Wednesday, December 21, 2011

About that squad...

Encountering Jimbo and Black/Blonde Betty on this morning's walk saw an opening exchange along the following lines:

So, Hughesy, the selectors didn't read your blog?

And you wouldn't expect them to, would you? And, on the whole, I reckon I got things pretty close. Bearing in mind I don't get phone calls from Australian cricketers with question marks over the fitness and I wasn't at tThe Gabba to overhear conversations between Harris and Andy Bichel.

Black/Blonde Betty, being of the canine persuasion, remained silent throughout.

No, I went on, the interesting bit would be knowing what they were thinking before Harris and Watson were ruled out. Wasn't figuring Marsh would be fit, so I was wrong there. But otherwise

And with the squad of thirteen named you'd probably be thinking Mike Hussey's continuing career is almost entirely dependent on Marsh's fitness.

Marsh ruled out, Hussey and Christian both fit into the eleven. Marsh fit, and you'd think it becomes Hussey or Christian, though I note that over on Cricinfo reports suggest Inverarity is talking Marsh or Christian, Starc or Hilfenhaus.

Which, in turn, raises the question of whether Ponting's in the side until a fit Watson makes his way back into the squad (assuming Marsh is still fit).

Without Harris, Hilfenhaus is probably the logical choice if you're looking for experience rather than youth, and you'd probably expect him to squeeze in ahead of Starc at this point.

The selection of this squad, however, starts to clarify some issues around the pool of players from which they're going to select the team, so let's consider some of those issues.

I've been looking for a squad of around twenty that'd cover future Test and ODI commitments, remembering that T20 is an almost completely different kettle of fish.

So if we're looking at a squad of around twenty, what have we got.

Well, we've got this squad of thirteen for starters. Six bats, an all-rounder, a wicketkeeper, four quicks and a spinner.

Supplement those with another name in the all-rounder, keeping and spinning departments and we're up to sixteen, so throw in another couple of bats and another couple of bowlers and there you are.

So you'd assume, in a squad of twenty, the all-rounders are Watson and Christian, the 'keepers are Haddin and Wade, and the spinners are Lyon and someone you might almost be tempted to pick with a pin. If we're talking an offie, Hauritz may be next cab off the rank, particularly since Ponting's away from the captaincy. One suspects lack of captain confidence was largely responsible for Hauritz's omission in the first place.

If we're talking left arm orthodox it's probably Holland and Beer, and if we're looking for a leggie maybe Boyce and Smith, though Smith's a candidate for that all-rounder bracket as well.

Which, of course brings us to the batting group.

Given Warner, Cowan, Marsh, Ponting, Clarke and Hussey are there at the moment and Khawaja and Hughes continue to be players of interest, the questions concern longevity (Ponting and Hussey) and next cabs off the rank. You'd probably expect Ferguson in there, and beyond that it'll depend on where you're sitting and who you're looking at.

The bowling's more straightforward. We've got the spin department filled out, so in the pace department it's Pattinson, Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Starc (note assumed pecking order) with Harris waiting on the sidelines along with Cummins, both more than likely straight back in when they're fit. Throw in Copeland in the background and you've probably got room for one more, and that one would presumably be Cutting.

Those fringe spots are going to be clarified, one suspects, when we move into one day mode, but we can throw Mitchell Marsh in as another contender in the all-rounder spot.

So, to make some lists (and let's alphabetise to take out the pecking order).

Bats: Clarke, Cowan, Ferguson, Hughes, Hussey, Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Ponting, Warner, plus one (three in the long run to cover for Ponting and Hussey's departure),

All-rounders: Christian, Mitchell Marsh, Smith, Warner

Fast bowlers: Copeland, Cummins, Cutting, Harris, Hilfenhaus, Pattinson, Starc, plus one.

Spin bowlers: Beer, Boyce, Hauritz, Holland, Lyon, Smith?

When you remove the two senior batsmen and throw in a couple of fresh young faces that looks like a rather impressive squad, with a fair bit of potential. Label me upbeat...

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