OPINION

Novak Djokovic can expect an "unfriendly" reception from the Australian public

RULES: Howard Kotton says that Djokovic and his team knew what was required for him to mount a challenge for a 10th Australian Open singles crown. Picture: TPN/Getty Images

RULES: Howard Kotton says that Djokovic and his team knew what was required for him to mount a challenge for a 10th Australian Open singles crown. Picture: TPN/Getty Images

If Novak Djokovic wins the right to play in next week's Australian Open, hopefully, this will be the last time he graces our shores.

The Serb has lost the support of most Australians, with the vast majority of the population double vaccinated.

Djokovic and his advisers/managers knew what was required for him to mount a challenge for a 10th Australian Open singles crown - and he chose not to be vaccinated.

There was a stench surrounding the decision to grant Djokovic a medical exemption by an independent panel of experts and it inevitably turned into a political brawl involving the federal and Victorian governments.

It's been alleged that he might be using the argument of previously having and surviving the virus within the past six months to justify his reason not to be vaccinated.

The episode has exposed Djokovic as a selfish individual.

Being the world's number one male tennis player does not entitle him to behave in this manner.

Tennis Australia should not escape blame in this imbroglio and needed to stop pandering to Djokovic's whims and demands.

Tennis Australia and its CEO Craig Tiley knew months ago that this would blow up if Djokovic did not adhere to the rules, yet allowed the situation to fester and deteriorate.

It will be surprising if Tiley survives this debacle - he should have resigned by now.

This fiasco has already had repercussions around the world, affecting the reputation of the event, Melbourne and Australia.

If Djokovic plays, he can expect an unfriendly reception from most Australian fans.

Hopefully, Rafael Nadal, the epitome of a great sportsman, wins his 21st Grand Slam singles title to overtake the Serb and Roger Federer.

'Ussie' provides selection quandary

Usman Khawaja's magnificent performance in scoring centuries in both innings of his comeback Test at the SCG has presented Australian selectors with a pleasant, albeit difficult headache for the fifth Test starting in Hobart this week.

NICE PROBLEM: Usman Khawaja's two centuries in the Sydney Test has given Australian Test selectors something to think about. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

NICE PROBLEM: Usman Khawaja's two centuries in the Sydney Test has given Australian Test selectors something to think about. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Travis Head is set to return after missing the Sydney Test because of a COVID-enforced break and slot back in at No. 5, but Khawaja can't be dropped.

His ability to bat in several positions provides selectors with options.

The veteran can open and there would be a temptation to move him up the order to replace Marcus Harris, who has yet to prove himself at Test level, but that would be unfair on Khawaja.

Having Khawaja at No. 6 below Head would provide much-needed solidity in the middle order.

The stylish Khawaja knows his game well, demonstrating excellent footwork and patience on a testing pitch in Sydney.

He has shown increasing maturity, with his move north to captain Queensland benefiting his career.

Cameron Green appeared vulnerable at No. 6 before belting 74 in the second innings at the SCG.

The young all-rounder bowls at a swift pace and has taken vital wickets in this series, as well as contributing in the field with fine catches.

Green would be better suited batting at No. 7, meaning one of the bowlers would miss out in Hobart.

Despite the continued absence of Josh Hazlewood, the fast bowlers have done the job this summer with Jhye Richardson, Michael Neser and more recently Scott Boland proving they are up to the level.

Captain Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc won't lose their spots, so it could come down to either Boland or veteran spinner Nathan Lyon missing out.

Will the pitch suit the pacemen or will it take spin later on?

You don't envy the selectors' task, but they have made the right calls this summer.

NY Test should have started earlier

Cricket Australia made a monumental blunder in its scheduling of the Sydney Test.

The match should have started on Sunday, January 2, maximising crowds and TV audiences over the New Year holiday period.

The schedule, decided months ago, allowed for a five-day break between the third and fourth Tests.

But with the early finish in Melbourne, it was a perfect opportunity to bring forward the starting time for Sydney and it would have been hard for players and officials to disagree.

The vacuum during that period was filled by Big Bash League games, but another Ashes contest with the Australians well on top would have been a much greater attraction for TV viewers.

CA could have sought special permission from the International Cricket Council, which decrees there must be at least a three-day break between Tests.

In these days of fluid, agile fixturing in all sports, the correct outcome could have been achieved with a minimum of fuss and to the satisfaction of all key stakeholders.

The Australian spectators are yearning for the Tests and the broadcasters, already suffering because of early finishes at the Gabba and MCG, would have been delighted.

In the 1970s, when players were semi-professionals, unlike today's highly-paid athletes, they readily backed up from the Boxing Day Test to the SCG fixture, which started on New Year's Day.

Today's cricketers should be mindful that one of their major priorities is to entertain.

Without the crowds and TV support, there is no product.

Has Howard got it right?

Email: howardkotton11@gmail.com; Twitter: @hpkotton59