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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Excellent advice to Australian selectors

I've been upcountry for a few days, hence my rcent silence.

This morning I managed to buy the last copy of today's Australian on sale at the Barmera Foodland. I was glad I did because it has another incisive piece by Patrick Smith " Miserly Clark holds key to Ashes glory".

Smith's assessment of the situation IMO is spot on:

So scrape away the hubris and this series is very even. Australia should stick to the 11 that brought the country back into the battle. We should cautiously discount the performance of the bowlers on the last day at Headingley where Stuart Broad and Swann thrashed an attack that tried to force dismissals rather than plot them.

The fact is that England, with Flintoff in and Bopara gone, will present as a more formidable opposition than what Australia did over three days in the last Test. But any change to the Australian team would weaken it.

The Ashes will be retained if Australia draws. For England to win the series and therefore win back the Ashes, it is crucial that it scores quickly. Clark has proved over his career -- and in the first innings of the fourth Test -- that he can shut down scoring with his impeccable line and length. To leave him out and bring in Hauritz or even Brett Lee makes the side unnecessarily vulnerable.

Hauritz can bowl frugally but Clark can do that better and get more wickets than the off-spinner. The suggestion that Lee plays to provide reverse swing surely is fanciful given that Australia's grasp of the science required has always appeared minimal.

Australia can retain the Ashes, but it must retain Clark first.

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