Why are there no Victorian batsmen in the Australian test cricket team. Surely Brad Hodge, Chris Rogers and David Hussey are good enough to be in the team? Why is it that even when Victorian batters make tonnes of runs in the Sheffield Shield they are still overlooked by Australian selectors. Ever since Dean Jones was unfairly dropped from the test team in 1992 Victorian batsmen have struggled to find a place in the team, and even when they do get selected their is no guarantee that they will keep their spot regardless of how many runs they score for Australia.
I have heard that there is talk that NSW opener Phil Hughes is the next in line for a test spot despite Chris Rogers having made many more runs in the Sheffield Shield this season. It sort of reminds me of the situation with Matthew Hayden, the man who may be dropped from the test squad, a decade ago. From his debut in 1994 until 2000, Hayden continually failed at test level and was in and out of the team. He would be selected for Australia, inevitably fail, be dropped, and then after a little time on the side lines be selected again, which would start the cycle again. It was not until Australia toured India in 2001 that Hayden finally repaid the selectors for their faith in them, and while he was undoubtably the best batsmen in the world between 2001 and 2005 it is often forgotten that until the 2000 season Hayden’s average at test level was a pathetic 21.7. Contrast this with Matthew Elliott whose place Hayden ultimately took, who had an average of 33.48, a top score of 199, but only played 21 test matches. Elliott was dropped from the team not because he lacked any form, but because selectors perceived him to be mentally weak.
Hodge should be in the test team at the moment. The last time the South Africans were here he scored a double century at the MCG, yet the selectors congratulated him by dropping him from the team at the end of that series. He is currently on fire in the Sheffield Shield and Ford Ranger Cup yet I doubt that the selectors care. He has a test average of 55.88 but has only played six test matches. Similarly David Hussey should be in the team. He has a first class average of 54.75 at a strike rate of 70.55, making the second most Shield runs last season. Why is he not in the test team? Obviously because he plays for Victoria it seems.
For the record Victoria are currently on the top in both the Sheffield Shield and Ford Ranger Cup. Victoria have finished second in the Sheffield Shield for two of the last three years and won as recently as 2004. At one day level we finished second in the last two seasons, while in the Twenty/20 competition we have been champions for the last three seasons. In the last two years (since Shane Warne’s retirement!) the only Victorians to play test cricket for Australia are Brad Hodge(6), Cameron White(4) and Peter Siddle (1). Bryce McGain was selected to tour India but was injured before he played a test match. Siddle and McGain are both bowlers whilst White is an all-rounder who was selected as a bowler. The only Victorian batter to be selected for Australia is Hodge. Rogers has played a single test match for Australia but that was when he was playing for Western Australia.