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Aussies find Beer at bottom of the barrel

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Oliver Brett | 13:35 UK time, Friday, 10 December 2010

Friday was the oddest day of the Ashes so far. England produced their worst cricket on tour, dropping five catches in the tour game against Victoria, and yet there was much more ammunition to question Australia, whose selection policy is beginning to show all the military precision of a campaign managed by Captain Mainwaring.

It should have been a great chance to turn the guns on someone like Chris Tremlett - the man expected to replace Stuart Broad at the Waca went wicketless at the MCG. Instead, Australia's chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch got both barrels.

All he had done for his troubles was to profess his fondness of beer... Michael Beer, to be precise. But the vacuum into which all national spin-bowling talent has escaped since Shane Warne's retirement is not really a laughing matter at all.

"Beer's inclusion is the biggest stunner since Peter "Who" Taylor was given a baggy green cap against England in 1986-87," noted the Sydney Morning Herald as yet another parallel was drawn with the last Ashes series defeat on home soil.

Michael Beer

Small beer or the full pint? Michael Beer is in line for a shock Test debut in Perth (Getty)

Allan Border professed to being "in a state of shock", before reassuring himself that Beer would be 12th man when England and Australia resume hostilities in Perth next Thursday.

The trouble is, Hilditch had already dropped some major hints suggesting Beer would soon be handed his Test debut. "We expect he will bowl very well against the English on his home ground," he said.

Warne swaggered off the international stage with 708 Test wickets behind him when Australia put the seal on their 5-0 whitewash over England in January 2007.

Nobody could have foreseen that since that glorious day for the Baggy Greens, 10 spinners - yes TEN - would be picked within four years. Once they mocked England's obsession for finding the new Botham; but finding the new Warne takes cricketing neophilia to a new level altogether.

Beer's shock was palpable: "I don't think it really sank in until I rang my parents and actually blurted it out myself and thought hang on, what's going on here?"

Little wonder. Having spent the formative years of his cricketing education in Melbourne's bohemian seaside resort of St Kilda - a place that's a bit like Scarborough, only warmer and a thousand times more trendy - he finally got his big break with Western Australia.

The 26-year-old has played five first-class games though, one of them being England's first tour game back in early November, where he recorded 3-108 and 2-99.

And the coach who brought him to WA, South African Mickey Arthur, speaks in glowing terms of this slow left-armer who follows the likes of Jason Krejza, Bryce McGain, Nathan Hauritz and now Xavier Doherty into the spin-bowling seat, or should that be ejector seat?

"I think he'll probably get an extended run now," said Arthur. He's probably right, based on the fact there are not really any spinners left in Australia who have not been tried.

Australia's policy for Perth is high-risk at every level. Out of 12 names, there are only five specialist batsmen, one of whom is the hopelessly out-of-form New South Wales opener Phillip Hughes, who was dropped after two Tests in the 2009 Ashes.

Assuming Brad Haddin remains at seven, leg-spinner Steve Smith will bat in the number six spot vacated by Marcus North. If you haven't seen Smith before, he's a confident lad of just 21, with two Tests and nine one-day internationals behind him.

It would of course be dangerous to write him off - he hit 77 in the Headingley Test against Pakistan and has a good strike rate with the ball in Twenty20 internationals - but he slightly falls into the camp of players who are OK at both batting and bowling without being brilliant at either.

North was discarded alongside Doherty and Doug Bollinger. The latter is a trifle unlucky to lose his spot, as he has been Australia's most consistent bowler since his debut in January 2009. Then again, which England batsman is worried about facing Bollinger?

Back comes Ben Hilfenhaus, a dependable sort who often takes two or three wickets but never five or six. And it's hello again to Mitchell Johnson, the least dependable fast bowler - but possibly the only potential match-winner.

It's a schizophrenic selection. We cannot say it is a bad one, because Australia could win at Perth, and then it would be one of the great selections. And given that Shane Watson's swing-bowling can be added to whichever five bowlers make the final cut, there is some nice balance about it.

Big, brave calls have been made because they have to be made. The selectors have decided North, Hauritz and Bollinger are not good enough to feature in a side trying to wrest back the Ashes from a very good England team. Now they will discover whether the same applies to Smith, Beer and Hughes.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Given the plight of the Aussies somewhat resembles the England football team selectors when it comes to strikers, I think Oliver's done well not to gloat here. Looking forward to a few 'Ponting sees glass half empty' puns when, hopefully, we tonk Beer all over the park.

  • Comment number 2.

    Australian's turn to Beer! True story!

    This selection policy is bizzare. Bringing in another unknown is one thing but I'm more stunned by Mitchell Johnson being recalled after being dropped for one test and having played no cricket in the mean time. Surely he needs time to regain form, it's insane! Smith at 6 seems also high risk to me. These constant changes smack of desperation, not mention trying to coax Warne out of retirement. The worrying thing for them is that there seems to be a breakdown between the selectors and captain.

    I'd be amazed if Australia don't lose this test. My heart bleeds for them!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Given the squad they've picked, Australia should probably played Haddin at 6, Smith at 7 and then the four bowlers. If Smith goes for runs, give Clarke a bowl if his back is OK. Haurtiz is unlucky to miss out, he picked up 3 wickets this week and has probably got some rhythm now, which he didn't have before the first Test.

    As a Pom, all this is pretty funny though :)

  • Comment number 4.

    Presumably, the Aussie selectors don't like mixing their drinks, so Bollinger had to go if Beer was coming in...

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm afraid I'm bleaker than than there's reason to be (from an English pov). Broad will not be so easy to replace as many think. Broad's mental strength is key.

    Is Shield cricket suddenly as bad as pré-McLaurin county cricket? If so I'm amazed.

    We're struggling in Perth. If we were 2:0 up in thé rubber (with 3 to go) then fine. But a 1:0 lead in recent Ashes history has not proved a passport to out-and-out ascendancy.

    Many havé posted warnings of an Australian backlash on the BBC blogs.

