2. Sam Robson (Middlesex) [Born: Sydney] Robson sort of made headlines a few weeks ago when he put on a big opening partnership with Chris Rogers in a game for Middlesex. He played U19 for Australia U19 has since decided to use his mum’s English heritage and via residency will qualify to play for England in 2014. The 23 year old Robson has made 757 runs at an average of 68 with a top score of 214* so far this English summer suggesting we should bring him back to his right country before it’s too late!
Australia has bombed spectacularly from the Champions Trophy with Shane Watson and Phil Hughes looking in horrid form with the willow and Australia A made heavy weather against Ireland [but more about that in the soon to be released chronicles: The Steve Rixon Tour Diary] The darkest of days was almost realised when Steve Smith made a century for the A team and it looked like he might be seconded into the Ashes squad for Dave Warner. Thankfully for everyone’s sanity this didn’t happen, however the call has been made in recent weeks to bring back the retired Simon Katich and/or Ricky Ponting to strengthen the brittle Aussie batting. Both are in England and making runs (Ponting 295 runs at an average of 98 for Surrey, Katich 582 runs at an average of 59 for Lancashire) if they are wanted or needed.
Thankfully the Cricket Australia website has a weekly update called ‘A County Practice’ featuring Matron Sloan, Fatso, Bob and Cookie…. no, I mean a list of who is nearby and could be brought into the Aussie Test team – I present the Bring Em Back XI
1. Phil Jaques (Yorkshire) [Born: Wollongong] Banished from the Australian Test team after taking the catch that gave Beau Casson his first test wicket. No not really he hurt his back and took the best part of two years to recover and then his form deserted him completely. Jaques retired from Australian first class cricket 18 or so months ago but is still playing for Yorkshire (as a local due to his British passport) where this season he has opened the innings and averaged a Shane Watson-esque 24 with a top score of 57 (very SR Watson). Phil, at a youngish 34 years old, is the closest thing Australian cricket has to Jaques Kallis – obviously in name only. Bring him back!
3. Rob Quiney (Essex) [Born: Melbourne] Test discard Quiney was having a bit of a shocker with Essex before he popped his shoulder fielding and brought his stint at the county to a premature end and headed back to Australia for rehab. So he will have to be replaced with Michael Klinger (Gloucestershire) who, despite being stripped of the South Australian state captaincy by Darren Berry (interesting), has been made captain of Gloucestershire. Like Quiney, Klinger has been a prolific run scorer at Shield level for the past 3 or so seasons without getting any recognition with higher honours. And as far as I am aware he doesn’t have a black mark next to his name – ie he wasn’t part of the 3 slobs: Warner, Finch and Cosgrove who were kicked out of the Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence for having untidy rooms and instigating a food fight in the AIS dining hall. Rob Quiney can’t be brought back due to injury so Michael Klinger, bring him in!
4. Marcus North (Glamorgan) [Born: Pakenham] Not retired just never going to be selected for Australia again. Had his papers stamped “Do Not Select” and fair enough as it was either single figures or triple figures from North. He either made you wanted to give him the single finger (frequently) or a round of applause (not as often). Anyhoo North has settled in to life in Wales (that’s where Glamorgan is) pretty well making the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff his own. It’s not surprising really it’s the venue where North made his last test century in the 2009 Ashes. North has even taken on the captaincy of the one day side despite stepping down from the WA captaincy. I guess it’s easier to be captain when you don’t have the Marsh brothers in your team. North is averaging a Watson like 24 with a top score of 68 in this county campaign so lets bring him back – he’s a Victorian!
5. Murray Goodwin (Glamorgan) – Born in Zimbabwe but raised in Perth and played first class debut for Western Australia. At a sprightly 40 years old Goodwin makes Ponting and Katich look like puppies.He last played for Zimbabwe in 2000 (19 Tests with a batting average of 42) so he should be right to switch allegiances and no doubt the Australian government can whip through another passport fast track bill (ala Fawad Ahmed) if required. Goodwin got close to playing for Australia back in his days at WA playing for my favourite Australian team: the ACB Chairman’s XI and the rebranded Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI. I suspect he would have got to see Manuka Oval in the nations capital on both occasions – what a treat.
North and Goodwin are batting 4 and 5 for Glamorgan bookended by Jim Allenby [born: Perth] at 3 (knocked up 600 runs at 67 too) and Stewart Walters [born: Mornington] at 6. Does no one in Wales play cricket? That’s a four man Aussie middle order plus former WA quick Michael Hogan and the head of elite performance (whatever that means – is there also a head of so-so mediocre performance?) is former Victoria and NSW top order grinder Matthew Mott. I guess it’s the Welsh equivalent to stacking an English team full of Saffers.
6. Brendan Nash (Kent) – Born in Western Australia to a Jamaican dad. After a middling Shield career with Queensland, Nash decided to try his luck playing in Jamiaca with the hope of playing international cricket with the Windies. It worked but after 21 tests and some one dayers and despite being appointed Test vice-captain in 2010, Nash fell out of favour with the West Indies and disappeared off the cricketing landscape. He was plucked out of club cricket in Melbourne (not premier cricket or sub-district but club cricket) to be Kent’s overseas signing last year. Four years is the mandatory wait period to change international cricket teams so we might just have to wait for the 2015 Ashes tour for Nash. But there would be no such issue for batsmen Tom Cooper (Netherlands) [Born: Wollongong] as there is no waiting period for playing for an ICC Associate member country (ie Netherlands) then playing for a ICC full member country (ie Australia) as Dirk Nannes demonstrated in 2009 by representing Netherlands then making his Australian debut in the same year. “Coops” has been a model of underachievement in his career for South Australia & Netherlands (they play in the English 40 over competition) so far but that doesn’t seem to deter the current selectors so he could be in with a shot.
