Long and short of it: Test focus to blame

CRICKET AUSTRALIA has acknowledged that its determination to regain Test supremacy might have affected its one-day results but refused to use this as excuse for the dismal performance in England.
Shanghai night field

The immediate consequences of Australia’s dreadful limited-overs tour of England will be known next week when selectors pick the one-day squad for a series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. The result suggests Australia have a mountain of work to do before the Ashes, especially on their batting, and heralded another injury crisis, with vice-captain Shane Watson, fast bowling sensation Pat Cummins and veteran paceman Brett Lee all breaking down with muscle injuries.

While George Bailey has made the most of his first two one-day series, the introduction of Peter Forrest, regarded as a potential Test batsman, and the return of Steve Smith have been less successful.

”There is a possibility, and there is a fine balance, that to try and deal with Test improvement there’s been a balance between ODI success and trying to develop players,” Howard said. ”Obviously that tour wasn’t acceptable and we’ve got to improve a lot in the next 12 months.

”We wanted people to develop and grow, and that takes time. There has been a methodology that the best players are the best players, and we’d get them in and expose them at different levels. We don’t make any excuses for our performances in England. We’re not going to throw out that it was a development tour. Four-nil wasn’t good enough.”

Watson’s calf injury is of particular concern given his importance as an all-rounder and his experience in the top order, with Australia’s batting looking distinctly vulnerable one year out from the Ashes, with tough series against South Africa and India to play before then.

”Mickey [Arthur] and myself and Shane have had conversations about when we can peak, when we can look after him, when does he get a break to try and rebuild himself. We’ve tried to map out the next 12 months with him,” Howard said. ”We’ve got a camp up in Darwin in the lead-up to the UAE tour, which he will be at. It’s not just Shane but all the guys who play three forms [of the game], and those conversations will be about getting them up for the big tours.

”Players can play all three forms. Whether or not they can play all games in all three forms is your challenge, particularly making sure the players have got enough load going up the levels in terms of the longer forms.”

There were no plans for Watson, who lost last summer to soft-tissue injuries, to give up bowling. ”When you look at his bowling, it has been such a positive for him,” Howard said.

Scans have suggested Lee’s calf injury is not as serious as first thought – he intends to be running again in 10 days – raising hopes that he will be fit for the World Twenty20 in September-October, which could be his international swansong.

”When we have more information the national selection panel can assess, can he get in a great position to keep playing? But he is a seasoned professional, he knows how to manage his body, and I’m sure he will be realistic,” Howard said.

Cummins, who has a side strain and was unveiled as a star recruit for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League yesterday, would be handled with care, Howard said. CA is working to ensure his workload is closely monitored whether.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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