The Australian selectors sprang a small surprise in announcing the twelve for the second Test which starts in Hobart next Thursday. Many expected either Hodge or Symonds to replace the injured Shane Watson. By selecting both players and dropping Simon Katich, the selectors have left their options open until the final 11 is named. They could do one of three things:
1. Continue the quest for an all rounder in the Test team.
2. Go with five specialist bowlers and replace Watson with MacGill. Remember that in Gilchrist, the team already possesses one of the best all
rounders the world has seen.
3. Go back to the 6-1-4 line up and give Hodge a well deserved opportunity.
Last time Katich was dropped, I had some scathing words to say. That was in Sri Lanka and the decision was made by the tour selectors. On this occasion the national selectors have had their say and it is hard to argue with. Katich has averaged just 29 in his last ten matches. Worse still, he has scored just three runs in his last three matches, from four innings. It think it’s a shame as I think Katich has what it takes. However, further analysis reveals that in his 38 innings, Katich has been dismissed 12 times for under ten (that’s 31.6% of the time) and 19 times for under 20 (50%). That’s way too many failures. I suspect that we have seen the last of The Kat. He won’t be getting nine lives.
I’m tipping that Symonds will get the nod next week. In selecting Symonds, the selectors have indicated that they are very interested in the all rounder project. Trevor Hohns had this to say: “Symonds has been in red-hot form with the bat, and his medium pace and off spin adds a lot of options to the bowling attack. He thoroughly deserves his opportunity at Test level again.” Those words would not fill Brad Hodge with high hopes. Besides, Roy and Trev are both Queenslanders. That is not withstanding that Hodge today smashed 177 from 178 balls (23 x 4, 5 x 6) against the West Indies. They stay he has good timing!
This is a huge chance for Symonds. I think there is a strong chance that he will give the Windies a touch up. His Test birth in Sri Lanka was not easy and the Windies fast medium attack on a friendly Bellerive track should suit him very well. I think Watson is about to have his place stolen. As Hohns, says, Symonds has a lot to offer, especially against sub-standard Test opposition. His main “failing” is age – Roy is an amazing athlete and he has a few years left in him yet but he is just over 30 and I believe that Watson’s youth was counting in his favour.