Bailey, Johnson and the Indian trial game fallacy

I wrote earlier in the week that Cricket Australia should just name the 1st test team now because, clearly, it has already been selected. Chairman Inverarity’s comments post that blog only confirmed that view. To recap: I posited that George Bailey and Mitchell Johnson will come into the team in place of Faulkner (team fit) and Starc (injured).

These inclusions, particularly that of Bailey, have their genesis in short form form. Let me be clear: George Bailey has put together as impressive back to back series in 50 over cricket as I can remember. I doff my metaphorical cap to him. However, I am massively worried about these selections in the absence of sustained first class form.

Forget for a moment that Bailey had his own year to forget in the Shield last season (was there any batsman other than Rogers who did not?) and consider this: is there any venue for the upcoming Ashes series likely to even be remotely like those on which Bailey and Johnson are playing at the moment?

Short boundaries, lightning fast outfields and wickets as true as a slab of concrete, not to diminish Bailey’s effort, have played their part in the way this series in India has played out: to the benefit of the batsmen in form and the detriment to the bowlers.

I maintain that Bailey needs to come back and play in Shield cricket but given the free pass he has received from the Chairman his run in to the 1st test at Gabba could be limited to playing in entirely foreign (no pun intended) conditions. Am I the only one worried about that?

The selection of Johnson is possibly more born of Chairman Inverarity’s slavish need to select a left arm fast bowler in all conditions (sidebar: when was the last time England relied on a left arm seamer for variation?). The conditions the Indian trials (as I see them) are being played under must be taking a toll on Johnson, and all the bowlers for that matter. And you can’t tell me that having scores of 350 plus chased down doesn’t have a deleterious effect on the psyche of a bowling attack.

With Johnson I worry that England have already broken him mentally twice: now he comes into an Ashes series (I maintain he is already in the team) in circumstances where his confidence must be shaken. That, of itself, can not be good!

I know the need for first class form prior to test selection has been a hobby horse of mine since the genesis of this blog. However, premised on the make up of the team I believe to already be locked down, I continue to be worried that the performance of those benefiting from short form form counting as much if not more than first class form does a disservice to those players who are likely to be left underdone or mentally scarred because of the conditions they are playing in.

Have said this before and will say it again: I hope I am wrong but reckon I am still a short price favourite to be right!

CA name the Australia A XI … they should just name the 1st test team now too!

Cricket Australia has announced the following line up under the banner of “Australia A” to take on an English XI at Bellerive Oval between 6 and 9 November:

Moises Henriques (capt), Glenn Maxwell, Trent Copeland, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Callum Ferguson, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Klinger, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine

I have no real cavil with this team as selected. Indeed I like the batting line up that has been selected noting the failure to inclusion Aaron Finch for the first class fixture which I believe is the right move.

That said, it is the names that are missing from the Australia A team sheet that gives an eye to who will be in the first test match squad for the game at the Gabba.

It is understood that Cricket Australia will announce the line up for the 1st test at the Gabba on 12 November. Frankly though, why do they not just name the team now? The logic here is simple: there are 3 first class games between now and 21 November. One of those matches starts after 12 November so form in that match will not count for anything. Players currently in India with the Australian team will not return in time to play in the first Shield game which starts this Wednesday. And, finally and most compellingly, George Bailey has not been selected in the Australia A team. Nor has Fawad Ahmed.

All of this suggests to me that Cricket Australia already knows who it will select for the 1st test. This is because, absent such a decision already having been made I feel absolutely certain George Bailey would be in the Australia A line up. I am even more certain that Fawad Ahmed would be in the line up.

If Cricket Australia have already made up their minds: why continue with the charade of the Sheffield Shield rounds being a selection trial that they obviously are not? Why not just name the team for the first test now and be done with it?

The first test team will be as follows regardless of Sheffield Shield form:

Clarke (c), Warner, Rogers, Watson, Bailey, Smith, Haddin, Johnson, Harris, Siddle, Lyon, Ahmed (12th man)

Indeed: David Warner could score 4 ducks in four innings of the two Sheffield Shield games before the first test team is names and he will still be selected. That is how sure I am CA already know the team they will select. I hope I am wrong but the predictability of Cricket Australia at the moment tells me that, absent an injury, I am a short price favourite to resoundingly right.

