Aussie selectors finally strike gold
THERE were some stumbles along the way but Australia's selectors have finished the summer having discovered the backbone of a solid team.
Sometimes the most courageous selections are not the ones you choose in the first place, but the players who come in after you admit you got it wrong.
Australia deserves credit for looking in the mirror and calling up Joe Burns and Kurtis Patterson in this series, and as a result, the hundreds have followed.
The banishment of the Marsh brothers and Aaron Finch, was basically a concession that major mistakes were made against India - particularly backing in Finch as an opener on home soil.
But while selectors have been under attack, on balance the panel has ended up getting Australia's house in a reasonable place during a period that has presented unprecedented challenges.
It must be said that most selections against Sri Lanka were likely to prosper, given this is one of the weakest international teams to tour here in recent times.
That is why Will Pucovski's non-selection in Brisbane was so puzzling. But when the first-class system is producing mostly mediocre numbers, picking national teams isn't quite as easy as it once was when selectors were able to leave out the likes of Damien Martyn and Matthew Hayden and not lose sleep.
Selectors have been accused of mixed messaging and poor communication by players around the country, and Simon Katich declared that the retiring panel member Greg Chappell should move on immediately having confirmed his departure at the end of the year.
The system isn't perfect.
But this is virtually the same panel that selected Tim Paine and hit the jackpot.
It was one of the most inspired selection calls of recent decades, firstly for his wicketkeeping class, and secondly for Paine's captaincy in a crisis.
The gut-feel and backbone of selector Mark Waugh and coach Brad Haddin to go out on such a limb to get Paine in has been largely underrated.
Coach Justin Langer's instincts have proven just as sharp with Travis Head, and Jhye Richardson was a revelation in Brisbane.
Vice-captain Head was shaky at times against India but against Sri Lanka he's been faultless and right now he is Australia's best batsman.
Marcus Harris has slipped against Sri Lanka and now can't be certain of his Ashes selection, but against a better Indian attack in bigger Test matches, he showed good signs.
Marnus Labuschagne is still searching for a performance at Test level to put his selection beyond doubt, but in a summer where Australia's other all-rounders have underwhelmed - Langer's instincts have again been on the money.
Usman Khawaja and Mitchell Starc have struggled badly this summer, and dropping one or both of them at the death against Sri Lanka - as called for by Shane Warne - wouldn't have been unreasonable.
But Khawaja's runs and Starc's five-wicket haul on day three showed selectors were right to back their experience through to the end.
Selectors have made some bad calls, but wasn't that inevitable once Steve Smith and David Warner were suspended to leave the cupboard stripped bare?
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