x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Australia must stop tinkering with batting order

For starters, it is Michael Clarke – and not Shane Watson – who should be batting at No 4 for Australia.

David Warner is one of the few players who has a settled slot in the Australia batting order. David Gray / Reuters
David Warner is one of the few players who has a settled slot in the Australia batting order. David Gray / Reuters

Off the field, Australia had an abysmal week, with the team discipline row that led to four players being dropped. On the field, they did not help themselves, either, with the continued tinkering of their batting order.

Only the opener Ed Cowan, of the top five batsmen who started the series, has stayed in the same slot in the six innings to date on the tour of India.

Looking in from the outside it has appeared that Australia's focus has been having players in the side, regardless of whether their best position is available.

Take Shane Watson. A good, but not great batsman, he has done an adequate job as an opener in the past. But with David Warner and now Cowan available, Australia wanted the all-rounder, who is not bowling at present due to injury, in the side, so levered him in at No 4 for the first two Tests.

With a humble average of 36 and just two hundreds to his name, forcing Watson in at a spot usually reserved for a team's best stroke-maker was perplexing, and the fact he was one of the four dropped by the coach Mickey Arthur probably took an awkward decision away from the selectors.

There is some mitigation in the unexpected retirement of Mike Hussey, which clearly caught the selectors unawares in January, when they were planning the tour. But if they are to be successful in England this summer in the Ashes they must have a settled batting order.

Find a line-up that they are happy with, ideally with Michael Clarke, the captain and their best player, at No 4, and select around him.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

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