Out of time: The in-form Michael Hussey has been dropped from Australia's one-day squad with selectors planning for the 2015 World Cup.
Photo: Getty Images
SOAPBOX: By leaving out Mike Hussey and picking a lightweight ODI squad, Australia's cricket selectors haven't shown much respect to Sri Lanka – or Aussie cricket fans.
Whatever you think of John Inverarity's national cricket selection panel, it's hard to deny they're prepared to make some gutsy decisions. Resting the entire fast bowling line-up against South Africa for a match that determined the No.1 Test ranking was one of them. (One that backfired, as it turned out.) Dropping the immensely popular Michael Hussey for what would have been his farewell one-day series is another.
The selectors raised eyebrows with their squad for the opening two 50-over matches against Sri Lanka this week. Hussey wasn't included and neither were fellow Test stars Michael Clarke, David Warner or Matthew Wade, who have all been rested. Boom rookie paceman Jackson Bird is also out.
With Shane Watson also out injured, Tasmanian skipper George Bailey will captain the side in his 14th ODI (the selectors' favourite is already the country's Twenty20 skipper, despite not being an obvious selection for the T20 side).
Aaron Finch, Ben Cutting, Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja will get their ODI debuts, while NSW all-rounder Steve Smith, 29-year-old Victorian paceman Clint McKay and 35-year-old wicketkeeper Brad Haddin have all been given recalls.
It's a talented squad, but one that bears more resemblance to Australia A than the country's first choice XI. They're still a good chance of winning against the struggling and injury-ravaged Sri Lankans, but the nature of the squad doesn't show a lot of respect for either the touring side or Australian cricket fans.
The rationale for dumping Hussey was that the selectors are planning for a World Cup that's a little over two years away. That's some significant forward planning, especially from a selectors group that has been caught on the hop for the crucial upcoming Test campaigns against India and England. There are still genuine question marks about Australia's batting lineup for the next Test match, never mind a one-day tournament in 2015.
If anything, the Ashes is a bigger event for Australian cricket fans than the World Cup. In terms of importance, a tour of India isn't far behind.
Yet Ricky Ponting wasn't rushed out of the Test side last year despite the likelihood he wouldn't last all of 2013. Phil Hughes, the man the selectors had pencilled in to replace him, was actually held back from the South Africa series when an opportunity arose in the batting order in December. Usman Khawaja, the man expected to replace Hussey in the Test batting lineup, wasn't given a gentle introduction at home against Sri Lanka and is instead likely to face a baptism of fire in the first Test in India.
In fact, if preparing for future major events is the top priority for the selection panel, then why was Hussey even picked for the Sydney Test? Surely as someone who won't play any further role in the Test side down the track, he should have been replaced by a player for the future?
The reason, of course, is that Test cricket matters, and one-day internationals don't. That, at least, is the message being sent by Australia's national selectors. Giving a retiring hero a farewell match in a dead rubber Test is more important than picking something resembling a first choice team for a one-day international series.
It's a message that hasn't gone down well with Channel Nine bosses and one that has presumably left Cricket Australia authorities a little bemused. After all, if selectors don't take the Sri Lanka one-day series seriously, then why should fans?
Critics say that 50-over cricket is on its last legs, and the policy of the Australian national selection panel isn't helping.
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of BigPond Sport.