Brad Hodge's 203 against South Africa at the WACA continues to demonstrate the remarkable depth of batting reserves available to the Australian selectors.
Both he and Mike Hussey have given excellent service since being promoted to the Test arena during the West Indies series. Hussey has two centuries in four Tests, though his 23 and 58 in this game means his Test batting average has actually dropped to double figures (88.7 to be precise).
Hodge and Hussey follow in something of a tradition of leading shield players stepping up to the crease and playing well for their country, often grabbing a century in their first or second Test. Michael Clarke, Martin Love, Darren Lehmann and Tom Moody are all players who have fitted that mould. (Even Stuart Law in his one and only Test outing.)
Not everyone has clicked in that role. Simon Katich, despite two centuries and a 99 in 22 genuine Test appearances, never really seemed settled in the Australian lineup. Andrew Symonds has failed to reproduce his outstanding form from Queensland, numerous English counties, or the Australian one-day team, and I would expect him to be dropped from the team for the Boxing Day Test, which the NSP will announce later today.
I've always thought Andrew Symonds had potential as a "horses for courses" off-spin all-rounder. I was really hoping he'd slot in to the Mark Waugh but not to be. He may still have value on overseas tours. Expect to see his name in the Test squad when the Bangladesh touring party is announced in a couple of months.
With Langer injured, there's a couple of ways Trev and the NSP boys can turn. They can promote Hussey to the top of the order again, or blood let another Player of the Future.
My verdict: Step up to the plate, Phil Jaques.
I also think that Michael Clarke's three-Test stint in the Batting Form Sin Bin should come to an end and that he should take Symonds' spot in the middle order. Clarke has done awesome things for the Blues in his two Pura Cup appearances for them: 178 and 16 not out against South Australia, 201 not out against Queensland. That's a 2005-06 Pura Cup season batting average to date of 395.00.
If I were to choose a roughie to take Symonds' place, it would be Cameron White. (All-rounder, local Victorian boy, future captaincy material, blah blah blah.) However, his first-class form in 2005-06 (5 matches for Victoria, 301 runs at 37.62, 10 wickets at 33.10) look very rough indeed.
Sort of like the numbers when Shane Warne was first picked for Australia.