Cheika’s fine line of selection

Hiding to nothing: After five straight losses in 2016, if Michael Cheika makes a string of changes and he’s just shuffling the deckchairs; make no changes and he’s a selection dunce without a clue. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: Anyone that’s been involved in the selection of sporting teams at any level knows that it’s a rare event to go from one game to the next with an unchanged line-up.

The further down the pyramid you go, the harder the job gets; players go up and down grades, players’ availability changes, injuries take longer to get over, jobs happen.

At the highest level, all the factors above apply, but then you add scrutiny, debate, rumours and politicking of selection at its zenith. Any possible selection decision will be debated in the lead-up, and dissected and rationalised and debated even more in the aftermath.

This is where we find Michael Cheika this week, as he mulls over his side to face South Africa on Saturday night in Brisbane.

I’m calling ‘Stumps’ on this summer of discontent

The Adelaide Test was outstanding, and several elements from it should be applied to Test cricket more broadly. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Adelaide Test was outstanding, and several elements from it should be applied to Test cricket more broadly. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: A different kind of Eden Park thumping is enough for me to put the summer of cricket behind me for 2015/2016. Yes, there is still a bit of cricket to go between now and the end of April, but the Kookaburra must give way to the Gilbert.

And what an interesting summer it’s been..

World Twenty20: Will it be sixth verse, same as the first for Australia?

Shane Watson's form incline means he probably should open with David Warner at the WT20. Image: ABC Grandstand

Shane Watson’s form incline means he probably should open with David Warner at the WT20. Image: ABC Grandstand

The Roar: If the definition of insanity really is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result each time, then the Australian selectors have shown that when it comes to Twenty20 strategies and game plans, they’re properly certifiable.

And unless there’s a rapid rethink of current selection and strategies for the sixth edition of the WT20 kicking off in March, it’s hard to see how Australia’s consistently inconsistent record in the tournament will improve.

The selectors ignored a number of batting options in bringing the squad together for the three matches against India, preferring to pin all hopes on long hitters. Even knowing that India were going to bowl spin for at least 40% of the innings, footwork and subtlety was eschewed for fence-clearing and POW-WER!

The penny has to drop some time, surely…

It’s simple. Some very good batsmen won’t go to India

Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, George Bailey, and Usman Khawaja: I think they're battling for the last two spots in the Australian WT20 squad. Three will be very unlucky..

Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, George Bailey, and Usman Khawaja: I think they’re battling for the last two spots in the Australian WT20 squad. Three will be very unlucky..

The Roar: If cricket is the national sport at this time of year, then selecting the Australian cricket team must run a very close second. As sure as day follows night, any discussion or debate on selection options will at some point include a new team being named.

The National Selection Panel on Monday naming the one-day squad for the three matches in New Zealand kicked off the latest round. Nathan Lyon’s white ball development is again on hold, in favour of the very promising Adam Zampa, while Usman Khawaja has again been unable to force his way into the squad, which averaged more than 53 runs per wicket across the five games against India.

And this got me thinking about just how tough it’s going to be to make the Australian squad for the ICC World Twenty20 in India, to be held in March and April. Simply put, there’s going to be some very unlucky Australian batsmen, when the squad is named…