N.B. As far as I know Brendan Nash is the only top 6 batsmen ever to deliver 10 overs of left arm medium pace bowling in an ODI.[It was against the Black Caps in NZ here] If you know of any other genuine batsmen who has bowled even 2 overs of left arm mediums in an ODI I would be keen to know. There are plenty of batsmen who bowl a little bit of right arm pace, right arm spin, even left arm spin but precious few who bowl left arm medium.
7. Cameron White (Northants – T20 only) [Born: Wonthaggi] White has signed for Northants for the English T20 in June- July so will be on hand when the whips are cracking. He played his 4 Tests for Australia as the team’s number one spinner in India in 2008 but he would be this teams second spinner behind Marcus North. White’s fall from grace has been swift and spectacular dropping out of the Australian One Day squad and losing the T20 captaincy to George ‘Stroller’ Bailey.Cameron White – bring him back! Said no-one. Ever.
Talking of The Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, the Honorable George Bailey his career was on a nice trajectory: first a T20 debut as Australian captain, now Australian One Day captain and it looked like a Test spot for an experienced non opener might be up for grabs. But all his good work was undone when he decided to stroll a single and was run out in the must win Champions Trophy tie against Sri Lanka. Micheal Clarke was seen with his head in his hands after the run out and as punishment ordered ‘Stoller’ Bailey to walk at that same pace back to Australia. Bailey is not likely to be home in time for the next Ashes – continental drift is expected to outpace him.
8. Luke Ronchi (New Zealand) [Born: New Zealnd] NZ born but grew up in and played for Western Australia. Ronchi (pronounced ron-key) should have experienced an Ashes tour before, but, after playing limited overs cricket for Australia in 2008 , he had a complete and utter loss of form was not picked as back up keeper on the 2009 Ashes tour. He is a gloveman so why not through him in to the mix – it would fit in with the revolving door selection policy Australia seem to have with keepers at the moment. Has had a glorious start to his Black Caps career in England making 47 runs in 6 innings at an average of 7.83 at the top of the order and earnt himself the nickname ‘Wonky Ronchi.’ And a great rhyming slang is born: “I crashed my car into a power pole and now the front wheel is a bit Luke Ronchi (wonky)”
9. Trent Johnson (Ireland) [Born: Wollongong] Played for NSW alongside Tubby Taylor and fellow Wollongong boy Brett Lee (What is it with Wollongong? You could practically field an Australian XI from Wollongong) A medium fast rather than fast medium bowler, DT Johnson has been a mainstay of the Irish cricketing surge since the 2007 World Cup where he unleashed the chicken dance wicket celebration. At 39 years old and bald he looks the part of an angry fast bowler and took 4 wickets for not much against Australia A last week. Ireland is an associate member so he can play for Australia any time – bring him back (at least to Wollongong)!
10. Trent Copeland (Northants) [Born: Sydney] Copeland has been unsighted in Australian colours since a very productive debut Test series against Sri Lanka in September 2011. Bowls line and length, is always economical and can bowl long spells – exactly what the Aussie team needs! He had been in England on a short stint with Northamptonshire, where he took 36 wickets at an average of 16, but has recently returned to Australia. Bring him back to England!
11. Steve Magoffin (Sussex) [Born: Queensland] The former Western Australian and Queensland quick has thrown in his lot with Sussex and has managed 39 wickets at 17 this season. After taking 12-31 he was asked if he would play for Australia in the Ashes. “I don’t even play Shield cricket in Australia any more so I’m not sure if I would qualify for Australia but, if the phone rings, I will answer it and I will probably be available. If it was to happen it would be amazing.” Yes it would be amazing and I’d suggest about as likely as Australia winning the Ashes 5-0.
12th man. Shaun Tait (Essex) [Born: Radelaide] Bring him back! Why is no-one saying this about Shaun Tait? Made his Test debut in the 2005 Ashes and played his third and final test against India in 2008 at the WACA and was so traumatised by the occasion that he promptly took an indefinite break from all forms of cricket. I have no idea where he managed to squeeze in his second test in between these two as I have no recolection of him donning the baggy greeen at any other time. Tait has been on a slow drip of retirements first quitting test cricket and first class cricket, then one day cricket and is now a gun for hire on the T20 circuit. Will be playing for Essex in the County T20 in June – July so will be around if needed. I also recently saw a photo of him bowling at training – Unbelievable!? Believe it!
Coach: Jason Gillespie (Yorkshire) [Born: Radeliade] Gillespie knows a thing or two about winning Ashes series in England (1997, 2001) but he’s experience of losing in 2005 will probably be more pertinent. Ouch.
Fielding Coach: David Boon. Why the hell not! Could also show Dave Warner how to hold it together after consuming a breweries worth of beer.
Fortunately a repeat of the recent India tour won’t occur as Steve Smith, Moises Henriques and Glen Maxwell have been packed off on an Australia A tour of South Africa during the Ashes. Steve Smith was even named skipper! Seems a little excessive – was George Bailey not available? Oh yeah…