    Perhaps I'm psychologically scarred as a 50 yo
    england supporter.

    But I'm counting nô chickens until January.

    Having said all that, the Strauss/Flower stance against complacency reassures me a little.

    Good luck England.

    (PS. Sorry for the French characters. Working off my French mobile. It is murder to go back and edit.)

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting to note that Sussex’s 22 year old leg spinner Will Beer has a similar Economy Rate, a better Average and a better Strike Rate than that of Michael Beer after a similar amount of first class games, and yet Will Beer does not currently hold down a regular first team spot for Sussex, and Michael Beer is in the Australian Test squad. Will Beer also played extremely well for Sussex against Australia last year equalling the efforts of Michael Beer with the ball against England a few weeks ago, highlighting the strength and depth England clearly have and the weak state of Australian cricket at present. How fast the tables have turned! I just hope England have developed that ruthless streak that made the Aussies so dominant not so long ago.

  • Comment number 7.

    It was supposed to be war; but is turning out, instead, to be a capitulation:

    It's an open bar and a free-for-all. Indulge, Barmy Army! They have waved the white towel, ignominiously!

    England will imbibe, triumphantly, in their chilled bubbles after the Waca surrender, after the slaughter. Bring in the generals to guard the garrison, the foot soldiers have fled over the hills and vanished.

    The urn is traveling back to England!

  • Comment number 8.

    Great to see this nonesense comming out of Aus.

    This is a gambled selection, the Aus selectors are relying on luck and hope that someone plays a blinder.

    Problem for England is that it might just work!

  • Comment number 9.

    So:

    Watson
    Hughes
    Ponting
    Clarke
    Hussey
    Haddin/Smith
    Smith/Hadding (id guess Haddin 6, Smith 7)
    Johnson
    Harris
    Siddle
    Hilfenhaus

    i can't seem to dress up the fact how week that looks from a batting and especially bowling point of view having watched the first two tests in thier entirety. Harris (if the aussies do pick him and not beer) is probably the only consistant bowler in that lineup, Siddle has had one good spell nothing else.

    On the flip side assuming Smith plays instead of North and Beer plays as is the hint that he will from Hilditch, then the WACA will be a turner (otherwise i see no reason for Australia to pick 2 spinners) and if thats the case then watch Swann rip that lineup to shreads in the 2nd inns.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think someone wrote XXXX on the team list, meaning Unknown. Another selector read XXXX as a coded reference. There isn't a current player called Castlemaine: therefore ...

  • Comment number 11.

    This is confirmation, if we needed it, that the Aussies are in disarray. There is nothing of substance to back up any of the changes they have made.

    Hughes has been exposed as a dasher with a real vulnerability against short-pitched bowling. Smith has tremendous potential but batting him at six in a struggling team smacks of utter desperation - not to mention his bowling is not good enough for this level yet. Johnson looked shot at Brisbane and has played no meaningful cricket since - so how has he rediscovered his magic touch? As for Beer, it seems the Aussies are desperate to play a left-arm spinner just to counter Pietersen. That is just madness, as was proved in Adelaide.

    The bowling has looked impotent since the start of the second innings in Brisbane, which puts incredible pressure on the batsmen to deliver. Ponting and Clarke are not in the best of nick, in fact only Hussey and Haddin have demonstrated the stomach for a fight. If they lose at the WACA, there's nowhere left for the selectors to go to, other than looking for new jobs, along with Ponting.

    This really is England's series to lose right now. Yes losing Broad is a blow but their batsmen are in such good form, it's going to take something remarkable for them to lose two out of three Tests.

  • Comment number 12.

    One hopes that the analogy with Peter Taylor doesn't carry on into the game- I seem to recall the unknown Mr T actually had a devastating first test with the ball and went on to have a respectable international career, admittedly more in the one day game than the five day version.

    Interesting that the Australian selectors are still obsessed with left arm spin to get Pietersen out; they still don't seem to have noticed that there are another ten players in the England team.

  • Comment number 13.

    #11

    i dare not think what might happen if the aussies lose at the WACA and i think they will half of the predicted aussie line up are out of form whereas england are entirely inform, interesting to see who they do pick to replace broad though but i have full confidence whoever does replace him will do the job.

  • Comment number 14.

    The Aussies had no choice but to recall Johnson, average players are never going to win you a test match let along an ashes series from 1-0 down!

    Johnson, however out of form at least has some World Class talent somewhere about him, as an English fan I can happily say I'm yet to see anything close to it against our boys.

    Expecting Aussie top 6 to hit some runs in the first innings though with Ponting answering some critics, just can't see their bowlers doing anything and with morale as it is wouldn't be surprised to see an Aussie 2nd innings collapse and us chasing 150 on the last day to win it!

    Come on the boys!

  • Comment number 15.

    @4: from Bollinger to Beer - great comment! Next maybe they'll draft in Ellyse Perry from the women's team. (Or Baz Irn-Bru from the University of Wolamaloo 2nd XI.)

  • Comment number 16.

    A very odd selection bringing in Beer when Hauritz was probably the better option. I wonder if Warne had anything to do with that.

    I can't see Beer playing in all honesty, i think Australia will go with Harris, Siddle, Johnson and Hilfenhaus with Smith as the sole main spinner as Perth is more suited to fast bowlers. That means the Aussies will have 5 quicks (including Watson) and Smith, which i guess they're trying because they need to give themselves the best chance of taking 20 wickets. It leaves them very light on the batting front however, with Haddin possibly moving up to 6 and Smith at 7.

    One thing is for sure, it puts A LOT of pressure on the so far under-performing Australian top order, if they don't bat well then the Aussie bowlers, who have been humiliated in the past couple of innings, will have even more pressure heaped on them to take wickets.

    As for England, i think we will play Tremlett because his style of bowling is more suited to the Perth wicket. It's a bit worrying to see none of our reserve bowlers being that effective in the warm-up game but i guess that's more of a worry for the fourth test match at the MCG then at Perth. As long as Anderson, Swann and to a lesser extent Finn can keep up their performances, then i still think we can bowl out a relatively weak Australian batting line up.

