Aside

The other day a work colleague asked me why I was so passionate about cricket.  Surprisingly I struggled to give him a coherent answer.

As a German born my parents and I immigrated to Australia when I was seven and I bought my German passion for soccer with me.  Even at such a tender young age I could have given you a full and detailed breakdown on the inner most workings of the Bayern München soccer team but I would have struggled to tell you who Kim Hughes was, let alone what he did.

As a little nipper growing up in the leafy suburb of East Fremantle it was swimming at a beach, building cubby houses, riding my bike and giving Mum and Dad grey hairs that occupied most of my time.  Even at a primary school seemingly full of aspiring Allan Border’s and Dean Jones’ I was more interested in playing British Bulldog and I distinctively remember the first time I actually dared to pick up a cricket bat I held it back to front.  Finally, not having a television may have also been a contributing factor towards my proclivity to run amuck in the great outdoors rather than plonking myself down in front of the idiot box.

At the age of nine we moved 180 kilometres south, to Australind, a small satellite suburb of Bunbury.  It was here that we finally got a television but with only two channels available it wasn’t something that grabbed my attention.  So on the bike and off to the beach it was for me.

However, as many of you know, summers in Australia can get just a tad warm and my pocket money was struggling to cover the amount of inner tubes I was blowing on my bike due to the tarmac being so hot it melted.  So inside I went, turned on the television and the rest is history.

Now after five paragraphs you are probably wondering when I plan to get to the point.  Well, this year I turn 39.  So I thought I would celebrate the 30th anniversary of my cricket addiction with my personal list of 10 matches that I have attended or watched that I would very much love to see again.

There is no rhyme of reason to this list.  Some of you may think that one or more were stultifying boring, other may just say “Meh” but to me they all represent everything that is great, and noble, and interesting, and unpredictable, and controversial about the this game we call cricket.

With all that out of the way I’d like to take you back to New Years Day 1996.  Visiting Australia at the time was Sri Lanka and theWest Indies and the tri nation Benson & Hedges (remember cigarette advertising!!!!) World Series was in full swing.  At the time I was living with a group of friends in a share house just outside of Perth.  Nursing post New Year’s Eve hangovers of varying grades of severity we weren’t capable of doing much more than sitting in front of the television feeling somewhat sorry for ourselves.

On that particular day we were due match five from the Sydney Cricket Ground with Australia and theWest Indiesproviding the entertainment.  Despite the pounding headache I was looking forward to this one as two of my all time favourites, Curtly Ambrose and Michael Bevan, would be going head to head.

Even 16 years later Michael Bevan remains one of the enigma’s of Australian cricket.  Arguably one of the greatest limited over players to have put on the coloured pyjamas his career still has a massive “what if” hanging over it.  Some say he failed to reach his full potential due a perceived weakness against short pitched bowling.  Others say he was simply ahead of his time.

I say he was the thinker in an Australia side full of doers; he was in to risk minimisation when other players freed the arms and took a chance.  He spoke in audaciously run two’s and blindly quick singles when others tried to talk in four’s and sizes.  He was the Ivan Lendl of cricket; the walking calculator, the stereotypical Iceman.

Getting back to the match the West Indies won the toss and decided to put some runs on the board.  From the outset you got the impression that this was going to be a walk in the park for Australia, especially once theWest Indies hit 5/54 with Paul Rieffel being the chief destroyer.  Even 2 hours of rain which reduced the game to 43 overs each didn’t bring any relief and apart from a 93 not out from Carl Hooper the rest of the West Indian side struggled to get to double figures and their inning petered to a close with them being all out for 172.

My friends and I thought that the Aussie’s would reach this score at a canter and were contemplating heading down to the beach for a swim.  Yet we along with the Australian cricket team had not counted on Curtly Elconn Lynwall Ambrose!

Curtly, Curtly, Curtly.  I think he was the last of the great West Indian fast bowlers.  He came into the game at a time when not every West Indian over six foot immediately signed up with the NBA.  Instead he picked up a cricket ball went down to the nets and began to learn the skills necessary to knock batsmen unconscious.

Curtly was (and still is) around 6’7” and it has been calculated that at the point of release he was letting the ball go from a height of about 9’.  Even pitching on a good length a ball released from that height has a good chance of taking your helmet (or your head) off.  I had the opportunity to meet him a few months later when the West Indies travelled to WA to playSri Lanka and even had I stood on a table I think he still would have looked down at me.

