Starting at the top, Clarke, Neilsen and Chappell will pick Phil Hughes to open with Watson. Hughes, a likeable young man who has worked hard at his game should, never the less, not play Test cricket again. His technique outside off stump is worse possible left hander stuff and his talk in the last few weeks only underlines that he falls into that unlucky category of player who has scored plenty at first class level but never could make it in Tests. Therefore, the first argument isn't whether Shaun Marsh or Khawaja should bat at six, but that Marsh should be opening with Watson. Marsh has been a player for Australia in the pyjamas in that position and has played his best innings for West Australia in the Shield at one or two.
Clarke and Hussey could interchange at four and five. Clarke bats better in the middle order and those that say the skipper must bat in the first four have forgotten that Steve Waugh spent his entire successful captaincy career at five. The difference is, we don't have anyone at Shield level knocking down the door for the number four spot, where as there are many contenders for the middle of the batting innings. So Clarke at four, Hussey at five and then Ponting at six. Can you imagine a bowling attack taking four Australian wickets and Ponting walks out?
Its all about balance.
Nice postulation but I doubt whether any of it will be applied. We'll have to wait for the new head selector before common sense becomes common.
Of the bowling, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris will do the grunt work and Michael Beer will provide the spin options in what looks to be a boring and uninspiring attack. It should be remembered that off and on, it was this quartet which the English flogged from pillar to post last summer. Australia's biggest problem has been taking twenty wickets per match and on the low, slow decks in Sri Lanka which usually crumble from the fourth afternoon, its hard to see this foursome running through a very accomplished Sri Lankan top six. A lack of imagination will keep Lyon and Copeland out of the side and it will be Clarke's failure if that happens. Australia can play it safe and hope to draw all three Tests but that won't improve our world ranking.
Even without Murali, Sri Lanka have the better attack, given the experience and quality of the spinners they can call on. They miss new ball grunt but its unlikely that Tests will be decided by the comparison of the quality of the new ball attacks. At their best, the batting line ups look well matched so it will almost certainly be a high scoring series with most of the games heading to draws. At home and with the better recent record, Sri Lanka 1-0 looks about right.
The following Daniel Brettig interview with Ricky Ponting is most interesting and took place just a few days ago. Click to read ... Interview with Ponting