    I honestly can't see England losing the game with most of our batsmen being in good nick but it's a new test match with both teams starting from scratch and although it seems very good for us at the moment- you can never write off the Aussies.

  • Comment number 17.

    I am stumped (sorry) by this selection. How can Hautriz be overlooked, TWICE, for unknown and unproven spinners, both of whom have less-than average bowling statistics and only one is seen as an almost all-rounder. Haurtiz can not only bat, as proven with his maiden FC century, but is a proven wicket-taker. Someone on the selectors board must have it in for him, it is the only explanation I can think of. England's attack, even without Broad, should tear this Australian team to pieces,(fingers crossed the Johnson hasn't miraculously re-discovered his form)and hopefully the batsmen can continue their domination of this average bowling attack.

  • Comment number 18.

    Cast your minds back to when Warne was having a tweet at Punter about Hauritz's fielding placements..... someone must have said something to upset the apple cart so much for NH not to be called in.

  • Comment number 19.

    Leave Scarborough alone Oliver!

    I spent months in St Kilda - great place - but a 1,000 times cooler than Scarborough - nay.

    Come to the Scarborough cricket festival in 2011 and see if we can change your mind Oliver - and force a few Tetleys down your gullet and make sure you never besmirch Yorkshire's coast again!

    How the devil the Aussies have over-looked Hauritz for this one is extraordinary. Hauritz may not be world class but he is surely the best of the bunch?

    How times change.

    tdf

  • Comment number 20.

    At the risk of this coming back and biting me \ us, (as in England supporters) I'm loving the complete shambles that is Australian cricket at present (add to which Australian rugby union) and would be happy with a 1-0 at the end of the day - don't think it will be as I think England will turn them over at least one more time this winter, just the whole scenario of being in the ascendancy is such a great feeling for a change, long may it continue !!!

  • Comment number 21.

    How many more anagrams of Zuhirat are we going to get?
    ;-)

  • Comment number 22.

    KomlaNokwe @15: Next maybe they'll draft in Ellyse Perry from the women's team.

    -----------

    Apart from the fact that Australia are going to need Perry when Charlotte Edwards & co arrive to rub salt in the wound the men have opened, it's not a bad idea. Also, Shelley Nitschke is a very fair opening bat and Lisa Sthalekar still turns a mean off-break!

  • Comment number 23.

    Bollinger clearly too expensive.
    Can Beer be cheap enough?
    Maybe they just need a good Shiraz!

  • Comment number 24.

    I really am struggling to understand how this country who defeated all before them for the last 2 decades all of sudden are running around like headles chickens !! I mean, Beer....... for crying out loud WHO IS HE ? They just don't seem to know what to do. Johnson, Hilfenhaus out then in, Bollinger out then in, now back out again. Hughes is a decent batsmen, but not in any form. The only two that worry me are Hussey and Haddin, but compared to our boys...........surely we can make it 0-2 going into Melbourne !! Happy days............!!

  • Comment number 25.

    The only think I'm gonna say is, whre the hell is Hauritz? Surely, he's better than Doherty and Beer. The only thing I can think of against him is that he's not a leftie, so he can't get Pietersen out, and even that sounds self-obssessed.

  • Comment number 26.

    At the risk of sounding stupid I believe that picking Beer may be the best thing the australian selectors could do. I mean he cant do any worse than Doherty and although his average isn't great he has picked up 5 wickets against us in a warm up game. That said he did average at around 40 for them wickets. Plus he is only 22 so still learning.

    Still the only real hope the aussies have is in Johnson. On his day he could destroy almost any team but i just cant see it happening.

    It very much seems like the Aussies are going in the direction of England in the 90's. Hope not though as the ashes is so special at the moment (and has been since 2005) due to the competetiveness. I hope England win but i also kind of hope Australia improve a little bit just so were all on tenderhooks :)

  • Comment number 27.

    I mean't Beer is 25 althou i have just found he is 26. But in cricket that is still young. Would defo have Hauritz in the squad as well though.

  • Comment number 28.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 29.

    Ah, Mr Shango! If I may: a) don't need to. b) no, probably not.
    Is Beer better than Swann too?

  • Comment number 30.

    The fact that the Australian selectors are resorting to picking a pretty average bowler, purely on the basis that they expect him to bowl well because its his home ground gives us a pretty clear indication of how desperate they have become.

    The decisions coming out of late have been very poor, reactionary and smacks of people finding themselves out of their depth. I mean the very amatuerish psychology ploy of picking Doherty to psyche out Pietersen, was the worst piece of tactical thinking I can possibly imagine.

    Hauritz's continued mystifying exclusion is beyond incompetence.

    Although I have to say as an Englishman I am enjoying watching the aussies squirm for a change, far to used to seeing my own team standing their like rabbits in the headlights. Time for England to turn the screw and punish the aussies here, no mercy is the order of the day.

  • Comment number 31.

    Another misuse of "schizophrenic". This word does not mean "split personality". Big words don't sound great unless you know what they mean.

    And the gloating tone is unbecoming. In the second-last paragraph you say you don't know whether it's a good selection. So why do you spend the rest of the article mocking it?

    I'll nail my colours to the fence and say it is a shocking selection, and an indication, as you suggest, of muddled thinking in the Australian selection camp.

  • Comment number 32.

    It's all rather like the '93 series. We got hammered, got scared, picked all sorts of unknown dobbers for the 3rd test, won it then carried on back to the bottom. I suspect the only difference will be the Aussies won't even get the satisfaction of winning in Perth either.

    Just quietly though, kind of feel for X-D, it's not like he's been handed a turning dust-bowl and a weak opposition to get bedded in against. Having siad that, he ought to at least keep a lid on the runs, which he didn't. Perhaps he could take wickets in shield cricket and then get a recall? Wait...no...then they'd have to pick Hauritz.

    Can't be easy being an Aussie selector, there are so many ways you could be consistent with some element and to somehow wriggle your way through the decisions without achieving any of them must be a challenge.