Bowling back of a length deliveries with the balls jagging both ways off the seam he was mesmerising; whilst our top order was stunned like the proverbial deer caught in the headlights.  If the West Indians felt bad at 5/54 I doubt they felt as bad as we did after Curtly and Ottis Gibson with the assistance of two run outs had us at 6/38.

Then out strode Michael Gwyl Bevan.  At 6/38 with 135 still to get and only the tail to bat with you had the feeling that even the mighty Bevan was going to struggle to get us home.  But then again they didn’t call him The Finisher for nothing.

With overs to spare the first item on Michael’s agenda was to steady the ship, a task he was ably assisted in by Ian Healy.  Then, with the Australian wicketkeeper on 16 andAustraliaon 74, Harper managed to get one past the bat and we were now 7 down.

Replacing Healy was Paul Ronald Rieffel.  Now Pistol Pete always fancied himself as a bit of an all-rounder and was out to prove a point.  Slowly, slowly he and Bevan ticked off the runs to have Australia at 157 before he spooned a delivery off part-timer Simmons into the hands of Hooper.

Our last realistic hope, Shane Warne, came and went, run out for 3 and with Australia now at 9/167 and Glenn McGrath striding somewhat sheepishly to the crease we were prepared to call time on this match and resume drinking.  Yet the beers remained unopened as McGrath surprised us all by holding up his side of the bargain, namely not getting out to Carl Hooper and before you knew it Australia needed 5 off 3.

Now I was sitting on the couch, to my left was one housemate Matthew, on my right was John, a leftover from the night before.  Stretch was climbing in through the lounge room window as the door was locked and we did not want to get up to open it and risk missing something.  On the floor lay Kate, not a genuine cricket fan, but still as enthralled as we were and standing behind the couch was Dana.

Back to the SCG McGrath briefly became the hero of the nation when he managed to get some smidgeon of his bat on the ball and with more luck than talent guide it deep enough into the covers for Bevan to regain the strike.  4 runs required, 2 balls remaining.

Bevan moved away from the crease, took off his helmet and gloves, did some stretches, took some deep breaths, said a few prayers and then took strike.  Hooper promptly speared in a fuller, quicker delivery that tailed in towards middle stump and Bevan could do no more than bunt it back to the bowler.  4 runs required, 1 ball remaining.

Matthew was repeatedly muttering the F-word under his breath, Stretch was frozen, half in, half out the window and I was sucking on a cigarette, not realising it had gone out at least half an hour earlier.

Hooper came in again, this one looked to have some width to it and it pitched on a slightly more conventional length.  You could see Bevan’s eyes widen slightly and to my dying day I will swear he said “You’ll do!”  Bevan backed away from his middle stump, giving himself room, his bat swinging down for a cross bat shot that wasn’t the most conventional stroke Bevan had ever played but my God it was beautiful.

West Indian captain Courtney Walsh had both a long off and a long on in place but neither of them had a hope in hell in catching this one as it neatly bisected them both and clattered into the boundary barrier.  FOUR!

Matthew jumped up, pumping his firsts in the air and screaming “You f**king beauty” before losing some skin off his knuckles as the ceiling fan was right above his head and going at full power.  I doubt he even felt it.  Stretch fell to the floor before getting up and looking for someone to high five.  Dana crossed himself and looked towards the heavens whilst I almost stood on poor Kate who was probably glad it was all over as Friends was on in 10 minutes.

Bevan you bloody beauty, you hero, you legend, Bevan for Prime Minister.  To celebrate we dragged half a carton of beer out of the fridge and it vanished almost immediately as Bevan stood in the centre of the SCG, arms outstretched a look of triumph (and probably a fair bit of relief as well) on his face.

The West Indies could do no more than shake their heads and his hand.  When they had reduced us to 6/38 many rightfully thought it was all over bar the shouting.  Yet they had not counted on The Master of the Run Chase, The Master Manipulator, The Finisher, The Iceman Michael Gwyl Bevan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KO1XL8_ezVM

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Aside

That man Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is arguably one of the hardest players in cricket to read; almost an Indian version of Stephen Roger Waugh.  Many have questioned his commitment to the longer versions of the game whilst others have wondered whether he will be the right man to lead India through their inevitable rebuilding period come the retirements of Tendulkar, Laxman, Dravid and Kahn.  I too have added my voice to his detractors from time to time.

