I cannot really say that the present Australian team is the worst in its history in terms of results but what I can say is that there are some issues in the team selection. Over the years, it has been a tradition of the Australian selectors to prefer experienced, wise heads over new players. This is evident in the selection of players like Mike Hussey who came into international cricket with 10 thousand first class runs. The strength of the team was evident in the fact that people like Brad Hodge and Mike Kasprowicz never really got extended runs in the team. However, now that line of thinking has gone for a toss and the selectors are experimenting with younger players with not so appeasing results.
There are several questions that can be raised with the way the national team is being selected nowadays. The first question is why are experienced batsmen like Adam Voges, Craig White, David Hussey, Marcus North and George Bailey being kept out of the test team when the think tank would have clearly benefited from having these players in the team. The Aussie selectors are unable to understand the simple fact that these players have performed well previously for the national team in the limited opportunities that they have received and have the wherewithal to perform for the national team again. Even guys like Mike Klinger, who have performed well in domestic cricket over the years, should be given the chance over the newbies that are presently giving Michael Clarke the blues.
As far as the all-rounders go, I seriously think that players like James Hopes and Andrew McDonald are being shamefully neglected by the selectors who are hoping youngsters like Maxwell, Faulkner and Henriques to produce the goods when they are so clearly not ready for the challenge. I think even Dan Christian can be given some chance given the promise he has shown. As far as wicketkeeping is concerned, Haddin needs to be the number one choice with Paine and Wade as his understudies. The situation is similar in bowling as well.
At present, the only experienced fast bowler in the team is Peter Siddle. He needs to be backed up by experienced fast bowlers like Hilfenhaus, McKay, Harris, Johnson and Bollinger. But the selectors have chosen to rely on greenhorns Pattinson, Bird, Cummins, Starc, Coulter-Nile and Richardson for the fast bowling duties. It is all good to empower youth but you also need to look at the results. The focus on youth has not been very fruitful for Aussies as is evident from the thrashing they have received at the hands of sides like South Africa, India and Sri Lanka in various formats in the last few matches. The youngsters too have been breaking down – Cummins and Pattinson have already had several career threatening injuries. So some changes in thought process are required here as well.
Coming to spin bowling, I really think Nathan Lyon needs to be given a respite and Nathan Hauritz needs to be brought back. Both of them can form a potent combination on the subcontinental pitches. I think it is also essential that Beer is reinstated into the national team as soon as possible. Doherty can be used in the limited overs matches where I think he well be more effective given the stifling nature of his bowling.
I think the Australian selectors can follow a strategy where they can use the new players, whom they like, in the one day and T20 matches where they will get a taste of international cricket and be ready for higher duties as and when they come calling. Better player management needs to be done if Australia wants to regain its numero uno spot in world cricket – it’s not that they don’t have the talent, they just need to pick the right guys. It is also necessary that the selectors admit they have made some mistakes and go back to the tried and tested ways that have helped them get to the top.