Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Australia's Ashes Ladder

Given that an English Ashes ladder was complied, it's only fair that an Australian one is also done. The same rules apply - each player has been ranked according to who is most likely to play in the series, from most likely to 25th.

1) Ricky Ponting
With the bat, Ponting has been in irresistible form. Despite the fact, the same thing can't be said about his captaincy, there is no way Ponting won't be the first person selected.

2) Michael Clarke
The guy they call Pup has turned into the Big Dog. In 2008, he scored 1,063 runs at 51. Not only a key batsman, he is a handy bowler and fantastic fielder in possession of a great cricket brain. He will be primed for a big one after averaging just 37 in the 2005 Ashes.

3) Stuart Clark
His reputation may have faded a bit due to being sidelined for most of the Australian summer but there is no doubt that if healthy he is one of the first guys picked. He will be relentless on the English batsmen.

4) Mitchell Johnson
He became the spearhead of the Australian attack in the absence of Brett Lee and Stuart Clark. Had it not been for the Queenslander, it may have been even uglier against South Africa. The left-armer provides much needed variety to the Australian attack.

5) Brad Haddin
Being the successor to Adam Gilchrist was never going to be easy and after a slow start, Haddin has found his feet at Test level. He smashed 169 against New Zealand and then followed it up with a good series against South Africa. Gilchrist averaged 45 against England so they will be more than relieved to see the back of him. Saying this, they shouldn't underestimate Haddin.

6) Simon Katich
With Matthew Hayden gone, Katich becomes the senior opener. Since his return to the side after a three year absence, he has been nothing but exceptional amassing 1129 runs at 56. He will be another player keen to atone for the 2005 series.

7) Michael Hussey
It's no coincidence that Australia's recent losses to South Africa and India coincided with Hussey being off the boil. He is a still plank in Australia's middle order and will be hopeful of being able to return to his form from the last Ashes series where he averaged 92.

8) Brett Lee
Lee has had a difficult 12 months. He's had to shoulder more of the load since the retirement of Glenn McGrath, he's been dealing with the break-up of his marriage and he has struggled with injury. In 2008, Lee bowled 580 overs, some 200 more than his previous highest for a year. One whose experience will be much-needed if Australia wants to take 20 wickets.

9) Phil Jaques
If healthy, he would have the inside running to replace Matthew Hayden. Averages 47 in Test cricket and has the benefit of knowing the English conditions as well as anyone due to all his years spent playing county cricket.

10) Bryce McGain
He was Australia's Number One spinner until a shoulder injury sent him to the back of the line. Fortunately for him none of the alternatives in Jason Krejza, Cameron White and Nathan Hauritz look like they would prevent him from being in the team should he be fit. No doubt his age is a concern as is his lack of experience at this level.

11) Andrew Symonds
When it comes to Andrew Symonds there are a lot of ifs but there is no doubt that he has the talent and class to be in Australia's First XI. He has the X-factor which makes him such a dangerous cricketer and he can bob up anywhere be it with the bat, ball or in the field. Ponting wants him in the team, the question is, how much does Symonds really want to be there?

12) Phil Hughes
Hughes is the next cab off the rank as far as up and coming Australian cricketers. He has steadily been making runs with some pressing for him to have replaced Matthew Hayden in Sydney. Will be ready and waiting should one of the Top 6 falter.

13) Shaun Tait
Seems as though Tait has been around for a long time but yet has only played in three Test matches. He made his debut in the 2005 Ashes series where he played the last two Tests and then was out of the team for over two years due to injuries and problems with his temperament. His selection is a gamble because you don't know what you are going to get but if everything clicks he is a matchwinner.

14) Shane Watson
If he was fit there is no doubt he would be in the team. The problem is that he hasn't been which is why guys like Anthony McDonald have been picked to play for Australia. Was Australia's best bowler in India and just when it looked like he was in the clear, he broke down against New Zealand. Most of the cricket betting is split on whether or not Watson has a long term future.

15) Jason Krejza
It's difficult to know what the selectors think of Krejza. He finally got to bowl in India and took 12 wickets on debut but these came at 358 runs. He played against South Africa at the WACA and again leaked runs although this time without the wickets to show for it. If there is a problem with McGain you would think Krejza would be next in line.

16) David Hussey
Has been apprenticed via the one-day team and has the benefit of knowing the English conditions well.

17) Marcus North
People out West weren't happy when Anthony McDonald was picked. They felt North was unlucky not to get the nod. North is an exceptional cricketer and would be a handy addition to the Australian team. A veteran of the county circuit.

18) Peter Siddle
Came from left field to tour India but has adapted reasonably well. Not a first team selection but adequate back-up

19) Doug Bollinger
Ditto with Bollinger. He will only play should injuries strike.

20) Ben Hilfenhaus
Was thought to be next in line for a bowling spot but then both Siddle and Bollinger sneaked by. A consistent performer for Tasmania, he would have no problem making the step-up.

21) Shaun Marsh
The son of Geoff has been groomed though the one-day side. Recently, David Warner has stolen much of his limelight but Marsh was the star of the inaugural Indian Premier League tournament.

22) Adam Voges
One of the young guns of Australian cricket who can do it all. Has been in the wings for a while and would not disappoint if selected.

23) Nathan Hauritz
For some reason, Hauritz remains in the calculations of the Australian selectors although it's baffling to know why. To go from Shane Warne to Hauritz is like going from a Ferrari to a picture of a car. Now and then he can bowl a good ball but I wouldn't be holding my breath.

24) Brad Hodge
It appears as though the selectors won't pick Brad Hodge but if there is a problem with one of the batsman, he should be recalled. Has never really done anything wrong while playing for Australia so his treatment seems quite bizarre.

25) David Warner
They may take him along for the ride of an Ashes Tour, but without having played a First Class match, it seems highly unlikely all the hype will translate into a Baggy Green. For those who fancy some Ashes betting, you may want to take the outstanding cricket odds you would get on Warner making his Test debut during the Ashes.

Bubbling under
Batsmen: Michael Klinger, Chris Rogers, Luke Pomersbach
Keepers: Luke Ronchi, Tim Paine
Bowlers: Dirk Nannes, Ryan Harris, Brett Geeves

David Wiseman is a sports journalist, who writes about cricket and tennis for Betfair Australia. He is particularly looking forward to the Ashes, and is keeping himself occupied with horse racing form until it begins.


Dean Sherr said...

Tait lacks the fitness for test cricket, he tires too quickly to last 5 days which is why he's only playing in ODI cricket right now. Siddle is a certain starter unless he gets injured or falls seriously out of favour, definitely more likely than Tait, Symonds and probably even Lee.

Warner looks set to be dropped from the One Day team too, I wouldn't put a cent on him making his test debut this year. Hodge is most certainly stiff but I'd say Rogers is probably even more likely than him and Warner too.

David Wiseman said...

Good point Dean. Much will also depend on who does what in South Africa.

Tim said...

Great stuff!
I eagerly await the performances of McGain and Hughes in South Africa.
And I have great doubts over whether Symonds will actually make it to the Ashes - can he get his act together?

David Wiseman said...

We'll have to wait and see Tim.
There is the IPL and Twenty20 World Cup before then. Both have the ability to make or break him..

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