It’s a quote infamous with Australian tourism and the former spouse of Australian captain Michael Clarke.
It’s now a quote I pose to the Australian cricket team’s current state of mind, along with their coaching staff.
So to that team who dominated England 5-0 in 2013 and comfortably accounted for India 2-0 in 2014, “where the bloody hell are you?”
I’m sure I’m unanimous with the majority of Australian society that what occurred on the 6th of August 2015 were some of the most horrifying 18 overs seen in recent history.
Rogers goes, Smith goes, Warner goes to an absolute beauty, Marsh next, Voges disappoints, Clarke frustrates. It was an ongoing cycle that just never stopped. With almost every batsman flashing outside of off stump in front of their body, the question posed is fair enough as to the train of thought of every batsman with most being dismissed similarly, using hard hands at balls they could’ve been left.
So what’s next for a team experiencing certain adversity that hasn’t been seen for some years?
All in all, the main fault of Australia has been their adaption to English conditions with Chris Rogers being the only batsman to notably play according to the pitch conditions. The aggression of the side has seemed to have passed, not so much in their batting but their general attack and despise towards the other team in the field and with the ball. Warner hasn’t been as vocal, Anderson’s injured but not with a broken arm and the chirp behind the stumps is missing. This seems to be a different side, unable to cope with the difficulty of defeat.
At the time of writing Shane Warne has interviewed Michael Clarke as he announces his retirement. This I believe, as much as I love to criticize Clarke, is not what’s needed for the team. Right now Australia need him to stick through the tough times and lead them through a generational change. Further, I don’t believe Steve Smith is ready to be captain of Australia just yet.
In order to progress things need to change for The Oval test. A lineup I’d love to see for the fifth test is as follows:
1. Warner 2. Rogers 3. Smith 4. Clarke 5. Voges 6. M. Marsh 7. Haddin 8. Siddle 9. Cummins 10. Lyon 11. Ahmed.
After providing such a great service to Australian cricket, Haddin and Clarke deserve room for sentiment, with Nevill hardly setting the world on fire also. Voges’ spot in the next test will depend on whether he goes on to make a score of significance as he currently sits 48 not out at the time of writing on Day 3 of the current Trent Bridge Test. If he fails, I predict the selectors will provide Shane Watson with a reprieve and in typical Watson form he’ll probably score a century in a dead rubber. Mitch Marsh is part of the future for Australia, whilst unproven at international level against high class opposition there’s a feeling he can be Australia’s version of Ben Stokes with his own attacking mindset. In the bowling department I’ve made wholesale changes. Starc whilst strong and damaging in certain circumstances has been erratic over the series and has a big year still ahead and may need a rest, likewise with Mitchell Johnson. Whilst Hazlewood has been solid over the series, he hasn’t taken as many wickets as expected with Glenn McGrath stating to cricket.com.au,
“I thought Josh would have bowled really well over here. I was looking forward to it. I’m a little disappointed for him.”
The omission of Hazlewood is difficult because he is a future 200+ wicket taker for Australia but in order to advance, the selectors need to see more of Pat Cummins whose progress has stalled significantly over the years. The selection of Siddle has been lobbied by various quarters as Australia searches for line, length and stability compared to that of Starc. Further, the selection of Fawad Ahmed isn’t there for sentiment, it’s there to see if he can really cut it at international level as a series in Bangladesh beckons with the pressure on Ahmed to perform due to the success of Steven O’Keefe in India on the Australia A series. The selection of Mitch Marsh would also allow for that extra pace option due to Ahmed’s selection.
Beyond this series more wholesale changes can be expected. Players such as Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja and Cameron Bancroft have impressed on the Australia A series, however the latter probably won’t feature until he’s proven himself within Australian first class cricket.
Burns and Khawaja are both equipped with sound techniques and could be seen as adequate replacements for Voges and Clarke whilst Nevill is undeniably the next permanent test skipper. In terms of a replacement for Rogers, if Ed Cowan can find the form of his previous Sheffield Shield season he’s a definite chance to be a short-term replacement depending on the relationship he shares with Darren Lehmann which is rumoured to be broken. In the long-term however, the name Travis Head is definitely one that has been earmarked for greatness along with Jordan Silk and Nic Maddinson as well as previously mentioned Cameron Bancroft whose impressive Aus A series has shot him into contention. However, all four of these players require huge first class seasons in order to assert themselves within the side.
The bowling is of a lesser concerns due to the massive depth of talent that exists within Australia with names such as James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Jackson Bird, Gurinder Sandhu all expected to feature in the future along with Hazlewood, Starc and Johnson in the short term. The name Chadd Sayers is one I believe wouldn’t look out of place in Baggy Green. With 48 wickets at 18.52 the South Australian was the leading wicket-taker of the 2012-13 Sheffield Shield season and received comparisons to Terry Alderman as a late swing merchant, stump to stump bowler. If Sayers can stay injury free in 2015/16, a baggy green should beckon.
The spinners position held by Nathan Lyon is definitely under no threat with the New South Welshman continually doing the job for the Australians without trouble or complaint.
With all these generational changes in mind, I encourage patience within Australia’s cricketing society because a squad of certain youth and inexperience without a number of significant senior players will need time to progress and gel as a team which is why I emphasise that Clarke’s decision to retire maybe wrong in the short-term with the team about to lose a number of senior players they still require the leadership and experience he provides, similar to the way in which Ricky Ponting played the back end of his Australia career under the captaincy of Clarke.