There is a God. And his name is Brian Lara. Just kidding. The Australian selectors have been overruled by external circumstances, some may think, by a higher authority. Whatever – the main thing is that Shane Watson is taking his place not in the Australian Test team for the first Test. He looks set to be replaced by Michael Clarke.
I don’t want to be unkind to Watson. It’s not his fault he was selected. I feel a bit sorry for him, as support from the public and various icons has been decidedly underwhelming. However, as I feel very strongly that he is not the man for the job, and he is not suffering too drastically, I’m very pleased that he is not playing. And of course, one man’s misfortune presents opportunity to a lucky other. It seems that the lucky other will be Michael Clarke. I still think there is scope for Gillie at six and five specialist bowlers.
I will assume that it will be Michael Clarke. Few are presented with the chance he now has and he must take it with both hands. I am reminded of the 1948-49 tour of South Africa when Keith Miller was inexplicably left off the boat. Politics. This wrong was righted only when the lion-hearted Bill Johnston was unfortunately injured in a car accident. Miller answered the call and dominated with the ball and made healthy contributions with the bat. On the 1995 tour of the West Indies, when McDermott and Fleming were sent home injured, McGrath stepped up to super star status and Brendon Julian, who had no serious prospects of playing a Test, not only played, but made a significant contribution, especially in the victorious first Test. While Julian didn’t leave much of a mark on the map of international cricket, he has still managed a career in show biz. In 1997, Paul Reiffel, ideally suited to English conditions was contentiously left out of the squad. Only an injury to the hapless Gillespie saw him join the squad, leap frog some other bowlers and play an important part, especially in the 4th Test at Leeds.
I admit that Clarke has been ordinary in Tests over the past 12-18 months. Clarke’s Test average for his last ten Tests is a very ordinary 30.26. I have attached a graph that plots the progress of his average over his career. That line has only one direction. He was dropped and reselected and even then, hasn’t performed. However, some players deserve perseverance and I believe he is one. Anyone who saw his very first innings and his first innings here at home, would know that. He is a special player. His tour of England was disappointing but let me point this out. He had five scores between 25 and 40, along with two half centuries. He had very few failures and plenty of starts which says that he wasn’t hopelessly out of touch or out of his depth.
Of course, the English have their own selection problems. First Tresco bit the dust and now Bell is in doubt. It seems that Ed Joyce, the Irish born batsman, may be plucked from his cosy lounge room in Middlesex and thrust into the first Test! Opportunity knocks!
No more sleeps. By the time most of read this, it will be a mere matter of a couple of hours.