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Thread: Australia’s preparation for the 2007 World Cup

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    School Boy/Girl Captain Western Warrior's Avatar
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    Australia’s preparation for the 2007 World Cup

    1. Michael Hussey
    2. Phil Jacques
    3. Ricky Ponting (capt)
    4. Damien Martyn
    5. Michael Clarke
    6. Adam Gilchrist (wkt)
    7. Andrew Symonds
    8. James Hopes
    9. Brad Hogg
    10. Brett Lee
    11. Glen McGrath

    12th man Stuart Clark

    One can tell the World Cup is around the corner as our one-day international side is going through yet another ‘rebuilding’ phase. It seems to happen 12 to 18 months before every World Cup.

    I have been watching cricket for nearly 20-years and have seen this rebuilding phase occur in the past. Until recently I could always see what the selectors where trying to achieve; the building of a balanced side which combined youth with experience, and our past record at the World Cup shows that the selectors have, by and large, managed to get it right.

    That is until recently. I have to admit that, as the situation currently stands, I have absolutely no idea what the selectors are trying achieve, nor can I identify any sort of coherent guiding philosophy. They seem to be throwing darts in the dark and hoping that some of them hit the board.

    The dropping of Matthew Hayden from the one side is understandable. A protracted form slump at test level was only overcome after Hayden ‘re-invented’ his batting style, going from aggressive dominator of bowling attacks to an ‘accumulator’. It is apparent that this style of batting was seen as unsuitable for an opening one-day international batsman.

    However, his replacement, Simon Katich is an unusual choice. Hayden averaged 40.11 with a Strike Rate of 75.91. Katich averages 30.00 with a Strike Rate of 75.06. If aggression and dominance is what the selectors are looking for from their opening pair then the answer does not lie with Simon Katich.

    A far better alternative would be Phil Jacques, who made a chanceless 94 on debut, the highest score of any Australian batsman debuting in a one-day international. An unorthodox batsman, capable of inventive stroke play Phil possesses the aggression and shot selection required to establish rapid and large run platforms for the middle order to exploit.

    Our other current opening batsman is Damien Martyn. A classical and elegant player Damien Martyn is, in my opinion, not suited to be an opener. Martyn was elevated to the number 2 position after a brutal 96 of 56 opening in a 20/20 match against South Africa. His masterful performance in this match was deceptive as the bowling styles and philosophies employed in a 20/20 match bear no relation to what one can expect in a 50 over one day international. Therefore strong performances opening in a 20/20 match should not be used to predict someone’s performance in the slightly longer version of the game.

    Martyn is much more suited to his previous number 4 batting position where his footwork and ease against spin bowling would see him exploit the medium pace and spin bowling that is inevitably encountered in the 20 to 30 over period when number 4 batsman traditionally come into bat.

    Partnering Phil Jacques should be Michael Hussey. Hussey is currently seen – and being used – as Australia’s new Michael Bevan, a role which sells Hussey short (no disrespect intended to Michael Bevan). Hussey is a classic and complete batsman, equally at home against spin, swing and fast, short-pitched bowling. He currently possesses both a monumental average of 104.14 and an equally impressive Strike Rate of 94.80. A Jacques/Hussey opening partnership would provide those rapid and large run platforms the selectors are looking for.

    No change is required at number 3. Ricky Ponting, despite questions over his captaincy from some quarters, is, I believe, the man who can lead Australia to a record 3rd world cup. Currently perceived as the best batsman currently playing in both forms of the game, Ricky can take a game away from any team should the mood so take him. He does come at the ball too hard early on in his innings but once set he can destroy bowling attacks. A little patience until he has established himself at the crease is all he needs to become to complete batsman.

    With Damien Martyn returning to his number 4 position I would like to turn my attention to the number 5 and 6 batting position currently held by Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke respectively.

