Before we begin we would like to apologise for the lateness of this article. It ought to have gone up yesterday, but we were too busy rapidly motoring through the five stages of grief and only now have finally entered into acceptance. No, not of Steven Peter Devereux Smith’s omission, but that of Mitchell Johnson. It just ain’t gonna be the same without him.
But now that’s out of the way, it’s time to get on with analysing the team proper, which we will do in a few short points because that is a) easier, and b) quicker. There is nothing like doing a half arsed job of things when you can get away with it. Kinda like Pune’s approach to the IPL really.
We were actually surprised by the degree of common sense shown by the Australian selectors in picking this squad. Nothing they had done previously suggested they were capable of anything of the sort. Even if the Mumbai Indians were dumb enough to buy Glenn Maxwell, at least they’re not stupid enough to actually play him, a crime the Aussie selectors cannot claim to be similarly innocent of.
And so whilst we suggested previously that the omission of Devereux would lead to an outbreak of rioting unprecedented since inner-London residents decided to revolutionize contemporary economics by doing away with currency altogether and just nicking whatever they want, we have now had cause to change our tune somewhat.
Although some stubbornly refused to admit it, Devereux was selected for the tour of India based on his ability to play spin, so by that logic (yes, the selectors seem to be using logic too now; these are indeed strange times) he was not necessarily a shoe-in for a tour of England. Although it pains us enormously to criticize the man in any way, if Devereux has a fault (and he could only possibly ever have the one) it’s that he is somewhat suspect against the swinging ball.
Sure it’s a fault shared by all Australian batsmen who aren’t Michael Clarke, but enough doubts exist about Devereux’s technique as to warrant a small degree of caution. This is why his selection in the ‘A’ team that will tour England directly before the Ashes could be a masterstroke. It will give him the chance to once again prove his doubters wrong (which he will no doubt accomplish with aplomb), and be reintroduced into the squad proper in time to replace whichever Aussie batsman has been most shit. The tough bit will be deciding how to separate all of them.
Selecting Rogers was a tidy piece of work by the selectors, but it’s only half the job. Unless they were hoping to cruelly merk him, Usman Khawaja-like, by watching Rogers get his hopes up after finally being recalled from the cricketing wilderness, only to spend the Ashes in the dressing room, packing Watson’s kit bag and running fresh gloves out to Clarke, he simply has to play.
Where? Doesn’t matter really. Everyone agrees the current Aussie opening pair is a bit shit, but nobody seems to know who is most at fault: Dave Warner or Ed Cowan. Depending on who you ask one or the other would be better suited batting further down the order; first-drop for Cowan, and about number eleven for Warner. So until that mess is sorted out (we give it to about the third Test before things come to a head), Rogers needs to slot in elsewhere.
Number four would be ideal, but Ex-Captain Watto would probably throw a strop at having to move down the batting order once more, and bugger off back home again. So number six it is then. Rogers can be the new Michael Hussey. Sorted.
Thankfully the ‘A’ tour ought to provide most of the answers before the tour begins, but the selectors need to decide who to pick out of Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris. With Watson resuming bowling duties only three can make it, and the first two ought to be automatic selections.
That leaves the lingering issue of Mitchell Starc to resolve. Starc’s white ball form has been peerless over the last six to twelve months, but his red ball performances have been woefully inconsistent. Instead of playing ‘A’ games with the rest of the quicks in the build up, he’ll be off mucking about with the white ball in the Champions Trophy, which means his selection will be an open question right up to the start of the first Test.
Jackson Bird is widely tipped to be almost unplayable in English conditions, and Ryan Harris has been in excellent form since his return from injury, so there’s no shortage of replacements (until they all break down that is). If Australia are to have any hope of doing well in the Ashes, they need to have their best eleven on the park from the start, which means this is one call the selectors have to get absolutely right.
Not the biggest issue in the world, but it’s slightly odd that the selectors only chose the sixteen players in the Test squad, and the only other spinner selected is Aston Agar in the ‘A’ squad. So unless they think that Agar is ready to step up should Lyon fall apart or decide he would rather tour the delightful gardens of Yorkshire (we recommend Burton Constable: just stunning), a replacement would need to be hastily flown over mid-series.
Or perhaps they are just waiting for Fawad Ahmed’s visa clearance to finally come through so he can be rushed out at the last minute.
By way of qualification we should state we definitely don’t think this is a good squad. It contains James Faulkner for Christ’s sake. But compared to who the selectors could have chosen (Shaun Marsh? Ben Hilfenhaus? Rob Quiney?) this isn’t bad at all really. It isn’t good enough by any stretch of the imagination to make Australia favorites, but it ought to ensure a competitive series at least.