Australia has been going through one of its toughest times in cricketing history with a number of changes in its side from coach to captain. The board is looking to experiment with its rotation policy as the Aussies have been going through a dismal year with injury lay-offs to a number of key players and others rested as part of their new structure. They take on neighbors New Zealand at the Gabba in Brisbane and look to win the series and move up in the Test rankings.
Their batting looks more formidable than the bowling though all eyes appear to be on Ricky Ponting to see how he copes with the pressure of people calling for his head. Ponting though wants to reverse things as he feels that he still has the drive to play for his country. “I totally understand why I’m being asked the questions I’m being asked, but by the same token I believe I’m good enough, one, to be in the team and I’m good enough to win games for Australia. Hopefully in the next little bit I can start doing that again”, said Ponting.
David Warner is expected to open the batting with Phil Hughes as Ponting, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin bolster the middle order. Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh are out with injuries and Haddin has been named as vice-captain in the absence of Watson. Marsh is ruled out till the Boxing Day game against India at the MCG later this year. Bowling at the Gabba is a difficult task and more emphasis seems to be on the young inexperienced attack that has been chosen.
Since the 1988 Pakistan tour, Australia has never selected a raw bowling attack with fewer than 126 wickets up their sleeve. Peter Siddle is set to spearhead the attack as Nathan Lyon and James Pattinson fill the other two slots. Local lad Ben Cutting and Mitchell Starc are in the running for the other place as Trent Copeland and Michael Beer have been left out from the squad that toured South Africa though they did not get much of an opportunity to prove themselves.
Starc has an imposing record at the Gabba with an average of 18.41 in that ground and Cutting has had an impressive outing with Queensland and can also bat decently. Teen sensation Pat Cummins has been rested to not overload the youngster and Pattinson has got another opportunity. “There’s going to be four real young bowlers, Peter Siddle is going to have to lead the attack for us, there’s no doubt about that. But it is going to be interesting, we’ve got to look at what’s going to be the best attack, and who’s bowling the best and gives us the most variation”, said coach Mickey Arthur.
The new policy has attracted criticism from former paceman Geoff Lawson who said that Cricket Australia have ‘undermined’ the baggy green cap. He also added that, “The failure of these people to admit they haven’t got it right is one of the biggest problems in Australian cricket”. Coach Arthur and Captain Michael Clarke have a huge task at hand and New Zealand is all set to use the off-field action to pull out a few surprises.