    I personally find Andrew Symonds to be one of the most frustrating players currently on the international scene. Not unlike Shahid Afridi, Symonds is the sort of batsman who can totally and utterly destroy a bowling attack. When on song one can almost imagine the opposition bowlers engaging in a quick game of ‘Rock, Paper, Scissor’ to determine who the next unfortunately soul should be to give Symonds some more batting practice.

    Yet, what makes him so frustrating is that like Afridi, Symonds seems to be unsure as to where exactly this talent comes from and how to call upon it when it is needed. As such I find him too unpredictable to remain at number 5. I would instead bring him in at number 7 where he can feast on tired or inexperienced bowlers during the death.

    Instead I would elevate Michael Clarke to number 5 and let him make that position his home. Michael Clarke is definitely one of the new breed of one-day batsman. Quick, fit and inventive he can adapt both his batting style and his mentality depending on the situation. Should he come in after the openers and top order have scored 200+ at 6 an over he has the shot selection to maintain such a run rate. However, should he come in when Australia is five for very little he also has the patience and speed to steal quick singles and re-establish the momentum that may have been lost. This, coupled with the ability to bowl some more than handy left arm leg spin gives his captain plenty of options.

    People have probably been wondering, ‘where the hell is Gilchrist’, well here he is, coming it at number 6. Adam Gilchrist has been one half of Australia’s one-day opening partnership for over 200 games yet age is visibly and inevitably taking his. At 34 (turning 35 in November 06) Gilchrist is beginning to show the signs of being unable to deal with the workload of an opening wicketkeeper batsman. If he is to remain a fixture in Australia’s one-day side and if he is to represent us as a wicketkeeper in the 2007 World Cup then a move down the order will be essential.

    Frankly I cannot see a problem with Adam coming in at number 6. As stated earlier, a number 6 batsman rationally comes into the game at the 30 to 35 over mark. A period where part time spin and medium pace bowlers are used in order to maintain the oppositions over-rate and to break up a batsman’s concentration through varied pace and movement. I doubt this will pose too much of a problem for Gilchrist who currently possesses a strike rate of over 95 and a well known appetite for part time bowlers. However, more importantly, coming in at number 6 will give him time to recover from his wicket keeping duties should Australia be batting second.

    At number 8 we have what seems to be the answer to the question “Where is the next Ian Harvey”. Despite never scoring a half-century or taking 4 wickets in a match Ian Harvey’s contribution to Australian limited overs cricket was invaluable. A phenomenal fielder, powerful batsman and bowler of the best slower ball in the business Ian’s departure left a large hole in Australia’s lower order, a hole that James Hopes can hopefully fill.

    Combining intelligent and innovative batting with bowling in the low to mid 130km/h, James has shown that he has the potential of bowling first change or at the death. The only thing lacking seems to be a genuine slower ball but I doubt this is more than a phone call to ‘The Freak’ away.

    At number 9 I would cement Brad Hogg as a starting member of our ODI XI. This insistence of using him as a super-sub simply makes no sense as far as I am concerned. Despite their talents Symonds and Clarke are part time spinners at the best of times and to rely on them to provide the variation in our bowling attack is bound to fail more often than it will succeed. With uncertainty clouding Shane Warne’s return to the limited overs fold and a hesitancy over using Stuart MacGill due to his perceived weakness in batting Brad Hogg is the only tried and tested alternative we have to carry to teams slow bowling duties. This coupled with more than reasonable batting talents gives the team a dedicated spinner and ensures that the tail can wag at least until number 9.

    Some may argue this point, believing that Victorian captain Cameron White would be a better alternative, however I strongly disagree. Whilst arguably being the better batsman, White is definitely not the better bowler and that is the fundamental quality we are looking for. Bowling primarily top and over spin White seems to struggle getting any turn off the pitch and as such ends up bowling 100km/h darts which any batsman soon learns to despatch to the boundary as fast as possible.

    Coming in at number 10 I would elect to have Brett Lee. His World Cup record is simply stunning with 22 wickets at 17.91. Whilst sometimes wayward he is a strike bowler and should be used as such. When on song and comfortable with his rhythm he can be unplayable, as the 219 opposition batsman he has sent back to the shed at a rate of 1 ever 28 runs can attest.

