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The Next Generation of Australian Cricket (Part 1)
by Readers Columnist Corner (Other)
Posted on January 18, 2007, 9:53 AM

INTRODUCTION

The Ashes are over and back in the possession of the Australians. Ricky Ponting has firmly established himself as the world’s finest batsman in all forms of the game, Michael Hussey has emerged as one of the most complete batsmen in world cricket and Andrew Symonds seems to have finally arrived on the Test cricket scene. Unfortunately for Australian cricket, the culmination of the Ashes series saw the departure of some of the finest cricketers to ever take the field.

The first to go was classy middle order batsman Damien Martyn, who had recovered from a stop-start beginning to his career to become one of the most respected players around. Opening stalwart Justin Langer also decided to call time on his career, feeling that the moment was right and that he could no longer contribute his best to the cause. Most importantly however, the series saw the retirements of arguably the two greatest bowlers in the history of Test cricket in Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Warne’s much-anticipated announcement came days before he captured his 700th Test wicket on his home ground and after the Ashes were back in the Australian camp. McGrath made his own announcement days later, deciding to ride off into the sunset with Warne safe in the knowledge that Australian cricket had regained that which it holds most precious.

With the gulf left by these superstars and the imminent departures of Matthew Hayden and the irreplaceable Adam Gilchrist, much speculation surrounds the so-called ‘next generation’ of Australian cricket. Not since the simultaneous departures of Rod Marsh, Dennis Lillee and Greg Chappell has Australia faced such a large-scale exodus of senior players and the next 12 to 18 months will make for fascinating viewing.

With that in mind, this column will look at a group of twenty players comprised of those currently on the fringe of the national set-up and a group of youngsters who will surely go on to play an important role in the future. All statistics used in this piece are correct at time of writing. The first ten (batsmen and all-rounders) will be discussed here, while the others (wicket-keepers and bowlers) will be discussed in a second part in an attempt to make it a little easier to read.

BATSMEN

Phil Jaques
Left-hand Opening Batsman


After spending the early part of his career trying to decide between playing international cricket for Australia or England, Phil Jaques has now emerged as the natural successor at the top of the Australian batting order. After scoring 1409 runs in county cricket in 2003, Jaques rejected the calls of the English selectors declaring that his “heart lies in Australia”. Was called up to the test side as a temporary replacement for the injured Justin Langer against South Africa in late 2005 where he flattered to deceive but made his highest score of 66 against Bangladesh in mid 2006. His first class record speaks volumes, with 8712 runs at 56.94 with 25 centuries and 42 half-centuries under his belt. He has proven himself as a consistent run scorer both in Australia and England, while he showed that he is more than capable in the shorter form of the game as well with 94 on his international debut. No less a judge of talent than Steve Waugh has declared him the “prototype for young players” and predicted a long career for the 27-year old.
2 Tests, 4 ODIs

Chris Rogers
Left-hand Opening Batsman


At 29 years of age he may be regarded as a late bloomer, but there is no doubting Chris Rogers’ ability, nor is there any doubting the aggressiveness of his push for international honours. Overall he averages 50 in first class cricket with 7159 runs to his name, but this season has seen Rogers bludgeon 799 runs at the staggering average of 88.77. His best this season was an impressive 279 against Victoria, although his career best is a massive 319 not out. He also holds the fairly unique distinction of scoring a double century against his own country, scoring 219 for Leicestershire in 2005 against the touring Australians. He also has the benefit of Justin Langer’s personal stamp of approval having played alongside the now-retired test opener in Western Australia.
Yet to play international cricket

Brad Hodge
Right-hand Middle Order Batsman, Right-arm Off Spin Bowler


After being harshly dropped from the test side after the 2005/06 season where he averaged 58 including an unbeaten 203 in Perth, Hodge boldly asserted “Don’t worry, I’ll be back.” The strength of his claim for a place in the side is impressive, as he has amassed almost 15 000 first class runs at an average of all but 50 with 44 centuries. He was given his first Cricket Australia contract in 2004 when he replaced Darren Lehmann and narrowly missed out to Michael Clarke in the first XI. He remains behind Clarke in the pecking order, but with speculation that Michael Hussey may be moved from the middle order to an opening slot he may find himself thrust back into the international arena. With an enviable resume and a wealth of experience in domestic cricket both in Australia and England, Hodge will remain there or thereabouts in the selectors’ thoughts though at 32 years of age his time may have passed.
5 Tests, 5 ODIs

Mark Cosgrove
Left-arm Top Order Batsman, Right-arm Medium Bowler


Darren Lehmann’s protégé has a physique so remarkably similar to his mentor that he has been dubbed ‘Baby Boof’ and, like Lehmann, has the natural ability to dominate bowling attacks all over the world. At only 22 years of age, Cosgrove already has 3000 first class runs to his name at an average of 40 from 42 matches and has firmly established himself as an international batsman of the future. His biggest impediment often seems to be himself however, with his weight in particular a constant issue with selectors. He was suspended by South Australia for showing up overweight and unfit at the start of the season and was ordered to lose either 5 kilograms or the state contract and he responded in the best way possible, working hard in the gym and he has spent the rest of the summer flailing opposing bowlers all over the country. It appears as if he has put his troubles behind him, for the time being at least, and surely the time has come for Cosgrove to be given his chance at international level.
0 Tests, 3 ODIs

