The resurrection of previously discarded veterans Brad Haddin and Chris Rogers for the Ashes has merely confirmed the soft underbelly of Australian cricket.
That the selectors were forced back to the future for a 16-man touring party is a poke in the eye of every batsman in state cricket who fancies himself as a future Test player.
Australia’s current crop of first class cricketers either aren’t good enough or don’t want the baggy green cap enough to force their way into a side crying out for talent.
Given that Haddin and one-Test wonder Rogers are both 35, and Ricky Ponting was Sheffield Shield player of the year aged 38, Australia is in danger of losing a generation when it can least afford it.
The selectors have done some odd things recently, most notably dropping Nathan Lyon for the second Test in India, but they deserve credit for picking the Ashes squad on form regardless of age.
Plenty of players have been given opportunities and failed to grasp them.Michael Clarke (captain) Brad Haddin (vice-captain) Ed Cowan David Warner Phil Hughes Shane Watson Usman Khawaja Chris Rogers Matthew Wade James Faulkner Nathan Lyon Peter Siddle James Pattinson Jackson Bird Ryan Harris Mitchell Starc
Matthew Wade is the latest, having been demoted to reserve keeper behind Haddin after being chosen a year ago as his replacement.
Wade is a decade younger than Haddin so there is ample time for the Victorian gloveman to reclaim the position.
Had Australian cricket been in better shape, with a group of successful, experienced players, there is every likelihood Wade would have survived despite his poor tour of India with gloves and bat.
He can mount a case for being unlucky, passing 50 five times in his first 12 Tests, better than Haddin (twice) and Ian Healy (once) at the corresponding stages of their careers.
Australia’s most elegant left-handed handed batsman, Usman Khawaja, 26, is also yet to take the leap from promising to performing and must do it soon.
The talented Khawaja should play the first Test at Trent Bridge, beginning early July, and afforded an extended run in the hope that he will blossom. Australia has too few quality batsmen to ignore him any longer.
Anyone who has a good look at this season’s mediocre Sheffield Shield stats cannot complain about the selection of Rogers towards the end of his career, even though he played his only Test five years ago.
No one amongst the current crop of Australian hopefuls have pushed their case harder for longer than Rogers, who has averaged 40 or better in 11 of his past 12 Shield seasons, including three summers when he averaged 70-plus.
Compare that to some of the cheap baggy green caps handed out recently, including to spinners Xavier Doherty and Glenn Maxwell, as Australia unsuccessfully attempts to plug the Shane Warne, Stuart MacGill gap.
The Ashes squad also continues to highlight a contract system which, like the Allan Border Medal, does not give enough kudos to Test cricket.
Khawaja and fast bowler Jackson Bird are in the Ashes 16, but not amongst the 20 on contract, sitting behind Doherty, Maxwell, Twenty20 captain George Bailey, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Clint McKay and the recovering Pat Cummins.
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