Is Australia’s pace bowling selection policy one of rest or rotation, the way of the future or is it just plain insanity? There are a lot of things about the policy not to like. It doesn’t often reward success and, in the case of Mitchell Starc, it acted as a virtual punishment for what could've been a career breakthrough performance in the first Test against Lanka. Starc was forced to miss the biggest day on the Australian cricket calendar. He was on a high, after a penetrating second innings spell that helped win a Test and needed a follow-up effort to reinforce in his own mind that he had “made it” at Test level.
Starc was angry about being left out of the MCG Test and he would’ve been livid after seeing the inept batting of Sri Lanka.
Now the selectors have the task of telling another in form bowler that he’ll have to stand down for the SCG Test. I’m wondering how long before there is mutiny among the pace men.
Cricket Australia’s (CA) controversial policy also pre-supposes a gaggle of fast bowlers are available who are all of a high Test quality. Currently, Australia is blessed with a number of talented fast bowlers. There are no assurances this will always be the case and when playing against the top sides, the best bowlers need to be picked when they’re fit. Look what happened at the WACA against South Africa when Peter Siddle was left out.
The pace bowling policy is not one that’s likely to be replicated. India for instance, would love to have the choice of rotating fast bowlers rather than having to scour the hills to find one capable of success. Then there’s the question of what policy CA will adopt in the Ashes series. For instance, would Siddle or Starc miss a crucial Test against England? I’d be surprised if anyone thinks this is going to happen.
Finally, we have the matter of who is actually picking the side. Is it the selectors or have the boffins taken over? Selection is occasionally about gut feel and betting on a player's heart and pride when the going gets tough. What is disturbing is that despite all the resting or rotating, the fast bowlers are still suffering injuries.