Aus v Eng

Published on January 22nd, 2018 | by Rohit Sankar


Inconsistent Australia hope for consistent selections

“There is a little more than a year for Australia to turn things around. Luckily, they have the personnel and aptitude to make that turnaround in quick time but they need some help from their selectors. Can the real Australia please stand up”?

Australia underestimated this England ODI side?

When Australia announced their Ashes squad, there was a huge uproar amongst their fans. A recall for Shaun Marsh and Tim Paine weren’t a part of their wildest fantasies. The hue and cry died down soon as Australia thumped England one Test after another and the surprising selections paid off.

Things were going so well for Australia that even when Mitchell Marsh was recalled, fans seemed pretty happy. The selectors were playing Russian Roulette. The gamble, though, paid off. The Marsh brothers tore into the English attack and Paine kept well. 4-0 was more than a convincing victory for the hosts.

A similar plot was ready for the One Day Internationals. Australia had dumped Glenn Maxwell, citing he doesn’t train “smart” and even when Chris Lynn broke down, they opted to go with Cameron White’s experience. Nobody cringed this time. Australia’s selectors had seemingly earned the right to do as they please after their bizarre selections clicked at the Ashes.

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That they underestimated this England side’s metamorphosis would be putting it softly. Since the 2015 World Cup, England have been the trendsetters in One Day International cricket with their fearlessly long batting line-up and a steady pack of bowlers. Understanding that cricket was a batsman’s game was quintessential to England’s turnaround. They would bat oppositions out of the contest and then employ pace, slower balls and a leggie to take wickets.

After three games, Australia are 3-0 down and in danger of being whitewashed by this juggernaut of an England side. Skippered by the meticulous, yet flamboyant Eoin Morgan, England were outrageously good. If it was Jason Roy in one game, it was Joe Root’s all-round skills in the next and Jos Buttler’s insane hitting in the third.

Australia had Aaron Finch, making two hundreds, yet ending up on the losing side twice. Steven Smith wasn’t the same force as he was in the Tests and Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis lacked the oomph which Maxwell gave to them in the 2015 World Cup which they won.

Inconsistency in selection process

Inconsistency in selection has been a huge drawback for Australia. They have tried out a zillion pace bowlers with a view on “resting” their primary quicks and filled their middle-order with all-rounders. In modern day ODI cricket, you cannot get away with four main batsman and three big-hitting all-rounders who aren’t totally reliable with the bat.

Take England themselves. They have a sensational top order with Jason Roy and Johnny Bairstow opening, Alex Hales behind them and Joe Root at 4. Then come the reliable yet attacking players in Eoin Morgan, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes (Ben Stokes when he is available) and Moeen Ali. They have packed their line-up with batsmen who can hit big hundreds. Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis aren’t in the same league as these exceptional ODI players.

The omission of Nathan Lyon from the ODI setup despite his immense success as a Test bowler is also bizarre, particularly since the World Cup is due next year. That, though, seems set to be changed. “Bowling-wise we’ve got to make sure we have specific and specialist one-day bowlers in our squad as well. We are trying to refine all that as much as we can. And very soon we will have to settle on a line-up that will take us forward”, Trevor Hohns, Australia’s selection chairman had said at Sydney while announcing the T20 squad for the Tri-series and Test squad for South Africa.

“With what’s happened recently, we are reviewing how we’re actually playing the game and type of player that’s required in the one-day format. We haven’t played well in this series, we don’t seem to have been able to put it all together on the one day, there has been something lacking. We’ve got a bit of work to do there”, Hohns expressed.

This Australian side stands no.5 in the ICC ODI rankings and have been thrashed 5-0 by South Africa in South Africa recently. They are in danger of suffering a similar fate in England’s hands and the batting has been a primary reason for this.

They should probably take a cue from England switch their reliable anchor (Steven Smith) to no.4 while pushing in another good striker of the ball at no.3. Bringing in Glenn Maxwell maximises their strength in the middle-order but his role in the side should be clear to the off-spinning all-rounder.

At the moment, it is unlikely that both Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis can fit into the same line-up and on current form, it has to be Stoinis. That said, on quicker wickets, Marsh is a much better option and should pip Stoinis. A ‘horses for courses’ policy could be adopted here.

“I think that’s the starting point. That is definitely a starter to what we’ll be doing in the future with Steven at four,” Hohns had said in Sydney. “Now we need to make sure we’ve got other players in key positions to give us a little bit more hitting power in certain areas.”

There is a little more than a year for Australia to turn things around. Luckily, they have the personnel and aptitude to make that turnaround in quick time but they need some help from their selectors. Can the real Australia please stand up?

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A cricket enthusiast striving to convey the finer details of the game in a capsule. I hope to present a bird's eye view of the game as I see it to the readers. PS: I am smitten by the likes of ABD but crush on pace bowlers who can make the ball talk.

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