Well it may be time for his legion of detractors (me included) to have another look and here is why.

Following a rare tie at the conclusion of the India v Sri Lanka ODI at the Adelaide Oval it soon came to light that the umpires had called time on a Lasith Malinga over after only five balls had been delivered.  It had been a rewarding over for the Indian’s thus far, with nine runs scored before the umpires lost count.

Now no one denies that the Indian cricketing media and their readers love a controversy and based on the column inches that had already begun to appear in print and on the Internet this was one controversy that could gain traction very quickly if given the right circumstances.

The very same media must have been looking towards their captain with eager eyes, waiting for him to erupt in a blaze of righteous fury and indignation.  Instead he did something that stunned many and increased his standing as a captain and as an individual amongst many, many more.

He said, quiet simply, that it doesn’t matter.  Well actually he said:

“Well because it’s done and dusted,” he said. “That’s what is important. We can create a big fuss out of it but what’s the point?

 In a further effort to defuse tensions he went on to say:

If I am not wrong, two umpires in the middle and the match referee and the scorer [are there], and it has still happened. Better off accepting it because we humans are bound to make mistakes.”

Both in the press room and around the world you could have heard a pin drop.  Here was the perfect opportunity to reinforce that erroneous stereotype that Australian’s are out to get the Indian cricket team at every opportunity.  Here was a chance to finally call us out as the cheats we apparently are.  Instead Dhoni said it was a mistake and humans make mistakes.

Irrespective of how the “missing ball” saga will be remembered in the annals of cricket history, one thing that will be recognised is that Dhoni is an honourable, mature and pragmatic individual and I think he may have found himself another fan.

Aside
Those Ugly Australians

Following Australia’s recent ODI defeat at the hands of India at the Adelaide Oval a good friend of mine posted on Facebook that “Indian cricket fans are not just sore losers but sore winners as well *sigh*”.  This comment did surprise me a little, namely because this particular friend is herself Indian.

Her criticism of her own national side did not go down well with some of her other friends, also Indians, and it did not take long for the old Ugly Australian debate to rear its head once more.

Now sledging itself is as old as the game of cricket.  A simple Google search on WG Grace and sledging will give any cricket fan hours of amusement.  Yet the term Ugly Australians is a little more modern, having been coined by Tom Graveney after the Ashes Tour of 1974/75 where Rod Marsh and Ian Chappell – amongst others – took turns in rolling out insults more profane and rude than the previous.

Can we therefore say that Marsh and Chappell can be credited with introducing this more modern, less witty, more profane form of sledging to the game of cricket?  Possibly Yes.  Can we say that this type of sledging has remained wholly and solely with the Australian cricket team?  Most definitely no!  A case in point is that BBC County Cricket broadcasts are now preceded by a warning that warns viewers that “this broadcast may contain profane or distasteful language”.

There are those who have now accepted that sledging in commonplace in modern cricket but still continue to hone in on the behaviour of the Australian cricket team, claiming that that they deliberately take it to another level. My response would be to ask how this statement has been quantified.  What terms of reference have been used to determine that the Australian cricket team sledges more than any other side?  It is sad indictment on the state of cricket commentary that almost every article dealing with sledging in cricket always focuses on the Australian cricket team despite the fact that there are, at a minimum, seven other cricket sides equally adept at its practice.

For example I recently had the privilege to receive some recorded local coverage of the SA v AUS Test series.  Thanks to censors less vigorous than in Australia and some very clear stump microphone coverage ever fruity oath could be heard in all its glory and I can say without hesitation that both Australia and South Africa were neck and neck all the way.

Faced with the potential extinction of the term some individuals within the cricketing community have begun to use it to describe more than just sledging.  It was become a catch all phrase to highlight every real and perceived transgression made by the Australian cricket side. Whether it is over-appealing, individual or team arrogance, excessive celebration, racial vilification or even the behaviour of the Australian public this has all now been placed underneath the banner of Ugly Australians.

Why have the Australian’s become the focal point of all that is negative in the game of cricket?  That is a question that is difficult to answer.  If the behaviour of the Australian cricket side is so offensive to some, so detrimental to the state of cricket why has the ICC not stepped in and taken punitive action?  The ICC Code of Conduct Commission is comprised of individuals whose objectivity is without reproach and I doubt they would allow an individual or team which consistently brings the game into disrepute to continue unpunished.

