I initially wrote this for the SA vs Aus thread, but figured it would be lost in the noise and what I want to discuss is beyond the scope of a match thread.
Surely with SA at 3/228, having personal figures of 1/144, bowling off a short run-up Johnson has to be dropped. He needs at least half a season in domestic cricket to learn how to take wickets again before he'll be ready to be brought back. He's had far too many chances, with the promise that "he'll come good again" but has just really been rank awful since the WACA. I saw some of his bowling in Sri Lanka and thought that there was a possibility that he might come good again in South Africa but he really has been atrocious.
I hate it too because a couple of years ago I thought that he was the goods. Which is funny, because I never thought that he was particularly special when I watched him live bowl for QLD. But when I saw his feats in 08 and 09 (before the ashes) I thought that he was going to be the long term spearhead for a good 5-6 years. I was obviously wrong. I hate eating humble pie, but if Johnson's fifth biggest supporter (behind his mum and at least 3 of the selectors) it really is time for him to go back to play for WA. Sadly, he needs first class games but he should be in the ODI side, which means he won't get a good chance to learn or prove anything (bloody BBL is terribly scheduled).
Peter Siddle is a sad case. It's hard not to like Siddle. The jokes about him running in all day are funny because they are true - Siddle is a guy with the kind of attitude and approach to the game that you wish all guys had. He's also go the physical assets to be very successful as a fast bowler. He has the pace he needs and can be quite devastating in spells.
The problem is that he is just not a good bowler. He's a first change bowler at best. Brett Lee was better than Siddle and I don't rate Lee's test match career at all. Siddle is hardly of the same calibre as Bichel, Kasprowicz, Fleming or Reiffel. It's just disappointing that a guy with so much to like is just not any good.
We have to move on from these two bowlers. They are perennially disappointing and manage to save themselves with a match winning spell once every few games. But Johnson has even lost that ability it seems.
The first test in Brisbane should feature a fast bowling attack of Copeland, Cummins and Harris/Cutting/Bollinger (I don't think we can play Bollinger and Harris in the same team - it's too much of an injury risk). Steve O'Keefe should be brought in for Lyon (who has gone under the radar with some mediocre-but-not-awful performances). Make it clear to Lyon that he's been dropped to give him the opportunity to play some first class cricket and learn his trade a bit more and make it clear to him that he is still in their long term plans.
Unless Ponting makes a hundred in the second innings, and backs that up with at least a fifty at the Gabba, he should be dropped. Sure, I want to see him have a glorious Steve Waugh style sendoff, but it's been four years since he has been any good and keeping him in the team has made the middle order extremely fragile and prone to collapse. It can no longer be said that he is in the top six batsmen in the country. He's gone, like Richards and Chappell, he's the dog who has had his day. When he was good he was magnificent and we should never forget his feats, which are in some ways unparalleled. He's scored more runs than any other Australian, made twin hundreds in his hundredth test and butchered attacks around the world at the peak of Australia's dominance. His last true moment of glory was also the last moment of the biggest cricketing feat since Bradman's era, when he lead Australia to the 5-0 ashes win by making vital hundreds in the first two games and earning man of the series.
We should never forget how great Ponting was, how divine his pull shot and how he demoralised and demolished attacks around the world. But the time has come to move on and let the new kids do the country proud.
For Brisbane I'd like to see:
Khawaja (who should be replaced by Warner if he hasn't kicked on by the end of the NZ series)
Harris (Bollinger/Cutting, depending on injury)
The Australian cricket team has to be about performance again. The best performing players should be picked, players who perform poorly should be dropped. Martyn was made scapegoat for the Ashes '05 series without actually having too bad a series (and being sawn off at least two times). Only North and Hilfenhaus have been made to pay for Australia's general mediocrity of the last three years. But the problem is deeper than that. The pace attack has been consistently undisciplined, awful spinners have been picked on selectorial hunches that has paid off once (barring one five wicket haul on a pitch specifically prepared to spin) and the spinner with proven success was subsequently dropped.
Domestic performance has to count for something. Domestic players must be made to feel that they can beat the door down or we will reduce the quality of our domestic players and our international team.
Hopefully the new selection panel will not make the same blunders as the old one. But this is the blueprint to success. Reward success, punish failure.