Will we settle on a pace over spin option ... or just go for great hair?
The schedule is unrelenting as our irreverent pair analyse the alternatives for Australia on their upcoming India tour Adam Collins: Cricket, cricket everywhere. White ball, red ball. Men, women. Fifty overs, twenty overs. Six Tests, all over. But four more in India around the corner. A New Zealand trip between times. I’m spent just saying it all at once. Geoff Lemon: It’s hard to keep your head and keep a sense of context in the middle of the summer, where there are games on TV and on the live streams and at grounds down the road in every major city. But the major thing is the end of that Test season, and the hugely variable nature of it from Hobart to here. AC: Yeah, that inevitability about the last day was very Old Australia; when Ricky and Steve and Warne and McGrath would finish anyone on a fifth day. If they were lucky enough to get that far. A couple of months ago, it was cause for national celebration if Australia’s batting was robust enough to think about reaching the final hours of a Test. Beating Pakistan at home is hardly cause for tickertape, mind. They fare about as well in this big, brown land as the early settlers did. But still, confidence into a Sub-continental tour is not for nothing. GL: Well, confidence is one thing. How quickly that can evaporate once things get difficult is another. I think we’ve all been burned by India tours past – you get past a certain number of years watching cricket, and you realise how remarkable those achievements of the early Noughties were, in that Australian teams managed to compete over there at all. It’s still amazing that a change of location can bring about such a huge change in expectations and results. AC: So all roads lead back to selection for that squad. Can I float an idea? I really quite like what England did with the Broad/Anderson rotation over there. And far too often in the Sub-continent the second seamer is underutilised if the
track is ragging. So how about this: we rotate Starc and Hazlewood, leaving Mitch Marsh to play second fiddle? Quick enough. Experienced in that general part of the planet. Makes the batting deeper. He wasn’t a disaster with the willow in Sri Lanka, either. And lessens the chance that Starc breaks in two, Bruce Reid-style. GL: All right. I really like that idea but only if a team goes that route, and relies on spin with seam-bowling peripheral. We saw it at times in the Emirates in 2014, Imran Khan would be bowling four overs an innings, while Zulfiqar and Yasir would do the rest and were taking the Australians apart piece by piece. That’s great if you’ve got the spinners. Do we? AC: Well, like every good relationship, it’s complicated. Nathan Lyon has underperformed in conditions where he shouldn’t. But he also steps up when given the full support of the board, so to speak. And Steve O’Keefe is a plucky little bugger isn’t he? I can’t see him being afraid of Kohli and Co. At least he doesn’t carry scars. I saw KP in the paper this morning saying Adam Zampa should go as well. I like this for two reasons. The first, he’s another hard competitor, ripping the hell out of every delivery. Also, he’s got great hair. GL: The hair argument. Got Brett Lee into the side. Probably got Shane Lee in there as well. Bowling 150 clicks helped, though. The one of them, not the other, bless him. At least Colin Miller let his cricket do the talking and then let the hair go. Once he was reigning Test Player of the Year, all bets were off. I think Lyon’s a top bowler, and I like the way O’Keefe talks to himself when he bats in the nets. Combative would be the word. But will they be good enough to take India down at home, or should Australia rely on its comparative advantage? Which is fast bowling, reverse swing, the kind of stuff Starc was doing every day in Sri Lanka. It almost worked for Steve Waugh in 2001. AC: Persuasive. I just fear for these blokes going to India and coming back mangled wrecks, after just getting through a summer without injury issues. It’s likely they will get a bit of a breather in the white-ball stuff against Pakistan starting this weekend. I’m all for 50-over cricket but I can’t feel anything for this series, and I think it is because I’ve convinced myself Pakistan cannot win a game on this tour. I’m angry with how they gave it up in Melbourne and Sydney. They’re meant to be better than that nowadays. But it does have relevance in the context of the Champions Trophy in England. Sure, not the most prestigious silverware going around. But it’s still a competitive process to get on that plane. GL: And it speaks of the comparative luxury of Australian cricket that we can deem the Champs Trophy not very important. Yeah, this ODI series is a bit flat, given there’s so much interest around the Big Bash at this time of year. Lynn and McCullum as the Bash Brothers were the darlings of national media for a couple of days, now Lynn’s out playing against Pakistan. Is it more meaningful? That’s a far bigger scheduling chat than we have time for now. AC: Maybe so, but the broader point is that the BBL has reached a stage where it deserves to stand alone. Put it this way: you wouldn’t want to see Lynn sitting on the bench watching on in one of those degrading orange singlets in any of these ODIs or they may riot in Brisbane Heat land. It’s what Usman will be doing tomorrow when Travis Head opens the batting, opening the way to Glenn Maxwell for the first time this summer for Australia. It may have taken a few months, but as far as I am concerned this is order: restored at last.
Lynn and McCullum as the Bash Brothers were the media’s darlings. Now Lynn is playing against Pakistan. Is it more meaningful?
Great hair: But should Adam Zampa be included in Australia’s team?
League of its own: Chris Lynn’s Big Bash form has earned him a place in Australia’s squad, while Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc may be rotated in India, right