Australia has always had a healthy obsession with playing all rounders in its Test side.
Just over two years ago in Hyderabad, we played Watson, Moises Henriques and Maxwell in the same team.
Also in that side was Xavier Doherty. That’s when you knew the joke had gone too far.
This all rounder policy is currently “broken”. I’m using that term deliberately, because it’s probably one step short of “wrong”.
Wrong is such a binary word.
Using “broken” gives me just enough wriggle room to explain myself.
You see, Bupa Support Team Head Coach Darren Lehmann (yep, that’s how Cricket Australia refer to him in every article on their website) has publicly said that he wants an all rounder at number 6.
After the 3rd Ashes Test this year, where Mitch Marsh was dropped for brother Shaun (I’ve had more lives than a cat) Marsh, he suggested that under any team he coaches, we will always see see an all rounder at 6.
This theory has some logic.
- 5 batsmen
- 1 all rounder (usually someone who can’t really bat or bowl if you look at Australia’s recent history. I didn’t name Shane Watson. That was your own doing. Shame on you.)
- 1 wicket keeper
- 3 quicks
- 1 spinner
Now, if your side reads something like Greenidge, Sehwag, Sachin, Lara and Steve Waugh as your top 5, then feel free to play an all rounder.
Even better, play a bowling all rounder.
For maximum effect, play Mitch Marsh.
He is quickly proving himself to be a more than handy bloke with the pill in his hand. But his Test batting average of 28 with only one half century suggests he is a little weak with the willow.
If he was in the side as one of the 3 quicks and coming in at number 8, then his batting is a bonus.
But he is not.
Marsh is taking up one of the prime batting spots.
Number 6 is a position where Ricky Ponting learnt his craft for more than two years.
When your top order reads Warner, Burns, Khawaja, Smith and Voges, then you need to do better than Mitch Marsh coming in next.
Australia need to bite the bullet and either play a 6th batsman, or play a batting all rounder.
Perhaps consider someone like Moises Henriques (who has two test 50’s in only 6 innings) or Glenn Maxwell, who has a First Class average over 40.
Having Klinger or Cowan open with Warner, and dropping Burns to 6 would be even better.
Think of it this way.
How often does an Australian all rounder win the Test Man of the Match Award, or bat/bowl the team to victory.
It never happens.
Playing an all rounder is a furphy.
Guys like Kallis, Hadlee, Imran Khan or Kapil Dev are as rare as correct Shane Watson DRS reviews.
They don’t come along very often.
Who is the best Test all rounder in the world at the moment?
Moeen Ali? Ben Stokes? Corey Anderson? Jimmy Neesham? Ashwin?
We are struggling for a decent one, aren’t we?
If an all rounder must be played for some philosophical reason, then get someone who can average over 35.
Otherwise, can we just have a proper batsman at number 6 please?
I have plenty of faith in Mitch, Mitch, Josh and Nathan to bowl us to victory on almost any deck.
Australia are wasting the number 6 spot.