Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Following some early morning Facebook interaction with an over-ambitious Kiwi my thoughts, as I pounded the pavement on the early morning lap around the Front Beach, turned towards what I'd like to see come out of the forthcoming two Test series against New Zealand.
Actually, my thoughts veered off in three fairly separate directions.
What I'd like to see, not that I fancy my chances due to the factors involved is a 2-0 scoreline in Australia's favour after a tightly fought couple of games with the Black Caps playing at around 120%.
As the reader will appreciate, that's a huge ask, so I'll happily settle for something less than that. The Kiwis, for example, might not get to that 120%, and if you're going to play at The Gabba in November there's always the risk of the weather coming into the equation.
A 2-0 scoreline under those circumstances is, however, the only situation where you're likely to be able to look back and identify things that could or should have been done better.
Of course there are some things I don't want to see, and the reader might suspect the first of them is a 2-0 scoreline the other way. The reader would be right on that, but under the aforementioned tightly fought scenario, that result would, at least, be tolerable.
A 2-0 scoreline that way would probably produce the sort of One-Eyed Cross-Ditch ranting we've come to expect every time someone has the temerity to suggest the All Blacks shouldn't be allowed to do the haka.
Before we get sidetracked by that one, please note that Hughesy isn't calling for the outlawing of the haka, just for the other side to be allowed a couple of minutes' vigorous warm-up between the haka and the kickoff.
And if that's too big an ask, how's about moving the haka to before the anthems?
But I digress.
The only thing I'd like to see less than the predictable outpouring of trans-Tasman scorn that'd follow a 2-0 score line would be big hundreds to Ponting and Hussey followed by pronouncements that they felt their current run of form justified their retention through the series in the West Indies and beyond.
I've got no issue with big hundreds to The Punter and Mr Cricket, provided they're followed by press conferences that suggest something along the lines that they've decided they're still available, should the selectors feel inclined to retain them in the squad, until the end of the summer.
So that covers what I'd like to see, and what I don't want to see.
So what do I actually want to see?
First up, a demonstrated commitment to generational change and developing a squad of around eighteen players who'll be the basis of the Australian side over the next few years.
Second, we'll hopefully see some movement towards a bowling attack that can take twenty wickets.
I've got no problem with losing at the Gabba after batting first, particularly if it comes after losing the toss provided it has looked like the bowlers could've bowled the opposition out twice if they'd had enough runs to bowl at.
Lose the toss, get sent in, lose early wickets, fight back, claim some early wickets while there's still some soup in the track, concede a first innings lead, more respectable total batting second and a tightly fought fourth innings that ends up as a win with two or three wickets in hand would be regarded as an honourable result either way…
But I want to see signs of an attack that can take twenty wickets pitching the ball up and getting the thing to swing. And if this line-up can't do that, I want to see them shuffled until we have an attack that can.
Assuming Lyon is going to play both games, I want to see extended spells of aggressive spin bowling to well set attacking fields.
With the bat, bearing the conditions at the Gabba in mind and the possibility that we'll be batting first in bowler-friendly conditions I want to see at least one substantial opening partnership, and at least one innings that delivers the potential that Khawaja has demonstrated so far without necessarily translating it into three figures.
Most particularly, I want to see Watson and Marsh back in the side when injury issues are sorted out, and if either breaks down again I don't want to see a current senior player who has been moved aside to make room for them being recalled.
Oh, yes, and Watson must not open the batting.