Saturday, December 10, 2011
Hobart Day Two
It will be interesting to see how the national selection panel go about things in the wake of yesterday's remarkable first session.
Unlike Day One, which didn't produce much that needed in-depth reflection as far as Australia was concerned, there are a couple of major decisions that will need to be taken in the wake of a morning session where we lost 6/69.
It's already obvious that Hughes will be replaced for Melbourne, but in a situation where you'd have been looking for someone to put his hand up the way Dean Brownlie did for the Black Caps. His knock on the opening day was the difference between the two teams, and if you're a Kiwi supporter you'd be looking forward to a lengthy spell with D. Brownlie firmly entrenched in the middle order.
Kiwi supporters would also be upbeat about Boult and Bracewell as long term prospects, and while Vettori would be an automatic selection if fit, you'd think he'd be regaining his place at the expense of Southee or Martin rather than either of the two newcomers.
Williamson and Taylor have a chance to nail things down this morning, with Brownlie still to come, a deck that seems to have flattened out and the prospect of bowling to defend a total that will be closer to 400 than 200.
The question of whether that four man pace attack will be able to do the job on a wearing surface without the spin option will make for fascinating viewing on Monday and Tuesday but as a bowling group I thought they looked a better, more balanced unit than our three quicks and a spinner, though Lyon will be a key player on Day Three.
That second innings, however, is going to raise a number of issues, and hopefully deliver at least one answer. Unlike the first dig, when the bowlers were able to ask constant questions,
One assumes that Day Four will offer the best conditions fore batting, with Day Five presumably throwing a wearing pitch into the equation.
With Hughes' fate seemingly sealed, he will, of course, more than likely come up with a big hundred, but I suspect that a double century would only delay the inevitable. The opener's role is to display a bit of stickability on Day One in bowler-friendly conditions, and it seems Hughes hasn't sorted out his technique to the point where can consistently answer the questions the opposing attack will be posing.
Warner, one assumes, will have the series against India to cement his spot at the top of the order, but a score here would help his cause immeasurably. The big question will concern his opening partner in Melbourne.
Runs to Khawaja in the second innings here will cement his spot, and he could, if necessary move up one spot if the panel wanted to see Watson batting higher than Six.
Ponting, to all intents and purposes, will be batting for his place in the side for Melbourne, though I suspect he'd be best advised to hold the press conference and make the announcement before the Indians take on the Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI at Manuka Oval next Thursday.
If Ponting holds his place it will only be because the panel wants his experience at Four while they sort out One, Two, Three and Six. Clarke is safe at Five, but that's the only certainty apart from Warner's spot at the top of the order.
Much of that reshuffle will come down to the question of how much bowling Watson can expect to do. If the answer is none, you could make a case for putting him back to open, but that raises the question of where he bats when he's fit to bowl again.
No, Watson at Four or Six.
Khawaja and a fit Marsh look like filling Two and Three, though which of them goes where is still an issue.
The final spot in the batting order will depend on that Watson bowling issue. Given the need for a fourth seamer, if Watto's not going to bowl you'll want Christian at six. If you've got a question about Watto breaking down you probably still want Christian at Six, which means the only spot for Watson is Four, in which case it's Bye Bye Punter.
But that's the long term issue. More immediately, we have Starc and Siddle looking to cement their place in the attack and the question of how many we're going to be chasing and when the chase is going to start. That's the sort of issue that'll make for fascinating viewing and underlines the fact that there's nothing quite like Test Cricket in the sporting universe.