and clever compared to just about anyone else in the squad.

          And he does it without playing many if any daft shots. I got really depressed when I heard about his injury.

  10. my XV would have been distinctly different: marsh, watson, punter, callum, hussey, FTC, clarke, cam, hauritz, smith, lee, pattison, starc, bolly, tait.

    still can’t really pick any bones in their selection. haddin as an opener is going to be a hit or miss proposition and aust would be better off just sticking with FTC. d huss over callum is another big call. d huss looked out of sorts in the T20 and one hopes that he will improve on his efforts against hardy the other day when he could not even buy a single much less hit them off the square. i suspect that callum will make it for mike hussey..hamstrings torn off the bone don’t heal that fast!

    the bowling is going to be reliant on hauritz, lee, and bollinger with tait as the X-factor. punter has had public spats with all of them in the past…let’s see how he musters them this time around.

    • Sunny, WTF is FTC? Is it too difficult to type his name?

      • sorry nesta…T-paine. in my defence that is what the Tigers are calling him now.

  11. Hastings being picked is just another boot into Andrew McDonalds injured body

  12. 1999

    Steve Waugh (c), Michael Bevan, Adam Dale, Damien Fleming, Brendan Julian, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Lee, Darren Lehmann, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Tom Moody, Ricky Ponting, Paul Reiffel, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh.

    Ricky Ponting (c), Michael Bevan, Andy Bichel, Nathan Bracken, Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie, Ian Harvey, Nathan Hauritz, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson

    Ricky Ponting (c), Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson

    1999 vs 2003
    2003 looks better. WTF is Adam Dale?
    And what use was Brendan Julian? And Shane Lee!!!! The 2003 team hardly has a passenger.
    2003 vs 2007 – Not much to choose but I’d go for the 2007 team.

  13. Watson, Haddin/Paine, Ponting, M Hussey, D Hussey, C White, J Hopes, M Johnson, N Hauritz/X Doherty, B Lee, S Tait/D Nannes/D Bollinger

    If not Hopes, you can have D Christian.

    Whatever, Aussie squad looks strong to me. If Hauritz can maintain his E/R in India, the 3 pacers can look after the job of taking enough wickets. They should probably get White to bowl more.

    I think Clarke should be shown the door. Step by step. T20s – already done. ODIs- do it now. Tests – well, once Ponting lifts the WC, Clarke can vacate the test place instead of Ponting for Khwaja. All will be well when Ponting returns as captain for Sri Lanka.

    • My main concern is that we may need two spinners at some stage. MHussey’s injury is a concern but hopefully he’ll be right at the pointy end of the tournament.

      • Why? Haddin can’t keep to them anyway.

  14. Yes, you’ll need more spinners at times. (Not against India though.)
    That’s why I said White needs to be pushed to get his bowling mojo back. If he can bowl 4-5 overs per match at 5.5-6 RPO, that would be a huge bonus.
    Hopefully, D Hussey can bowl a few decent overs, too.

    • White won’t bowl but I think they are expecting Smith to bowl a few overs.


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