Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Alternative Australian Ashes XI

Amidst all the talk of the Australians England are facing, here is a side of those who didn’t even make the 17-man squad.
1) Mark Cosgrove
A big left-handed biffer, ‘old school’ in fitness and South Australian to boot: there is rather a lot of Darren Lehman in Cosgrove. His talent, which earned him three ODIs four years ago at the age of 22, is beyond question, as is his hunger for runs – just ask Glamorgan fans – but Cosgrove’s physique just doesn’t fit the template of a modern cricketer.

2) Phil Jaques
Fearless and superb at scything the ball through the offside, Jaques was likened to Adam Gilchrist by Steve Waugh. When given his Test opportunity in 2007/08, Jaques proved he had his technique was good enough, but was injured at the most inopportune of moments; despite averaging 47 in Tests and making 108 in his last innings, he now lacks even one of the 25 Australian contracts. As he scored two hundreds in three days in tour matches during England’s last visit, England may be slightly relieved.

3) Brad Hodge
There are strong suggestions in Australia that Ricky Ponting does not get on with Hodge: conspiracy theories are needed to explain how someone averaging 56 in Tests, including scoring 203* against South Africa, could have been limited to six. Having retired from first-class cricket last year, Hodge’s one-day form has been jaw-dropping, with seven hundreds in his last 16 games and an average of 86 over these, yet he hasn’t played an ODI for three years.

4) David Hussey
Many are saying one Hussey in the Aussie Test side is one too many – but it might be one too few. David is the Stuart Law of his generation – except Law at least got one Test cap. He averages an extraordinary 55 at first-class level, while plundering his runs at a strike-rate of 71, but perceived weaknesses to the short ball have counted against him.

5) Cameron White (captain)
Apparently you need to be more than cocky, blonde and Victorian to be a successful leg-spinner. White played all four Tests in India in 2008, whilst batting at number eight – but if another Test appearance comes, it will be in the middle-order, where his propensity for six-hitting in the limited over’s formats is so impressive.

6) Andrew McDonald
A wicket-to-wicket bowler who puts the military in military medium, MacDonald is not the most glamorous cricketer Australia has ever produced. But his nagging style proved effective in four Tests against South Africa in 2009, whilst his batting is adaptable and increasingly effective, as three state centuries at 93 this season so far attest to. He made his Test debut at six, and is a much better player now; the perception that he lacks sufficient talent may just need revisiting.

7) Luke Ronchi (wicket-keeper)
New-Zealand born, Ronchi’s audacity with the bat resembles the best of Brendan McCullum. That much was shown as he blitzed 64 off 28 balls in his second ODI innings, against West Indies in 2008. A collapse in form followed, but an average of 47 in state cricket last season suggested he could rival Tim Paine to succeed Brad Haddin.

8) Jason Krezja
Krezja is the owner of probably the most extraordinary Test debut figures in the history of the game: 12 for 358. On debut in India two years ago, he bled runs but always turned the ball enough to threaten the perennial tormenters of spin bowling. Still raw, Krezja needed confidence instilled in him, but was instead dispensed with after one poor Test. Self-belief shattered, a place in the Tasmanian side now often eludes him. His career is a textbook study of how not to handle a spinner.

9) Brett Lee
With his arch competitiveness and generous sporting spirit, this Ashes series would cherish Lee – and how he would cherish it. Reoccurring injuries have forced his first-class retirement but he could well terrorise England in the ODIs after the Tests, just as he did last year in England.

10) Shaun Tait
After the 100mph slingers, hostility and stump-shattering accuracy in the ODIs in England this year, there was much talk Tait would end his premature first-class retirement, with Ponting encouraging him to showcase his reverse-swinging skills in Tests. The rumours were ended by the realisation his body wouldn’t be up to it. As with Lee, English fears over the ODI devastation he could cause will be outweighed by relief he won’t be appearing in the Tests.

11) Darren Pattinson
Pattinson could conceivably have been appearing for either side this winter, having lived in Australia from the age of six before playing a Test for England in 2008; and his brother will play for Australia within a few years. Made a scapegoat for England’s defeat, Pattinson has enjoyed a brilliant few months, including a championship for Notts and 8/35 in a game for Victoria. England should be getting advice from him on bowling to Australia’s batsmen in their conditions.

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