Squad speculation: predicting Australia’s tour squads

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By Max Weber, Max Weber is a Roar Pro

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    Brad Haddin's omission would have been a great chance for Hartley, had he been picked. (AFP PHOTO/Tony ASHBY)

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    Come the second week of June, Australia will have two entirely different squads in Britain at the same time – and neither of them will be Ashes squads.

    With the lack of domestic competitions (barring County cricket), it is a fair assumption the make-up of these dual squads will feature virtually every cricketer in frame for the Ashes, thus giving them significance beyond the tours themselves.

    The three-game, pre-Ashes tour for Australia’s development squad begins in Scotland on the seventh of June, with Australia’s One Day International (ODI) team kicking off their Champion’s Trophy game the following day against England at Edgebaston.

    Both squads are expected to be named in the near future, and the fact they will – by necessity – be mutually exclusive means delving into their make-up is an interesting exercise, if not mostly guesswork.

    Traditionally used to blood youngsters or trial potential additions to the national team, John Inverarity and his cadre of selectors must resist the temptation to sacrifice the A tour for the sake of squad depth in the Champion’s Trophy.

    This means addressing the much maligned issues of Usman Khawaja and Stephen O’Keefe, discussed by Geoff Lemon and Ryan O’Connell respectively elsewhere on The Roar.

    Khawaja will be on one of the tours, but needs to be in the starting XI regardless of which, whereas ignoring O’Keefe when there will essentially be two Australian squads simultaneously would effectively pronounce a death notice for the offspinner’s short to mid-term international prospects.

    Another, interrelated issue that must be resolved in the make-up of the squads is the rewarding of players who performed well on the domestic circuit.

    There were no shortage of impressive pace bowlers in the Sheffield Shield, and as the pace attack for the ODI team is well stocked, the A tour should be used to reward players such as Chadd Sayers.

    Gurinder Sandhu, the surprise recipient of the Steve Waugh medal for best NSW player of the domestic season, earns his place both on merit and on future prospects.

    With the selectors having so far given no hints of each squad’s makeup, allow me to speculate. The following is my own figuration of the squads:

    Potential Australia A squad (16 men):

    First XI – Jordan Silk, Chris Rogers, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Joe Burns, Mitch Marsh, Chris Hartley, Steve O’Keefe, Gurinder Sandhu, Chadd Sayers, Pat Cummins.

    Others to tour – Alex Doolan, Nic Maddinson, Kane Richardson, Jackson Bird, Ashton Agar

    A mixture of youth and experience, with Jordan Silk, Nic Maddinson and Joe Burns possible top-order fixtures for Australia in the next couple of years, while veteran Chris Rogers deserves a chance to press his Ashes claim.

    Working on the assumption James Faulkner is ahead of Mitch Marsh for international honours, I’d pick Marsh for his batting in the A squad. Hartley is the best gloveman in Australia and deserves recognition.

    Working on the assumption every player in the Ashes party will be in one of the squads, Bird and Cummins should tour, while Steve Smith and Khawaja would be better served playing first-team cricket on an A tour than not starting in the Trophy squad.

    While seemingly the perpetual unpicked, Steve O’Keefe should be first spinner with Agar as understudy, though the issue becomes complicated in the event that Fawad Ahmed is granted a passport in time for the tour and, with Nathan Lyon currently not playing any cricket, the selectors may give him precedence.

    Potential ODI Champion’s Trophy squad (17 men):

    First XI – Shane Watson, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Michael Clarke, George Bailey, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris, Xavier Doherty

    Others to tour – Glenn Maxwell, Brad Haddin, James Faulkner, Moises Henriques, Shaun Marsh, Clint McKay

    In contrast to the Test side, the ODI side’s top order is relatively settled, with Watson and Warner (whose pedigrees, in this form at least, are intact) along with Clarke, Bailey and Wade sure to be in the top seven.

    Hughes showed excellent form in the one-day arena during the Australian summer and should escape scrutiny to bat at first-drop, while Voges’ last three scores for Australia read 112*, 51 and 81.

    Pattinson, Starc, Harris and McKay are a formidable pace offering, and should fight for three spots, while the selectors appear to have their hearts set on Doherty as the sole spin option.

    James Faulkner impressed against the West Indies and should be ahead of Ben Cutting and John Hastings for a place in the squad, though the selection panel has a penchant for all-rounders and several may travel.

    The backup options in the format – Shaun Marsh Aaron Finch, and Luke Pomersbach among them – will probably fight for a spot alongside Maxwell as batting options on the bench but Marsh may be fractionally ahead, while Brad Haddin presumably rounds off the squad.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • April 12th 2013 @ 9:24am
      jameswm said | April 12th 2013 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      So Peter Siddle isn’t in the best 33 cricketeres in the country?

      • Roar Pro

        April 12th 2013 @ 9:33am
        Max Weber said | April 12th 2013 @ 9:33am | ! Report

        He’s a difficult one, he only plays in the one format but I can’t really see them picking him for an A tour. Kind of a similar boat to the one Lyon’s in, in that they’re obviously in the test first XI but there doesn’t seem to be a place on these tours for them. Perhaps should’ve amended my comment in the article to say that.