  • Comment number 33.

    @12

    I think Peter Taylor took six-for in the first innings of his debut test and then made lots of crucial runs in a match-winning partnership with Steve Waugh.

  • Comment number 34.

    @12
    Sorry; perhaps I misread your use of "devastating" there...

  • Comment number 35.

    I think the Aussie selectors are just so depressed at the thought of their lack of options that one of them said "I need a beer." Woosh Bang and there's how he got selected. It smacks of desperation and a lack of bottle. Just about everyone else in the cricketing world would probibly say go with the known quantity when your on the ropes. This is either an inspired, or foolish choice. Personaly I think it will turn out to be the latter. Roll on tht WACA and let find out.

  • Comment number 36.

    I had a comment not on this topic but on the team selection for the twenty and the one dayers. I am sorry for putting this question here. I am doing this as there are no other topics to post this question.

    Is Micheal Lumb still not out his injury. Could you please let me know what is keeping him out of this team.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    Fool - nuff said.

  • Comment number 39.

    #36 I guess Lumb must still be injured? I'd have thought his name would have been mentioned if he had been available.

  • Comment number 40.

    "a schizophrenic selection."

    A pedantry rant:

    Oliver, I like cricket and I usually enjoy reading your contributions, but I was dismayed to read this phrase.

    My wife has a relative with this condition; it's not something to take lightly, as she can witness first hand, but further,it's a complete misconception that this means 'double sided' in anyway, which is I believe what you mean. Schizophrenia is a condition when people hear voices or see images that influence them in awful ways: it is not split personality disorder which is another thing altogether.

    end pedantry rant

  • Comment number 41.

    Post no.5 makes some very good points. We are so quick to criticize when things are bad and then as soon as they look better - following a single win - we claim to have the Aussies on their knees. They may be a poor team in some disarray and badly beaten in game 2 but it only takes one more game to even the score as it stands; Australia do not lose many series on their home soil, they will take the fight all the way.

    Also, Broad is a massive loss. His figures haven't made the headlines and so neither has his departure but don't underestimate how pleased the opposition is to see him go. He is exactly thekind of fighter we need out there. Tremlett is decent but not of the same high quality as Broad who is world class.

    I'm happy we're one up and in style but the Flower/Strauss anti-complacency line is very important.

  • Comment number 42.

    Beer's basically gotten the nod on the strength of Warne vouching strongly for him (at least I think he was on about the person rather than the drink...)

    We'll either get Ball of the Century II and the dawn of another nemesis for English cricket for many years to come, or he'll end up very small Beer indeed and have a poor game.

  • Comment number 43.

    I agree with the last poster and I think that there is a lot of cricket left in this series. However, Australia do seem to have become like the England of the early nineties, taking a scattergun approach to selection.

    What about Phil Jaques? He averages 47 in test cricket with 3 centuries, he's a fighter, and he would certainly add a bit of steel to the Australian batting order.

  • Comment number 44.

    This selection backs up what a lot of people (Stuart Clark, Shane Warne among others) have been saying about the importance of continuity of selection. Namely, if you drop someone after a poor performance (Hauritz, Johnson, Hilfenhaus) what do you then do if their replacement fares no better (Doherty, Bollinger)? Do you then revert to the first player, or pick someone new? What has Johnson done between the first test and now? Maybe show that he's not quite as bad as Bollinger. What happens if Beer also fails (supposing he plays)? Do you persevere, pick someone new or revert to Hauritz? What if Johnson and Hilfenhaus do no better than in the first test? Back to Bollinger? Pick George?

    Basically the Australian selectors panicked before and after the first test (17-man squad? They'realready picking from outside it too - then making two changes to their pace attack), and their selections are looking more and more desperate IMO.

    However, if they do pull it off, it will be seen as a stroke of genius...

  • Comment number 45.

    @43
    Jaques hasn't been the same since his long-term injury unfortunately

  • Comment number 46.

    In 1986 it worked: Australia made a totally left-field selection. The newspapers speculated that Peter Taylor had been called up by mistake instead of Mark Taylor (there was only one specialist opener in the squad). England allowed themselves to be distracted and Australia won the game handsomely.

    A win in Perth will seal the Ashes. Nothing should be allowed to distract the side from that aim.

    A draw will oblige Australia to win the last two. If we can't win, we have to make absolutely certain that we do not lose.

    To win, we need an agressive quick to replace Stuart Broad. I prefer Chris Tremlett, but I can see why Shazad might be a decent option.

  • Comment number 47.

    While I don't think that Beer is the answer (not to this problem anyway), I think we'll see a star in the making in Steven Smith. This young lad is a winner - good things seem to happen for him - he will be a fixture in the Aussie team for the next decade.

  • Comment number 48.

    #31 #40

    If you want to be pedantic then the only explanation for this squad selection is that the selectors are hearing voices in their heads.

    P.S. I am equally annoyed by journalists mis-use of schizophrenic. As you state it has nothing to do with split personalities which it is often used to describe and I respect your attempt to re-educate both the writer and the reader.

  • Comment number 49.

    Re: warne's influence on selectors.

    I'd be amazed if Warne has any influence on the selectors.

    To my knowledge (based largely on Aussie sites) he's backed:

    Hauritz
    Doherty
    Smith

    it's a matter of time before he endorses Beer. That's not intended as a dig at Warne. He's a loyal Aussie and backs thé encumbent and so on. (Compare Botham's bullish championing of a single cause, e.g. Swann). For what it's worth, my view is that Warne is not thé greatest skipper that Australia never had. I suspect that his psyché is totally différent to, say, Vaughan or Waugh.

    The Aussie selectors panel is reputedly watertight.

  • Comment number 50.

    With the exception of Beer, when it should have been Hauritz, Australia have made the right calls here!

    While it basically means if they get mauled at Perth they have basically destroyed their squad's morale (not to mention those already discarded) for the next 10 years, they have undoubtedly selected close to their strongest available team!

