In a rare moment of weakness which we have had cause to regret ever since, we agreed to compile a Test ladder for the Australian team ahead of the Ashes. And since there is little else to talk about right now, here it is. We should point out that this is not a ladder of who we see as the important men (or boys) vying for a place in that Ashes squad, since otherwise Steven Peter Devereux Smith would feature much higher, but rather who we think the selectors have in mind. Also, lists like these usually include 50 or so players, but since that sounds far too much like hard work, we have gone with just the 30, and even then the last ten or so spots will probably be filled with comedy nominations like Glenn Maxwell.
And so, without further ado, let’s get started.
1. Michael Clarke: ‘Nuff said.
Well, shit. Things get much more difficult from this point onwards. We may need several bottles of gin to get through this.
2. David Warner: *sigh*. There is no better sign of the disintegration of Australian cricket than Warner’s place on this list. He earns second position owing to the fact the he is a batsman and seemingly undroppable. Therefore he is one of Australia’s most important players ahead of the Ashes. Things really are that bad.
3. Matt Wade: Can you tell we’re struggling already? Wade is in number three because even if he wasn’t the incumbent ‘keeper (and Brad Haddin is a miles better option), he would currently be selected purely for his batting alone, and he may well be the new vice captain to boot. Bloody hell, this is worse than we expected.
4. James Pattinson: The first bowler picked because he’s not only a proven wicket taker, but also can bat a bit (a very important qualification in this outfit) and didn’t throw a strop after homework-gate.
5. Peter Siddle: Another bowler who can bat a bit. Honestly, Australia should just do away with ‘specialist’ batsmen altogether and pick a bunch of these.
6. Phil Hughes: And already we are back into the detritus. Like Warner, a batsman who stands in little danger of being dropped since there is bugger all else out there to replace him.
7. Nathan Lyon: His performance in Delhi proved he is miles ahead of any other spinner in the country. Fawad Ahmed may come along to provide some competition, but Lyon’s spot is safe for the foreseeable future.
8. Mitchell Starc: Another bowler who can bat. Plus seems like a top bloke. An important asset in the selectors’ eyes.
9. Ed Cowan: Barely scrapes into the top ten owing to the fact that his position is now under severe threat from Chris Rogers. Will start the Ashes tour, but depending on performances may well not finish it.
10. Shane Watson: Captain Watto (also known as Captain Dickhead by some, namely us) has seen his stock plummet in recent months. Ought to be number two on this list, but is in danger of dropping out of the first XI altogether now. A return to bowling duties may well save his bacon for the first few Tests of the tour.
11. Steven Peter Devereux Smith: Played the last two Tests in India but is no surety of retaining his place in England. We predict he will just hold onto his spot though. Otherwise we will be storming the Cricket Australia headquarters and demanding answers.
12. Usman Khawaja: There is no better option for the position of twelfth man than Usman. He’s made it like a second home of late. Might play in the Ashes, might not. Hard to tell if the selectors are just trying to drive him towards an early suicide or not now.
13. Jackson Bird: Didn’t play a Test in India owing to injury but ought to be in strong competition for a spot in the team in England. Slips down the rankings slightly owing to the fact that while he is a top bowler, he can’t bat for shit.
14. Ryan Harris: Another bowler who can bat a bit. Get him on that plane.
15. Chris Rogers: His time finally seems to have come, and as long as he doesn’t screw things up totally in the County Championship this season, ought to come into the mix somewhere. Ostensibly an opener, but will probably bat at about 6 or something. The selectors are strange like that.
16. Brad Haddin: It’s hard to know where Haddin fits in anymore. He wasn’t in the original touring squad to India, but will definitely make the trip to England. What happens from there is anyone’s guess. Could even end up being picked as a batsman.
17. Mitchell Johnson: Will be in the squad, will be talked about a lot as an ‘X Factor’, but then will probably not play a single game. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on where your allegiances lie.
18. Moises Henriques: After a strong start to his Test career Moises’ star has dimmed somewhat. In danger of being overtaken by one of the several million other shite all-rounders Australia can draw upon.
19. James Faulkner: Such as this guy. Made a decent start to his international career in ODI cricket and swears at people a lot, so ought to be a shoo-in for a game at some point.
20. Glenn Maxwell: Wahey! Anther shite all-rounder! Despite featuring in India probably won’t get a run in England owing to the fact that Australia won’t have much need for a spinning all-rounder. Especially not a shit one like Maxwell.
Time crack open that second bottle of gin, things get really bad from here (if they weren’t already).
21. Fawad Ahmed: Will be picked for the tour purely because he is a wrist spinner, and the selectors hope that merely including one in the squad will cause the English top order to have a collective mental breakdown. As far as ideas go, it’s not the worst one the Aussie selectors have ever had.
22. Rob Quiney: Oh for fuck’s sake, do I really have to keep doing this?
23. Adam Voges: A rubbish domestic season has hurt his chances, but if he gets an opportunity in the Champions Trophy, he may still force his way into contention.
24. George Bailey: Needs to score literally billions of runs in county cricket in order to grab a spot in the squad, but stranger things have happened. Not that we can think of any offhand.
25. Xavier Doherty: Needs a couple of the players ahead of him to contract deep vein thrombosis on the trip over to England to be in with a chance. Even then Lyon would still be a far better option than X-Doh.
26. Ben Hilfenhaus: Buggered if we know why he earned a central contract if the selectors didn’t think he would be of use at some point on the tour. Too many players ahead of him though you would think.
27. Patrick Cummins: Apparently he is actually still alive. The odds of him surviving a plane trip to England intact are so slim though that we don’t hold out much hope of him being included.
28. Chris Hartley: Because he is a better ‘keeper than Tim Paine. Still no chance of making it, as his position on this list indicates.
29. Stephen O’Keefe: If wonderboy Glenn Maxwell doesn’t have a hope of getting a game, then there is no choice for an unfashionable outcast like O’Keefe. Even if he is a miles better player.
30. Ricky Ponting: Believe.