All is not well in the Australian dressing room. The Australian middle order are lacking temperament, form and a touch of grit. The Aussie bowlers show a brave heart but are of the working class-ilk. The English are rightfully cocky. And the Ashes are lost.
Australian cricket administration and players are about to enter a critical and telling period of Australian cricketing history. The old veteran group have failed to deliver the Australian public success. For 15 years, success was taken for granted in this sporting nation. Now the futile media and frustrated public are basking for blood due to the ineptness of the current Australian Test team. Yet, not all is doom and gloom.
The young Usman Khawaja will make his test debut in Sydney in replacement of the injured Ricky Ponting. He has averaged above 50 in state cricket this season and deserves a taste of the highest level. He will also become the first Muslim to represent Australia in Test cricket. He represents both the transition of one generation of players to the other and also the progression of an anglo-Australian society to a multi-cultural society. Whether he flourishes on debut or not, patience is the key. Not hastiness.
After the completion of this Ashes series, the Australian selectors must review the state of the current line-up. Phil Hughes is not the man to open for Australia. His technique is too easily exposed, even on the flattest wickets, and he lacks the patience out in the middle to be a consistent member of the Australian team. The other New South Welshman, Steve Smith is talented but raw. His game is not fully developed and needs a few more seasons of State cricket to fine tune his developing game. The obvious replacements should be Shaun Marsh (to open) and the seasoned Cam White (bat at number six). Both players have more experience at the international level than Hughes and Smith, and would bring a more refined and reliable game to the national Test team.
The Australian selectors should feel compelled to select a youthful side and ride the bumps and waves with them. Commentators, players and administration have over-used the “transition” line in the last two years. The selectors stuck with the seasoned veterans and ignored talented youth, with the exception of Hughes and Smith.
Two young Victorians, James Pattinson and Alex Keath, are just the sign of the bright future for Australian cricket. While, both are yet to cement their spots in the State side, they both have the potential to defy a growing sense in the Australian public that Australian cricket is in a rot for the next 10 years. The key is to nurture talent like Khawaja, O’Keefe, Smith, Keath and Pattinson into reliable and fine test cricketers.
Khawaja’s debut on Monday at the SCG should be heralded as a breakthrough in the national selector’s conservative psyche. They have been burned during this series with their foolish reliance on failing veterans. A youthful Australian side will entice a refreshing new sense of excitement for the Australian public.