Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel: what are they thinking?

Today Cricket Australia announced the one day international and twenty 20 squads to play Afghanistan and Pakistan in the UAE in August and September.

The squads are:

ODI Squad

Michael Clarke, David Warner, George Bailey, Daniel Christian, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade

T20 Squad

George Bailey, Shane Watson, Daniel Christian, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hogg, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Cameron White.

Anyone following me on twitter (@shumpty77), will have seen my concerns (or maybe rants) about some of the selections made today.  Those concerns have only grown stronger throughout the day.

That said, first it must be noted that there are some obvious positives to arise in the selections made today including:

  1. The inclusion of Callum Ferguson in the ODI squad is a reward for form in domestic cricket, particularly in the last series of the Ryobi Cup.  To come back from the injuries that he has had is a credit to him.
  2. The return of Cameron White to the Twenty20 squad is a reward for his excellent form in IPL and in the Friends Lift T20 in England
  3. Daniel Christian’s elevation to the ODI squad gives the line up flexibility from one of the form players of the Australian domestic summer.  Frankly, his inclusion is righting the selection wrong that was his non-inclusion in the squad to tour England in June.

The positives out of the way, I again find myself perplexed about some of the selections made and, possibly more to the point, not made. I will deal with each in turn.

Glenn Who?

The big news story surrounding the announcement of the squads is the inclusion of Glenn Maxwell in both.  That is a good enough place to start with my concerns.  I am absolutely prepared to concede that Maxwell has been in good form with the willow in the English T20 competition and there can be no doubt that he hits a long ball.  That having been said I am not convinced there is any need for the inclusion of another offspin bowling allrounder in the squad for either form of the game.  Both squads include the name D Hussey who projects as the off spinning allrounder that makes the side.  That being the case why do we need to blood Maxwell given that he is unlikely to play either in this series or in the World T20 Championship that follows the tour.

Further, I can not understand Maxwell’s inclusion in the ODI squad on form.  In last season’s Ryobi Cup Maxwell scored some 74 runs at an average of 15 runs per innings and took 6 wickets at an average of 42 per wicket.  That can hardly be considered the form of a player pressing for selection in his national team.

The Johnson Imposition: what does a young bowler have to do?  

The selection of Mitchell Johnson continues to cause heads to shake among the cricket fans of this country.  He was taken to England and could not fight his way into the ODI team despite P Cummins returning home injured.  In his one game he bowled 7 overs, gave up 43 runs and bowled 4 wides and 2 no balls.  He is not the force that he was even two years ago and it appears that the problems he is having remain mostly between his ears.  I would have thought he would be a player that would benefit from a full season in domestic cricket in Australia to see if he gets his form back before sending him back on tour with the national team.

The corallory of this is that there are plenty of high class bowlers who performed in the 2011/12 Ryobi Cup.  A McDermott was one of the revelations of the tournament taking 16 wickets at 18.87 in seven games.  J Faulkner took 14 wickets at 29.71 as well as scoring runs.  J Haberfield took 14 wickets at 18.50.  If the one days series’ that Australia are playing between now and the Champions Trophy in June 2013 are designed to build a team for that tournament and towards the next World Cup then surely Johnson must have been left out and one of these three young bowlers given an opportunity to perform at the top level. 

The Smith conundrum: bad for balance

The batting scapegoat for the failure of the Australian team in the series in England appears to have been Peter Forrest whilst Steve Smith inexplicably survives again.  I appreciate that Forrest had an ordinary tour but so did Smith and when it became necessary to try and fix the balance of the team it was Smith that found himself on the outer.  Additionally, I just can not see him playing in any of the ODIs because a team picked from the squad as announced presents as best balanced when Smith along with Maxwell, Johnson and Ferguson are mixing the cordials. 

If a reserve batsman needed to be picked in addition to Ferguson it is obvious that Rob Quiney should have been selected in the ODI squad in the place of Smith.  He has been the form batsman in all forms of the game in Australia and could open the batting if the selectors are looking for an alternative to the Wade / Warner combination.  Opposers of this will say that Smith’s bowling is an added string to his bow that places him ahead of Quiney but both from the perspective that the balance of side is better if Quiney is included and because Smith’s bowling has been mediocre at best that argument is without substance.  

What ever happened to T Birt?

Travis Birt was the form batsman of the KFC Big Bash last summer scoring 345 runs at an average of 43.12 and a strike rate of 168.29.  He also hit some of the biggest sixes one anyone is ever likely to see.  His batting presents as the blue print of the belligerent batsman Australia has been sorely lacking in the middle order in T20 matches.  Despite being picked up by the Dehli Daredevils for IPL5 he was not selected to play a game.  The only basis I can think of for his non-selection must be that he has not recently played the short form of the day.  That or he is injured and I have not seen a report about it.  Otherwise his non-selection seems to be inexplicable.

The selection of injured players: when will we learn?

Yet again the National Selection Panel have deigned to select players who are injured in Cummins and Watson without first testing them in domestic cricket.  I am on the record as being vehemently against this and again I can not agree with the logic of selecting, particular Cummins, for these games.  They were injured badly enough to come home from England and seem to be regularly injured.  That fact seems to me to be enough to warrant easing them back into the international game through domestic cricket in Australia.

Surely it must be better for Australian cricket noting the coming test series against the South Africans and the Ashes for Cummins and Watson to be given time to heal and to get match hardened in the longer form of the game rather than participating in the T20 hit and giggle fest to come in Sri Lanka.  It would seem to me that there is everything to lose and nothing to gain by both player’s participation in this series.

Ultimately, it is apt to note that selectors have a tough job and no doubt they consider that they have got the selection of these squads correct.  I respectfully disagree.

What do you think?

Shumpty

One response

  1. Pingback: Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel: what are they thinking? - The Armchair Selector

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