Australia's selection woes mount as England shines

Australia's dismal performance in the second Test of the Ashes prompts serious changes in the squad.

Saad Hassan Khan December 17, 2010
The mauling Australia had to endure at the hands of England in the second Test of the Ashes at Adelaide has prompted wholesale changes in the squad.

If Australia’s batting was a worrying sight, their bowling was lamentable to put it mildly. In fact, such is their plight in the spin department that there have been numerous calls for a comeback from legendary leg spinner Shane Warne, who is 40 years old now.

England on the other hand won the Test match firing on all cylinders, and it would not be surprising if they go into the third Test, which start at the WACA in Perth on Thursday, with just one change in their team-up. That change too would be forced, due to an injury to all-rounder Stuart Broad.

Injury worries for Australia

For Australia, too, injury worries are present ahead of the start of the third Test. Opener Simon Katich is now out for the series, and is going to be replaced by another left-hander Phillip Hughes. The opener would not have forgotten the treatment he got when he last played against England, when he was seriously roughed up by some torrid spells of short bowling by the English pace men.

With the curator of the Western Australian Cricket Association (Waca) promising a pitch that will have the same pace and bounce as that of old Waca pitches, Hughes must be even more worried about his Test comeback. The English bowlers, too, would not be ignorant of his history and there should be some fireworks when he comes out to bat.

Unlike Hughes’ call-up, a shocking one is that of Michael Beer in place of Xavier Doherty. The left arm spinner was only a club cricketer until the end of last season, and certainly did not turn in a stellar performance against England in a recent tour match, so his call-up even considering the desperation of the Aussie selectors is a bit of a bolt out of the blue, and that too when Nathan Hauritz, Australia’s premier spinner until their last series, has just scored a century in first class cricket and has picked up a 5-wicket haul on top of that.

Marcus North’s poor form has led to his being dropped from the side, but surprisingly no specialist batsman has been selected in his stead. It is therefore to be expected, that Steve Smith will come into the side as a batting all-rounder at number 7, while wicketkeeper Brad Haddin will be promoted one slot up to number six in the middle order.

Also very likely to make comebacks to the side are pace men Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus, to join Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris in a four-pronged pace attack. Captain Ponting’s recent comments about Mitchell Johnson’s record at the Waca, which does make quite a reading, do give the feel that if any one of the four fast bowlers is left out in favour of Beer, which does seem highly improbable, it would not be Johnson.

England are headache-free

As said before, England have none of the selection headaches that are a part of Australia’s preparation for the third Test. Although Andy Flower and the England management have not announced their squad yet, Chris Tremlett is almost a certainty to replace Stuart Broad. England’s batting unit looks pretty formidable going in to the third Test, with all of their batsmen including wicketkeeper Matt Prior, having come into runs ahead of the game.

If the Waca pitch does live up to the promises of its curator, the third Test should prove to be a fine battle between bat and ball. England’s settled unit is definitely the favourite once again, but the Australian’s know that they must win at least two out of the remaining three Tests in the series to win the Ashes, a prize that should spur them on no doubt.
Saad Hassan Khan A final year electronic engineering student at the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology. His interests lie in sports, reading and writing.
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