I’m worried. Not only does the Dr. have a PHD in NRL, but also majors in Cricket, Golf and Tennis. So I look at the Aussie cricket team, specifically (but not confined to) Mike Hussey’s retirement, and I’m worried. The value of such a player (following the exit of Ricky Ponting) cannot merely be measured in terms of runs, catches and the occasional wicket. Nor is it specifically being the leader of the team song! It’s all of those things and more. As many business (or other) analysts know, the concept of synergy (the result being greater than the sum of its parts) is awfully good and felt palpably, but difficult to measure. In this case, it means losing a leader, a mentor with exceptional experience and achievements, a match winner, a match saver, a reliable glue that binds a team and pulls it in a common direction. So, instead of the synergistic benefit accruing to the current team, there will be a void that Captain Clarke will battle valiantly (but find difficult) to immediately replace. Oh, and he’s been scoring a mountain of runs as well …
The current top order is inexperienced, and is underperforming. Funnily enough (and I say that given my historical view), Phil Hughes may well be the player that stands up to be counted, and to buttress the team’s batting total behind Captain Clarke (who I anticipate will have a better 2013 than 2012). He has a tremendous opportunity. He’ll have to sort out his running though! As will Cowan. They simply haven’t scored enough runs to make up for Run Outs. Besides, what a waste! Coach Mickey Arthur is almost pleading for “someone to put their hand up”, but is spinning it well. There is definitely some concern before the tour to India.
The other issue continues to be Shane Watson, who is now a “registered” batsman. I have high regard for his batting, and am therefore perplexed by his modest returns over the last year, and am completely confused both as to why he hasn’t given up bowling earlier given his attachment to the physiotherapist’s table, and why the Aussie team feels it absolutely must have an all-rounder. One will emerge, but there is little point forcing it upon someone (like Mitchell Johnson, who has only just returned to the international scene as a bowler).
The Aussie team needs a revitalised Shane Watson in the top 6 (even back as opener where he had some success), and fielding in a wheelchair in a bubble at 3rd slip. The noises from the selectors the entire summer have betrayed a lack of confidence in Watson as a batsman, first and foremost. He therefore has 2 battles – earning the belief of the selectors, and scoring the runs to do so. Even if he does, the top 6 will go to the Ashes with a huge task in front of them, and a massive point to prove.