Australia's selectors must heed lessons of Ashes defeat: Roebuck

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Sydney, Nov.20 (ANI): Australian cricket needs to face the facts. They have lost three of their past five Test series, and as far as the selectors are concerned, the backslapping notwithstanding, it is a point to ponder over, feels weel known cricket columnist Peter Roebuck.

In a syndicated article appearing in The Age, Roebuck claims that both captain Ricky Ponting and the selectors have blundered in choosing the wrong teams, misreading pitches and applying puzzling tactics at critical moments.

"Admittedly it has not all been bad. Australia performed admirably throughout a long stint overseas. The ODI side surpassed itself. But Test cricket is the real deal and in that arena Australian has fallen back. All the more reason to keep a close eye on the side appearing next week at the Gabba," Roebuck says.

He believes that to blame defeat on one or two poor sessions "is gibberish, a mere smokescreen".

Test series, he says are played over 25 days and produce a legitimate result. That is their purpose.

He criticises the selectors for keeping young opener Phil Hughes out of the side for the first Test against the West Indies.

"Phil Hughes was prematurely dropped. One more match was needed, one more chance to find out how far a quick eye might take a young player. Now he is betwixt and between," Roebuck says.

He adds that the selectors are lucky that Shane Watson has done a good job of being an "emergency opener".

"Yesterday, Andrew Hilditch confirmed that the selectors take responsibility for the team, and not merely the 12. It's a mistake. Nor does it reflect reality. For transparency's sake they ought to name 12 and leave the final decision to those on the ground. Then the position would be clear-cut," says Roebuck.

While praising the efforts of off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, Roebuck believes Ponting is mishandling his spinners, and adds that Jason Krejza, the other off-spinner, is not being given much chance, though he is bowling well this season.

"Australia's thinking has gone awry. Hilditch talked a lot about preparing for the next Ashes series in 2009-10. It's a distraction. England sits even lower in the table than the Aussies. Since when has Australia measured itself by a home series played against the fifth best team? Australia needs to focus on beating these woebegone West Indians and a gifted Pakistani outfit. First things first," Roebuck says.

"No serious objection can be made to the team chosen for the Gabba Test. Giving the batsmen another go was reasonable. Admittedly the opening partnership looks makeshift, but it's been working. Now, Watson needs to start thinking the part. Openers are a breed apart. Fifties are OK for middle-order show ponies. Among the speedsters, the strongpoint could become the weakness.

Ben Hilfenhaus enjoyed English conditions but may find antipodean tracks less to his liking. Mitchell Johnson usually takes a few laps to warm up so could be wayward. Peter Siddle has been sore.

None of them has played a first-class match for months. Doug Bollinger, the likely 12th man, has been hitting the pitch hard. The omitted Stuart Clark has bowled superbly on a dead SCG track but he's 34 and the pack is closing," he concludes. (ANI)

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