    Finally to round of what I see as the ideal team to take to the 2007 World Cup I would have Mr Metronome himself. Look up ‘line and length’ in any cricket lexicon and all they will have is a picture of Glenn D McGrath. Capable of either frustrating or boring a batsman to death – depending on your point of view – Glenn will be the foundation upon which Australia’s bowling attack will build itself on. Having taking 45 wickets at 20.78 during the 1996, 1999 and 2003 World Cup I am sure Glenn will be hungry for more before he finally decides to hang up his rather large boots soon thereafter.

    However, this is not the end. I cannot leave out Stuart Clark who has already impressed many despite playing only 5 matches for the Australian ODI side. In those 5 matches he has shown that he is a worthy successor or even partner for Glenn McGrath, bowling the same nagging, economical line and length. So well has he bowled that he has already taken 10 wickets at 21.90, wickets including such talents as Kevin Pieterson and Nathan Astle (twice).

  2. #2
    International Coach howardj's Avatar
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    Well done, mate. Interesting article.

    I really like your preliminary points there. The best way to prepare for a World Cup is to pick your best team and let them build some momentum; let them know their roles. If the players picked are not up to the task, then they will fall by the wayside. Furthermore, injuries and the odd player request for a rest, will ensure that others outside the first XI get opportunites leading up to the World Cup anyway. You don't have to be making random changes (and interrupt the team momentum and stuff the players around) just to give players some experience. And, for goodness sake, don't rest the players unless they ask for it.
    Last edited by howardj; 22-01-2006 at 11:05 PM.

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    School Boy/Girl Captain Western Warrior's Avatar
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    Thanks for the positive feedback Howardj. I understand that the role of the selectors is to pick the best eleven players available. However, this must be tempered by the fact that new players should also be given a chance to develop, should the established players became stale, out-of-form or injuried.

    This is something I am not sure our current selectors are doing. It almost seems they are adopting a "suck it and see" attitude based on same of the players they have previously blooded in the ODI arena; such as White, Doery, etc.

    Maybe I am wrong but it is still giving me cause for concern.

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    Hall of Fame Member chaminda_00's Avatar
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    Interesting read there...

    For me Australia current problem is at the top of the order, Martyn and Katich don't seem to be the solution. Jaques is a must for me, but im not sure if Hussey is the solution, he seems perfect in his current position and i see no reason to change his role. For me i think people are reading too much into Gilly lack of form. I think all he needs is a attacking batsmen at the other end, so he doesn't have as much pressure to get Australia off to flyers. So i would try Gilly and Jaques tell the end of the VB Series, if it doesn't work they something new against in South Africa and Bangladesh.

    For number eight i think Brad Hogg is perfect and i would play the extra seamer either Bracken or Clark. For the super sub i would play Hopes or Watson, so the toss doesn't effect the effectiveness of the super sub.

    1st XI:
    1. A Gilchrist
    2. P Jaques
    3. R Ponting
    4. D Martyn
    5. A Symonds
    6. M Clarke
    7. M Hussey
    8. B Hogg
    9. B Lee
    10. N Bracken
    11. G McGarth
    SS: S Watson
    Res:
    B Haddin
    J Hopes
    S Clark
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  5. #5
    International Coach howardj's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Western Warrior
    Thanks for the positive feedback Howardj. I understand that the role of the selectors is to pick the best eleven players available. However, this must be tempered by the fact that new players should also be given a chance to develop, should the established players became stale, out-of-form or injuried.

    This is something I am not sure our current selectors are doing. It almost seems they are adopting a "suck it and see" attitude based on same of the players they have previously blooded in the ODI arena; such as White, Doery, etc.

    Maybe I am wrong but it is still giving me cause for concern.
    For sure, it's good to expose players to international competition. I think though, that this will happen naturally anyway through injuries (the perfect example is when Jaques came in the other day for an injured Katich), players being given the odd match off (like McGrath yesterday) or poor form. To me anyway, I just think selection is a little too random at the moment and I particularly hate it when they goof around with the batting order (such as last night, when Haddin inexplicably batted ahead of Hussey and Symonds). And when they don't do obvious things like replace Katich with Jaques for Adelaide!

