Simon Hughes: Australia are light in batting
Unless they can dig up a couple of precocious youngsters, Australia could struggle in this series and the Ashes next year
If you compare England and Australia’s batters man for man and make a combined line-up, the only Australians in my team would be David Warner and Shane Watson. Warner is a very determined cricketer and Watson has some class.
I’m not sure I’d have Michael Clarke. He’s not very good against the short ball and, although he made 61 in the 1st ODI, England were always in control. He’s steady, but he doesn’t look all that dangerous.
George Bailey is Australia’s number three and when you think who batted in that position for Australia until recently, it’s a lot to ask of him to show the same kind of class as Ponting.
Australia badly miss Mike Hussey. His brother, David, is not such a strong player. He has never played a Test match and there’s a good reason for that. He’s technically flawed and as soon as an opposing team has a fast bowler, he looks anxious and becomes half as good a player.
At number six, Australia are playing Steven Smith who has not progressed as a cricketer in the past couple of years. At times he looks like a village cricketer who should be batting at number nine.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade looks like he really has some potential at seven, but to be dubbed the new Adam Gilchrist burdens him with a level of expectation he will never be able to live up to.
Their batting will be Australia’s problem, not just in this series but also in next year’s Ashes. Mike Hussey is a fine batsman but he’s not getting any younger. Unless they can come up with some good young players to compete with the likes of Bell and Trott, they’re going to be second best again.
For England, Bopara looks nervous and vulnerable and I don’t think he’ll last the Test series out against South Africa. I don’t think he has the same professionalism and self-confidence as England’s other batsmen and he never will have.
Like Bopara, Kieswetter’s place in the ODI side is vulnerable and he could eventually lose his place as wicketkeeper-batsman to Bairstow. There’s a strong case to say England should play Buttler and Bairstow instead of Bopara and Kieswetter.