Sydney: Australia’s selectors have been confused and contradictory in their choice of a side tagged the ‘Recyclables’ for next week’s crucial third Ashes Test, newspapers said on Saturday.
England as holders can retain the Ashes if they win the third Test, starting in Perth on Thursday, after crushing Australia by an innings in the second Adelaide Test.
There is a conviction among the media that another round of chopping and changing at the selection table was not going to fix things for the troubled Australian team, who have not won any of their last five Tests.
“Australia have gone from the 1948 Invincibles to the 2010 Recyclables after their sack-then-back approach to fast bowlers during this Ashes campaign,” The Sydney Morning Herald said.
Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus have been recalled after being dropped for the second Test and Doug Bollinger, dropped for the first Test, has been axed again after a recall in the previous game.
Former Test paceman Geoff Lawson said the fast bowlers would be unsure of their places and what selectors were thinking.
“I think they’d be very confused -- I’m confused,” Lawson told the Herald.
“I think there’s some logical things to do and they haven’t been done. It’s hard to find a rhyme or reason why they do things.”
Another ex-Test paceman Stuart Clark said a major problem facing the Australian bowling unit was the confusion surrounding places in the team.
“I can’t quite work out the logic behind the omission of Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus for the second Test, only to bring them back for the third. And what of Doug Bollinger missing the Perth squad altogether?” Clark told the Herald.
The Melbourne Age drew parallels with Australian cricket’s ‘bad old days’ of the 1980s when it hit rock bottom.
“Then as now, Australia were out of the habit of winning. Then, Australia had not won in 14 Tests, spanning more than a year. Now, it is five Tests, comparatively a blip,” The Age’s Greg Baum wrote.
Shock selection Michael Beer – after just five first-class matches for Western Australia – became Australia’s 10th spin bowler used since the retirement of Shane Warne almost four years ago.
“One of the great strengths of Australian teams of the past was that players who made the grade did so by performing strongly for extended periods in first-class cricket,” Clark said. “This no longer appears to be a prerequisite for selection.”
Xavier Doherty, dumped for Beer after his own surprise call-up for the first Test, said Beer’s selection hinted at “a bit of panic.”
Phillip Hughes, who was one of four changes from the second Test and is the nominated replacement for injured opener Simon Katich, has scored 118 runs in seven Sheffield Shield innings this season at 16.85.
Selector Greg Chappell admits Australian cricket is in decline and that it might have been unprepared for it.
“Sometimes the decline can happen steadily and almost unnoticeably, or it can be sudden and sharp. Or a combination of both,” Chappell told The Age.
“I think perhaps we haven’t recognised as quickly as we should have that we’ve been slipping back quietly and almost unnoticed.”