Then, of course, there’s the difficult question of Watson. That’s only a difficult question because he’s been allowed to dictate his own fate for a little too long. You might want to question a little in that last statement, but it’s fairly clear that if he holds his place opening, one more LBW for not many without a substantial score between now and when it comes will see him out of the opening role, at which point he’ll start making pronouncements about being needed to bowl.

There’s a fairly obvious case for Cowan to take his place, though if he does, I doubt the Watson ego would handle a spot lower down the batting order and it becomes a case of who gets dropped to allow a bloke who’s promised far more with the bat than he’s actually delivered.

Look below Haddin at Seven and it’s fairly obvious we’ve got a useful tail, but selections there are going to depend on fitness, so you can leave that side of the equation to a case of Agar at Eight and we’ll see how things look from there.

If Agar were to come on a little more with the bat you could make a case, what with the lower order consistently pitching in with runs and all, for shifting him up to Seven, playing an extra bowler (Lyon?) and we wouldn’t be needing Watto at all.

That, however, is a little premature right at this point in time, though it may well be an option at some point in the future.

There’s a county game between now and Old Trafford, and you’d reckon (or at least I would) that everyone will get a bat there (except, possibly, Clarke) with Lyon, Bird and Faulkner getting a trundle. 

Anyway, that’s the way it looks after the morning walk and a glance at a score card that revealed an LBW 20 to Watson, fifties to Khawaja and Clarke and runs at the end to Pattinson. One notes we were 3-36, got a partnership between Khawaja and Clarke, lost three quick wickets and had Haddin and the tail add 99 for the last four wickets. 

Seems to be about par for the course, really, so it’s a matter of seeing whether anyone in the first six can put his hand up and claim a place in the long term picture. 

Between the time I set out for the walk and the time I got home, this rather interesting article (The rotting of Australian cricket) appeared on Cricinfo, raising the regular issue of the decline of the Shield competition as an avenue that produces quality batsmen. 

It may be, rather than chopping and changing in quick succession, a case of giving the Khawajas, Smiths and whoever else is drafted in to the Test side an extended run at Test level, because if there’s anything there at all it’s more likely to be developed in the furnace of Test cricket than it is at the domestic level.

The astute reader will, of course, have noted the names of Khawaja and Smith rather than Watson, Hughes, Rogers and Cowan in the previous paragraph. One or more of those four may well have a part to play in the short to medium term, but a successful side in the long term will be built around the next generation of bats who won’t, as far as things look at present, be mastering their trade on (in the words of that Cricinfo article): sporting or worse surfaces, as state teams chase the outright results required to reach the Shield final ... a litany of low-scoring matches and bowlers celebrating far more often than they did during the relatively run-laden 1990s.

That’s the way it looked this morning, anyway...

© Ian L Hughes 2021