Depending on which news service you read MIchael Clarke has been ruled out of the first test to face India at the Gabba next week. This news will, as always, lead to much hand wringing as to who ought replace him. We all know that Cricket Australia will do what they usually do and pick a replacement from one of Phil Hughes, George Bailey or Glenn “Goat Photos” Maxwell. That being said, I have had a look at the formlines of players playing in Australia at the moment and have come up with an unusual suspect to replace the captain in the first test: Tom Cooper.
Now before you stop reading here is my method behind this selection. My replacement for the captain must:
- Be a specialist batsman
- Averaging over 40 in first class cricket over a career: the notion that a batter averaging under 40 against 2nd tier bowling is ready for test match cricket is one that it ridiculous to me. We have to stop picking under performing batters. This counts out George Bailey, Peter Forrest, Shaun Marsh, Aaron Finch and Nick Maddinson.
- Aged under 30: it is time to start selecting from the youth playing the game and think about the future. This counts out Adam Voges and Cameron White.
- Bat at number 4 or 5 for his state team: much like batting in the top order batting at number 4 or 5 is a specialist position. We have seen this experiment fail with attempt to turn Phil Hughes and Shane Watson into middle order players. This counts Phil Hughes out. It also counts out Callum Ferguson who has transitioned to number 3 this year.
- Must have scored a first class hundred this season. This counts out Peter Neville.
If you work through all of the players playing in Australia at the moment only one man fits this criteria: Tom Cooper. Add to the fact that he has significant international experience, albeit with the Netherlands, and, to me, he is the best replacement available to Cricket Australia for the 1st test and should be in the baggy green. I would bat him at 5 and move the in form Steve Smith up to number 4.
Of course, as I said in the preamble, Cricket Australia will, I expect, hold true to form and select from their tightly held circle of usual suspects. Personally I expect the selection of Phil Hughes to made with Shane Watson to drop down to number 4. That is the predictable way to go without no thought to the future which is the ball park Cricket Australia constantly plays in.