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Russ

Speaking of good columns, The Spin pretty fairly nailed Ponting's captaincy yesterday.

Interesting squad selection yesterday. Except for Symonds over White, it is basically unchanged. Not that I really expected wholesale changes. But given the current ineptitude of the kiwis, whoever plays is pretty likely to stay there for South Africa, and by default the Ashes. The need for youth with some test experience is getting desperate. Six key players have retired, yet three quarters of the side is still over 33. Unlike the past decade, perfectly capable players are going to get thrown into the deep end, instead of having a handful of tests to find their place.

[Transplanted by TT.]

Tony T

I agree we need to see some new blood coming through, and I've no doubt the selectors see it that way too, but who would you drop... sorry, rotate.

Adsy

I can't believe how they've absolutely crucified Cameron White. Ponting refused to bowl him when he should have, finally bowled him when he shouldn't have, got Tendulkar twice, fielded ok, batted fairly well towards the end and he gets shafted against fvcking New Vettori for a prick that didn't want to be there in the first place and has shithouse form to boot!

I'll tell ya what, I've never gone down this path before and its about as un-Australian as you can get, but it wouldn't be such a bad thing if we get knocked over against Harry Potter and his band of fvcking apprentice wizards. Its a shithouse mates culture that gives good players rock-all chance of getting into the side until their mid to late 20's. The flawed nature of this setup has been papered over due to having blokes like Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist in the side and the fact we have won about 19 out of the last 20 series. Lose to either New Vettori or the Safas and shit+ceiling fan will occur.

Carlton Draught fact: Who was the last Australian captain to be actually sacked?

Nick

White should never have been picked. He wasn't ready, and may never be. How did Siddle jump over Noffke, Bollinger, Tait, Hilfenhaus et al? Was Clark injured going into the tour? Is Lee fit now?

Who would I drop? At the moment, I would 'rotate' Clark out and let him get over his injury. I would play Tait or Siddle and let them loose against the NZ bunnies.

I would have a chat to Ponting, and to Hayden, and tell them that Ponting as captain and Hayden as opener are not in stone for the Ashes series. Better to lose a few series now than lots later.

Tony T.

I lean to Adsy's POV.

Was White's performance in India as dreadful as some people would have us believe? I'm thinking scape of goat. White is as good a, if not better at the moment, bet than Roy. Is there really no all-rounder ready (or at least trial-worthy) to replace White instead of Symonds? From what Crash was saying on SEN yesterday, Roy's head is not anywhere near in the right place, despite his assertions (and book promotions) to the contrary. Nor has he earned his spot on form. Far from "knocking the door down" the door has knocked him down and he has the knob stuck up... ahem.

What's more Roy chucks it, so I definitely have an axe to grind in that dept.

White needs to bowl himself more for Vic. He's a terrific cricketer and if he can solidify his work with the agate, he can be a long term Test player.

Siddle will be a gun. Hopefully.

Haddin needs to do something in the near future.

Lee needs to do something.

Noffke is in the queue behind Paper Cut and Roy. What does he lack that sees him overlooked by the selectors? I've never seen Bollinger play. My opinions on Tait's action are a matter of record: it lacks repeatability, which is a huge drawback in Test cricket. The Hilf seems to have lost his mojo. Is he showing anything this year?

Overall this series has a very strong sense of FTB. There will be more than one player who stumps up their career for the next half dozen Tests.

Russ

Drop is a better word. The selectors need to stop working on the principle that they should select "the best possible side". Because it both implies 1) that they can name those players, when actually it is in their interest to name the players who they thought were the best previously (otherwise they are admitting their fallibility) and 2) that a player's performance is somehow unconnected to experience, when history clearly shows a 2-3 year period of learning.

Some general principles can be gleaned from recent history. Since 1988 Australia has debuted and given an extended run in the side to 15 batsmen (excluding Gilchrist who is a special case). Some notes on those (apologies for the length):

1. Of those, three were failures, averaging less than 35, though they all had their moments (Bevan, Blewett and Elliott). The jury is still out on two others, Katich and Symonds. Assuming the academy is still producing good players at the same rate (which is difficult to say, because the previous generation were extraordinary, we can conclude that: for every 4 players you give a chance, 3 will succeed, 1 will fail.

2. Australia plays 10-15 tests per year (more these days), but let's say a batsmen has 15 knocks. In the first year, it is practically impossible to predict the future performance of a batsman. Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Symonds, Bevan and Blewett less than 35, Taylor, Waugh.M, Slater, Elliott and Hussey over 50. The rest were in between.

3. In the first 30 innings, three players averaged over 50, six less than 40, another two just over. Future performance is still only marginal similar to these figures. Similarly, in the first 45 innings, three players averaged over 50, six less than 40, another two just over. In those eight: Ponting, Waugh.M and Langer. On average, even successful players will, early in their career, average 2 runs per game less than their career average. Five runs less than their prolific period.

4. Even successful batsmen will fade, or have limited opportunities. Lehmann played only 47 innings, Martyn 122 and Slater (whose career was over before Langer and Hayden's really started) 131; Hussey, Katich and Symonds won't play many more than 100. Even successful batsmen will need replacing before the team is fully settled, particularly if they start past 30 years old.

