‘Where’s the streetwise Hercules to fight the rising odds? Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed? Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need. I need a hero. I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night. He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast and he’s gotta be fresh from the fight. I need a hero.’
These are the lyrics to a very famous Bonnie Tyler song (it was even in Shrek 2 for all of you cineastes…) and I just thought that it was an entirely appropriate way to start this article. When I hear these lyrics this image just thrusts itself to the forefront of my mine….
HE’S GOTTA BE LARGER THAN LIFE.
Brad Haddin has earned a recall to the Australian Test side, not only drawn back into the squad as reserve keeper, but only as the bloomin’ vice-captain ahead of an Ashes series in England!
You’re probably expecting me to be sarcastic and horrible and all of those nasty things; indeed, I have started this article off with just a small dose of satirical intent…
But I am very glad Haddin has returned, especially as he has been instantly placed as Clarke’s right-hand man. I felt he was very unfairly dropped after leaving the West Indies tour due to the tragic and terrible announcement of his young daughter suffering from cancer. His form in the previous few series’ wasn’t too fantastic, but I felt that he had at least a couple of years left in him. Though not the best keeper in Australia, nor the strongest glovesman with the bat, he has nonetheless been an indispensable member of the Australian Test side since 2008. In a troubled era for Australia, he has performed and most importantly played for the baggy green. He is emblematic of Australian grit and competitiveness.
The main headlines to have come out of the Australian national side for the last two months have largely concerned Shane Watson. I need not list them here, Shane Watson has made very sure that the public are aware of almost every minor decision he makes in his sporting career. The consequence has been that he has ‘resigned’ from the vice-captaincy, let’s face it, I’m very sure he was forced out and provided with a Malcolm Tucker-esque opportunity to ‘step down’ from the position in public, in order to salvage whatever dignity could be saved from the whole episode.
Shane Watson made his position as vice-captain untenable and, unless he picks up his form with the bat, is surely facing the axe if he cannot bowl 20 overs a Test.
Chris Rogers was the other massive surprise inclusion, that wasn’t really a bolt from the blue. The clamour around him kind of made up the selector’s minds, but regardless, a 35 year old man gearing up to play his second Test match is such a throwback to more innocent times that I can’t help but feel happy for him. His fantastic first-class record and stats in England support his selection, and given Australia’s very inexperienced and largely out-of-form batting line up, he might be thrown in at the deep end.
Arguably my biggest disappointment was the inclusion of Usman Khawaja ahead of Steve Smith. Khawaja has been warned and chastised for his lack of fitness, effort and drive when elevated to the highest level; Steve Smith on the other hand is a fantastic fielder, very fit and was one of the few Australians to come away from that Indian tour with anything approaching a tick besides his name. Yes, Smith’s bowling is very much of the part time variety and there are some technical flaws in-and-around the off stump, but Khawaja’s talent is being squandered by his own laziness; he cannot continuously be named in squads ahead of those putting in what he refuses to.
All in all, I feel that this was possibly the strongest squad that could have been chosen (personally I would have replaced Faulkner with Mitchell Johnson or Ben Hilfenhaus) and the inclusion of more ‘mature’ players, should bring a more professional, focused attitude that the side sorely missed in the Indian debacle. With Brad Haddin back in the side, they’ll surely reclaim the Ashes right?
‘I need a hero. I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night.’