The Tonk: Three cheers for the selectors

‘s Test selectors have copped it left, right and centre for some of their decisions over the past couple of years but it would be hard to argue that they haven’t nailed it in the Ashes.
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With Steve Smith’s side 3-0 up in the series and the urn reclaimed, Trevor Hohns, Darren Lehmann, Greg Chappell and Mark Waugh are looking like geniuses.

After their board-influenced flirtation with youth when at the team’s lowest ebb last summer, the panel copped plenty for picking the thirty-something Shaun Marsh and Tasmania’s back-up ‘keeper Tim Paine against England, and there were others lining them up when they granted Mitchell Marsh a recall in Perth as well.

While there are prolific performers in the Sheffield Shield who have been and continue to be overlooked, former Test opener Simon Katich believes the panel got it right by choosing players on form in the competition and with experience.

“Two of the three guys who were initially selected were coming off very good starts to the Shield season, given that [Cameron] Bancroft and Shaun Marsh did very well against a Test attack at Hurstville Oval,” Katich said.

“Paine was a bit more of a speculative one, but he is an experienced player and was already the incumbent [n] T20 keeper, so they knew what he could do behind the stumps.

“And the selection of Mitchell Marsh is another example of picking a player who is in terrific form, at the right time, and that selection has looked to have paid off.

“So the selectors, alongside the players, deserve a lot of credit for picking guys out of the Sheffield Shield in form and guys who are experienced players.”

Katich, as the player liaison manager for the n Cricketers’ Association, was a vocal figure during the long-running pay dispute with Cricket which covered ground including scheduling as well as the players’ desire to retain a percentage share of the game’s revenue. Many argued there had not been enough Shield games before last summer’s series against South Africa, which lost 2-1, but with a later start to this Test summer, Katich said Smith’s team was better prepared.

“I think Cricket have learnt their lesson from the year before, when they went in underdone against South Africa and lost the series,” Katich said.

“You can’t afford to take anything for granted, and I think this year they realised they needed to schedule three Shield games, which is fantastic.”

Slow news day

Forget about red-light and speed cameras and parking inspectors. Cricket has got them covered.

We told you earlier this month that CA was once again going to be playing hardball with slow over rates in the Big Bash League, and last summer controversially suspended Brisbane Heat captain Brendon McCullum for a match.

The governing body has delivered on that promise, announcing fines to 44 players across the men’s and women’s Twenty20 leagues.

The Sydney Sixers XI were all stung a grand for being an over short in the local derby against the Thunder, as were the Melbourne Stars after their game against Brisbane on Wednesday night. The Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades players are each $250 lighter in the pocket for the same offence.

The fines totalled $27,500 but will be halved if teams accept the penalty without appeal.

Finger lickin’ good

As you can expect, there was plenty of the sponsors’ product being consumed in the n dressing rooms after their Ashes triumph, but not of the variety we’ve come to expect. There’s no doubt a few beers would have been consumed but the players were also getting stuck into something else that the dietician would in normal circumstances not be approving: fried chicken, and lots of it.

We’re hearing the Colonel treated Smith’s XI (and the back room staff) to the works with several buckets of the 11 herbs and spices, popcorn chicken, burgers and chips to line the players’ stomachs for their well-earned celebrations. After all, it’s not every day you get that little urn back.

Dry line

More on ‘s Ashes knees up. Mitchell Starc’s race to be fit for Boxing Day has already made headlines but this should give you an understanding of how desperate he is to line up in Melbourne. The left-arm speedster, who is nursing a bruised heel, was so committed to his recovery, we’re told, he did not have a single beer. But what about the snap of him with a beer in hand revelling with the rest of ‘s attack?

The explanation we’ve been given is he’s holding the stubby for Nathan Lyon, who has his hands full with the urn. For what it’s worth, Starc was out on the 5.45am flight the next morning.

New delivery

Congratulations to Sixers off-spinner Will Somerville and his wife Ellie, who welcomed a baby girl, Zoe, into the world on Wednesday afternoon. Somerville will be back in magenta in the 13-man Sixers squad for Saturday night’s match against Perth Scorchers at the SCG.