Ashes 2015: Australian players unhappy Brad Haddin was left out for third Test

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Birmingham: Chris Rogers has done little to dispel suggestions of discontent about the sacking of Brad Haddin among Australian players, with the wicketkeeper controversially overlooked for the third Ashes Test after missing the second match of the series to be by the side of his ill daughter Mia.

As the tourists teetered at 5-77 on a disastrous first day for the tourists on Wednesday several commentators noted that it was just the kind of situation that Haddin had rescued them from in the glorious home Ashes of 2013/14.

Of course, the Haddin of more recent times had not enjoyed the same effectiveness with the bat, but there are players who agree with the sentiments expressed by Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, Ian Healy, Shane Warne and others in the past 48 hours: that the veteran, in the circumstances, deserved to be reinstated at Edgbaston.

Whether he could have done anything to mitigate the damage as Australia folded for 136 on Wednesday will never be known. He would have been hard pressed to go in more meek fashion than his replacement Peter Nevill, who left a ball from a red-hot James Anderson only for it to move back a bit off the seam and crash into his off stump. Nevill scored only two but he was hardly alone in a largely clueless outing against a moving ball.

Then again, as argued by the national selector, Rod Marsh, who made the decision to retain Nevill here with head coach Darren Lehmann in consultation with fellow selectors Mark Waugh and Trevor Hohns, Haddin had been in poor form with the bat.

“(It was an) amazingly hard call, but we have to try and do the best thing for the country and the selection panel believe that was the best thing for the team, for the country,” Marsh said.

“I’ve known Brad for a hell of a long time. I had Brad at the academy back in Adelaide at the turn of the century, even before that. He’s a fantastic player with a fantastic attitude but he’s averaging 15 in his last 12 Test matches, we needed runs down there, he didn’t keep well and he’ll admit that at Cardiff and the new boy did very, very well at Lord’s, so in my way of thinking, we didn’t have an option.”

However, while there was an argument for not changing a winning team and thus, at Haddin’s age, making generational change, there are players who are said to be disappointed that he was not given the special treatment they believe his particular family scenario warranted.

Asked whether players were unhappy, Rogers said after the first day’s play: “I don’t really want to talk about that. That’s something for the selection panel. Maybe at the end of the series I can think about that. But at the moment I don’t  really want to talk about that.”

Test captain Michael Clarke said before the match that selectors had told him that Haddin would have played at Lord’s had he not withdrawn to be with his sick daughter Mia, who was diagnosed with the childhood cancer neuroblastoma three years ago and was in hospital in London in the days before the second Test.

The likes of Ponting, Hayden, Healy and Warne have in the past two days questioned whether the so-called “family first” policy promoted by the Australian hierarchy was being followed in the decision on Haddin and there are some players that are believed to privately agree with those former Test greats. Warne said in commentary on Sky TV on Wednesday that the decision didn’t sit well with him, while Hayden, the strongest of the critics, had said that Haddin had “been through hell”.

Family is a central plank of the culture of this Australian team. The now retired Ryan Harris missed last month’s Caribbean tour to be at home for the birth of his first child, something that Lehmann insisted on him doing. The issue the Haddin axing has raised is whether other players’ places will be safe in future such cases.

Although the official family period is over on this Ashes tour – during the first two Tests there was a second team bus being operated, such were the number of partners and children accompanying players and staff, all paid for by Cricket Australia – there remain some families still on tour paying their own way.

Haddin himself is unlikely to speak out on the matter. A noted team man, that’s not his style. As disappointed as he will be at his replacement by Nevill and the consequences of that – short of a broken finger in the coming days and weeks it’s likely to spell the end of his 66-Test career – the last thing he will want to do is rock the boat, particularly midway through an Ashes series.

After all, following a first day to forget at Edgbaston, Australia have enough problems on their plate.

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