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Saturday Serve

The best team, one day

''All the kids are talkin bailey,'' as one tweeter put it last week when Cricket Australia announced its squad for the opening two matches of the one-day international series against Sri Lanka.

Step aside Dave Warner, young aspiring cricketers are now plastering over the posters of you on their bedroom walls as we speak. Nobody is interested in your switch-hitting sixes any more, Kaboom written on the back of your bat, the other side used to back it up with actions.

We have grown tired of your swash-buckling innings and wagon wheels that have more lines than Warnie's face before dating Liz Hurley. The blue-collar image as the Matraville Mauler is history.

The future for Australian one-day internationals is George Bailey, the 30-year-old Tasmanian middle-order bat with a middle name of John, boasting a strike rate of 77. He's the Australian one-day captain.

There is plenty of debate about whether 50-overs-a-side cricket is dying. Surely the panacea is not to trot out a second-string XI in green and gold pyjamas and call it the full-strength Australian team. Especially against an under-strength Sri Lankan team.

Cricket Australia finds the assertion that it has picked a B-grade team ''downright offensive''. It claims to be looking to the future and building towards the 2015 World Cup. Who said Australian cricket was struggling for spinners, just look to the PR department.


Looking at profile shots of the present Australian one-day international squad is like playing the board game Guess Who?

Bailey and co, particularly debutant Phil Hughes, performed admirably on Friday in the series opener. But Australia wasn't fielding its No.1 side.

Cricket fans love their stats. So let's look at the numbers if you need convincing.

Since the last World Cup in 2011, when surely Cricket Australia would would have begun laying these foundations for the all-important World Cup in 2015, Australia has used 30 different players in 36 one-day internationals.

Three more players - Hughes, Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch - made their one-day international debuts on Friday, taking that number to an extended squad of 33.

Of those 33 players, it might surprise many to know that the player with the most caps since the 2011 World Cup is spinner Xavier Doherty who, before this series, had played 32 of the 36.

Now let's compare the top 13 on that list to the 13 players that Cricket Australia named for the opening matches of this one-day international series against Sri Lanka.

Of the 13-man Australian squad named last week, only four - Doherty (1), David Hussey (2nd), Clint McKay (9th) and Mitchell Johnson (12th) - feature among Australia's most capped 13 Australian players since the 2011 World Cup.

Missing are Warner (4th), Michael Clarke (5th), Matthew Wade (6th), Shane Watson (7th) … need I go on? These players are the Australian cricket team.

Of course, one of the biggest-names missing is Mike Hussey, who has played 30 of the 36 ODIs since 2011. Equal second with his brother, David.

Mike Hussey remains available for selection but is not considered part of the future. Why?

Hussey has played 185 ODIs and boasts a batting average of more than 48. It is far superior to anyone named in the present Australian one-day squad.

Selectors have recalled Brad Haddin, 35, who has played just 10 of Australia's 36 one-day internationals since the 2011 World Cup finished. Haddin averages 31 in one-day cricket.

By leaving Hussey out of this series, Cricket Australia has virtually conceded these games and results are almost meaningless. If they were to pick Australia's best XI based on form, Hussey would be one of the first chosen. So cricket's most forgettable format, the 50-overs-a-side, becomes even more forgettable.

I must now declare there is some self-interest in this argument.

For 100 years Canberra has been patiently waiting for an opportunity to host the Australian cricket team.

That chance finally arrives on February 6, when Australia will play the West Indies in a one-day international at Manuka Oval. The event will be a success. It will be a sellout. But Canberra fans deserve to see the stars of Australian cricket.

In all honesty, how is it any better than the annual Prime Minister's XI match against the West Indies which will be played in Canberra a week earlier, on January 29? That match will be headlined by Ricky Ponting's farewell and the Prime Minister's team will contain two players in the Australian ODI squad - Haddin and Khawaja.

This is Canberra's centenary party. We want Mr Cricket. We want to host a party for the A-listers of Australian cricket.