Cricket like every other game evolves and reflects the society of the day.  There are those who will mourn the ‘innocence” of the amateur years when the likes of Bradman, Hobbs and Weekes plied their trade.  These were the golden days of cricket but they are sadly gone.

The Australian sides from the turn of century onwards have been a reflection of our modern society.  Professional athletes who now earn a handsome living from the game they play.  Yet with those rewards come expectations, expectations to win, expectations to perform day in, day out, expectations that come from their fans and followers.

The Australian side plays a hard, uncompromising style of cricket.  It is not always pretty, it is not always neat and sometimes it is not even within that nebulous and constantly shifting term “the spirit of the game”.  Yet this is what we expect of them and as a result this is what they deliver.

Under the mature and unselfish captaincy of Michael Clarke the Australian side is slowly shaking off the reputation of the Ugly Australians but there will always be some who are ready to apply that tag at the slightest transgression.  Yet ultimately, if a team is a reflection of the society it represents then we only have ourselves to blame for their behaviour.

Aside

Matthew Wade on debut. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

It must have been a painful and frustrating experience for the Indian ODI contingent to sit through the whitewash that was the recently concluded Test Series between Australia and India.

However, it was now their time to shine as a slightly different and seemingly upbeat Indian one-day side took to the field at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.  Even the previously sullen and silent M.S. Dhoni was smiling.

On paper the Indian side looked to have it all, vast experience in the form of Dhoni and Tendulkar, power and aggression via test revelation Virat Kohli and a host of ODI specialists such as Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma and IPL megabucks man Ravindra Jadeja.

Indian Side

 G Gambhir, SR Tendulkar, V Kohli, RGSharma,SKRaina, MS Dhoni *+, RA Jadeja, R Ashwin, R Sharma, P Kumar, R Vinay Kumar

The Australian side on the other hand had a more conventional, “don’t mess with something that is working” look to it.  Brad Haddin was out, “resting”, replaced by Test wicket-keeper in waiting Matthew Wade, David Hussey joined his brother Michael and the likes of Siddle, Lyon and Hilfenhaus were given a rest, their duties taken over by Starc, Doherty and Clint McKay.

Australian Side

 MS Wade +, DA Warner, RT Ponting, MJ Clarke, MEK Hussey, DJ Hussey, DT Christian, RJ Harris, MA Starc, CJ McKay, XJ Doherty

The toss went India’s way and Dohni, preferring to chase rather than set a target, sent the Australians in to bat.  Making things more interesting for both sides was the threat of rain.  Not surprising really, it was Melbourne after all.

From the outset it was apparent that the Indians had a plan for Warner irrespective of the switch hitting threat.  A full, tight line kept the explosive opener quiet and unsettled and it was almost seemed an inevitability when Kumar snuck one through the gates with David on 6 from 14 balls and Australia now at 1/15

Out marched Australia’s Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and back marched Rocky Ponting victim to Kumars unrelenting line and length, Ricky 2 off 12 balls and Australia at 2/19.

At the other end debutant Wade must have been wondering why everyone else was struggling.   Perhaps it was Clarke’s calming influence, perhaps it was maturity beyond his years but there were no sign of nerves, no wild slogs, just a man making the most of an opportunity and playing to the conditions.

Meanwhile, in the background of Australia’s top order collapse, a light drizzle had lead to plenty of slipping, sliding and drying of the ball.  The Indians spinners were struggling to control their grip on the ball which may explain Wade’s sudden burst of aggression with a monster of a 6 over deep mid-wicket following by a crisply hit 4 before the umpires called for the covers and the heavens opened up.

Almost 3 hours later, and with the match reduced to 32 overs a side, the two sides returned to the centre.  Rotating the strike and mindful of the run rate Wade and Clarke kept the scoreboard ticking over until part time tweaker Rohit Sharma tempted Clarke with a flighted delivery that was duly pouched by Rahul Sharma.  Clarke out for 10 off 21 and Australia3/49.

The fall of a wicket when a team is teetering between success and failure can often determine which path the match will take and with Mr Cricket at the other end of the pitch Wade decided that it certainly wasn’t going to end in failure.  Quick singles became almost audacious two’s, boundaries began to flow and the run rate which had stagnated at around 3.5 until Clarke’s dismissal climbed to 5.0 in as many overs.

