Ashes 100-1 Countdown: 45 Days Until the Ashes…
Every cricketing nation seemingly has a player in the current Marcus North situation. I’m talking about batters who are hanging onto their spot in the side by the skin of their teeth. A constant stream of 20s, 30s, and good starts that look good but never get built on mean they are likely to be consigned to the perils of domestic cricket sooner rather than later. Yet with their final throw of the dice they come up trumps with that previously elusive century. Marcus North’s century and highest score (128) in the opening innings of the second test in Bangalore looks to have cemented his place in the first test at The Gabba on November 25th. You can see the highlights below:
Many cricket fans are frustrated that Marcus North is still in the side and are calling for his head. Prior to the 2nd test Marcus North boasted an extremely modest average for an Australia middle order batsman at 35. And 18 tests is a fair amount of cricket. If you take a look through the dominant Waugh era and into the Punter era you can see how below par an average that is. In the current side you have Katich at 46; Watson at 40 (~53 over the last 1.5 yrs since moving to opener); Ponting at 55; Clarke at 50; and Hussey at 50.
The calls for North’s demise get stronger when you consider the two primary candidates – Philip Hughes and Callum Ferguson – knocking at the door. Ferguson would be like for like. Meanwhile Philip Hughes would mean Shane Watson has to move down the order despite his phenomenal form ever since that Edgbaston test. For the time being however, yesterday’s knock has quelled any such talk. It seems Ricky Ponting is a big fan of North and has considerable faith in his part time off-spin. And a five wicket test haul is no mean feat against anyone.
Furthermore, North shouldn’t be disheartened but should in fact be empowered by knowing that his situation isn’t unique. Not so long ago Ian Bell was just like him. England fans were frustrated at Bell looking elegant but not being able to hit it off the square. Calls for his head were around every corner and yet today Bell has won the fans over in a big way. Who knows? Maybe Marcus North can do the same in the upcoming Ashes series.
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