There's a nagging, all-round problem for selectors

THE chairman of selectors, John Inverarity, has expressed a penchant for the rise (or should that be, the re-emergence) of the all-rounder in the Australian Test team.

This yearning follows the demise of Shane Watson as a ''genuine'' all-rounder - one who can bat in the top six but who is also a full-time, wicket-taking bowler - as opposed to a part-timer such as Michael Clarke, Steve Waugh or Doug Walters.

Jacques Kallis is the foremost genuine all-rounder in the world at the moment. Australia's last true all-rounder was Keith Miller, who could open the bowling and the batting.

Watson has a body about as reliable as a computer repairer's quote, and that is a huge source of frustration to Watto, his teammates, the selectors and the public.

The selection panel has issued edicts about his workload and Clarke has spoken of the narrower selection criteria he faces if he doesn't bowl. The Ashes may well hinge on Watson's multi-skilling, hence the rush to find a suitable replacement.

Selectors prefer seam bowlers but century-making spinners can apply, which brings Jason Krejza (he of the 12 wickets on Test debut) back into the hunt after making 118 not out for Tasmania against New South Wales. Xavier Doherty will presumably get a decent roll in India alongside Nathan Lyon but he has been kept warming the bench during the current one-day series.

Steve Smith was given a single ODI but is on the plane to India. Smith has gone from being considered a genuine all-rounder in the Ashes three years ago to a batsman who we wish would bowl now and then.

Cameron White was trialled but faded before shining, mostly in Twenty20. It was hoped that he could transfer his Victorian batting prowess and leg spin to the bigger stage. It didn't help that, as skipper, he kept relieving himself of the ball.

The newest in the all-round guise is the ''Big Show'' - Glenn Maxwell. After making runs against South Africa for Australia A, his stocks rose because it was hoped that his off-spinners could only get better. He has learnt quickly how to be effective in limited-overs cricket by not getting too fancy with a pocket-full of variations and tossing the ball high.

The trick will come when he needs to flight and tease the ball, and use the variations that are shunned in the shorter forms of the game.

Strengthening the batting line-up is a major pillar of the selectors' reconstruction work. Will they continue to gamble on accepting wicketkeeper Matthew Wade's batting instead of his stuttering glove work? They want him batting at No. 6 but need a reliable tail if they want strong seam bowling. Wade at No. 7 is much more acceptable.

Moises Henriques has developed his game but will his bowling ever be more than handy back-up?

Batting has become the main string to his bow, averaging 31 for NSW, but he is bowling at a respectable average of 27.

James Faulkner is primarily a bowler but bats handily, and is young, skilled and competitive. He could be the long-term genuine all-rounder Inverarity is seeking.

Ben Cutting is averaging 27 with the bat and 25 with the ball in first-class cricket - with a ton and five 50s - so looks to have something, but enough to be a genuine all-rounder? I'm not so sure.

Watto is back hitting the ball well and spending time at the crease. Maybe all that running up and down will get him fit enough to bowl. He is our only genuine all-rounder and all his skills will be needed if Australia is to reclaim the Ashes.

This story There's a nagging, all-round problem for selectors first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.