Wade continued to torment to bowlers until the 23rd over when, on 67 off as many balls he chopped one on to his stumps from the bowling of Rahul Sharma. Australia was 4/122 with a run rate that had climbed to 5.30 and to make matters worse on strode Mr Crickets brother David “Mr ODI” Hussey.

Michael and David Hussey, arguably 2 of Australia’s most experienced and dangerous limited over players then proceeded to give the Indian side a master class in how to take a game away from the opposition with Fours and Sixes becoming common currency.

The Indians previous optimism was taking a beating and no one was more surprised than they when a wide, half tracker from Kumar was miss-timed by Michael and gratefully caught by Kohli.   Michael was visibly disappointed but he was most likely the only one having scored 45 balls off 32 runs and taking Australiato 5/154.

Dan Christian took his guard and then joined in with the fun as David Hussey continued un-contained, unconcerned and unabated to eventually take Australia to 216 and 6.75 runs per over.

The break between innings had been reduced to 30 minutes and many passed the time debating what sort of mathematical alchemy Mr Duckworth and Mr Lewis would generate.  To the surprise of many, who had expected something improbably or impossible, the answer was 217.

It was a tough but still achievable target yet the Indians had not counted on Mitchell Starc.  With conditions conducive to swing and a head full of expert advice from Wasim Akram the young left hander had both Gambhir and Tendulkar back in their changing rooms before the 4th over.

Starc had put the Indians on the back foot and McKay, Doherty and Christian ensured they were kept there.  Only one Indian player, Virat Kohli, managed to score over 30 and India was finally all out for 154 in the 29th over.

Next up the Indians meet a troubled but still potent Sri Lanka at the WACA.  Lets hope those initial signs of optimism are rekindled or else another whitewash awaits.

Aside

The ball has barely come down again from David Warners switch hit and already there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth from a legion of ‘experts’ who think it is unfair, un-Australian and just not cricket.

It was to be expected. The T20 tide had slowly been turning the bowlers way when suddenly a young upstart plants the ball 20 rows back in the stands and also firmly back in the batsman’s favour.

Now, rather than taking the easy way out and banning it I suggest the following amendment to the rules of cricket.

1) – Should the batsman switch hit, which is defined as a complete reversal of their original stance then should the ball strike the batsman’s pads cleanly and without interference by the batsman’s bat then that batsman should be given out. When determining whether the ball pitches in line it is at the umpires sole discretion as to whether he bases his decision on the original stance of the batsman or their subsequent stance.

…in other words go for gold but if you miss and the ball hits your pads you’re on your bike

Aside

Pat Cummins takes his maiden test wicket against South Africa. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

A year ago, we only had acquired a glimpse of this young talent in the KFC Big Bash, now he is the youngest Australian to have earned a Baggy Green since Ian Craig back in 1953. He is one of the few debutants in the last year to have been named Man of the Match on debut against South Africa. Teenager – Pat Cummins, in an exclusive interview, tells us how the onset of what promises to be a fabled career has been.

What age since, have you wanted to be a cricketer and how did the dream begin to mold? 

Ever since I could walk, I would be in the backyard playing cricket everyday with both my brothers. The dream started there, and it started to come together last year when I was fortunate enough to start getting selected in the NSW 2nd XI and the NSW side.

You are now Australia’s youngest cricketer since Ian Craig in 1953; take us through the call up for the series against South Africa and what was going through your mind at that point.

I was in Chennai, India, playing in the Champions League for NSW, when I got the call that I was in the Australian Squads that were to play South Africa. It was then that it started to dawn on me how big an honour it was and how much it meant. Then to be told before the Second Test, that I was debuting due to an injury to Ryan Harris, I was thrilled, nervous and excited.

How surreal was your debut – Man of the Match for seven wickets and scoring the winning runs for your country; was it just as you always dreamt or it couldn’t have gotten better than how it happened?

Very surreal!!! Playing for Australia is a dream and an honour; it feels like I was the luckiest person in the world to be given the opportunity. After a tense five days and a nail biting finish, the elation of winning was something that is indescribable, and to have a bit of success in the game made it even sweeter – certainly much more than I could have expected.

When you finished as the highest wicket-taker along with Nathan Lyon at the KFC Big Bash in 2010-11, did you think you would earn yourself a Cricket Australia contract in about four months from then?