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend andyc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Western Warrior
    1. Michael Hussey
    2. Phil Jacques
    3. Ricky Ponting (capt)
    4. Damien Martyn
    5. Michael Clarke
    6. Adam Gilchrist (wkt)
    7. Andrew Symonds
    8. James Hopes
    9. Brad Hogg
    10. Brett Lee
    11. Glen McGrath

    12th man Stuart Clark
    A few small changes from your side for me:

    1. Phil Jaques
    2. Michael Hussey
    3. Ricky Ponting
    4. Damien Martyn
    5. Michael Clarke
    6. Andrew Symonds
    7. Shane Watson
    8. Adam Gilchrist+
    9. Brett Lee
    10. Brad Hogg
    11. Glenn McGrath

    SS: Nathan Bracken

    As much as I'd prefer to have Hussey batting down the order, I don't see any way of doing it, unless Watson would be willing to open. Clarke, I feel, should not be pushed into the opening spot as he is clearly relishing his opportunity in the middle order.

    I'd have Watson in the team over Hopes any day. Watson is by far the better batsman and, to a lesser extent, the better bowler. I would prefer to see him coming in higher up the order, as he averages a very credible 44 in FC cricket and is clearly a capable batsman. However, I see no real way of this happening so the number 7 spot will have to make do. I have him coming in before Adam Gilchrist as Gilchrist is more suited, as you said, to coming in in the later stages of the game to finish off the chase or help build a big score.

    Brett Lee should be batting ahead of Brad Hogg because Lee's batting has improved dramatically, and that he is coming in behind Warne in tests is a crime. As he showed in the SA game, Lee is deserved of the responsibility of a lower order batsman and as such should be coming in as high as possible. I do, however, agree with you 100% on Hogg being in the team instead of as the sub.

    Edit: Just realised I forgot Bracken!!
    Bracken definetely as super sub for me, and to be interchanged with Hogg depending on the condition of the pitch.
    Last edited by andyc; 22-01-2006 at 11:48 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by flibbertyjibber View Post
    Only a bunch of convicts having been beaten 3-0 and gone 9 tests without a win and won just 1 in 11 against England could go into the home series saying they will win. England will win in Australia again this winter as they are a better side which they have shown this summer. 3-0 doesn't lie girls.

  7. #7
    International Regular Josh's Avatar
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    My WCXI:
    1. Michael Clarke
    2. Phil Jaques
    3. Ricky Ponting
    4. Damien Martyn
    5. Andrew Symonds
    6. Michael Hussey
    7. Adam Gilchrist
    8. Brad Hogg
    9. Brett Lee
    10. Nathan Bracken
    11. Glenn McGarth
    SS: James Hopes
    Res:
    Cameron White
    Mick Lewis
    Shane Watson (not my pick but can't really stop it from happening)
    Simon Katich (again, not my pick but the selectors are in love with the man)

    Really hope Lewis gets another go. I don't rate Clark or Dorey. Especially Dorey. Doesn't look a handy 50-over bowler. Might be OK in tests but no hope at ODI's. And Clark I just do not like the look of and he is one of the most overrated cricketers I think I've ever come across.

    EDIT: Forgot about the plan to bat Gilly low.

    I really don't know who else can open in that team. Hussey doesn't want to, Martyn doesn't seem to be doing to well at the top, and Clarke, even though he's done it before had a bad technique for an opener. Symonds is needed later on. It's a toughy. Maybe they'll persist with Katich or someone else will emerge before then.
    Last edited by Josh; 22-01-2006 at 11:41 PM.

