In the second part of Impact‘s scouting report on the Australian Ashes squad, we take a look at the all-rounders. Whilst England’s contingent of Matt Prior, Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan will be well known to most, some of the Australians will be new faces. Here we analyse what each member brings to the Aussie side, and offer some hints as to how England may go about taking them on.
Brad Haddin (vice-capt)
An experienced and reliable performer with 44 test caps and a solid average of 35.50. A feisty ‘keeper batsmen who has had a fair few tiffs with England players down the years, so he can expect some needle when he arrives at the crease. However, he seems to thrive on such conflict and has played some handy knocks in the last two Ashes series. In fact, he has an average of 46.33 in Tests against England and was Australia’s third highest run scorer in the 2010-2011 series down under. Brought up on the true bounce of Australian pitches, he likes to hit through the line and straight to the pitched up ball. I would expect to see a fair amount of short stuff from England, to try and keep him on the back foot.
After overcoming a laundry list of injury problems, Watson has become one of Australia’s key players. The ‘homework gate’ scandal of the winter ought to be behind him; now that a new coaching set up has been installed. With 41 Test caps and an average of 35.34, he’s spent much of his test career as an opener including opening in the last two Ashes series. However he spent much of last winter batting at 4 in an effort to compensate for the loss of recently retired Michael Hussey. Recognised by most commentators as a very good batsman, the obvious criticism of him is his inability to convert good starts into serious scores. In fact Watson has notched up 19 test fifties but has only two test centuries to his name. He does bowl some handy overs of right arm seam and will be able to fill in as a fifth bowler if required. In terms of bowling plans it is clear that Watson is a serious LBW candidate; four of his five dismissals in the 2009 series were by this method, and Stuart Broad will be hoping to extend his previous success in this manner. Expect a stump to stump approach from England’s bowlers to Watson.
In the squad as back up to senior gloveman Haddin, Wade was the occupier of that position from April 2012 until March 2013 and was Australia’s chosen ‘keeper batsmen in the recent Champions Trophy. In his 12 test appearances he made two centuries and averaged a handy 34.61 and so can perhaps count himself a little unlucky to have been demoted. Depending on the fitness and form of others in the squad, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that Wade could be selected purely as a batsman. Yet another left hander who could possibly occupy a position in Australia’s middle order, he didn’t have the best of times against spin in India (which Australian did?) so England will perhaps look to Graeme Swann to target Wade should he play.
Steve Smith (Stand-by member)
Smith is a leg spinning all-rounder who has failed to nail down a place in the side, since making his debut in July 2010. His batting is stronger than his bowling, and any sort of comparison with Warne would be wide of the mark. On standby as cover, just in case Michael Clarke’s troublesome back trouble flares up again and the tourist’s need an extra batsman. However at the time of writing, Clarke has made the XI for Australia’s first tour match, so Smith could well find himself surplus to requirements.
Next up, Impact will scout the Australian bowlers.