Remember the days when we could confidently boast that Australia could field two world-class Test teams? That we would never again find ourselves in the wilderness that followed the retirements of Lillee, Marsh and Chappell in 1984, because we had developed such a depth of young talent that the well would never run dry?

Well, if those players are still out there, they should phone the Australian selectors and remind them because, seven months after the Ashes calamity, the process of reselecting the players dropped from that series continues apace.

Jason Gillespie, sans mullet, is the latest Ashes reject to be recalled, replacing another recalled reject, Michael Kasprowicz – both picked as temporary replacements for Glenn McGrath. Dizzy will join an Australian squad in Bangladesh which will look remarkably similar to the one he left in England.

In fact, injuries to Justin Lager and Glenn McGrath aside, there are only three differences between the fifth Ashes Test side and the eleven which cleaned up South Africa this week: Michael Hussey, Andrew Symonds and Stuart Clark are in for Michael Clarke, Simon Katich and Shaun Tait.

Damien Martyn and Kasprowicz have been dropped and recalled, and though Martyn has paid his way, the long list of batsmen like Clarke, Phil Jaques (who will fill in for Langer in Bangladesh), Brad Hodge and Mark Cosgrove, patiently waiting their turn, must have despaired to see him and Symonds picked.

It’s not just that they missed out on a Bangladesh tour which will be ideal for experimentation, not just because this is the last Test series for Australia before the Ashes, but also because the message from the selectors is so conservative. Even failed Ashes form, they seem to be saying, is better than taking a risk on a domestic star.

The danger is a headlong charge back to 1984. In the next two years the careers of Adam Gilchrist, Langer, Matthew Hayden, Martyn, Stuart MacGill and critically Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath will end. If not in Bangladesh, where and when will the next generation earn their baggy greens?

Peter Fray

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