There’s nothing quite like a complete clusterfuck of a Test series to get the mob riled up into a fury. Chris Rogers scored pivotal match winning centuries against England and South Africa? Yeah, well he didn’t do anything in the UAE, so let’s get rid. Michael Clarke? Old, shit, slow and a crap captain to boot. Get rid of him too. Brad Haddin? Yeah, might have won the Ashes for Australia, but what’s he done for us lately? And so on and so forth. There really is nothing like a mob to make comments sections in Aussie tabloids (and these days every Australian newspaper is essentially a tabloid) even more fun than they usually are.
But of course, here at 51allout, we are above such reactionary rubbish. Mostly. Well okay, we’re not, but we will try and make an exception this time. Apart from when it comes to Glenn Maxwell, because it really is all his fault.
1 (1) – Michael Clarke: We actually put a great deal of thought into this one (unlike the rest of the positions, which we just wrote down on some toilet paper and threw at Editor Steve). Clarke retains his number one ranking for the third time running by the slimmest of margins. He is still the main man, but will need another mountain of runs again against India at home to convince that his best days are not now behind him.
2 (2) – David Warner: Still scoring runs. Also still a bit of a dick, but managing, just about, to keep his nose clean. If he can keep all of that up for long enough maybe Australia will be able to build a batting lineup around him.
3 (3) – Mitchell Johnson: Probably should be first in this list really. Australia are just one Mitchell Johnson injury away from being a very average side. The Pakistan series showed just how competitive they are when he’s not running through sides and scaring the shit out of everyone.
4 (6) – Steven Peter Devereux Smith: His meteoric rise has ceased to be surprising, but what is is just how much further he could still go. Depending on how things work out, he could be Australian Test captain inside the next twelve months. That scares even us a little.
5 (8) – Ryan Harris: Was sorely missed in Pakistan, and Australia showed how much weaker they are without him there. Relying on a 36 year old with the knees of a pensioner is not a great plan, but its the only plan Australia have that works right now.
6 (4) – Brad Haddin: Definitely slipping. Both his batting and glovework were well down during the series against Pakistan. He is also probably the worst player of spin to ever play Test cricket. Helped a little because there is no standout replacement at the moment. And Lehmann seems to like him.
7 (10) – Shane Watson: Missing out on the mess in the UAE has helped raise his stock considerably. Mitch Marsh has an eye on his spot, but for now the selectors will persist with Watson, if only largely because he is a better bowler. And Lehmann seems to like him.
8 (7) – Nathan Lyon: Has had a shocking 2014, taking 14 wickets at 61.5 runs apiece. Will be persisted with against India, but if they take him apart (which is highly probable), Australia will go into yet another Ashes series not knowing who their number one spinner is.
9 (5) – Chris Rogers: It finally happened, Rogers went a Test series without scoring a century. And the wolves have duly arrived. It’s possible he may even have already played his last Test. We said the end, when it came, would come quickly.
10 (9) – Peter Siddle: Wasn’t great in the UAE, but wasn’t bad either. At least he kept things tight, even if he didn’t take many wickets. Will remain the third bowler for the time being.
11 (-) – Mitch Marsh: Yeah, this one caught everyone by surprise. It’s not really clear what he offers over someone like Moises Henriques, for instance, but for now he is the apple in the selectors’ eyes. By which we mean he will travel round the country being twelfth man a lot.
12 (13) – Phil Hughes: Slowly inching his way back into the Test team. If Rogers is dropped, he will be opening with Warner against India. If not they will definitely try and squeeze him in there somewhere, possibly at number three.
13 (22) – Glenn Maxwell: Yeah, we don’t get it either. It was clear the selectors would try to find some way to get him back into the Test setup, but as a number three? Nobody saw that coming. Will probably get a run somewhere against India too. Maybe as a backup keeper or something. Fucked if we know what’s going on anymore.
14 (-) – Josh Hazlewood: Another bolter, Hazlewood flies up the list because he is a) quick, b) not currently broken, and c) not Mitchell Starc. Will probably play at least one Test against India.
15 (19) – Matt Wade: We’re going to assume he’s the next keeper in the queue (it could equally be Chris Hartley at this stage). If so, Haddin’s shakiness means an opportunity might not be far off. Or he could be picked as Australia’s new number three. Honestly, both are equally likely.
16 (15) – Shaun Marsh: We have no idea about this one, but he scored a Test century recently batting at number three, so we assume he is still somewhere on the radar. Possibly.
17 (21) – Usman Khawaja: Slowly moving back into view, a few big scores in the Sheffield Shield will have him firmly pushing for a spot. Which just goes to show Australian cricket has done nothing but turn in massive, slow circles for the past five years.
18 (26) – Stephen O’Keefe: Finally got the Test cap his domestic performances warranted. Whether he gets another shot depends on just how far Lyon falls over the next month or so.
19 (17) – Mitchell Starc: Was given a run in the UAE despite not having played First Class cricket for about 18 months. Was predictably pretty rubbish. Probably not going to get another chance anytime soon, unless there is another massive run on injuries. Or the selectors pick him to bat at number three.
20 (11) – Alex Doolan: We thought they’d give him an extended run at first drop after the series against South Africa. Instead the selectors gave him one Test, decided he was shit and got rid. Which shows that even Australian Test selectors can get things right every now and then. Would be surprised if he ever plays Test cricket again.
21 (18) – George Bailey: Gave up the T20 captaincy to focus on trying to win back a spot in the Test team. Whilst the sacrifice was admirable, he really hasn’t got a chance in hell of getting back into the Test setup again.
22 (23) – Cameron White: Potentially could be chosen as a specialist batsman to fill out an Ashes squad if he continues scoring in the Sheffield Shield. That this is a genuinely reasonable option shows just how limited Australia’s batting stocks really are.
23 (14) – James Pattinson: Currently broken. So broken it’s not really clear if he will ever be not broken again. Or something. If he ever does legitimately get back into one piece he will obviously come right back into contention, but that is one massive if at this stage.
24 (12) – James Faulkner: For some reason the selectors have decided that Faulkner is not where it’s at these days. We query whether the selectors even know what ‘it’ is, let alone where it’s located.
25 (-) – Nathan Coulter-Nile: Bowling well in Shield cricket so can’t be too far away. Will probably be mostly involved in the One Day setup exclusively for the time being however.
26 (28) – Chadd Sayers: Keeps taking wickets. Is otherwise still completely unremarkable. Might push for a gig in an extended Ashes squad.
27 (-) – Joe Burns: He can bat. A bit. Would make an okay, if somewhat left of field choice to take the number three spot, but more realistically his time is still a little way off. We’re going to take a punt and say he’ll get a look in post-Ashes.
28 (25) – Pat Cummins: Lingering around the fringes of the team as yet another bowler who could potentially ultimately replace Harris. Still hasn’t played a First Class game since the second Test against South Africa. In 2011. Let that one sink in.
29 (-) – Cameron Ferguson: We could have stuck any number of batsmen down here: Adam Voges, Michael Klinger, David Hussey, Tom Cooper, maybe even Chris Hartley. Instead we went for Ferguson. It makes no difference. None of them will be picked.
30 (30) – Ed Cowan: We haven’t forgotten about you Ed. We haven’t forgotten. We’re pretty sure Darren Lehmann has though.