Not saying that the test team doesn't have major issues but it isn't all gloom and doom as Australia A thrashed England Lions in every match they played last summer whilst our under 19s have finished runner-up and champions at the last 2 WCs
There is obviously talent there but the question remains as to whether the systems are in place to turn that talent into performances at the international level
Our batting has been quite poor and I don't think there's any way we could honestly turn it around in a short time without doing unrealistic (for the selectors) moves like dragging Hussy and/or Katich back into the team. Chances are even with them we'd still struggle to forge any real consistency anyway and it'd only be a band aid solution. IMO the best choice we have for the rest of the series is to stick with what we've got and hope that at least one of the young guns can step up if given some faith.
That said I'd still be dropping Watson. He's a poor test bat (I'd rather a guy who gets fewer starts but actually converts them than what Watson produces) and his fielding is IMO quite poor (the comms always seem to talk him up as a slipper but I don't think I've seen him do anything exceptional there while dropping some catches while day dreaming). IMO the only asset he really brings to the team is his bowling which I think is generally underrated but given he can't be relied upon to bowl a useful number of overs there's no way he can make the team as 3rd seamer. He also obviously has the whole cancer effect happening as well. Personally I seem to generally think Australian batting seems more fragile with Watson than without and our performances generally seem to coincide with him not being in the team.
For the rest of the Ashes in England I'd run with the below (based on the current squad).
For the medium/longer run obviously depending on form or w/e I'd go with.
Hughes - His primary issue is getting starts. Regardless of his technique once he passes 10 he's seemingly impossible to dislodge and he's not going to be able to start well against spin so he should be opening. So far this series he hasn't looked particularly troubled by pace (1 terrible shot aside) and at the very least you know you've got someone who can go long if he does get in.
Warner - Similar to Hughes in some ways. Obviously if he does well in the middle order he could stay there. IMO his key issue is temperament but he's also shown he can play some brilliant innings.
Khawaja - Not really a big fan of Khawaja but do believe he should be given a decent run now that he's in. The number of left handers at the top of the order does become a concern with his inclusion and his form in recent times hasn't been all that great.
Doolan - I'm not as big a fan of Doolan as many around here. He's made 5 centuries in 45 games at an average of 38.6 but most of those have come recently. His main advantage is that he's one of the few batsmen with recent form on his side. I do believe he's also quite a decent fielder which is a plus.
Voges/Bailey - to me both are in the same category of middle aged batsmen without the recent first class form to justify their inclusion. Both however have made runs in ODI's and are reasonable fielders. If selected either would most likely be a short-med term option until Burns or someone else forces the issue. I'd personally go with Voges myself.
Burns - I've followed Burns' career since he's started and I'd have to say he's probably one of the more rounded bats in the country when it comes to facing pace and spin (of course he still only faces domestic spin so who knows how well that will work out at international level). He's scored 5 centuries in 32 games at an average of 39.5 so he's got one of the best conversion rates out of our young batsmen but he does tend to struggle with getting starts. I personally see him as our long term 4 or 5 depending on how long Clarke hangs around for. From what I know he's also a decent fielder which is a plus.
Smith - Quite good against spin as we all know but significant weaknesses against pace. 6 centuries in 46 matches would seem reasonable (compared to the other options) but 4 of his tons were scored early in his career. If he could resolve his weakness against pace I actually think he could be quite a good 5 or 6 in the longer run.
Hartley - IMO he's a better keeper than anything else we've got and we can't keep giving away chances like we are. His batting is IMO also not much worse than Haddin or Wade.
Maddinson - Wouldn't have him near the side for several years. At the moment his runs either come in short time or not at all and I don't think he's done much when the going gets tough. Definitely one to keep watching though.
Henriques - Shouldn't be in the Test side IMO. If he can get his batting to click he could be an asset but he's also quite injury prone.
Cosgrove - Would probably be my reserve bat and could be a good replacement for Watson since he bowls using medium pace.
Silk - Early days but could be a batsmen for the long term as well.
As to the main question asked in the title I don't personally think we're that dire and at the very least things can only really get better from here. The fact of the matter is that we have 1 settled batsmen in the team (Clarke). Other poor batting teams generally have at least 3 guys who've been part of the team consistently for ages (E.G. WI, NZ, PAK). Watson's the closest we have to stability outside of Clarke and he's pretty much always injured. IMO build a bit more stability and things will start to turn around.
Short Term = 1 Year
Medium Term = 2 Years
Long Term = 3 Years
If he had done justice to his talent, Oz would have a dominant opener, world-class middle order player (Clarke) and you can work around that
Instead we have world-class middle order player who is permanently facing the new ball, 3 Bairstows, a mental midget and a 35yo who is basically a debutant
The point is, you have to start somewhere and every team goes through transitional periods. This is a particularly painful one for Australia but it's never quite as bad as it looks after a heavy defeat.
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I don't think Bairstow's as good as the others though.
Haha, Flib, knew I shouldn't have added Kenya into the mix. Not going to continue though, because UK really are doing great in the sporting world.
Nice post Justo, what do you make of Burns county cricket form? I do really enjoy the way he plays his cricket, he's quite a natural player who kind of reminds me of Clarke early days. Bailey and Voges do seem to be branded together of late, they are quite similar I agree, and wish one of them was added to the squad when Warner was suspended. Bailey is still 30 so he would still have the opportunity to play quite a long career and offer leadership if given the opportunity - wish he didn't suck so much last Shield campaign though (Voges was almost as bad).
Its pretty much impossible to mount an irresistible case for any batsman away from the squad at the moment, due to their inconsistency.
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Let's be honest here, there is still light ahead of the tunnel IMO.
Watson - should be moved back down the order, I mean he's not an opener originally unlike Rogers and Hughes. Probably can still have a role in the side as at least he can bowl and can make starts, but he's clearly done little with the bat since the 2010/11 Ashes.
Rogers - an interesting case. Old, but has dominated domestic cricket in the past. Looks sometimes solid but has had a knack of getting out to poor deliveries. A series by series basis, if he fails here then move towards someone else.
Khawaja - deserves to be the #3, he needs a fair go at Test cricket to see whether he sinks or swim.
Hughes - should open, it's what he's done for most of his career. Otherwise, give him at #6 a go. If he struggles there, then discard him.
Clarke - obviously keep. Only batsman who's worth his weight in piss. Will be mighty annoyed if he retires.
Smith - shows balls at least. Keep him in the side, plus he can occasionally bowl well.
Warner - isn't even scoring runs for Australia A. Needs some big scores to get back in the side, but has more natural talent than most which I suppose is a good start.
Cowan - he's 31, never dominated Shield cricket and has been mediocre. I know he's a decent, intelligent bloke, but he really isn't test match material. Would never had gotten anywhere in stronger times.
I think that Top 6 should remain our top 6 for the near future, with Warner coming in for Rogers sometime within the next 12 months or if some of our other batsmen still can't hack test cricket. Many of these guys are young, done well at Shield level, and some of them show fight, so our batting stocks could be worse. Things should go up within time.
We have other problems, but none nearly as concerning as our batting.
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