Time to Act!
Date: December 13, 2011 / Posted by control
“The country needs, the country demands, bold, persistent experimentation. Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But, above all, try something.”
Franklin D Roosevelt uttered those words on the campaign trail in May 1932 enroute to his unprecedented four-terms in the White House.
They could be aptly applied at present to the state of Australian cricket for the winds of change are whipping up a storm
The time has arrived for the Australian selection panel to take a tough stance and make the decisions necessary to redress the ongoing slide of its Test team as some of the current methods are failing.
There has been some glimmers of hope over the past year but on balance the flame is all but out for some of the players while others need to be sent away to address glaring technical deficiencies.
The Australian public was rocked by the team’s second consecutive Ashes series loss last summer.
Since then, the side has stuttered along with some of the performances simply not good enough.
An innings of 47 cost it the Cape Town Test and the batting collapse in Hobart against New Zealand, that gifted the Black Caps its first Test victory on Australian soil in 26 years, provided two of the lowest points.
Without doubt the area of contention that is drawing the most vocal fan feedback is the future of former skipper, Ricky Ponting.
If you look at the raw statistics, he has to go – he simply has to be told that his time has come.
He has been a great servant of Australian cricket and he deserves to go out on his own terms.
It appears the only way that will happen is if he is told by John Inverarity, the chairman of selectors, that he will not be chosen for the Boxing Day Test against India.
That way, he can take the high ground and announce his retirement; a decision that would be lauded by the fans, although some may say it has come a little late.
Since Ponting’s last century – a double against Pakistan in Hobart where he was dropped before scoring – he has played 16 Tests for an average of 27.
In the time since Ponting’s last Test ton, Sachin Tendulkar has compiled eight and averaged 65; Rahul Dravid eight and an average of 51; and Jacques Kallis has peeled off seven while averaging an astonishing 85.
The time to honour Ponting’s past glories and allow him time to rediscover form has well passed for a man who will turn 37 next week.
His technique has deserted him, with his lack of balance at the crease making him a walking – or rather falling – leg before wicket target.
For Michael Hussey, the finish line has roared towards him in the past two series against Sri Lanka and South Africa where he has averaged a meagre 12 runs.
His preceding series in Sri Lanka in August saw him named man-of-the-match in all three Tests with an average of 93 with two centuries.
If the selectors feel they can’t jettison both Ponting and Hussey in the one fell swoop, it should be Hussey who earns a reprieve from the gallows, however the hangman will be required to leave his contact details with the selectors.
Phillip Hughes demotion is a no-brainer – four innings against New Zealand, four times caught Guptil at second slip off 37-year-old paceman Chris Martin for an average of ten.
He no doubt has the blues at present and the only way he can regain touch is to now play for them for the remainder of the season.
Brad Haddin is another who needs to have a stellar return to form.
His shot selection at the crease has been highly questionable of late but he will survive the axe in the short-term.
Usman Khawaja has looked assured in many of his innings without producing a big score but is worth persisting with for a while yet.
If fit, Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh are immediate inclusions although interestingly Watson has averaged a mere 25 in his seven Tests since last summer’s Ashes series.
If he can’t bowl, he will need to produce significantly better with the willow.
Daniel Christian’s all-round abilities have him in the frame, especially if Watson is spared from bowling.
David Warner has been a revelation – his innings in Hobart where he carried his bat was one of genuine class.
The one big positive of late has been the unearthing of some highly talented and effective young fast bowlers.
James Pattinson’s 14 wickets at 14 in his debut series exceeded all expectations while Pat Cummins’ astonishing debut in Johannesburg won him man-of-the-match.
Alas, he will miss the Indian series with injury.
After installing a revolving door in a bid to find a regular spinner post-Shane Warne, the emergence of Nathan Lyon has finally settled the debate.
If fit, and that is sometimes a big ask, Ryan Harris will come in for Mitchell Starc who showed potential against the Kiwis but needs more time at domestic level to hone his skills.
Already M S Dhoni is talking up India’s prospects against a shell-shocked Australian line-up.
If the selectors don’t take some serious remedial action, India could well win its first series in Australia at its tenth attempt.