Most of the Australian cricket world’s attention is on the Ashes. But if Australia gets outplayed in the upcoming India series, there could be negative consequences on the team that’s taken to England.
The most worrying issue is the spin position. Nathan Lyon is the best spinner in the country, but that’s not saying much. Even Clarke’s strong captaincy skills won’t be able to protect Lyon against a team that always plays well against slow bowlers.
The off-spinner will have to be on top of his game to succeed in India. That seems unlikely based on his record this summer.
Further hurting his chances will be Wade’s keeping skills. The pitches in India don’t have true bounce, making keeping to Lyon a nightmare. Dropped catches and byes will be more common than they were in Australia unless Wade improves considerably.
If India’s batsmen treat Lyon with disdain, then he almost certainly will lose his spot as the first spinner in England. Many have been disparaging of Lyon’s ability, but considering the available alternatives the offie is still the best choice.
Going into England though, it’s likely another inexperienced player will be picked. It could be Michael Beer if he’s fit, but otherwise Xavier Doherty or Steve O’Keefe will be played despite not being close to Test standard.
Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell would love to see any of those bowlers in the line-up…
Many have cast doubt on Wade as keeper, but his batting form will mean he’s undroppable for England. Australia’s weak batting means a batsman/keeper is more important than a keeper/batsman.
The glovework of Haddin before he was dropped from the Test team was poor and Paine isn’t exceptional behind the stumps either, so Wade should survive the Indian tour.
The batting line-up will be seriously tested in the subcontinent and Ed Cowan isn’t good enough.
His domestic form has been at a career-high for the last two seasons but his record as an Australian opener is worse than Watson’s. Neither can run between the wickets or play spin especially well but Watson has a ton in India and three 50s in England, so he should get the nod to partner David Warner.
Usman Khawaja has to come in at four. Clarke is consistent at five so to change anything in his routine and risk losing output would be ridiculous.
Also, he’s the best player of spin in the team and should come in when the turners are dangerous. This will help protect Khawaja from Graeme Swann, who will turn the ball away from Khawaja.
Playing him in India will give Khawaja a good lead-up to the Ashes, rather than throwing another player to the wolves as happened with Rob Quiney.
Phil Hughes has established himself at first drop so will stay there. With Michael Hussey’s retirement experience is needed in this side. Brad Haddin should therefore play at six solely as a batsman.
He has been one of the form batsman in the Sheffield Shield this year and has played in India before so will know how to deal with the conditions. The maturity he showed when he wasn’t selected for the first Test against South Africa proves he will be able to deal with playing in the same team as Wade.
He is one of the better players of spin in the country so he will be able to retain his place through the India series.
Australia’s batting line-up needs to be as settled as possible going in to England if there is any chance of Australia winning the Ashes.
While it’s almost inevitable that Lyon will be dropped going in to England, the selectors need to play a top seven of Warner, Watson, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Haddin and Wade if there’s any chance of Ashes success.