SPORT

Did Australian Cricket Selectors Just Admit They Were Wrong?

A refreshing change to a selection policy going nowhere.

08/11/2016 12:00 PM AEDT | Updated 08/11/2016 12:06 PM AEDT
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Ummm, maybe we should have actually watched some cricket like the rest of the Australian public.

'We were wrong'. Three words which are not often heard in cricket, or anywhere in public life, but they're words which Australian cricket selectors effectively said overnight after Australia lost the first Test to South Africa in Perth by 177 runs.

The selection policy just changed. As we told you on Monday in our match wrap, Australia had pre-selected a squad of 12 for the first two Tests against South Africa, which meant underperformers in the first Test were guaranteed the peace of mind to play freely without worrying about their spot in the team.

Or so we thought.

Overnight, selectors announced a squad of 13 for the Hobart Test, which starts on Saturday. Partly their hand was forced by a finger injury to Shaun Marsh. The luckless batsman's in-again, out-again career continues. He will be almost certainly be replaced by Queensland opener Joe Burns, who has performed reasonably well in the past for Australia, with four centuries and an average of 41 from his 12 Tests.

The 13th man is the interesting one. It's Callum Ferguson, a South Australian with an average of 40 in state cricket, which by modern standards is decent. Ferguson is a fluid middle order batsman who played 30 One-Dayers for Australia between 2009 and 2011, averaging a handy 40. So he's got runs on the board in both international cricket and long from cricket.

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Ferguson, left, with Adam Voges, the man he may replace. The two are pictured at a state One Day match in October.

If he's been applying for a job 10 years ago, his is not the CV which would have been first to catch the eye. But in a lean era for Australian Test batsmen, he has been rushed to the top of the pile.

But who would Ferguson replace? Well if Adam Voges succumbs to a hamstring twinge, it'll probably be him. But if the hammy holds up, it'll almost certainly be Mitchell Marsh who makes way after a thoroughly uninspiring 19 match Test stint in which he's averaged less with the bat than half the bowlers in the team.

Marsh's bowling would be missed, but it's looking increasingly likely that Joe Mennie will debut and inject energy into the attack, perhaps in place of Peter Siddle.

The national selection panel is currently comprised of Rod Marsh, Australian coach Darren Lehmann, Mark Waugh and Trevor Hohns. These are not the sort of men to admit they were wrong. Like Fonzie in Happy Days, the words just don't come out easily.

But there's been a definite policy backflip here. What you thought was fixed furniture has turned out to be deckchairs after all. We can only hope they're not the proverbial deckchairs on the Titanic.

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