Shaun Marsh
Left-hand Middle Order Batsman, Left-arm Finger Spin Bowler


The son of former test opener and Australian coach Geoff, Shaun Marsh is a regarded as one of the most naturally gifted batsmen to emerge in the last decade. He made his first class debut at 17 and has gone on to establish himself in the Western Australian middle order although his relatively modest average of 31.38 suggests that the 23-year old is yet to hit his peak. His talents have earned rave reviews from all corners, with both Mark and Steve Waugh particularly big fans. A World Cup winner with the Australian Under-19s in 2002, Marsh is looked at more as a long-term prospect than a short-term replacement.
Yet to play international cricket

Marcus North
Left-hand Middle Order Batsman, Right-arm Off Spin Bowler


Marcus North is another who suffered on his transition to senior cricket after receiving a never-ending string of accolades as a junior. He was earmarked as a future test captain while at the Cricket Academy but despite demonstrating a remarkable talent with the bat and impressive skills both with the ball and in the field has not been able to force his way into the national setup. His career return of 6312 first class runs at 44.45 with 16 centuries suggests a consistent performer on top of his game and the voices behind his push for international honours are becoming louder with each impressive performance at state level. At 27, time is still on his side.
Yet to play international cricket

Adam Voges
Right-hand Middle Order Batsman, Left-arm Finger Spin Bowler


The final youngster in contention for the Australian middle order is explosive Western Australian Adam Voges. Even if Voges never goes on to an international career, he’ll always be remembered for his 62-ball one day century in 2005 where he announced himself on the domestic scene. He averages 42 at domestic level both in four day and one day cricket and was called up to the Australian test squad for the third fixture in this year’s Ashes series due to his impressive domestic form. At 27 he’s slightly older than his competition but if he continues at his present rate then he’ll surely be in the frame sooner rather than later.
Yet to play international cricket

ALL-ROUNDERS

Moises Henriques
Right-hand Middle Order Batsman, Right-arm Fast Medium Bowler


Of all the “can’t miss” prospects to emerge over the years, none have demonstrated as much potential nor generated such hysteria as Portuguese-born Moises Henriques. He is a once in a lifetime talent, a genuine all-rounder who at 19 years old is good enough to play first class cricket as either a batsman or bowler. His first class career is only in the infancy stage, but he has already captained the Australian Under-19 side to a World Cup victory and firmly established in the New South Wales one day side. His biggest fan is former national chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns and with every performance he looks more and more like the player to lead Australia into the future. His idol is Jacques Kallis and Australian fans are hoping that he’ll go on to be even more effective than the South African. Watch this space.
Yet to play international cricket

Shane Watson
Right-hand Middle Order Batsman, Right-arm Fast Medium Bowler


Ever since the retirement of Simon O’Donnell in the early 90s, Australia has been searching for that elusive international all-rounder who can make a good team a great team. Since he burst onto the domestic scene with Tasmania in 2001, Watson has been earmarked for an Australian batting spot at number six and bowling slot at second change. The search was invigorated by Andrew Flintoff’s incredible 2005 Ashes series and if Watson could keep fit he’d certainly be an established member of the side by now. Unfortunately he has had his career curtailed by a never-ending string of injuries, particular to his back, and this has stopped every charge in its tracks. Andrew Symonds has a somewhat tenuous grip on the all-rounder slot at the moment, but if Watson can make a consistent string of solid performances in domestic cricket then one feels that it won’t be long before he is back in the fold. He is a genuine middle-order batsman with 11 first class centuries to his name, while as a bowler he regularly delivers in excess of 140kph and has added the ability to move the ball both in the air and off the pitch. The idea of Watson and Henriques together in years to come should bring a smile to the face of any Australian cricket fan.
3 Tests, 52 ODIs

Cameron White
Right-hand Middle Order Batsman, Right-arm Leg Spin Bowler


If there is one thing that Cameron White is not it is the next Shane Warne. The similarities are there – he is a blond leg spinner from Victoria – but as a bowler he couldn’t be more different. Where Warne is a master of flight who can extract prodigious turn from any pitch, White relies more on bounce and changes of pace. He is a better batsman than Warne though and can comfortably slot into the middle order of any side. He demonstrated his batting ability during the recent Twenty20 international against England where he blazed an unbeaten 40 from only 20 deliveries including 4 towering sixes into the massive stands of the MCG. Another lauded as a future test captain, he has been leading Victoria since he was 20 years old and was made captain of Somerset last season. Warne suggestively declared that White was a future test star provided he “sticks to the way he plays and doesn’t try to be someone different”. It looks as if Warne’s prediction will come to pass as the towering all-rounder continues to earn rave reviews.
0 Tests, 7 ODIs

REFERENCES

Much thanks to the following websites for the free availability of all the statistics and photos used in this piece.

http://www.baggygreen.com.au

http://www.cricinfo.com

http://www.cricket.com.au



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