Australia’s trip to India did not go at all to plan, they have left India with more questions being asked than answered before the Ashes. Among the pressing issues facing Australia are the captaincy, Nathan Hauritz’s form and the less pressing issue of the lower order batting.
Serious questions are now being asked of Ricky Ponting‘s ability to lead this transitional Australian side after his tactics during the India series, especially his field settings and use of Hauritz were widely criticised. Shane Warne blasted Ponting’s tactics for Hauritz over twitter, which as you can imagine caused quite a media stir.
The question is, is there anyone who could do a better job than Ponting in this Australian side? Well Michael Clarke is the obvious successor but many see him as a bit of a show pony and feel that he lacks the steel of previous Aussie captains, other options may include Katich, Hussey and Haddin but these are not realistic. I don’t think that removing Ponting and throwing Clarke in at the deep end just before an Ashes series would be wise, it could spell disaster and is definitely not worth the risk. However I think the captaincy needs to be looked at after this Ashes series, whether Ponting wins or loses (although if he loses I really doubt he will stay on as captain). Clarke needs time to mould the team into his vision, the added responsibility may also provide the added maturity that his batting seems to need. Whilst the change of captaincy could aide Clarke’s batting it would almost certainly also help Ponting’s, the captaincy seems to be straining him and lifting this pressure may see a return to his previous colossal run making.
Since Shane Warne retired Australia have tried a number of spinners, after a lot of different options had been tried they finally settled on Hauritz. They plumped for Hauritz over Jason Krejza because of his seemingly better control and economy. After Hauritz bowled 12 overs for 76 runs on the final day of the 2nd Test Australia may have been thinking back to when Krejza took 12 wickets in a Test against India. I must say there have been periods when Hauritz has performed well, at home against Pakistan and in the 2009 Ashes series however these moments have been few and far between and Ricky Ponting seems to have no faith in him whatsoever. The only other realistic spin option for Australia is Steven Smith, the problem of control is again a worry here but his selection would be an attacking option, he also provides more batting depth with a first-class average of 47. On the more spin friendly pitches such as Sydney I would play both Hauritz and Smith whilst for the other Test matches I would plump for the more experienced Hauritz.
After this Ashes series however I would give Smith a go on his own, I would also play him as an all-rounder, batting him at 6 instead of Marcus North. This would mean Australia could have 5 bowlers without reducing their batting strength. I think this is the only option if Australia want to once again be a threat on the sub-continent.Published 18 Oct 2010, 10:46 IST