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    International Coach howardj's Avatar
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    Just a quick note on the Super Sub. With the univeral objection to the rule in it's current form, I think it is inevitable that it will be changed, this July, to allow the Captains to nominate their SuperSub after the toss. It was always going to be reviewed, and still is going to be reviewed, after 12 months. This change to the rule seems to be the consensus that has emerged. Such a change would allow you to pick a specialist batsman or bowler as the SuperSub, depending on whether you were batting or bowling first, and would virtually kill off the prospect of an allrounder being picked to fill the role.

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    Nicely thought out there. I presume this is a best eleven, but as I understand World Cup rules, each country is permitted to take 15 players to the West Indies.

    No room for Bracken in your team? What about Gillespie?

    I have to say, I'm not sold yet on James Hopes. Not being from Queensland, I don't really know what his domestic form is like, but from what I've seen during the ODIs, I think he's going to have to improve considerably to keep his place. Kudos to the selectors for giving him a go, but I don't think yet he's the answer.

    Lots of things can happen in 18 months. Personally, I'd like to see Cameron White step up his domestic form and win back his place in the Aussie international squad. He will need to improve his bowling markedly, though, because getting swiped around the park by NZ in the Chappell-Hadlee series didn't look good, did it? However, if he can harness his bowling and combine that with some aggressive batting, he can win a place in the squad, I think.

    The likes of Mitchell Johnson and Mick Lewis seem to have been forgotten by the selectors, while I'm sure that once Shaun Tait has some domestic cricket under his belt, the selectors will give him a once-over. The same with Shane Watson.

    Then there is Shane Warne. Will he put up his hand, or won't he?

    A possible squad could consist of the following:

    Mike Hussey, Jaques, Ponting, Martyn, Clarke, Symonds, Watson, Gilchrist, Hogg, Lee, McGrath, Haddin, Clark, Bracken, White (or Hopes)

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    School Boy/Girl Captain Western Warrior's Avatar
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    It’s good to see that I’ve stimulated some robust debate. It wasn’t really my intention to nail down a starting 15 for the World Cup; I was more trying to illustrate the haphazard way the selectors are currently trying to go about preparing for it. But now that the discussion has moved in that direction I might as well go with the flow.

    I noticed some people have put Shane Watson forward as a possible candidate for 2007. I personally am not sure. He is a batsman in the classical mould and has previously gone on record as saying so. He initially struggled with the concept that he would be forced to ‘slog’ as he saw himself more as a crafter of an innings. Since then I think things have changed and he can ‘heave’ it with the best of them but I always get the impression that he is uncomfortable doing so.

    His bowling is probably the main reason the selectors keep returning to him. I have seen him bowl sustained periods at 140km/h and this is quite rare for an all-rounder. Even the likes of Kallis, Cairns, Pollock etc have always bowled in the 130 to 135km/h bracket. The only all-rounder I know off who is capable of genuine, sustained pace is Andy Flintoff.

    Watson’s continued presence in international cricket seems to hinge on his fitness. He seems to be the most accident-prone player I have seen in recent times. Stress fractures, shoulder dislocations etc etc, injury seems to follow him around like a black cloud and that will be sure to test the selectors patience. If he can remain injury free and experience good form then he will be there in 2007. If not then I think we will soon see the last of him.

    Braken also seems to be a name that has gotten a mention a few times. Nathan seems to be the only decent left-armer we have at the moment and his ODI record (40 wickets at 22.13) supports that. I was particularly impressed with his variation during the recent ODI against Sri Lanka. He demonstrated via off-cutters, leg-cutters and slower balls that he does have the ability to vary his line, length and pace. If he continues to improve then I think he will be a certainty for 2007.

    As for Cameron White, well as I said before I don’t rate him unless he learns to vary his pace, discovers flight and gets a few lessons off Warne / MacGill in regards to actually turning the ball. If he proceeds into the World Cup with his current arsenal of deliveries then the selectors must really have hit the turps come selection time. Mind you, if his batting continues to improve on his current form then he could actually make it as a batsman who can bowl leg spin rather than a leg spinning batsman.

