The more we think about it, the more these two things go hand-in-hand.
The situation was this. Nathan Hauritz got the boot because he got wellied in India like just about every other spinner who ever goes over there. Demented selections ensued.
Maybe Hauritz offended Ricky Ponting by suggesting that he stop setting fields that were complete dog toss – we may never know. What we do know is that Ponting is pretty damn certain he doesn’t want Hauritz in his team ever again, even if he has to pick a shit spinner or no spinner at all instead.
So what went wrong, specifically?
Partly it was a ‘grass is greener’ mentality. Shane Warne isn’t playing any more, although some people (desperate idiots) think he should be. Australia don’t have a spin bowler who’s even half as good as Stuart MacGill, so they should stop looking for one.
If you’ve got a bowler that good, you know about him. He isn’t out there disguised as a Beer or a Doherty.
If you’ve got Nathan Hauritz, use him properly. Don’t undermine him. Don’t discard him. If you’ve got a Steve O’Keefe, encourage him; build him up.
You certainly don’t just pick any old spinner and then drop him almost immediately. You tell all your spinners they’re not good enough when you do that, not just the one who’s come and gone.
And the captain?
Ricky Ponting has to take a lot of the blame. 152 Test matches and he doesn’t know how to handle spinners either on or off the field. That’s just embarrassing.
But again, is the grass greener? Ponting might not seem like a great option as captain right now, but he has learnt something in those 152 Tests and if someone can persuade him to drop down the order, he’s almost certainly still worth his place in the Test team, unlike many of the alternatives.
Things aren’t perfect, but hunting for perfection when it doesn’t exist is counterproductive. This isn’t to say we don’t think Ponting should be asked to step down. It’s to say think about it. There were plenty of other things wrong with Australia’s Ashes teams.