Australia are headed for another Indian humiliation in Hyderabad. This one is very much of their own making, you might say.
The new selection panel have been afforded a fairly decent run so far. Although the public voted with their feet in regards to the rotation policy, there hasn’t been much of an outcry over poor selections since Xavier Doherty last played a test.
The fact that Xavier Doherty is back playing this test indicates that nothing has been learnt in 3 long years, one even longer report, and countless indecipherable management-speak interviews. The selections have simply been baffling. They ignored Australia’s best performed Shield spinner, Steve O’Keefe. A theory was presented that his figures were enhanced by taking a bagful on a dry turner in Blacktown.
Obviously he wasn’t going to face such helpful conditions in India, where they tend to produce more of a crumbly turner, so they didn’t want to take the risk. A first class batting average that was higher than Steve Smith’s when he made his test debut was discounted too.
Which would be fine if they hadn’t picked Steve Smith based on one good innings on a dry turner in Blacktown. When Jackson Bird got sent home, there was an obvious call to replace him O’Keefe. The selectors steadfast refusal points to a couple of obvious reasons;
O’Keefe is so well hung that he makes his colleagues feel inadequate in the dressing room
· Somebody’s wife said they fancy his boyish good looks
· Somebody’s wife actually acted on one of that; or
They think he’s a bit weird, sort of like Stuart MacGill, he seems to sit and do that reading thing in books with no pictures
Instead Australia have noticed that having 4 frontline bowlers wasn’t enough in Chennai, so have opted to take 2 frontline bowlers and 3 part-timers. I bet Che Pujara, the guy who England’s much-vaunted attack really struggled with, could not believe his fucking luck when Henriques came on first change, to be quickly followed by Million-Dollar-Maxwell.
There comes a time when courage in your convictions becomes stubbornness. Australia have veered into the latter with not picking the well hung, lustful Steve O’Keefe.
Damien Martyn, whom if Shane Warne had his way, would be coaching the players on how to protect the bigger set of stumps (another Warne suggestion), has suggested that the batsmen should take the blame here too. Much like Allan Border in the 80’s, Michael Clarke is exempt from this. Cowan and Watson could be playing for their careers tomorrow, unless (as expected) Shane Watson rediscovers his bowling arm just in time for The
Phil Hughes is also struggling to adapt, although he is hardly the first 24 year old on his first trip to India to be undone by turn. A worry for him is that Merv Hughes has made more a telling contribution to this match than he has. Hughes (Phil) will benefit from a lack of any better options. Although Callum Fergurson could be firming in selectors minds with each innings he doesn’t play.
Again, a few months out from an Ashes series and a subcontinental tour is leaving Australia in disarray. Whilst this won’t be as catastrophic as when Warney met A Very Generous Man in a casino (rendezvous not covered in the manifesto), things don’t look too good for Australia. They can take solace in that they were only 2 wickets away from becoming No1 only 5 months ago, and England (then No1) got towelled up 3-0 by Pakistan only 12 months ago.
There may also be an alternative answer to their selection problems for series against England. Pick the New Zealand 2nd XI (How serious was Ronchi about switching?).