Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Kangaroo in Lions Clothing

An innings and 71 runs, by repeating it to myself I’m hoping it will settle in and make more sense as I digest further highlights tonight. Besides reports of 2 old men fighting over a biscuit in the Adelaide car park, pigs have also been sighted by Qantas pilots as the fortunes of these 2 sides have swapped for the first time in 20 years.

If Australia wants to know what they are doing wrong, they only have to look at the English sides from the past. England wrote the book on Ashes blunders, and Australia is making the same mistakes again. The key issue for Australia at the moment is not solely in the hands of the players themselves, but from the selection table and those that seem to be chairing it. Firstly they dropped Hauritz after an unsuccessful Indian tour, something that many a great spinner has had. Just ask Shane Warne. England learned with Ashley Giles, sometimes you have to make the best out of what you have. Hauritz has an excellent record in his nine home Tests, where he has taken 38 wickets at an average of 29.65 each. Just last winter he took 18 in three Tests against Pakistan . And he is a competent tail-end batsman, with a Test average of 25.05.

Ben Hilfenhaus took more wickets in the 2009 Ashes series, 22, than any other bowler. Unlike Hauritz, he performed superbly on the flat pitches the team played on in India last October, though he had little luck. And poorly as Mitchell Johnson may have bowled at Brisbane , he had played 39 consecutive Test matches up to that point. And given Ponting's pointed comment that "sometimes it doesn't matter what I think" it seems like the decision went against the captain's own wishes.
Then there is the effect on team dynamics by chopping and changing a line-up, you straight away hurt a players confidence levels and start to plant a seed of doubt. Secondly you spread panic in a side on who will be the next player to go. In short, if you are going to drop players you have to be sure that the ones you are bringing in will improve the team enough to make up for those considerations. Ryan Harris did. But Doug Bollinger and Xavier Doherty did not.

England on the other hand seemed have been taking notes for the past 20 years and having given Australia cricket have began to play the Australian way. Using strong opening partnerships that blast huge holes early in the day, then include a strong 3/4/5 batting roles to continue the runs, keeping the opposition in the hot sun for long stretches. Then bowling with a strong upright seam attack whose sole focus is on off-stump at a good length, providing a testing range on Australian wickets. Couple this with a strong desire in the field and a world class spin bowler to mop up on the 5th day. This England team seems modelled on the great Australian sides of Waugh and Taylor.

The English used to call syphilis the French disease. The French used to call syphilis the English disease. It seems a similar reversal may have been taking place in Australia these past two weeks. Such selectorial confusion used to be the bane of English cricket. It seems the Australians have now acquired the habit. There are a host of good players and strong personalities in the Australia team. But they are being undermined by their shambolic mismanagement.

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