In the next six years we will need to replace Hayden, Katich, Ponting, Hussey and Symonds. Clarke presumably will stay (at least I hope so, even if he is a flake). Watson who knows. Given what I've said above, that's eight batsmen in seventy odd tests: six successes, two failures, not including the blokes who get a cap but no faith/luck. The longer its left, the more likely new players will have to play with declining players, before giving way to a side of raw talents. Good looking lineup on paper, but 5 runs each worse than their career average, which is a huge difference. The aim should be to have 2, maybe 3 new faces playing at a time.

Thinking on it, I'd drop Symonds and Hayden now. The former has had a good couple of years, but by all reports he is a destructive influence, and his first class form doesn't warrant inclusion. Watson has shown a little in India. Show some faith in him and see what happens. In the last few years Hayden has had a couple of good summers and several bad ones, his touring form is ordinary (avg. 35 in the past 3 years) making him a potential liability for the Ashes. Jaques being injured, and given current form, Rogers deserves a proper go. Not least because he'd give us another option in England if either Jaques or the Kat struggle.

With the ball, same story, Lee and Clark will need to be replaced inside 3 years. Warne still needs replacing, and Johnson remains an unknown (but might be coming good). The turnover rate for bowlers is huge (35 bowlers in 20 years, only 12 of whom played more than a dozen games, and only 8 of whom averaged under 30). That means trying out six or more bowlers over the next half decade. Early career bowlers have even worse relative averages, so it is even more important to get some experience for potential replacements. No need to pension off Lee or Clark yet, but Siddle (and probably Hilfenhaus) should be playing against New Zealand. Otherwise an injury leaves us horribly exposed (again).

Did I apologise for the length? I agree with Tony's shorter and better comments above.

Russ

White was on a hiding to nothing. He didn't seem to have a clear role to play. Was he there to tie up an end, or to get wickets? Was he an all-rounder or specialist bowler? He was massively under-bowled, just 7 overs more than Clarke (for 3 more wickets), and only 18 more than Krazy in 3 extra tests. He was expensive (3.67 rpo) compared to Clarke, and ineffective (wicket every 116 balls) compared to Krazy, but better in the reverse comparison. His figures were better than Kumble's with a fifth the support from his captain. He also averaged more than Watson and Haddin with the bat, for what that's worth.

I wouldn't play White at the Gabba, but that's because I wouldn't play two spinners, and Krazy has earnt his current chance. But he is worth watching and persisting with, as long as the selectors tell him (and his captain) what they expect from him.

Soulberry

Krazy Krejza for me...the man to watch. Hope he gets a game.

Soulberry

Russ makes sense.

chris

Russ- agree with a lot of what you have to say.

Personally I think Hayden and Symonds shouldn't be in the side. Give Watson a go here at home, and give either Marsh or (shock horror a "Victorian") Rogers a proper go.

In addition, if Clarke is not up to it and is still ill, one D Hussey (yes, another Victorian) should get a game.

Don't have a great deal of problems with Cameron White not making the side - after all, we have the youthful Bryce McGain stil in the wings ... hmmm.

As a random thought, can we tempt Dan Vettori to Australia with some sort of bribe - what a star he is.

Would like to see Siddle given more of a go too I have to say.

chris

Russ- agree with a lot of what you have to say.

Personally I think Hayden and Symonds shouldn't be in the side. Give Watson a go here at home, and give either Marsh or (shock horror a "Victorian") Rogers a proper go.

In addition, if Clarke is not up to it and is still ill, one D Hussey (yes, another Victorian) should get a game.

Don't have a great deal of problems with Cameron White not making the side - after all, we have the youthful Bryce McGain stil in the wings ... hmmm.

As a random thought, can we tempt Dan Vettori to Australia with some sort of bribe - what a star he is.

Would like to see Siddle given more of a go too I have to say.

Tony T

Slow response answer.

Was the last sacked captain Bill Lawry?

Martin

Kim Hughes?

Adsy

Apparently Graham Yallop, but that was from the font of wisdom that is Carlton Draught stubby caps, so there you go.

Adsy

Kim Hughes was going to be sacked but fell on his own sword instead didn't he? Tearful press conference and all.

Tony T

When counting back, I wasn't sure about Yallop. I knew Chappelli and Chappellg made their own calls; that Hughes pulled the pin under his own duress; and that Border, Taylor and Waugh all quit publicly on their own terms, but privately would have had the terms put on them by the ACB/CricAussie.

I don't remember the end of Yallop's captaincy. I assume it came after the Pakistan series in 1978/79 and before the West Indies series in 1979/80 when Greg Chappell re-took (maybe re-assumed would be a better word) the captaincy. Did Yallop captain our tour to India in '79, or is that when Hughes first took over? I don't remember that series at all well. In those days subcontinental TV broadcasts were a strange and mysterious, but mostly invisible affair.

Tony T

Why don't I just answer my own question.

Yobbo

Anyone promoting White over Symonds is stone cold crazy. Sorry but it's just ridiculous. White is a 1-day specialist who takes the pace off the ball to make it harder to hit for 6. That's all there is to his bowling. And there's not much to his batting except being better than most at clearing boundary ropes - which is important in limited overs games now with ultra defensive fields. But he is not a test player.

People said the same thing about Symonds, but his bowling turned out to be genuinely threatening and I don't think there's any serious doubt that he's a better bat than White (and Haddin).

Symonds has to return to the team at the expense of White and Haddin should be demoted to #8.

Russ

Yobbo, and Clark? Or are you planning to leave out Australia's best performing bowler for the past 2 years? I didn't see anyone suggest White should play this summer. Even in Sydney, Casson or McGain would probably be better options.

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