Great win for Queensland: but will the selectors notice?

In case you missed it the Queensland Bulls defended their Ryobi Cup 50 over title today at the North Sydney Oval. This win represents the 5th trophy won by Queensland teams in domestic cricket in Australia from the last 6 available.

Unfortunately, and you don’t need to be Nostradamus to be able to declare this, Ryan Harris aside the excellent and sustained performances of those in the Queensland team are unlikely to be rewarded at the selection table by Cricket Australia.

One only needs to consider the story of Chris Hartley to know this statement to be true. Long regarded the best wicket keeper in the country and a consistent batsman he will never play for Australia it seems. He is behind players, it would seem, that are more marketable and have more flair with the bat with significantly less talent with the wicket keeping gloves.

There are other players who must, on form and consistency, also be in the frame for Australian selection from Queensland including but not limited to Chris Lynn who will not be seen in international colours because the selectors see others ahead of them regardless of form.

I am all for picking the best team available from the players and teams that are in the best form. The Queensland Bulls have been the form team of the last 3 years and yet do not seem to get a look in at the selection table OR, when they are selected, do not get a fair run in the team (P Forrest and B Cutting key examples).

Readers I will make a wager with you: Queensland will be on the top of the Sheffield Shield table by the time it is time to select the team for the first test and only Ryan Harris from Queensland will be selected in that team or any test team throughout the season. Does anyone want to take me on?

Shumpty’s Punt: Sunday Specials

It is the Indian Formula One Grand Prix tonight. I have a couple of wagers on the race as well as a multi that includes it and some of the early NFL games.

As always: good luck and good punting:

Indian Formula One:

First Retirement: Romain Grosjean ($15.00)

Fastest Lap: Sebastian Vettel ($2.25)

Will there be a safety car? Yes ($2.60)


Leg 1: In the Indian Formula One Grand Prix the number of classified drivers to be less than 18.5 drivers. ($2.35)

Leg 2: Total game score in the Sunderland v Newcastle EPL game to be great than 2.5 goals. ($1.73)

Leg 3: Detroit Lions to cover the line (-3.0 points) against the Denver Broncos in the NFL ($1.95)

Leg 4: Kansas City Chiefs to defeat the Cleveland Browns in the NFL ($1.30)

This multi will pay $10.31 for each dollar invested.

Have a great Sunday night!

Shumpty’s Punt: Cox Plate Day

Mooney Valley has never been a happy hunting ground for me but am jumping into the form for this Cox Plate Day with renewed vigour off the back of the best weekend I have had on the punt in a while last weekend and Buffering’s win last night.

Here are my tips for today’s racing at “the Valley”:

Race 1: Good Prince (Number 1)
Race 2: Vatican (Number 1)
Race 3: Henwood (Number 5)
Race 4: Bel Thor (Number 11)
Race 5: Savvy Nature (Number 1)
Race 6: Thermal Current (Number 4)
Race 7: Mourinho (Number 6)
Race 8: Toydini (Number 8)
Race 9: Lake Sententia (Number 2)
Cox Plate (Race 10): Long John (Number 14)

Good luck and good punting all. As always: please gamble responsibly!

Cricket Australia: you have lost the plot!!!!

It was the AGM of Cricket Australia yesterday. The Chairman of Cricket Australia has defended its CEO James Sutherland and said the following:

“If we lost the series 5-0, James Sutherland will still be the CEO of Australian cricket, and James is contracted through to June 2015 after the World Cup, and there will not be any changes in that situation, regardless of the way we perform on the field this summer.”

So if we ever needed convincing that Cricket Australia has lost the plot it is all there in that quote. Forgive me but isn’t the performance of the chief of the game supposed to be measured first by the performance of the principal team under his charge on the field?

I concede that James Sutherland has done a wonderful job in improving the finances of Cricket Australia and in developing the product of the Big Bash League and his performance in those areas seems to be more important that the performance of the cricket team playing under the banner of Cricket Australia?

Those advocating for change at the top of Cricket Australia, like me, are going to be waiting for a while. I hope that the continued rotting of the metaphorical fish that is cricket in this country does not continue with the haste of the rotting at its head.