    We then have Brett Dorey. Given he has only played one ODI is really is too early to tell where he will end up, but I for one see a lot of potential. Measuring in at 6’8” (or 6’10” depending on who you ask) we have a bowler who at full extension at delivery is bringing down the ball from 10’+. Even bowling a good length he will be bringing the ball up towards the batsmans rib/head.

    I think it would be in EVERYONE’S best interest if Dorey hit the gym and put on some weight whilst picking the brain of Dennis Lillee in regards to generating some pace. If he does gel and pays attention to the lessons learnt at the hands of Mr Lillee we could potentially have another Curtley Ambrose but this time he will be playing for us! With that said I won’t include him in my World Cup side however I think he definitely will be one to watch in the future.

    Some people seem surprised at my inclusion of James Hopes. Well in the short time he has played he has impressed me. He simply needs time to find his feet on the international level and perform to the levels expected of him. I think he has what it takes. Lets hope he doesn’t prove me wrong.

    This brings me to Shane Warne. Currently he is an unknown although he has made it clear that he would like to be there come 2007. Given the fact that we won the 2003 World Cup without him I wonder how much easier it would have been had he actually been present. In the Test arena he is in the form of his life so if he is fit and inform come 2007 (which I am sure he will be) then I would classify him as an automatic inclusion.

    I guess I have my 15 man squad for the 2007 World Cup, namely

    1. Michael Hussey
    2. Phil Jacques
    3. Ricky Ponting (capt)
    4. Damien Martyn
    5. Michael Clarke
    6. Adam Gilchrist
    7. Andrew Symonds
    8. Brad Hogg
    9. Brett Lee
    10. Glenn McGrath
    11. Stuart Clark
    12. Shane Watson
    13. Shane Warne
    14. James Hopes
    15. Nathan Braken

  11. #11
    International Coach GotSpin's Avatar
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    Hopes seems to be a bit of a nothing player, its not like his going to be a usefull bowling option in test matches either
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    Hall of Fame Member chaminda_00's Avatar
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    If the supersub rule is changed like Howardj mentioned then i would have Matthew Hayden in the squad instead of Hopes. This gives them a extra opener incase they want to drop Gilly down the order. I don't think Australia will get the best out Clarke or Hussey up the top of the order. I still think Hayden has something to offer for Australia in ODIs and he has more to offer then Hodge or Katich.

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    School Boy/Girl Captain Western Warrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chaminda_00
    If the supersub rule is changed like Howardj mentioned then i would have Matthew Hayden in the squad instead of Hopes. This gives them a extra opener incase they want to drop Gilly down the order. I don't think Australia will get the best out Clarke or Hussey up the top of the order. I still think Hayden has something to offer for Australia in ODIs and he has more to offer then Hodge or Katich.
    I have a feeling we have probably seen the last of Hayden in the ODI arena. Just as Steve Waugh was dropped prior to the 03 World Cup, it looks like another senior player is going to get the chop prior to 2007.

    I think having Michael Hussey opening would be the best way to go. If Brad Hodge finds form and makes bulk ODI runs then he may be an option for the middle order thus beefing up our ranks of specialist batsman.
    "Cricket needs brightening up a bit. My solution is to let players drink at the beginning of the game, not after. It always works in our picnic matches." - Paul Hogan

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    Well, Hodge will have his chance to impress on Australia Day as he's coming in for the rested Ponting.

    Western Warrior, I agree with your comments in relation to both White and Dorey. Cam White probably showed on the Chappell-Hadlee tour that he needs to learn how to bowl at an international class, otherwise he will be flayed. Unless he has that string to his bow, I don't think he would make it purely on his batting at this stage, mostly because he doesn't do anything that the likes of those already in the one day squad can't.

    I admit that I haven't seen Dorey beyond his performances for Australia in the last two one-day internationals, but I am surprised that someone of his height can't bowl faster than what he does. He needs to be shown tapes of Joel Garner and be coached so as to generate more pace. If he can do that, then I think he'd be a handful for any batsman, but at this stage, what happened to him yesterday would continue to happen to him.



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