The Australian selectors have chosen the team for the first Test against India. As is the custom in case of home teams for these series, a 12-man squad has been chosen with the squad’s makeup clearly in favour of the pace-friendly conditions that are expected to be on offer at the Gabba. Before we attempt to scrutinize the role each member of the playing XI will be executing in the Test it would be worthwhile to look at the series from the entire team’s perspective.
To start with, it needs to be remembered that in the last Test series that Australia played it was soundly beaten 2-0 by Pakistan. Even if we accept that the conditions at the UAE were anything but to the Aussies’ liking and they were missing players like Watson, still the result would have hurt the team’s pride no end.
Success in the series at home against India will help some of the wounds to heal and also give the selectors the idea of the side that they would like to take to England for the Ashes scheduled to take place not too long after the World Cup, where Australia is regarded as one of the hot favorites. The Aussies will also look to avenge the humiliating 4-0 loss they suffered in India when they visited the country during 2012.
Now that a fair understanding of the team’s expectations has been achieved, let’s have a look at the individual members of the Australian team for the first Test:
Michael Clarke: He has been selected on the assumption that he will be fit for the ensuing Test series. His record against India, especially at home, is nothing short of stupendous and much will depend on him if Australia is to relive the halcyon days of 2011-12. His imaginative and thoughtful captaincy will also be a major plus for the team.
Brad Haddin: The deputy of the side, this New South Wales glovesman is also a key contributor down the order with the bat. With the 2015 Ashes likely to be his swansong he will like to use this series to get into some form.
Ryan Harris: The experienced fast bowler has been the most important cog in the wheel that is Australian Test attack and has contributed to their victories against South Africa in their turf. He is coming back from injury but having played some first class cricket going into the first Test he will be pumped up to play his naturally aggressive role with the ball.
Josh Hazlewood: The new kid on the block is known to bowl quick, is fairly accurate and thanks to his significant height extracts plenty of bounce from the Australian pitches. While he might not play in the first test right away his selection is testament to the pace bowling riches Australia enjoys at the moment.
Mitchell Johnson: The fiery left arm paceman can work over the best batsmen in the business and against the relatively young Indian side will be looking to get it up to their necks and ribcages to achieve the much needed psychological advantage. He can also score some quick runs down the order, which only adds to his value to the side.
Nathan Lyon: It remains to be seen if the premier spinner in Australia gets a chance in this game but if chosen he will definitely enjoy the bounce at Brisbane, even if not the sight of Indian batsmen dancing down the wicket to him!
Mitchell Marsh: The young all rounder from Western Australia is being billed as the new Watson and he has the capability to live up to the billing. He is a good batsman and can also perform the role of stock bowler in Tests with elan. He has also performed creditably in the Test series against Pakistan.
Chris Rogers: The opener who has made a remarkable comeback to the Australian team in the last year or so, has had a quiet series against Pakistan. He would look to this series to make amends and cement his spot for the Ashes in England, where he has had plenty of success in first class games.
Peter Siddle: The workhorse and unsung hero of the Australian quick bowling lineup, it is said that Siddle has lost some of his pace and is being constantly overlooked in favour of younger and quicker bowlers. However, his capability to perform the holding role and also pick wickets at the same time could be what has got him into the team for the first Test. He also has a good enough record against India.
Steven Smith: Right now the best batsman in Australia in terms of performance, Smith will play a major role at number 5 in the batting order. He is also a capable leg spinner and excellent anywhere in the field. In many ways he would be the go-to-guy for Australia.
David Warner: The belligerent opener enjoys tearing attacks and has a special affinity for Indian bowling going by his record against them. Together with Rogers he will be expected to assert Australia’s dominance with the bat right from the get go.
Shane Watson: He can be regarded as the Jacques Kallis of Australia in more ways than one. He will bat at 3, also bowl several overs throughout the day and field in the slips. The impact that he creates in the team was evident in the UAE when Australia missed his capability to dominate bowling attacks and his experience with the ball.