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The watershed moment in Australian cricket….hopefully!

So the Ashes are over, and they return to England. Its gone, its over, now we need to move on. Often the Ashes summer and the World Cup are the end of the 4 year cycle in international cricket. This year NEEDS to be that time. The World Cup in March needs to be the end for some of this generation, and if they focus on just this, a victory here could be a fitting finish to their careers. Ricky Ponting is probably the big name in this category, although I’m slightly apprehensive about seeing him leave in such a fashion. Despite this, it needs to happen. Im going to put forward my squad for the next Test series against Sri Lanka, and then for the next Ashes in 2013.

Firstly, the team against Sri Lanka.

1. Shaun Marsh

2. Simon Katich

3. Usman Khawaja

4. Shane Watson

5. Michael Clarke

6. Cameron White

7. Brad Haddin (c)

8. Nathan Hauritz

9. Mitchell Johnson

10. Peter Siddle

11. Doug Bollinger

12. Trent Copeland

13. James Pattinson

14. Steve O’Keefe

15. Chris Lynn

16. David Hussey

A couple of points I’d like to make about this side.

Firstly the batsman – Shaun Marsh hasn’t really proven himself much at First Class level yet, but he has a good technique, with a proven ODI record, and in my opinion Phillip Hughes needs more consistent First Class performances. Katich is needed as a leader in the side, whilst also performing admirably at the top of the order. Khawaja did enough in Sydney to show he is made for Test cricket, whilst a move back down the order might just be what Watson needs. Ponting ends his career after the World Cup, as probably does Hussey, as it would be a perfect way for both to end. I would hate to see either end their careers in the same way Matthew Hayden did, or to a lesser extent Adam Gilchrist. I’d bring White in, but also David Hussey. People say Hussey and White are too old, yet if we think back, Gilchirst was 28 when he debuted, and played 96 Tests straight, whilst Mike Hussey debuted at 30 and has played 57 Tests. White is a leader, and is capable enough to play Test cricket, particularly on the sub-continent. Finally Chris Lynn. If you’ve seen this guy bat, you’d know hes a raw talent, and a future Test player. I’d rather they tour with a player like this who may not play, but needs to be around the set up.

Bowling – Hilfenhaus was solid this summer, but didn’t take enough wickets, and I think he needs some more time in First Class cricket, possibly in County cricket, to work out his best length to take more wickets rather than simply keep it tight. He is only 27 though, so he could force his way back into the side, but I see it probably as unlikely. Bollinger was effectively screwed by Cricket Australia this summer, being forced to play in the Champions League, leaving no preparation for a grueling series in India, where he got injured, then upon his return he wasn’t allowed to play in a NSW Shield game when he was fit, and then snubbed for the First Test because he hadn’t played enough cricket. Finally he gets a recall for Sydney, but is left out and Australia again get 600 scored against them. Terrible. Hauritz should return for now, as he is more than good enough. The reserve bowlers, Copeland and Pattinson are part of a great string of bowlers in First Class cricket who are ready for the next step, and O’Keefe is as good a spinner as any in the country, and can bat a bit as well. Smith needs time in Shield Cricket to work on his bowling and batting.

Now for my 11 for the next Ashes. It is quite similar, with a couple of changes.

1. Shaun Marsh

2. Phillip Hughes

3. Usman Khawaja

4. Shane Watson

5. Michael Clarke

6. Cameron White (c)

7. Tim Paine

8. Steve Smith

9. Mitchell Johnson

10. Peter Siddle

11. Josh Hazelwood

12. Trent Copeland

13. James Pattinson

14. Steve O’Keefe

15. Chris Lynn

16. Matthew Wade

17. Mitchell Marsh

A very similar side, so not as much explanation needed. Unfortunately I couldn’t find any room for Doug Bollinger in my side, so he misses out as we push to the future. Hughes returns after two great First Class summers, White takes over from Haddin as captain, as he is a proven leader, successful on countless occasions with Victoria, as opposed to Clarke, who has has only limited success outside of Twenty20 games. Paine is the obvious replacement for Haddin, and is the vice-captain. Wade comes in as the next in line, and has done well for Victoria since moving from Tasmania. Hazelwood comes in, as he is a McGrath like bowler, and with a couple of years of Shield cricket under his belt, ready for Test cricket. Smith would hopefully develop his bowling at NSW level, and grow into Australia’s spinning replacement as well as a great batsman. The remaining reserves are similar, with Mitchell Marsh touring to help his development to replace Watson or Clarke in the middle order as an all-rounder.

These are just my suggestions, but realistically something big needs to happen. The rest of the world seems to have worked out how to differentiate between Test and Twenty20 cricket, whilst Australia languishes closer to the second tier of Test cricket than the top. There is a need for administrative change, and a change of approach to the coaching of players. I’m not entirely sure of what is specifically required, but I’d love to see Steve Waugh, Shane Warne, Justin Langer and Glenn McGrath in the set-up. The players can receive technical advice from more specific sources, and have the players around the team as more mindset and group approaches rather than differentiated. If you look at the way the English bowlers bowled together, and the strong group mentality they had, that is what is successful. Previously Australia had this, with players like Andy Bichel, Michael Kasprowicz, Darren Lehmann and Stuart MacGill being able to shift in and out of the team in a seamless fashion. England did that this summer, but Australia failed to do this. Changes seemed rigid and players were trying to prove themselves rather than win the game as a team. As I said, this is just my opinion, but I know something drastic needs to be done, rather than simply dismissing it as something we will naturally get out of.

I’d like to know everyone else’s opinions, so leave a comment, or send us an email at whosplayingwho@gmail.com, and tell me your squads for the Sri Lanka series, and the next Ashes, or what you think needs to be done with the Australian line-up.

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