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!