Australias National Selection Panel (NSP) has handed new captain Michael Clarke a squad of veterans for the three-match tour of Bangladesh.
The age of four veterans in the squad – Ricky Ponting,Mike Hussey,Brett Lee and Brad Haddin – is of most concern.
At the age of 36,35,34 and 33,these four aren’t going to be around for much longer.
Of Australia’s top-six batsmen for Thursday’s warm-up match in Fatullah,only 29-year-old Watson and 28-year-old Cameron White are under 30.
This leaves promising young batsmen like Cameron Ferguson,Tim Paine,Aaron Finch,Usman Khawaja,Chris Lynn and Matthew Wade on the sidelines twiddling their thumbs.
It is likely that Ponting,Hussey,Haddin and 35-year-old Simon Katich will be in Australia’s Test XI for the tour to Sri Lanka in August. Again,these four men warrant selection on ability alone,but picking them would waste another chance to blood some youth for the future.
The selectors,however,have got it right with the bowlers for the tour to Bangladesh.
Veteran Lee,whose aging body no longer has to deal with the rigours of first-class cricket,will play the role of mentor to the often wayward Johnson and Victorian rookies John Hastings and James Pattinson.
One would hope that this trend continues in the next two years as 20-year-olds James Faulkner,Kane Richardson and Josh Hazlewood continue to impress.
The mentoring role that Lee will play should not be underrated when it comes to the batsmen either.
Clarke has said he wanted Ponting to remain in his side to pass on his experience and leadership qualities to the younger players.
But finding the balance between mentoring and giving the young players a chance is the key,and there is nothing balanced about a top six with an average age of 32.
With the next Ashes series just two years away,the time to take risks is now.
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