tip off
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Forget a reshuffle, it’s time to bring out the axe

It’s fitting that on the day when the Gillard government announced a cabinet reshuffle, a devastating — yet thrilling — loss to New Zealand in the Second Test at Hobart may be the catalyst for the axe to be applied to the Australian cricket team.

Nathan Lyon, the groundskeeper-come-quality — yes, quality — Australian off spinner cast a forlorn figure as he was the last man out as Australia fell just eight runs short of recording yet another memorable Test win in Hobart. He left David Warner — the Twenty20 slogger who, against prevailing wisdom, has recast himself as an opening Test batsmen with mental fortitude that’s in short supply in this current Australian team — stranded on 123 not out. It’s a shame, as New Zealand’s historic win — surely one of their greatest — will overshadow Warner’s knock, despite him being named Man of the Match. New Zealand seamer Doug Bracewell may be aggrieved, considering his match winning 6/40 to bowl Australia out, but I am sure he won’t mind. The Kiwis beat their biggest rival, on their home soil — and most probably ended the careers of a few Aussies to boot.

After Crikey was sent out today I adjourned to the Mitre Tavern, the closest watering hole to Crikey HQ in the Melbourne CBD, to watch the final moments of the Test.

It’s funny what one hears at a pub when watching a sporting contest.

As the Warner/Lyon partnership battled valiantly in vain to get Australia across the line, a coterie of businessmen, beers in hand, provided, perhaps, the most astute analysis — to the amusement of the patrons gathered around the outdoor TV — on the Australian team I have heard.

“Hughes is fucked. Ponting is fucked. Hussey is fucked. And Haddin can just fuck right off. Then I will be OK.”

It’s hard to see the careers of those players continuing, despite — particularly in Ponting and Hussey’s case — fine service to the baggy green. A loss to New Zealand at home is about as bad as it can get.

It’s time to play the kids. James Patterson’s Man of the Series shows what playing talented youngsters can do if given the chance.

And, as an aside, John Howard would have never announced a cabinet reshuffle during the climax of a cricket Test.

A remarkable Test match that should see the remaking of the Australian Test team.

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  • 1
    Cade Elg
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Some new faces are definitely needed, but you didn’t provide any alternatives. I’ve put my XI below:

    Cade’s XI for Boxing Day:

    1.) Marsh
    2.) Warner
    3.) Kwahaja
    4.) Ponting
    5.) Clarke
    6.) Watson
    7.) Wade
    8.) Siddle
    9.) Pattinson
    10.) Starc (if Harris is still unfit)
    11.) Lyon
    12.) Cowan

    Ponting is extremely lucky, and Cowan is extremely unlucky. Ponting is now a match-to-match proposition. Cowan should keep his eye in because he cannot be far away.

  • 2
    Leigh Josey
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Nice Cade.

    I think Wade just about has to come in now for Haddin. Paine is his obvious rival but remains injured. Timing is everything huh?

    Cowan is almost 30. Like Cummins and Patterson, find some kids with talent. Who cares if they have played just a few First class matches?

    I am a Ponting admirer. I love the guy. But you have to get a bunch of kids playing with each other so we return to being a force in four or five years.

  • 3
    BigBob
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    I still think you need to have a little experience floating around – for that reason, I would be happy with Cade’s team. Ponting has more runs recently than Hussey, so it’s Hussey who has to go.

    Ponting would only get til the end of our Indian summer though.

  • 4
    David R
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Phil Hughes will get dropped for repeatedly making the same mistake. I think the selectors would be wise to end the careers of Hussey and Ponting at the same time. It may mean losing the series against India, but we could still lose it with them in the tearm anyway. Australia need to build the team of the future instead of the team that is trying to cling to its past. Possible team for Boxing Day:

    1. Warner
    2. S. Marsh
    3. Khawaja
    4. Watson
    5. Clarke
    6. Christian*
    7. Haddin
    8. Siddle
    9. Harris
    10. Pattinson
    11. Lyon

    I think Haddin can stay until the end of the series against India. He was vice captain during the series versus NZ and his experience would help carry the side through the transition phase.

    There are a number of young fast bowlers pushing for positions. The selectors should just choose whichever bowlers are fit and in good form.

    *A batting all-rounder for the No. 6 position, but perhaps not necessary with Watson in the team. An alternative would be for Cowan to open with the other batsmen shifting down one position.

  • 5
    Arty
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    Did I notice leadership qualities in Warner today?

  • 6
    Verio Browning
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Years ago when the Chapple brothers etc were starting to look like Test players, the talk of the country was how the English selectors appeared to be hanging onto the warriors of a past era. I’m afraid we are looking like that right now. Give youth its head, they will eventually make us all proud.

  • 7
    Verio Browning
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Whoops!! That should be Chappell.

  • 8
    fakeheadlines
    Posted December 12, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

    C’mon Leigh, you don’t think the overshadowing went the other way? Warner’s knock was great- compared to what I have seen of him previously, he was restrained, patient and looks the goods to see out many an innings to come. But Bracewell took a match-winning 6-for in the second innings after it looked like the Aussies were cruising to the win, and he ended up with 9-for for the match. To me, and you would hope most objective cricket fans, that beats a solo century on the losing team for man-of-the-match.

    Jim Maxwell on ABC radio brought up the point that allowing the unwashed masses to decide the man of the match via some fone network app is a travesty. Could people watching in NZ vote? Or in India? I would say that based on that voting system, even if Bracewell got a hat-trick and the more stat-significant 10-for for the match, he would’ve still missed out.

  • 9
    Fran Barlow
    Posted January 6, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Hmmm … I wonder if any of trhe above want to revisit gtheir claims after the first 3 days of this test?

    Disclosure: I’ve long thought Ponting should go. I thought it coming into this test. I still think it, but as he has strung together a few scores, including the last innings where he actually played deliveries he was getting out to rather better, the case for him going stright away is diminished. The other reason for removiong him was the perception that he would undermine the transition. With Clarke’s dominant innings yesterday, that seems harder to argue. He has played the captain’s knock when the team was in trouble at 3-37. So while I’d not be unhappy if Ponting were dropped — he’s not a very nice chap — it’s hard to imagine him being dropped now. There’s always a case against changing a team that is winning and dropping players coming back into form. So maybe dropping Ponting can be put back until he returns to poor form.

    The problem is what to do with Watson. I assume Marsh will go from the line-up. Ideally, Watson bats at 4th drop so as to give him recovery time for bowling and to consolidate the openers. He’s not really a classical opener anyway, but could be useful when a new ball is taken.

    It’s great to see the return to form of Hilfy. Bowlers’ injuries are the achilles heel of most teams.

    I agree that it is time to move on Haddin, and agree that Wade is currently the obvious choice.

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