Blogs & Opinion


Ian Harvey:

All's not as it seams

'Wicketless Johnson still has important role to play'

Ian Harvey Posted 29th November 2010 view comments

As difficult as Australia found it to take English wickets in the latter stages in Brisbane, I don't expect them to change their attack for the second Test.

Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris may have been added to the squad but I think the selectors will stick with the same XI that drew the Ashes opener.

After all they showed faith in Peter Siddle and Mike Hussey by selecting both for the first Test even though both were under severe pressure and the players rewarded them with a hat-trick and a century respectively.

Blurred issue: can Australia stick with Johnson after he returned match figures of 0-170?

Blurred issue: can Australia stick with Johnson after he returned match figures of 0-170?

Yes, Bollinger will feel unlucky to have missed out on the first Test while Harris hasn't done a lot wrong when he has played for Australia, particularly in the one-day form of the game.

He's an aggressive, skiddy bowler who has some decent pace too and Australia could do with another strong bloke who can run in and bang the wicket in Adelaide, where the ball won't swing for long if at all.

Johnson is always going to have his fair share of bad days because he hasn't got a repetitive action; he knows that he hasn't performed to his best of the last 12-18 months but he remains someone who is capable of changing a game.

Ian Harvey
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But Australia played decent cricket for three days and thereafter England's batsmen performed exceptionally well so there is no need for the selectors to push the panic button just yet. Sometimes you just have to give credit to the opposition.

Potential

Working out how to bowl sides out on decent wickets is going to be Australia's problem now for the foreseeable future, especially when Mitchell Johnson isn't firing on all cylinders.

Johnson is always going to have his fair share of bad days because he hasn't got a repetitive action; he knows that he hasn't performed to his best of the last 12-18 months but he remains someone who is capable of changing a game.

It's important to have potential match-winners in your side and he should still be regarded as one of those.

Australia's spin problems are far bigger.

Xavier Doherty equipped himself well on debut; he held his own even though the pressure on him to perform first up in the Ashes was massive.

That pressure will become even greater if Australia do get into a position where they need to bowl England out on the final day.

Ponting and the selectors could help him out by devising a clearer strategy.

Do they want Doherty to play a holding role so that the quicks can rotate at the other end and really attack England's batsmen or do they want him to pose more of a threat and give him licence to go for four or five an over if needs be?

Nathan Hauritz suffered somewhat by falling between the two and Doherty must not get caught in the same trap.

Aggressive

These days Australian spinners and wicketkeepers are always going to get compared to Shane Warne and Adam Gilchrist respectively - two of the greatest cricketers of all time.

Both are incredibly tough acts to follow so I'm pleased Brad Haddin hasn't gone out of his way to emulate Gilly - he's come out and played his own game instead.

Haddin is a naturally aggressive player so it was fantastic to see him dig in and spend a lot of time at the crease in Australia's first innings when he was under pressure at a crucial stage of the game.

There was a lot of talk when he came back after his elbow injury about whether he should automatically knock Tim Paine out of the side because Paine hadn't done anything wrong, but his century showed why he was always going to be first choice.

Both he and Hussey have now set themselves up for great series and the same goes for Siddle, another player who can turn games.

Disappointed

Overall Ponting will be more disappointed with the level of his side's fielding than the fact that they have come away from the Gabba with a draw.

The wicket got better and better each day and with another flat pitch on the horizon at Adelaide you'd much rather be a batter than a bowler at this stage of the series.

Hussey has good memories of the last time Australia played an Ashes Test at Adelaide - he hit the winning runs to round off a last-day run chase - and Paul Collingwood will be looking forward to going back too after his double hundred earlier on in the same match.

So once again it is going to be tough for the bowlers but the ball can reverse at Adelaide and any batsman would be a fool to get too complacent, particularly when there is still so much at stake.

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