    Haddin at 6 and Smith at 7 is bang on and Johnson, Harris and Hilfenhaus is their best seam attack!

  • Comment number 51.

    As an English fan, I'd be interested to hear the Ausies view on Cameron White, as he's struck me as a good batsman, and I'd have been more worried by him at 6 than Smith (who's a gutsy cricketer, but his bowling isn't up to test standard yet IMO). I think he played in India a few years back mainly as a bowler, but since has been playing only ODIs (as a batsman). Would you like to see him make a claim for a batsman's spot in the test side?

  • Comment number 52.

    I wasn't going to mention the 'schizophrenia' thing until, having scrolled back, I realised that it appeared in thé blog itself. I sympathise with those who've taken offense. If anything thé Aussie selectors appear to lack the creativity of the schizophrenic mind. So it's not an apt adjective.

    Incidentally, the closest mental pathology to a splitting of the personality is dissociative identity disorder (formerly multiple personality disorder). Rare in the UK, once very common in the USA and causally linked to child abuse. A real hotbed of controversy.

  • Comment number 53.

    #52. Forgot closing point. If one has to use mental pathology terms for describing the Aussie selectors I suggest that post-traumatic shock disorder (a genuine pathology like schizophrenia) would be more to the point.

  • Comment number 54.

    Sheesh its like watching England of the 1990's there in blind panic. Actually probable reasoning behind Beer is that theres noone else left to pick in Australia who they haven't already tried.
    I hope they bring back Johnson we could wrap this up right now if they do.
    Papa usual dumb comment mate, the guy gets back to back centuries and ones a double then he fails in an innings and you want to drop him. Your comments are as welcomeas the ones you made about Leed united the other night. Facts are facts we are going to win the ashes, ok thats an opinion but then you don't seem to mind mixing facts and opinions up even when the facts are wrong

  • Comment number 55.

    As far as Cameron White is concerned, he should be regarded solely as a batsman - his bowling is very ordinary - he purports to be a leg spinner but hasn't turned one off straight in his career. He really bowls medium pace with a fast action that reminds me of Chandrasekhar from India a few years ago - that's where the comparison ends I'm afraid.
    He can be an explosive batsman but is too inconsistent for test cricket. His main attribute is his cricket brain - he is a good tactician and has leadership qualities - he captained Victoria at a very young age.
    If Ricky decided to pull up stumps tomorrow, I think cameron White would be the best choice as a captaincy replacement, enthough his credentials as a player are shaky. Could Australia afford to carry a Mike Brearley? I think not.

  • Comment number 56.

    If the Aussie selectors pursue their alcoholic selection policy (Bollinger, Beer) then Nick Kruger of Queensland should expect a call for the fourth or fifth test

  • Comment number 57.

    Looking at who the selectors are, I really don't think that it is blind panic. Rather, it is more likely to be the fact that they are struggling with an unfamiliar situation: a side that has lost 9 of its last 11 matches in all formats and 4 or its last 5 Tests and where the talent simply is not there to arrest the slide. They have been used to having always a magic bullet available to them and are looking for one now.

    The Beer selection is on the lines of the D'Oh selection: a slow left arm mystery spinner to combat KP. They have clearly identified KP as being the danger man and are looking for ways to neutralise him in the hope that it poleaxes the England batting. The penny has not dropped that, although there is a real lack of superstar talent in the other 10, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts and that they need a plan to deal with more than just KP.

  • Comment number 58.

    Ok Star blind panic was probably not the best choice of phrase, a comment was made up there about the Aussies had a crazy schedule going into this. One Day internationals were not the best warm up plus a tour of India as well.
    Agree on the KP point as well, its like they only think of him. I personally think they got with the leg spinner not Beer he may be in there just for experience this time round

  • Comment number 59.

    Yes, it was my comment about the schedule. It showed how seriously the ACB was taking England's challenge. Maybe in hindsight they regret not taking the series more seriously. Whitewash in India hurt, but not so much. Losing to Sri Lanka hurt, but it was only hit and giggle in pyjamas. Losing to England and badly... that's something else. They now know that they are in a brawl, having spent two and a half days at the start believing that it would be a re-run of 2006.

  • Comment number 60.

    Interesting choices made by the Australian selectors
    Lets see if their gambled choices works

    I am still very surprised they have not pick Hauritz
    Why have they not picked him?

    He played very good in the previous Ashes series and must play in this series

    If Australia fail to get a big innings when they bat, they will definitely lose the test match.

    If Shane Warne comes out of retirement, Australia's bowling would be a lot better

    On current form for both sides, I expect England to win series 4-0

  • Comment number 61.

    Just read this on the sydney morning herald website. I apologise in advance that it's Roebuck but it's pretty well written.

    http://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/anxious-johnsons-mission-improbable-20101210-18ssg.html

    Couldn't help but see parallels with Marcus Trescothick. I actually feel sorry for Johnson (and not in a mocking Ponting way). A talented kid from the sticks seemingly uncomfortable on the biggest stage. I may be wrong but that's my take.

  • Comment number 62.

    Also from the same paper:-

    "Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris retained their spots from the second Test humiliation, and will fight it out with Johnson and Hilfenhaus for the three pace spots after chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch confirmed spinner Michael Beer would make his Test debut at the WACA Ground."

    So Smith and Beer will play. Big gamble.

  • Comment number 63.

    Or no Smith, Haddin at 6 and the tail starts at 7. (possibly unkind to Johnson, if they pick him). Fascinating.

  • Comment number 64.

    It's been a long evening in the kitchen tonight and so I finally get to read about the Australian selection. It's made me spit my post-chef lager out.

    Nathan Hauritz's Test career must surely be over under the current selection regime. To be dumped for one rank outsider in Doherty is bad enough. To have yet another leapfrog you spells an absolute lack of selector confidence in Hauritz, something that is totally unjustified given the consistent backrubbing given to Mitchell Johnson. I defended Hauritz when people slated him in 2009 just as I've defended Paul Harris. Both guys aren't great spinners in the manner of you know who but both possess a good cricketing brain. Frankly Hauritz has suffered through having a poor captain in Ponting and a poor bunch of selectors. If (when?) Australia fail to regain the Ashes, Andrew Hilditch must surely be the first to put his head on the chopping block.

