In the aftermath of Homeworkgate and licking the window of stupidity, the Banana Bunch of Cricket Australia (with apologies to Deep Purple) have announced the names of those entrusted with trying to get the Ashes back from England:
Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin (vice-capt, wk), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, Chris Rogers, Matthew Wade (wk), James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird.
Since Shane Watson resigned the vice captaincy there were only ever two likely candidates for the post: class creep Ed Cowan or Clarke’s mate Brad Haddin. Haddin got the nod. He’s certainly a better keeper than Wade at the moment but his test batting average over the last three years is only 30. His batting won’t be the prime reason Haddin is there – his keeping, mateship with Clarke and his leadership may well be very important this series, especially if Clarke’s dodgy back goes again. Haddin’s keeping job will be made easier with the omission of Mitchell Johnson. Yates can hear the Barmy Army cursing and looking to write new songs to replace the classic “He bowls to the left” ditty.
The bowling looks stronger than the batting. Siddle gives everything when he steps over the white line. Mock his eating habits if you like but there’s no quarrelling with his efforts. Mitchell Starc’s bowling stats aren’t exceptional yet but he’s developing nicely and is no mug with the bat. James Faulkner has looked decent in his IPL outings while James Pattinson looks a fine bowler. Jackson Bird doesn’t look too bad either. Joining Siddle as the experienced bowler is Ryan Harris. Only one spinner, Nathan Lyon, has been picked. Watto may get a bowl or two if he’s picked as an all-rounder. Overall the bowling is packed with youth, energy and potential.
The batting is made stronger by the inclusion of the worthy Chris Rogers, and about time too. There’s stickability with Rogers and Cowan. Can Clarke’s golden run of form continue through the Ashes series? Australia will hope so, especially with Warner and Hughes potentially being in the squad (although Yates would not have picked Hughes at all). Yates hasn’t seen much of Khawaja recently and can’t remember what he’s like. Watto will want to score more than 30s, 40s and 50s. There are a lot of left handers in the Aussie batting. If Graeme Swann’s elbow recovers nicely, he will be thinking it could be fun out there this summer. Could we see two off-spinners playing in an England team?
There is one thing this Aussie team will want to look out for: injuries. A few players in that squad are coming back from injuries or surgery. Once you’ve had surgery on an area it can take some time before confidence in that part returns. Ankles and backs in particular. One unexpected sneeze, a wrong twist in bed or a slip in the shower can knacker a dodgy back. A recovering foot or ankle can suffer under ropey pavements, turf or a dodgy boot sole or insole. Yates hopes the Banana Bunch have a few standbys ready – they may need them.
This Aussie squad looks OK but if Yates were in Andy Flower’s shoes he wouldn’t see anything there to scare him. A fit, firing and switched on England team should see off this Aussie squad. There’s never any room for complacency in cricket.
Yates would love to see a good hard fought series where the cricket gets people to do the talking rather than off the field silly buggers.
Can the ECB and CA manage that? Please?