I feel like I have to write about the cricket, as I’ve been itching to the last couple of weeks. The last time I wrote it was before the third test against South Africa, after the humiliation of Hobart. Every man and his dog was grizzling about the Australian team at that point, and urging change, and I was one of them. Changes they made, though, unsurprisingly, not necessarily the changes I would have made.
Handscomb’s elevation was a big tick for me – I think he’s a long time Australian test player, and potential future captain. What marks him out is that he’s got such a good head on his shoulders. His selection has been well and truly vindicated. After 3 innings he must be averaging around 95, including one century.
Maddinson I was less confident about. This was a captain’s pick I reckon, championed by Mark Waugh. Maddinson has talent, but in contrast to Handscomb I don’t see him as a mature batsman. He’s better suited to the shorter forms of the game. After 3 innings he has the grand total of 5 runs to his name, and a dropped catch.
I preferred Patterson or Maxwell, or Travis Head, who has paid his dues, is younger, and who is much cleverer at the batting crease. All 3 are better fielders (Maxwell exceptional), and both Maxwell and Head bowl some handy off spin. Head is a future test batsman, as I think Patterson will be too, and Maxwell has been poorly managed (the most recent controversy ridiculous). I know it seems clever after the fact, but I just don’t see Maddinson making it as a test batsman – who may be one of those he flourishes in the limited over versions (though his fielding will count against him). If I were a selector I’d be urging him to go away, work on his game, his fielding, and get properly fit.
Renshaw got the place of Burns as opener. This was a bold selection, but the right kind of bold. Renshaw is only 20, but had the score on the board. He’s been obdurate, which is what you want from an opener. He’ll have his ups and downs, but I think he’ll be around for the long term. Bonus is he’s an excellent slipper too.
Nevill was dropped for Wade. This is i didn’t like. I don’t have much time for Wade as either a cricketer or a human being. There’s no doubt that Nevill is the much superior keeper, what counted against him was Wade’s supposedly superior batting and belligerent spirit. Can’t say this has been a great success so far. Nevill went away and made 180 for NSW, while Wade has largely failed. I would expect that Nevill is a big chance to be number one keeper come the Indian tour. Longer term Whiteman is the man.
In any cases these changes refreshed and revitalised the side. I was kicking myself after the fact for not putting money on Australia to beat South Africa in the third test. With a reinvigorated team up against the saffers getting over their own trials I thought it was a good thing. It was too, Oz winning easily, and both Handscomb and Renshaw impressive.
New Zealand then came over and were comfortably beaten in a 3 match ODI series. Notable in that was the return of Pat Cummins.
As I write we’re about 3 quarters of the way through the day-night first test against Pakistan, which we will likely win today.
Australian cricket always bounces back. It’s pretty resilient and very proud. Over the past 5-6 years we’ve been competitive to the point of being ranked the top ranked test team in the world, but there’s been a feeling of patching holes. Now that we’ve taken a punt on promising youth I feel as if we might be on the right road towards building a stable, strong team for years to come. Touch wood.
None of that obviates my other stated concerns in earlier posts, but I think in the wash-up there will be changes there too. There’s such widespread concern and misgiving about some CA policies that the status quo will be challenged. From here I’m backing us in.