    Smith in for North wasn't a hard choice and nor is Haddin at 6. Beer is a strange selection. If the report linked above is correct and Beer will play, then going in with two spinners in Beer and Smith is a really big call. It's pertinent to point out that Warne played 12 Tests at the WACA, only taking 37 wickets at 36.45, 11 runs higher than his career record. It's asking a lot of Beer to bowl well at a venue that Warne didn't master.

    The key to the WACA lies in this article:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2010/nov/18/the-ashes-2010-cracking-pitch-waca

    If the pitch is being built up to crack, then Johnson will play. I see no reason to select him if you don't play him. I have a suspicion that you'll end up with a Harris and Hilfenhaus opening partnership, Johnson to provide some short sharp spells, and then the two spinners. I like the selection of Smith just to bring some new energy into that side.

  • Comment number 65.

    #53. Just realised my stupid blunder. 'Stress' for 'shock'. Sorry.

  • Comment number 66.

    Noting how the Aussies like to give their players a nickname, will Michael Beer be forever known as 'Dregs'?

    Tremlett was clearly the bloke to whom we had to turn as a replacement for Broad at the WACA, but it's surely an absolute certainty that he'll be picked now that Phil Hughes is there. Tall chap bowling quick on a bouncy pitch to an Aussie who hates short-pitched deliveries???? YUM YUM!

    I'm delighted and concerned about the inclusion again of Mitchell Johnson. He's the one Aussie bowler who could really cause us problems. Oddly, his record against us is pretty dire (bowling average of 41.05 & batting average of 15.00) compared to that against all other test countries (28.57 & 23.72 respectively). He's got the talent to put in a match-winning performance, but I hope he doesn't find it until after the Ashes is over!

  • Comment number 67.

    It's all backwards. Delightfully so, as it balances the years I spent watching Captains Gooch, Atherton, Stewart and Hussain getting spanked and sent home. I attach no blame to them, of course, they led middling teams against the best team in the world. The Aussies had Glen McGrath, we had Alan 'Spider' Mullally (but only because the Australians didn't want him).

    We were also the ones making the knee-jerk selection calls. How good would Ramprakash have been if he hadn't had his confidence ruined? How much more succesful would Hick have been if he hadn't spent the end of his career expecting to be dropped on his first low score?

    Come to think of it, how much more succesful would Robin Smith have been if the opposition weren't allowed spinners, only quicks? Though We probably can't pin that on the selectors.

    How I felt after Adelaide must be how it felt to be an Aussie cricket fan for the last decade. I have decided that I like it, and long may it continue.

  • Comment number 68.

    @51
    White has tried to position himself as a batsman, so it was harsh on him to get picked as an allrounder for that tour when he hadn't really bowled seriously for quite a while.

    Personally, I don't think he's good enough to play as a batsman in the Test side. He's certainly not a better bat than North, for example.

  • Comment number 69.

    @53
    I like your diagnosis...

  • Comment number 70.

    @61
    glad you agree re schizophrenia...

    I think Roebuck may be right on Johnson, but I still feel he's always awfully keen to generalize about mentally vulnerable players, probably putting even more pressure on them. When he says something like "The field itself is another matter. Its nakedness disturbs him", I suspect he is talking more about himself than Johnson.

  • Comment number 71.

    It's not just the personnel that's the problem - the constant chopping and changing smacks of panic and must be extremely unsettling for the players. Contrast that with England's selectors - take a bow, Geoff Miller! - who have built up an atmosphere of trust and consistency even when some in the media have been baying for blood (Cook being a case in point). Even when the England selectors have dropped a player, namely Pietersen, it's been psychologically cute - the kick up the backside was exactly what he needed.

  • Comment number 72.

    Much as I love to lord it over the Aussies (and it's been a while since I've been able to), for God's sake don't jinx it, eh?

    Gloat too much and he'll end up taking 8-30...

  • Comment number 73.

    Sheesh where is Shango when you need to feed him some more humble pie.

    Collingwood

    6 overs 3 wickets for 19 runs hahahaha

    Panasar only managed two for 83! Damm that humble pies not gonna taste too good shango

  • Comment number 74.

    And with the sort of logic PS usually applies, with Strauss getting a wicket and having a strike rate of a wicket every 24 balls in this innings against Panesar's S/R of 63, surely Strauss is worthy of his place as a spin option in front of Monty? FACT

  • Comment number 75.

    As an england fan I'm certainly in a buoyant mood given the apparent disarray of Australian selection and the seeming good nick of the England squad.

    I think england will probably emerge triumphant at the WACA, yet whilst I know a lot of people have complained about how pessimistic england fans are when we're seemingly in the ascendancy I don't think we should be crowing away yet.

    Coming into the Ashes I thought england had the strongest and most settled side we had fielded for a long time; I thought we could win. An image abruptly shattered when we are bowled out in the very first day.

    Now since then england have risen hugely, but that isn't to say that cricket isn't a fickle and quickly changing game. If the england batsmen continue as they have the last three innings then I see no reason why england shouldn't win; losing only 6 wickets for over 1200 runs is hugely impressive. But the line between success and defeat is narrow. In the 1st innings at brisbane we took out eye off the ball and were skittled, seemingly in victoria we've done the same - few wickets by our bowlers and consistently dropping catches.

    Whilst the most of the aussies seem in bad nick, ponting, clarke, johnson are all world class players, add them to an inform hussey and haddin and they are still a formidable team.

    I think this test is the real turning point for Australia, either they react like a cornered animal and fight back, or amongst scattergun selection, hostile press and ironclad English batting they crumple. This is the point where Australia enter a generational slump or they stand back up. The WACA is going to cast it's shadow over Australian cricket for a decade to come...

  • Comment number 76.

