Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back to the top of the order

But back to the top of the order…

There are, at least to my mind, only two players guaranteed a start in Brisbane, and they're the captain and vice-captain. Clarke and Watson should fill two spots out of numbers Four, Five and Six.

Assuming he's fit to bowl, on a pace friendly Gabba deck, Watson can expect his share of the workload, and it's obvious he can't do that, open the batting and chip in with the big hundreds you'd expect from a batsman of his class. Two out of those three, maybe, but he hasn't managed to do that full monty yet, and if something happens to one of the blokes who do open the batting, the fact he can open if necessary is a fall back.

You might put the case for leaving him to open while the niggles that stop him from bowling are sorted out, but if you're going to do that, you're effectively saying we'll move him down the order when he's right to bowl again, which means you'll be looking for another opener later rather than sooner.

Shane's ego is apparently a bit of an issue, but you'd reckon being labelled a vital cog in the attack, and a fallback opener if necessary shouldn't bruise it too much. If it does, I'd be suggesting a position in the middle order is going to deliver more of those big hundreds that a batsman of his calibre should be getting.

If that doesn't do the trick I'd be pointing out a perceived weakness against the swinging ball.

So if Watson doesn't open, who does?

Hughes is the other current incumbent, and should hold his place. There are big question marks over his technique, but he deserves a go, particularly after being dropped so Watto could offer another bowling option to cover for Misfiring Mitch.

Warner seems to be the next cab off the rank as far as opening is concerned, so pencil him in there as the other opener. I also note that he bowls a bit of leg spin, so there's an occasional bowler up Clarke's sleeve to go with his left arm tweakers.

The combination of Hughes and Warner looks like the best option at the moment, and if they can't get a start against New Zealand and India in Australia, then you'd reckon they're not going to trouble top sides with strong pace attacks.

So you give Hughes to the middle of the series against India, Warner a little longer, and with a West Indies tour next year that coincides with the IPL you'd guess there's room for further experimentation if necessary.

So, at the moment, we've got a lineup of:

Hughes, Warner, Three, Watson, Clarke, Six, Keeper, Eight, Nine, Harris/Hilfenhaus/Siddle, Eleven, Lyon (likely 12th for Brisbane)

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