Runs please (the Clarke type, not the Warner type)

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March 2, 2013 by dixwah

2nd Test preview

They say the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.

Maybe like Shane Watson expecting to score a hundred the next time he walks out to bat (boom-tish).

But after Australia’s eight-wicket loss to India in the First Test, I’m calling for as few changes as required.

Why? Frontier psychiatrist (that boy needs therapy) etc. Despite the lopsided result in Chennai, I’m claiming Australia actually wasn’t too far away.

Yes, Clarke made runs and Pattinson took wickets and we still didn’t get there. That hurts. For Australia to be competitive over the next twelve months, one or both of these guys needs to do the business.

Despite our seriously out-gunned batting order (Clarke excluded), we eeked out a surprisingly decent 380 first time up and an even more surprising 241 on day four.

The major pickle was closing out the Indian tail. Yes MS Dhoni batted well and at times the Australian bowlers were without answers. But two dropped catches in the early stages of a 140-run 9th wicket partnership certainly didn’t help.

There’s a lot of hypotheticals involved, but to be competitive in India Australia needed to take its chances, and we didn’t.

Speculation continues about the bowling line-up, with two spinners the prevailing theory. But when one of those spinners happens to be Xavier Doherty, I become increasingly nervous  – haunted by Navjot Sidhu popping Gavin Robertson into the second tier for fun when I was at my most impressionable.

Is it wrong to still have a man-crush on Navjot Sidhu?

Is it wrong to still have a man-crush on Navjot Sidhu?

‘You always play two spinners in India’ is not a winning argument. You play your best-balanced and strongest line-up at all times sounds far better, but with rotation and Watson the batsman version 2.0 this seems overwhelmingly unlikely too.

Notice I didn’t mention Henriques in there. Credit to him. Not his fault he got picked, like Watson or potentially Doherty. The proof is in the pudding. Criticism of Shaun Marsh or Marcus North stopped as soon as they scored debut hundreds. It then came straight back when they went to shit. Beware.

Henriques’ knocks in Chennai put the top order (all future bagging of Australian batsman obviously misses Clarke) to shame. Balanced, poised, well played. The tough part (particularly for someone who we’ve known as richly talented but remarkably inconsistent) is to produce again and again. The team certainly needs it.

I don’t mind the bowling tactics. Dix Chennai Analysis theorem reckons Siddle and Henriques were due for the donkey work, with Starc, Pattinson and at times Lyon the strikers. Only Starc didn’t perform under that framework.

Give Starc one more go or make him the (scape)goat of Chennai? Using the Doherty precedence, with Mitchell Johnson in the boot and Jackson Bird back in Oz, I’d be inclined to stick with status quo.

One final comment: Australia’s ‘last frontier’ win in India in 2004 was built on the wicket taking exploits of Jason Gillespie. Yep! Supported by McGrath, Kasprowicz and Warne, Dizzy took 20 wickets in the four Tests and we had the series wrapped up prior to the debacle in Mumbai.

Pattinson is well on his way to 20 (even with possible rotation). The bowlers can do the business, as long as the 2013 versions of Clarke (Clarke), Martyn (Hughes) and Gilchrist (Wade) bring it.

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