There’s
a saying you don’t hear much these days: “harder to get out of the
Australian cricket team than in.” It applied to those sunny days of the early nineties,
when it seemed the same 12 men – men like Mark Taylor, the Waughs, Allan Border
and the now disturbingly fetishised David Boon – would complete their entire
careers without ever being challenged, rotated, or even “rested.”

No
more. Since 5 October 2005,
seven Australian men have played their first one-day international game, the
largest number of debutants in a single season since the dark days of the
mid-eighties when whole teams would go missing on the plane home from another
series loss to England or New Zealand.

Although
it can be disturbing to find yourself more familiar with Jacques Kallis than
Phil Jaques, or to be unsure exactly who Brett Dorey is (don’t worry –
Australian coach John Buchanan doesn’t
know either
), is there anything inherently wrong with this kind of
experimentation?

Too
much rapid change can undoubtedly have a destabilising effect on the
team, as
the performance against Sri Lanka last Sunday demonstrated.
Unusual errors in the field and some poor running between wickets made
the
Aussies look as though they were identifying team mates by the colour
of their
shirts. The selectors – including beer mascot David “Milli Vanilli”
Boon – know this, but, just as they have done 18 months before
the last three World Cups, they are willing to risk some instability
now to find the
best combination for the brass ring in the Caribbean next year.

Given
our record in World Cups, and how young players like Andrew Symonds tend to
bloom right in the middle of them, it’s a policy Chairman of Selectors Trevor
Hohns could reasonably defend. But as in all things, it’s a question of
moderation. It may transpire that the hero of the next year’s World Cup will be
James Hopes or Mick Lewis, but what comfort will that be next month if we find
that the finals of our own VB Series were harder to get into than, say, the
Australian cricket team?