NSP to name touring party to South Africa: will first class form count for anything?

Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel will name its touring squad to South Africa.  A squad of fifteen is expected to be named by John Inverarity and, largely, the squad selects itself.  These names will be read out today without fail: Clarke (c), Haddin (vc), Rogers, Warner, Watson, Smith, Bailey, Johnson, Siddle, Harris, Lyon, Faulkner.  There has been much talk about George Bailey’s place in the Australian test team but, as any follower of the test team will attest, historically Cricket Australia like to keep winning teams together regardless of poor form so Bailey will tour.

That leaves three spots open for selection.  I have regularly written here about the need for selections to be based on first class (Sheffield Shield) rm and if that was the case those three spots (assuming that one batsman and two bowlers go as cover) should be filled by some of the following players:

  • Batsmen: Marcus North (593 runs, 98.33 average, 3 hundreds), Phil Hughes (549 runs, 61.00 average, 3 hundreds), Callum Ferguson (3 games, 289 runs, 72..25 average, 1 hundred).
  • Bowlers: Chadd Sayers (22 wickets, 28.04 average,), Luke Feldman (17 wickets, 24.58 average), Steve O’Keefe (24 wickets, 22.25 average), Michael Hogan (21 wickets, 23.66 average).

I am prepared to guarantee though that none of these names will appear in the squad of fifteen named today.  Alex Doolan will be the reserve batsman and the reserve bowlers will be Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson. I have written before on this blog about the need for players who are injured to be eased back into the game via first class cricket.  The NSP does not appear to agree with that approach given the manner in which they have managed the injuries of other first bowlers returning.  So that means that Pattinson, an excellent bowler I concede, will go on tour with out T20 and ODI cricket as preparation.  Alex Doolan appears to be the flavour of the month with the willow despite averaging 39.10 in first class cricket this summer and an overall average of 37.52.  I have no major cavil with Coulter-Nile’s selection.

Ordinarly I would be waiting with bated breath for the announcement of a squad for such an important tour.  Bizarrely, I am ambivalent this time around because of that feeling that we all know who the NSP will be selecting.  I hope I am wrong but know I am right.

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