    The Australian's selection policy reminds me a bit of England's back in the mid 80's. Mad.

  • Comment number 77.

    Waca's not actually too bad for spinners despite it's reputation. Stats here...
    http://pavilionopinions.blogspot.com/2010/12/warne-out.html

  • Comment number 78.

    #75 I don't think this test is the point at which Oz cricket rises or falls. A test win (unlikely IMO) won't suddenly make them a great team again and neither will a loss (crushing or otherwise) make them a terrible team who won't recover for 10 years. They do have world class batsman. The opening slots are weak without Katich. Watson whilst regularly providing a platform is limited and rarely goes on to compile match winning innings. However the middle order is to be admired. Ponting, Clarke and Hussey are class acts and with Haddin in the middle of a decent patch of form, there is a total of 500+ in store in the very near future. As I've said previously, the bowling is clearly the weaker suit and without taking 20 wickets a team can rarely expect to win test matches. How I see it, there are only 2 ways this Oz attack will take 20 wickets. 1) Johnson suddenly rediscovers the form that made him the cricketer of the year although there are no signs of that happening. 2) The curator at the WACA, MCG and/or SCG prepare minefields!

  • Comment number 79.

    IPSMM

    I love that logic lol where is the WUM today I noticed he left pretty sharpish yesterday!

  • Comment number 80.

    I think he's become a little embarassed by all the love we have shown for him. Come on papa, come back all is forgiven. We love you man!

  • Comment number 81.

    The troll is not well!

  • Comment number 82.

    The Aus selectors have over-indulged in beer; now seeing double vision.

  • Comment number 83.

    Beer must be 12th man, after all his real home ground is Melbourne so we'll get at him on Boxing day. The three maybe's for England didn't really fail- they hardly bowled. It looks like the plan is to play Panesar and promote Colly to third seamer (Monty did get a five-for at the WACA last time).

  • Comment number 84.

    @Simonhill7 #61

    No comparison with Trescothick whatsoever. Trescothick was one of the only consistent performers on the big stage for England in the early 000's and was as mentaly tough as they come, until his illness. Tresco has shown throughout his county career he can come back from losses of form and troughs in performance and even more so understands the art of batting intimately.
    Certainly, their disintegration from their peak is similar, but that is where the similarity ends. To compare Johnson, who has all the talent in the world but no understand or patience, it seems, to harness it, with Trescothick, who was cruelly cut down by illness in his prime, is totally missplaced.

  • Comment number 85.

    Thats insane, Collingwood is a part time seamer at best and definately not someone who your going to get a lot of overs in the day from. This wicket is bouncy and fast traditionally, playing two spinners is utter madness.
    Tremlett, Anderson, Finn, Swann, Colly (part time) Monty 12th man. Collingwood got 200 last time at Adelaide if we are going to set store in what went on in 2006 then we are going to be in trouble.
    Pete the team ain't broke so why on earth are you proposing to fix it

  • Comment number 86.

    Popular opinion, to write the Aussies off in the Ashes series.... but I suspect there will be some cricket left in this series.

    The Australians were completely outplayed in Adelaide. The Australians will probably recognise they have played badly in two sessions. Within those sessions they lost a test. The English have played badly in one session have not lost a test... They re ahead, and deserve to be so.

    It appears, from the outside that the English are ready for a fight. While the Aussies, despite a strong battle in India, despite losing, still seem fragile on Aussie soil.

    I am curious, to say the least, what might happen if the Australians manage to win in Perth (massive IF). Furthermore I think the English are susceptible to a collapse on pitches that have something for the bowlers, unlike Brisbane and Perth, and probably Melbourne.

    Hypothetical: How do you think the Australian and English teams will react respectively, to an Australian win in Perth? This is a massive test i the series (of course) but may give the embattled Australians something to man-up about, whilst finally providing the Englsih a challemge afetr the Adeliadle mismatch.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think you are being generous to both teams there Jim.

    England have had a few bad sessions. The first innings in the first Test was poor, and then the stand of 300. But since that stand of 300 between Hussey and Haddin, Australia have been dire. Losing 21 wickets compared to 5 of ours suggests more than 2 bad sessions. We've scored consecutive partnerships of 188, 329*, 3, 173, 175, 101, 116 and 52*.

    Of course, I'm not getting ahead of myself, we can still lose this series, but that doesn't change the fact that Australia played badly, and to say it was just two bad sessions is being very kind.

  • Comment number 88.

    Sorry, should be losing 21 wickets compared to 6 of ours suggests more than 2 bad sessions.

  • Comment number 89.

    84. At 7:28pm on 11 Dec 2010, Robert_Marks wrote

    Robert, have you read Trescothick's book? His depression didn't just suddenly start and he had to retire. I love the guy and what he did for england but what you've said is just not true. He struggled with separation anxiety being away from home from his early teens and this continued on to adulthood. For several series away from home, by his own admission, he was a mess. It was only through his sheer talent that he managed to stay at the top level the length of time he did. It finally came to a head when he was unable to even get on a plane and slumped to the floor at heathrow airport. He performed in county cricket as he was comfortable in his home environment. I think he is incredibly brave as depression is not talked about very often and he was a deserving Sports Book of the Year winner. His book is powerful enough to move you to tears.

    The reason I see some, and I emphasise some, similarities with Johnson is that they both have bags of talent and you are left with a feeling of this being unfulfilled. Trescothick could have broken English batting records, Johnson was ICC player of the year last year. Johnson is clearly uncomfortable in the spotlight and the article says he'd rather be at home with his mates. maybe he too has the same separation anxiety and this might explain his excellent form at home (until this series) and relatively poor form abroad, especially in England. Most pundits have said there is a mental problem. This is simply my suggestion as to a cause for that. To say he has no patience or understanding of how to use his talent is insulting in the extreme without knowing what is actually going on in his head.

  • Comment number 90.

    Re: the Johnson/Trescothick comparison. (My tuppence worth.)

