| Gillespie: Fitness problem
Brisbane: The time was right to blood a youngster in Test cricket if selectors end Mark Waugh’s long and controversial career on Monday, according to former wicketkeeper Ian Healy.
Healy, who was chosen for the Australian team after just six Sheffield Shield appearances for Queensland, said the great experience and confidence in Steve Waugh’s side made it a good time to gamble on youth.
Australia go into the Ashes series against England starting with the first Test at the Gabba on November 7.
Healy’s opinion pushes the claims of rising new South Wales batting star Michael Clarke to the front of the queue, which also contains South Australian Darren Lehmann, Queensland’s Jimmy Maher, Western Australia’s Mike Hussey and NSW skipper Simon Katich.
The bowling attack also remains undecided, with selectors weighing up the fitness of Jason Gillespie, the inconsistency of Brett Lee and the claims of hometown bowler Andrew Bichel as they settle on the two quicks to partner Glenn McGrath and spinner Shane Warne.
But selectors must first decide whether the embattled Waugh has reached the end of the road. There was no inkling at all from them this weekend on whether the 37-year-old twin brother of skipper Steve has played the last of his 128 Tests.
The selection is one of the most contentious in recent years but Healy, now a television commentator, was satisfied a young player could add a significant long-term benefit to an ageing team.
“We seem to have got into a pattern of thinking — and I think it’s media-driven rather than selector-driven — that we have to be totally convinced about a type of player before we put him in the Australian team,” Healy said on Sunday.
“What gave us such good success through the 1990s was some selections in the mid-80s where we threw some blokes in.And now is a good time to throw a young fellow in while the experience and the confidence of the others around him is perfect.”