John Inverarity names the Australia squad for the Ashes Test series against England in July and August.
Gibbo worries what Haddin’s selection says about the team’s culture.
Steve Waugh says Brad Haddin will bring solidarity to Ashes squad.
AUSTRALIAN cricket insiders fear the premature Ashes squad unveiling has given England a free kick and a head-start to prepare their pitches and players accordingly.
There is private dismay within some sections of Cricket Australia that yesterday’s Ashes announcement at Sydney’s Royal Mint revealed Australia’s hand 11 weeks before the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge, starting on July 10.
Of particular concern is the fact that England knows so far ahead that Australia, with five frontline fast bowlers plus all-rounder James Faulkner, will have Nathan Lyon as the only specialist spinner.
That gives England the early heads-up to potentially doctor Ashes pitches to suit spin and negate pace, especially with the Poms potentially having Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar as dual spin weapons.
Pitch doctoring certainly is not foreign to English curators and scheming Oval groundsman Bill Gordon did it as recently as the final Test of the 2009 Ashes.
Gordon produced a crumbling pitch to help an English result in the last Ashes Test of 2009 – then bizarrely claimed he was someone else to avoid explaining why his pitch was in such a diabolical condition.
English sources say England will probably not announce their first Test squad until the weekend before the series opener, giving them an advantage.
One CA insider said last night: “I have no idea why this squad has been announced so early. All it is doing is giving England an advantage.”
The contrary view is Australian selectors had already picked their squad so it was logical to announce it to give their players the longest possible physical and mental Ashes preparation.
And with the Australia A squad for the tour of the British Isles announced yesterday — and Australia’s Champions Trophy squad to be named next week — it may not have taken a genius to piece together the Ashes squad.
The make-up of Australia’s Ashes squad — with the surprise addition of 35-year-old batsman Chris Rogers and the elevation of another 35-year-old Brad Haddin to vice-captain — was an overdue concession that their plans were not working.
It was never in the original blueprint to have Haddin back in the side, let alone as vice-captain, but Australia has turned to experienced hard men in times of turmoil.
The selection of Rogers, dumped after one Test in 2008 but a prolific English county runscorer since, was an admission that Australia’s batting has been feeble apart from captain Michael Clarke.
By picking Rogers, and impressive Tasmanian Faulkner, selectors have at least plumped for men in form and you cannot blame them for going for finally going performance ahead of potential.
Lyon as the sole spinner is an odd selection, although perhaps an indication Australia is leaving a spare spot free for Pakistan-born legspinner Fawad Ahmed if his citizenship situation is sorted.
Matthew Wade will start the series out of the side as back-up keeper, with Queenslander Usman Khawaja hanging onto his spot as one of the touring batsmen.