    It's an interesting one. The worry is that mental health becomes synonymous with mental attitude. Take Ramprakash. Many are bewildered that a bat of such outright class did not impose himself on the international stage. I recall talk of temperament. Not having thé right tempérament is not being ill. This is why the Johnson/Tres debate is difficult to résolve.
    Nobody doubts the severity of Tres' fight against illness. Another case is Chris Adams. Fiesty character, aggressive bat, effective skipper. But there was a lot of talk of his mindset at Test level.

    Obviously it's no sin not to perform at the top. Just a puzzle. What validates the Johnson/Tres comparison, IMO, is that both men had the international world at their feet. Tres battled on as long as hé could for a superb career, even tho' it was eventually cut short. Johnson is a going concern.

  • Comment number 91.

    re: # 89

    Just to calm things down a bit. I did not mean it any way insulting. However, as you say, Trescothick had an underlying cause to his unltimate demise from the England team - a diagnosed mental health problem, something which he had struggled with most of his adult life. It had kept resurfacing throughout his career and only through mental toughness and extreme talent was he able to record the statistics he did. Johnson, by contrast, has no such problem. As R-Brooker (#90) says, attitude/temperament are NOT mental health issues. If, for whatever reason, it turns out the Mitchell Johnson IS suffering from a similar problem, I will be the first to defend him and apologize for the above comments.
    However, before the series, Johnson was the ONLY one of the Aussie bowlers to give it some 'big' talk, how he would rough up Andrew Strauss and has, on a number of occassions, said he doesn't mind seeing 'blood o nthe pitch.' If, to a man, he is going to make statements like that, he has to be prepared to back it up with some seriously good performances and not retreat into his plumber's van of a shell if he cannot deliver the goods.
    To repeat, I did not mean it as an insult to Johnson. I am merely stating what Oliver's article says: He is an exceptionaly talented bowler who, when on form, is a true match-winner. However, frequently, when things run away from him, he has neither the temperament or the patience to haul it back and repeat said performances.
    And yes, I have read Coming Back To Me.

  • Comment number 92.

    This is about the fickleness and pride of the Aussie selectors. Their policies are going to wreck thé careers of some Aussie cricketers. But it's too late now. I think the Hauritz saga has been a scandal from which Aussie cricket will struggle to recover. It is mind-boggling why Hauritz was dropped GIVEN thé paucity of alternatives. But there you havé it. A young promising career ended because of all this nonsense about KP's apparent vulnerability. Voilà! The Aussie selectorial policy.

    It interests me that Pakistan, who cheerfully pick on potential alone, never have the 'beer in barrel' problem. Any Pak side is deemed by outsiders as capable of beating anyone on their day. And on their day they do. But they have so few 'days' that questions are asked of the whole Pak infrastructure. The focus is fixed wider than the squad or XI. Why is that? Most Pak débuts seem promising, they look as though they belong at the top level. But of course Pak cricket is in a permanent state of turmoil, glued together by occasional results from which New Hope is resurrected (until the new scandal). Pakistan is an enigma. Australia is not. Everyone bar the selectors can see the way forward.

    Mark Taylor once responded to a junior BBC journo who'd asked the Aussie skipper if he was worried about Devon Malcolm's selection; with a twinkle in his eye and the gum-chewing, Desperate Dan jaw working overtime: "I don't give a stuff who yer pick mate"! End of!

    England should fear only themselves. And yet I think they know that.

  • Comment number 93.

    Robert, Trescothick hid his problems from the outside world for years. Only those closest to him, family and team-management, were aware there was any problem. To spectators and journalists it was business as usual until he hit a wall and couldn't go on.

    I am not trying to compare a suspect temperament with a mental health problem and I may be totally wrong here. It is possible that all the talk beforehand was Johnson simply doing what is expected of a typical Aussie bloke/bowler before a home ashes series. It wasn't the most confident sledging you'll see. Equally his retention with the squad after a 'shocker' and likely re-instatement at Perth could be an attempt at sensitive man-management (or a sign of the selectors desperation depending on your viewpoint).

    As I said I may be completely wrong and you make some excellent points but I don't see it as an open and shut case. I guess time will tell.

  • Comment number 94.

    I do feel sorry for Beer. The poor bloke is only 26 and with time could have become a better bowler which meant that he could have been picked by Australia in the future. However, if (and probably when) he fails (if he plays of course) he will be dropped and never picked again. He will be murdered by Pietersen!! Its the same with Doherty. He will never play test cricket again even if he becomes twice the bowler he is.

    Hauritz is the best spinner the Aussies have got, so carry on Aussie selectors!! I for one am very grateful!!!!!!!!!

    Isn't it nice not to be on the side of the better and more stable team for a change?!

  • Comment number 95.

    PS

    Don't take any notice of my username, its for football matters only!!!

  • Comment number 96.

    #91

    It may be my instincts as a GP. We're always taught to look for what's going on beneath the surface. This isn't a personal crusade. I just thought there were some interesting parallels between the two.

    P.S. It's refreshing to have some grown-up debate instead of the usual wind-up/response that's been going on on these blogs recently (although I must confess to being guilty of the latter).

  • Comment number 97.

    I've only just stumbled upon a photo taken at thé pubicity évent preceding thé announcement of the 1st Test squad (aus). It shows Hilditch, Clarke and Hauritz under brollies at thé ill-conceived évent in Sydney (?).

    At that time Hauritz must havé been quietly sûre of his place. What a kick in the teeth.

  • Comment number 98.

    Are they going to use another drop-in pitch for the Melbourne Test? It seemed to be a pretty abysmal surface to play cricket on according to the players in the Victorias game. Can't they produce good wickets in Melbourne?

  • Comment number 99.

    #96

    I think your first sentence may win you the argument :)

  • Comment number 100.

    #94 "I feel sorry for Beer"

    Why? If he gets picked and fails at the first attempt then he will learn from the experience.

    Getting picked and failing is not necessarily the end of your international career. Ryan Sidebottom comes to mind. At 26, Beer has time on his side.

    I think he should regard it as a great chance to shine.

 

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