Absolutely not! I had only played six T20s and there are more gauges needed to earn a contract. Added onto that my inexperience, I thought if it ever came it would be further down the track and only after a history of consistent performances.

Being the youngest in the team, how has the support from the seniors been and how has it been playing along with a legend like Ricky Ponting?

Simply put – unreal. The team is a great one at the moment as it has a real variety of ages. Older guys like Ponting and Hussey are awesome around the team. They immediately make you feel welcome and to be honoured to play with them is very special. They are just as energetic and excited about every game as anyone else, and are a wealth of knowledge.

Shaun Tait earlier said, you would become the fastest man on Earth wearing the Baggy Green cap; thoughts? What are your thoughts on your bowling speed and what you wish to achieve?

That’s a very nice thing to be said, but looking forward, I don’t see a certain speed as a goal. Speed can be a great asset but in Test Cricket, it can be a hard thing to maintain and is not always as effective as swing and accuracy, but having said that, increase in speed would great, and would only be beneficial to any pace bowler.

Were you looking forward to playing the series against India and how disappointing was it to miss out on that and the Big Bash League?

Not playing against India in a home series was disappointing, as it may be the last opportunity to play against some of the Indian greats. Other than that, it’s great to see the other guys going so well and since I have plenty of time on my side, it’s not that bad. That is the same with the BBL – it has taken off with a bang and I love playing T20s, so hopefully I can get back to playing that next season and further down the track, play in the IPL.

How is your injury coming along and are you on course to make the Tour to West Indies?

My injury is starting to turn the corner. I have started running again and it’s been pulling up well after each session, so the Tour to West Indies in March remains the goal.

How have you taken in and handled the sudden stardom? Has it in any way altered the person you were earlier?

I hope not. I still live at home and hang out with the same mates, so hopefully I am a similar person. The public really get behind the cricket so it’s great to be a part of that, but also with the injury, it has given me the time to get out of the spotlight.

As a child, who was your cricketing hero that inspired you to chase your dream?

No one really needs to inspire you to chase your dream – every kid wants to play for their country. When I was growing up, my idols were the likes of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Brett Lee and I loved to watch them play, so I guess I derived the dream from them.

Who is the one contemporary bowler you look up to and want to emulate?

Dale Steyn is (I think) the benchmark of fast bowlers today. He is a great competitor, bowls fast, swings it and asks questions with every ball. What he has achieved is something to strive toward, surely.

What is your next goal and where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

My next goal is to make my way back into the Aussie side. They are going great guns at the moment and it will be fairly tough to break back into the team. After that, the T20 world cup is a massive tournament and I would love to be a part of it. To be uninjured and still be playing cricket in 10 years’ time, hopefully for Australia or NSW, I would consider myself very fortunate.

Interview courtesy of our friend Kiritka from http://www.sportskeeda.com

Aside

Is this the end of Shaun Marsh? Photo courtesy of Getty Images

In light of Shaun Marsh’s continuous failures with the bat what are our options?  Do we persist with a player who is obviously underdone but shows obvious potential or do we consign him to the scrapheap?  Well rest easy as we still have the potential to field a lethal side once a few minor injury issues are resolved.

This is the Australian side of the future.

David Warner
Ed Cowan
Ricky Ponting
Shane Watson
Michael Clarke *
Michael Hussey
Matthew Wade *
Darren Pattinson
Peter Siddle
Patrick Cummins
Nathan Lyon

Ben Hilfenhaus

David Warner and Ed Cowan are fire and ice and based purely on risk they are a better option that Warner and Watson; a combination which may implode quickly if they are both hit by the red mist.

Ricky Ponting at three can be debated. Traditionally this position is held by the teams best batsman and at the moment it can be argued that this is Clarke. However, is he ready to move up the order or does he prefer to take a leaf from Steve Waugh’s book and remain in the middle order.

Hussey is safe for now but a substantial question mark hangs over the head of Brad Haddin. His keeping has been neat, tidy and without any major flaws but sadly his batting has been woeful and with Paine still nursing an injury it may be time for Matthew Wade to step up.

The bowling attack frankly terrifies even me. For the first time in nearly 2 years we can tentatively claim to have an attack that can take 20 test wickets anytime, anywhere. Now all we need is Lyon to gain a little more tactical nous and a little more mongrel, al la Warne.