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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tour Squads for England Announced

The Australian ODI squad for the short tour of England next month was announced today, and with some surprises.
The NSP have brought in previously injured duo of Pat Cummins and Mitch Johnson, as well as ostracised all-rounder Steve Smith. On the outer are Peter Forrest, who played most of the ODI season in Australia and the West Indies, Dan Christian, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon.

What to make of this squad? It's interesting to see what the panel are trying to achieve. Forrest scored a century in Australia, and although he would generally be looked at as a batsman in the longer form of the game rather than the 50 over game, it appears somewhat harsh to leave him out here. His replacement as such is Steve Smith, who rediscovered some touch in the domestic summer in ODI and T20 forms of the game. Whether he has done enough to regain his place is questionable, but the fact that he is an excellent fielder and bowls passable leg spin would have been looked upon favourably. Mitch Johnson looks to be a swap for Dan Christian, whose hard hitting and medium bowling (taking a hat-trick in the Australian summer) look to be not enough to hold out the panel's desire to inject Johnson back into the mix as soon as possible. Again, it's a questionable decision, and it appears that loyalty only stretches so far with some and an eternity with others. Johnson will have to bat at seven and score runs if he is to prove this decision to be the right one. Time will tell, but on the surface is looks a little flaky.
Mitchell Starc has been deposed by the rising juggernaut of Pat Cummins, and again, surely there would be a better method to bring about his return. Starc has shown good pace and the ability to move the ball into the right handers from a great height. Given the choice between him and Mitch Johnson, most Australian followers would choose Starc every time. No doubt the selectors have not only decided they don't want two left arm pacemen, but they must have Cummins back as well.

Obviously the tour is being used to have a look at these players. Those that have missed out as a result would feel hard done by, and with good reason. If changes are to be made, surely Brett Lee should be pensioned off? If not, then of the younger crew, James Pattinson does not need the ODI route. In the ODI arena I can see where Peter Forrest would be left behind. Surely though Christian and Starc should be persisted with.

ODI Tour Squad to England 

Michael Clarke (c)
Shane Watson (vc)
George Bailey
Patrick Cummins
Xavier Doherty
Ben Hilfenhaus
Mike Hussey
David Hussey
Mitchell Johnson
Brett Lee
Clint McKay
James Pattinson
Steve Smith
Matthew Wade (WK)
David Warner

The Australia A tour, where there will be two three day games against county teams and two four day games against the England Lions, has thrown up its own share of interesting selections.
Certainly, there is no doubt that the selectors want some of our inexperienced guys to have a game or two in England in preparation for next season's Ashes tour. Guys like Ed Cowan, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson and Mitch Starc will benefit from this immensely. Then there is the youngsters in form, who have earned the trip in order to advance themselves in the future, guys like Jackson Bird and Ben Cutting and Liam Davis and Tom Cooper and Joe Burns, who all excelled last season. George Bailey and Peter Forrest are probably the next in line with the bat at the moment, and have their chance to impress. Michael Klinger deserves his spot on form, but is a little perplexing, given it would be almost a miracle if he were to progress to the next level at this stage of his career. Jon Holland is obviously being pushed as another spin alternative. Johnson and Smith are again getting the magic carpet ride back into Australian colours.
Perhaps the brightest selection here is that of Tim Paine, who 12 months ago was the heir apparent to Brad Haddin's keeping throne. Injuries and Matthew Wade's appearance and success has thrown all of that out the window, but if he can return here without problems, it will be a great thing to see, not only for himself but for Australian cricket.

The success of this team, and the individuals concerned, will be interesting to follow, as will the progress of the Australians playing in County cricket that have not been selected here, in particular guys like Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja. Our ability to regain the Ashes over the next 18 months may well depend on it.

Australia A Tour Squad to England 

Ed Cowan (c)
Peter Forrest (vc)
George Bailey
Jackson Bird
Joe Burns
Tom Cooper
Patrick Cummins
Ben Cutting
Liam Davis
Jon Holland
Mitchell Johnson
Michael Klinger
Nathan Lyon
Tim Paine
James Pattinson
Steve Smith
Mitchell Starc
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