If we were to pick a World XI now, a fit Michael Clarke would be the only Australian certainty.
Our attack, particularly the pace bowling, is pretty good, but I worry whether they're going to have enough runs to bowl at.
It's the weakest Australian batting line up that I can remember in 60 years of watching Test cricket.
One thing which hasn't been discussed much with Arthur's sacking is how much of a a cleaner this has put through the selection panel.
A hallmark of selections over the past 2 years has been extreme inconsistency in the philosophy applied to selections, complicated by the need to rotate players. I doubt we'll ever get to find out why Clarke resigned as a selector, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if Arthur and Clarke were voting together in a block to get "their" way, with the other full time selectors occasionally disagreeing with them in unison. Nothing highlights this more than the selection of the Ashes' squad vs the squad to tour India.
I think after the first 2 tests we'll get an idea as to the selector's thinking. The position in the batting order to watch is #6. J Faulkner is a return to the Indian tour philosophy, Haddin the 5 bowler strategy (ie the selectors still can't work out who to pick). We might also get to see how much influence Clarke feeling threatened by other potential leaders in the squad was impacting selection.
Part of the problem with our batting lineup over the past season and a half is we've just not picked enough batsmen. I can't remember the last time we picked 6 specialist batsmen, most of the time it's been 4 plus Watson. The problem has been our bowling attack, while strong in patches, has numerous weaknesses. And to try and cover those weaknesses we've weakened the batting line up by selecting batters based on what they can occasionally do with the ball. The fact Lyon can't be relied on to bowl many overs when conditions don't suit - combined with Starc and/or Johnson (thankfully not selected) being loose cannons means we need to pick 3 other bowlers - and lose a batter in the process. The other problem is our best bowler is Ryan Harris, but can he be relied upon to get through a game or bowl enough overs?
The other issue we have is all our specialist batters bar Clarke are LH openers, though Warner hardly plays like one. I think this reveals a lot about the dominance of short form cricket at state, sub-state and junior level in Australia. But I guess as M Hussey showed a straight bat and orthodox shots at #6 is not necessarily a bad thing.
Over the past decade or two a stricter/better interpretation of the LBW rule has favoured left handers against fast bowling. As any aged southpaw will tell you, they used to reliably be given out LBW twice a season to balls blatantly pitched outside leg where the ump has simply forgotton which side is the leg side. That doesn't happen any more, so we're seeing leftie openers batting on off stump and taking LBW and bowled out of the game (and not un-coincidentally a rise in the number of left arm seam bowlers). And because of all the short form cricket at lower levels, to score enough runs at club and/or junior level you *need* to open the batting just to get to face enough balls. These days a RH middle order batter's job is to get 40 off 30, where as 10-15-20 years ago their job was to score the bulk of the runs batting at 3, 4 or 5. Hence, the only players knocking on the Test team door are LH openers.
This is what I think the likely team is:
J Falkner (12)
I think they'll want a leftie in the bowling line up, and they'll want to avoid giving Harris too many overs.
A compromise of the types that have been made recently would be to pick Falkner in place of Starc - because he's a leftie - not because Starc is 8 times more likely to get a genuine test batter out. I'm sure Boof will be a Kwaja man on the panel. Usman obviously had his supports on the old panel - he kept getting picked for tours - but someone was clearly blackballing him preventing him from getting on final teams. The change in the selection panel will almost certainly favour him.
I think Clarke will bat at 5. One thing Leehman has already brought to the table is the revolutionary idea that you pick your best players in their best positions: hence Rogers and Watson at 1 & 2, and a (more) logical extension of that is Clarke at 5.
Personally I'd probably have gone with (from the squad):
J Bird (12) (To be played in place of Lyon if the pitch/weather is wet/green)
Pete Siddle will play at least two tests if this lineup remains unchanged. It's a big call leaving him out *and* including Starc in a 3 seam bowler attack with Harris. But I've gone for strike power over reliability. The biggest weakness of the side I've picked is lack of containment in the attack. There is plenty of wicket taking fire power, but doing the hard yards when the batters get on top without Siddle steaming in and tying up an end is a lot to ask of Watson, Lyon and Harris.
The team we are likely to end up with will be too light on batting, and perhaps light on bowling strike power too if the go with Faulkner over Starc.