Recently on twitter I named a squad for Australia’s upcoming tilt at resting the Ashes from the English and returning them to their rightful home in Australia. Everyone is writing at the moment about who would be in their squad and why. I think however it is blindingly obvious that Cricket Australia will pick a fairly predictable squad that is based around the team that played in India and is in line with Cricket Australia’s seemingly long term plan to develop players for the next World Cup (G Maxwell at the top of the list).
So this blog post will be different. I am resigned to the fact that certain players will not be selected for the coming Ashes series for whatever reason. In this blog I will name 4 players I consider should be on the Ashes tour but who will not be selected by Cricket Australia and discuss why they should be in England.
First though, this is the squad of 17 I suspect Cricket Australia will take to England:
For what ever reason I think Cricket Australia will not be dissuaded by the disaster in India and will want to persevere with Maxwell as the second spinner in the team. Cricket Australia seem to be blind to the obvious problems with Patrick Cummins not actually playing domestic cricket and I expect them to select him. Smith did enough in India to be on the tour and I have to say: I have no real cavil with that. I am on the record that I do not think David Warner has the technique or the temperament to succeed in English conditions and nothing I have read since India convinces me otherwise however it would cost too much money for Cricket Australia not to pick him so I think he still tours.
Having named the team I think will go, here are the 4 players I think should be on the tour and are desperately unlucky not to be there:
1. James Faulkner
The best all rounder in the country will not be picked for the Ashes series because, unfathomably, the selectors seem to have at least 3 all rounders ahead of him. That rating from the selection panel belies how good this bloke is. One only needs to have seen his performance in the Shield final to understand what value he would bring to the Australian squad in English conditions.
He bats at number 8 for Tasmania and that is where I believe the all rounder the Australia team needs should be batting. He is not a “strike rate” player rather can build an innings as his vital hands in the Shield final showed. He bowls left arm swing at a fair clip. He is solid in the field.
He is in my Ashes squad because he provides a left arm swing bowling option to supplement the bowling of Pattinson and Starc. In the perfect world Watson would also be bowling so the Australians would have 4 fast bowling options in my ideal 1st test lineup.
2. Ryan Harris
I think everyone who watches the game in Australia agrees: there is no finer fast bowler in the country, when fit, that one R Harris. For all of Cricket Australia’s focus on the management of workloads of fast bowlers the one fast bowler who probably really needed such management was Harris. He was not so managed and ended up seriously injured but now is back and on the evidence of the Shield final can now bowl a significant number of overs in long stretches.
Harris is a quality right arm fast bowler who hurls it down at over 140kms an hour, has the ability to swing the ball both ways as well as bowl cutters. Harris is a lion hearted performer who will not wilt from a challenge. He is a player much in the style of Peter Siddle without the limitations that Peter Siddle often possesses. No slouch with the willow he could easily slot into the number 9 position after Faulkner.
He will not be selected because Cricket Australia is squeamish about players being hurt. Well, players that it does not consider to be “project players of the future” (Cummins is example number one) that is. He would be in my squad because he is a genuine wicket taker and has a heart the size of Phar Lap’s.
3. Chris Rogers
Rogers was not in my original squad that I named on twitter in part because I think it is more likely that the Melbourne Demons win the flag this year than he be selected in Australian colours again. That is, in my opinion, an absolute travesty.
Forget his performance in his one test match at the WACA so long ago. Forget the fact he consistently scores buckets of runs in the Shield competition. Forget his age. The fact is that since M Hussey there has not been a better performed Australian, over a period of more than one season (P Hughes I am looking at you), in the English County Championship than Chris Rogers. Rogers is an absolute run machine in England, has a strong temperament and technique for English conditions and would be an experienced addition to a young and inexperienced change room.
Rogers will not be selected on this tour because of his age and because, it would appear, he has irritated someone on high within Cricket Australia. He should be there because he is a more complete player in English conditions that one D Warner among others.
4. Steve O’Keefe
The left arm tweaker from New South Wales was given one of the poisoned chalices of domestic cricket in Australia over recent teams, the New South Wales captaincy, and handled himself with aplomb. More to the point though he is the best performed spin bowler, of any variety, in domestic cricket in Australia this summer.
O’Keefe is a strong leader, a good tweaker of the red ball and, much like R Harris, no slouch with the willow. He delivers his left arm orthodox spin with loop and flight and not the flat trajectory preferred by the Australian selectors. He has an opinion and is prepared to espouse it at almost any opportunity which also does not endear him to Inverarity, Clarke and Co.
O’Keefe should be on the plane: one only needs to look at the results England have when Swann and Panesar bowl in tandem. Lyon and O’Keefe would be as strong a spin bowling duo to go to England in the baggy green since the famed Warne and May in 1993 in my view. He won’t be selected though because he has the temerity to have an opinion and the selectors think Maxwell actually is “the big show”.
I consider these players to be the unluckiest in the country at the moment and that it is appalling that they will not be playing in the holy grail of cricket contests, the Ashes, for reasons out of their own control. Cricket Australia has a selection agenda that focuses on “project players” and, it would seem, developing a squad for the 2015 World Cup. That mantra coupled with a focus on injury management and a couple of personality clashes will see players obviously deserving of selection spending their winter either playing T20 domestic cricket in India or the West Indies or watching their favourite football team run around each weekend.