After two weeks of introspection and a fortnight of combative cricket, Australia is starting to settle down in time for the Ashes opener against England, noted cricket commentator Peter Roebuck has said.
Roebuck’s comment comes after Australia’s faltering preparations for the upcoming series received a boost following strong performances by key players Mitchell Johnson and Michael Hussey.
Johnson snared five wickets and a century, while Hussey has regained his Test spot with a much-needed century, as Western Australia dominated against Victorian Bushrangers in their Sheffield Shield match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.
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“Has the tide turned? If the selectors could have asked for one gift this week it would surely have been runs and wickets for Mitchell Johnson. News arrived from Melbourne that, far being skinned as had been feared, the banana bender had scored one,” Roebuck wrote in his syndicated column for the Sydney Morning Herald.
“Nothing buoys a struggling flinger half as much as a resounding innings. Cricketers hate to feel useless, hate to think they are letting down the side. Even better news followed as Johnson started taking wickets. It’s a good habit to get into,” he added.
Roebuck further said that Hussey’s smooth 118, which followed his first-innings 18-ball duck, was encouraging, but reckons that survival is no longer enough.
The innings was Hussey’s last chance to prove to the selectors that he was worthy of a spot in the final Australian XI.
“Michael Hussey’s been battling for ages. In some respects it is his natural mood. His career has been unusual, a long period of struggle followed by a sudden burst of brilliance and then a slow decline,” Roebuck said.
“Yet he is not a flashy batsman at all. Rather he is methodical, with a manic mind. That brain is his strength and weakness. It’s right to give a player of his calibre time to recover, though the green light eventually turns red. He needs to kick on,” he added.
The first Test starts at the Gabba in Brisbane on November 25.