I’ve got a bad hankering for some cricket. Not just any cricket – good cricket. No, great cricket rather. Of course, that means Australia winning, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask. Watching Australia walk over England for the Ashes and win the World Cup, then watching the odd match of our tour in India has managed to satiate my cricket addiction for a while, but it’s back now.
The test squad for the Summer schedule was announced yesterday. I had made faux-wagers with friends that New South Welshman Stuart MacGill would get in against that riff-raff Victorian Brad Hogg. Well, Cricket Australia threw a curveball to us all and picked both in a thirteen-man squad:
Ricky Ponting (c), Adam Gilchrist, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Phil Jaques, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait.
No surprise about Phil Jaques either. Chris Rogers of Western Australia, the only person who could have given Jaques a run for the spot, will be Mathew Hayden’s replacement in a few years. Unless they decide to mix around with the order. Gilchrist will be replaced by Brad Haddin obviously – Haddin was taken on tour with the side recently as a specialist batsman. Part of the ‘grooming’ process I suspect.
Ponting came out and said he expects to see Michael Clarke as captain of the team one day. I wouldn’t be at all surprised with that decision, and would support it if these final years of the more experienced players saw them play a ‘mentor’ role of sorts for Clarke. A winning team isn’t created by the captain alone, and with so many veterans leaving the game, their collective knowledge and experiences need to be handed down to be built upon.
I say built upon because the game is changing. Flash-and-dash playing is the preferred style- so much so that a five-day test is becoming a rarity. The experience that the team ‘elder’ have is valuable, though is accustomed to a different style of game to that which we will see in the future as the prevalence of Twenty20 increases. One-Days change tests when they became part of routine – I fully expect Twenty20 too as well. And, thus, a new approach to the game will be necessary – different to what has come before. Though, saying that, Gilchrist and Ponting are the two best players who could make that transition. I guess this is why I see them playing ‘mentor’ to the younger cricketer: they both have the mind for it.
India are enjoying the fact that they won the Twenty20 World Cup. It’s an achievement on par with winning a game of backyard cricket. Twenty20 is a round of fun – not a round of skill. Ponting has regularly put this version of the game in its place when he says that they would rather focus on the other two versions, and hopes that Twenty20 doesn’t come to dominate player’s schedules. And this was before we’d even lost a Twenty20 match, so I wouldn’t say the statements spring from jealousy, rather reality.