It’s the first morning of a Test. It’s time to try and come to terms with yet another new Australian batting line-up. Some batting orders are etched in stone. Australia’s are spelt out in magnetic letters on the door of the fridge.
Obviously Mitchell Starc returns, because he plays every other Test for Australia, but the real disruption is caused by James Faulkner’s inclusion at the expense of Usman Khawaja. Faulkner has never hit a first-class hundred, so he can’t really bat higher than seven. Brad Haddin therefore moves up to six and Shane Watson, who was at six, moves to three.
It’s impossible to get any kind of overview of Australia’s batting order in this series. There’s just too much information to process. However, Shane Watson’s journeys up and down the order highlight what’s happening quite well.
At the start of the series, he was definitely – DEFINITELY – the opener. Darren Lehmann was vocal about this. David Warner even batted in the middle-order for Australia A because his future was at number six.
In the third Test, Warner played one innings at six and was then promoted to opener. Shane Watson slipped down to number six, pausing briefly at number four for an innings. Six was definitely – DEFINITELY – the logical place for him to bat, being as he’s an all-rounder.
In the fourth Test, Watson batted at six and played one pretty decent innings. He is now moving to number three, which is definitely – DEFINITELY – the best place for him.
Meanwhile, Clarke has batted at four, five, five and four in the four Tests; Steve Smith has oscillated in response; and number three has been Cowan, then Khawaja and now Watson.
Imagine there’s 11 holes in the roof and you’ve got 11 buckets. When it rains, you position the buckets to catch the drips, but several of them fill up in no time. After a bit, you think to yourself that it might be better if you swapped Bucket A with Bucket B because the latter is larger and Drip A is much faster than Drip B. Unfortunately, Bucket B is still not big enough, so you swap it with Bucket C. Meanwhile, Bucket D is overflowing so you swap it with Bucket B, but then neither can cope with their respective drips so you eyeball Bucket E and wonder where that might best be placed.
Eventually, you just have to accept that you need bigger buckets. Or someone could try and fix the roof at some point.
Darren Lehmann does a bit of a Keegan
We imagine Darren Lehmann has a card with everyone’s name on and that he keeps all of these cards in a stack which defines the batting order. Every now and again, someone nudges him and he drops them all.
“Help me pick them up,” he wails.
“What order do they go in?” asks the nudger.
“IT DOESN’T MATTER,” he shrieks, on the edge of tears.
This tearfulness was implied by a recent radio interview, in which he yearned for something similar from Stuart Broad this winter.
“From my point of view I just hope the Australian public give it to him right from the word go for the whole summer and I hope he cries and he goes home.”
His reason for saying this is because Stuart Broad didn’t walk when he edged it in the first Test. In the middle of his whinge, Lehmann says that he doesn’t advocate walking, but apparently this was different because the ball ended up at first slip.