The Courier-Mail



Australia’s family-first policy with Haddin not recalled after he stood down from the Lord’s Test for personal reasons.

“I 100 per cent support exactly what the selection panel did,’’ Howard says.

“I was aware of every conversati­on and I was aware why Hadds missed out.

“It was well-reasoned and there were a lot of conversati­ons in the lead-up to it, with Brad as well.’’ WAGS ON TOUR The wives and girlfriend­s of Australia’s cricketers have come under fire but Howard says having WAGS on tour won’t be reviewed. He believes it is an important part of a busy touring life, with Australia’s top cricketers hardly having a break from now until 2017.

“There has got to be some way of making sure their family life has some degree of normality,’’ Howard says.

“The girls were at Lord’s and we won easily. The cricket schedule is so packed it is very important to consider the wives and partners.

“People think that when it is summer, our cricketers are at home. But they are not at home, they are touring.’’ MICHAEL CLARKE Howard feels some of the commentary on Michael Clarke’s retirement has been ridiculous and “really harsh’’.

“He is a tough taskmaster but I really like that about him,” Howard said.

“He is the in-the-trenches sort of bloke you want and we saw that with his fabulous Cape Town century.

“He and I have had some great Barneys (arguments) but I respect him, he is great.

“I really hope he plays well at The Oval and we win.’’ AUSTRALIA will consider using English Dukes balls in the Sheffield Shield and look to practise on lush green wickets to combat their swing bowling weakness.

Australia’s batsmen have been generally clueless facing high-quality swing since they last won in England in 2001.

Ricky Ponting has called to change the balls used for first-class matches here, bringing in Dukes at the expense of the Kookaburra. The Dukes swing more and have a pronounced seam.

Australian team performanc­e supremo Pat Howard supports the concept of a trial of the Dukes leading into future away Ashes series, after previously trialling them in the 2nd XI Futures League.

“We would certainly also be looking at greening up practice pitches and maybe getting batsmen up to Brisbane to practise on fresh pitches during the wet season,” Howard said.

Cricket Australia has been criticised for an apparent edict to prepare flat pitches. But Howard insists that is not the case and he is happy for curators to prepare “spicy pitches”.

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