vice captain Adam Gilchrist has made an excellent case for the selectors to
consider a longer term fundamental change to team balance by dispensing with six
specialist batsmen and himself as the world’s best number seven.

While Shane
Watson’s injury has now halted his incubation as a crucial
all-rounder, Gilchrist argues the attack is much better served with either five
bowlers or the traditional four specialists and another all-rounder
to replace Watson. And with Hayden
again showing an inclination to hit regular Test hundreds and Ricky Ponting in
career best form – which is saying something – now is the perfect time to see if a “six pack”
batting order can do the job.

So if the
selectors endorse Gilchrist remaining at No.6, they essentially
face two contrasting alternatives. Bring
in Stuart MacGill as the specialist fifth bowler for the Second Test in Hobart
on Thursday week or opt for another all-rounder. Certainly Gilchrist has no
problem with advancing Andrew Symond’s qualifications for the job and he does
offer an abundance of skills that might yet be ready to flourish at Test level.

But if
self-belief counts for anything with the selection panel, MacGill is already
past the post in Hobart. The leg spinner is in no
doubt he would be far and away the best option as a fifth bowler. But it’s no secret
Shane Warne is happiest when he’s working his tricks at one end and MacGill is nowhere
to be seen. Perhaps this explains why
MacGill feels so compelled to continually talk himself up, just to try and keep
the door open to the possibility that any Test ground is big enough for the both
of them.

Yet MacGill’s
continual beating of his own drum must surely wear thin with all the other
Test aspirants who might feel they also deserve a Test spot. To listen to MacGill’s
post Ashes reflections is to be persuaded that if only he had been given his
opportunity of play in England, we would probably still retain the
urn. There’s myriad what “ifs” attached to our Ashes defeat and his egocentric
take on his non-selection is but one on a long list.

No one argues
he’s not a potential game-turner when presented with the kind of spin friendly
wicket typically found in Sydney, but very few Test grounds
around the world offer MacGill such ideal conditions as the SCG. Hobart’s history suggests an all-rounder
would be a wiser investment in terms of team balance, but who?