Friday, December 10, 2010

A LOOK AHEAD TO PERTH

And finally, it has happened! The selectors of the Australian National Cricket Team have finally realised that Marcus North needs to be dropped... and they have done just that!

Marcus North has had so many chances by now that I was almost starting to think of him as 'The Boy Who Lived'. But finally, he's been dropped from Australia's 12-man squad for the Third Ashes Test at WACA, Perth from the 16th of December 2010. Here's the 12-man squad:

Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Ricky Ponting (c), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (wk), Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Michael Beer, Ben Hilfenhaus.

It is interesting to see just how important that one statement from Shane Warne has been for the selection of Michael Beer into the Australian Test squad. But frankly, I don't see how Beer is going to get into a final XI... it cannot happen.

For Beer to play in the final XI, Australia have to play either with 2 spinners, which is quite unthinkable from an Aussie side at Perth, OR play with 6 batsmen - 5 bowlers combination... which will not be that great an idea.

So assuming that Beer does become the 12th man, Australia will be going into the Perth Test against England with a 4-man pace attack, with a leg-spinner Steven Smith and a medium pacer Shane Watson to back them up.

This team definitely gives more options to Ricky Ponting as he tries to work out a way to get 20 English wickets. But what will be interesting to see is whether the 4 Aussie pacemen can generate enough quality to ensure that Ponting has a relatively easier time as a captain at Perth than he has had so far this Ashes?

Perth, as a venue, is known for its pace and bounce. Though the fieriness of the pitch has reduced over the years, it is still amongst the faster surfaces you will find around the world. However, this does not mean any advantage for Australia. Whereas once visiting teams were scared of what treatment will be meted out to them at Perth, the tables are now turning slowly but surely. The last 3 Tests played at Perth -



2009/10 Season - Australia v West Indies - Australia on by 35 runs
2008/09 Season - Australia v South Africa - South Africa won by 6 wickets
2007/08 Season - Australia v India - India won by 72 runs

West Indies almost managed to beat Australia chasing a stiff 359... and despite their loss, it must not be forgotten that with a batting lineup missing Shivnarine Chanderpaul, they managed to score 323. In 2008/09, South Africa chased down a historic 414, and in 2007/08, India bowled Australia out for 340 defending 413.

Not only this, even when England lost by 206 runs in 2006/07, they did manage 350 in the 4th innings and South Africa scored 287 for 5 in the 4th innings in 2005/06. What I am trying to suggest is that batting on Perth is not difficult... and scores of 300+ are a norm even in the 4th innings. Matches in Perth are lost only when a batting unit suffers a collapse, which is more often than not engineered by a quick bowler.

In such a scenario, I believe that Chris Tremlett will be the best replacement for the injured Stuart Broad. He may not be as good a batter as Broad, but with the batting unit functioning so well for England at the moment, they don't really need to worry about that.

It will also be interesting to see if the English pacers will attack the Aussie skipper with short stuff at Perth. It was on this ground last year when a young Kemar Roach stuck Ponting with a nasty lifter that forced him to retire hurt for the first time in his long Test career. It may also be recalled that later in the second innings, Roach had his man out caught at short leg fending to another nasty lifter. Ponting's troubles to short-pitched bowling have been well-documented ever since. Perth 2010 might just add another chapter to this story.


Perth usually guarantees a result in the match. And given how strong England are looking at the moment and how low the Australians are feeling, I suspect that England will be fancying their chances of retaining the Ashes at WACA itself... it would be fitting to do it at the ground where the Australians had regained the Ashes 4 years ago.

2 comments:

Sanya - England Cricket Blog (jimmymycrushie.me) said...

Yup, Beer has only played 6 first class games so he couldn't be picked. I seriously appreciate the time you took out of your life to write this long post!

Shridhar Jaju said...

Hey Sanya, long time since I saw you here last!

It didn't take a lot of time. And in any case, my exams got over last month (one day before the first ball was bowled at Gabba, incidentally). So till my results are declared in January, I am going to follow and devour all the cricket that is available.

SAVE OUR TIGER!