        • April 12th 2013 @ 10:07am
          Matt F said | April 12th 2013 @ 10:07am | ! Report

          From what I’ve heard the “A” tour will involve test players who won’t be in the ODI side so expect to see the likes of Cowan, Lyon and Siddle on the “A” tour

          • April 12th 2013 @ 11:05am
            Sanjay said | April 12th 2013 @ 11:05am | ! Report

            I think this is the right move, have all test players who are not in the ODI side such as Cowan, Khawaja, Siddle and Lyon playing at the same time as we need to get them ready for the ashes. I would be tempted to include Hughes in that too given the tests are a priority as we need him both Khawaja and Hughes firing.

            • April 12th 2013 @ 10:31pm
              Richard said | April 12th 2013 @ 10:31pm | ! Report

              The current line up is mediocre at best. They should rotate the top order batsmen through the australia A games so we get to see Jordan Silk, Rogers, Khawaja. I don’t think anyone can say that Cowan, Hughes Warner or Watson have any birth right to a place in the up coming ashes. These guys are on notice and Silk is roaring up their back side. Quite frankly IMO he should just come straight in to the side.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 11:31pm
                Sanjay said | April 12th 2013 @ 11:31pm | ! Report

                I love what i see with Khawaja, he will be a big asset for us, i haven’t seen too much of Silk but heard good things, hopefully he can have a solid season next year. Also read on smh that finch and mcdonald are trying to leave Victoria, hopefuly we can convince them to stay as they are key players for us.

    • April 12th 2013 @ 9:44am
      Rory King said | April 12th 2013 @ 9:44am | ! Report

      Didn’t know there were two tours at the same time… Good squads.

    • April 12th 2013 @ 10:22am
      Timmuh said | April 12th 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

      The final Champions Trophy squad will be 15, taken from the current secret 30. I believe a squad size of 15 is part of the rules of the tournament.

      • April 12th 2013 @ 11:06am
        Sanjay said | April 12th 2013 @ 11:06am | ! Report

        You are correct

    • April 12th 2013 @ 2:04pm
      Disco said | April 12th 2013 @ 2:04pm | ! Report

      So, what, take Cummins, so he can get injured again and therefore miss next summer’s domestic season and further stagnate?

      For all his pace and height and stellar Test appearance, Cummins lacks experience and overs under his belt. He shouldn’t be anywhere near a representative team until he’s performed consistently at Shield level and proven his body is up to the rigours.

      • April 12th 2013 @ 2:26pm
        James said | April 12th 2013 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

        Agree – how about giving Butterworth his much deserved selection for the A squad – 45 wickets at 21 for this season to go with his 31 last season at 23 and 45 the season before at 17.53. If 121 wickets over 3 years at just over 20 isn’t enough to be selected for the “A” team then there is something wrong.

        You do know that Mitch Marsh (who you have at 6) only has a batting average of 21 in first class? And that Butterworth averages 27

        • Roar Pro

          April 12th 2013 @ 4:00pm
          Max Weber said | April 12th 2013 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

          I’d love to see Butterworth tour, but all-rounders wise it appears that Henriques, Faulkner and Marsh are all ahead of him. This was as much an exercise in guessing as it was in hoping. Same with Cummins, I’d not necessarily take him but the fact he’s on a Central Contact indicates that he’s firmly in selector’s thoughts (and also that CA want to have control over his training regime).

          • April 12th 2013 @ 4:03pm
            Ken Hambling said | April 12th 2013 @ 4:03pm | ! Report

            Why doesn’t Butterworth get a mention, he has earned it.

            • April 12th 2013 @ 4:21pm
              Disco said | April 12th 2013 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

              +1

              • April 12th 2013 @ 11:29pm
                Sanjay said | April 12th 2013 @ 11:29pm | ! Report

                I also have to agree, i actually watched Butterworth on tv in the shield final and he impressed me alot.

            • Roar Pro

              April 12th 2013 @ 4:23pm
              Max Weber said | April 12th 2013 @ 4:23pm | ! Report

              Just clarified why above…I tried to keep the make-up of the squads, where possible to predict, as close to how they’ll appear as I could. If it was up to me, Butterworth would tour. I’d also pick Sam Robson from Middlesex and Riki Wessels from Nottinghamshire if I thought they had a snowball’s chance in hell of recognition from the selectors.

              • April 12th 2013 @ 7:16pm
                James said | April 12th 2013 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

                I wonder if he would get more chances if his batting was worse and he wasn’t classed as an all rounder. Instead they could just look at his bowling performances and at least give him some recognition

              • April 14th 2013 @ 1:06pm
                Disco said | April 14th 2013 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

                “Australia are particularly unlucky to have lost Sam,” Rogers said. “I think he’s made up his mind. He did consider going back, but he is enjoying everything about being at Middlesex and he is being very well looked after. I think his future is in England.

                “That season he first game into the side, a couple of years ago, he batted through an entire day about five times. I’ve done that about five times in my career. I saw he was compared to Mike Atherton the other day and that makes a lot of sense to me. I rate him very highly.”

                Rogers would be well aware of how CA treats openers…

      • April 12th 2013 @ 10:34pm
        Richard said | April 12th 2013 @ 10:34pm | ! Report

        Its a good point about Butterworth. The Tassie side has been very competitive for awhile now and he deserves a call up. I think he has been passed by Faulkner though who has something special about him. Faulkner has real mongrel anout him, which is severely lacking in the Aussie team at the moment.

        • April 14th 2013 @ 12:51pm
          Disco said | April 14th 2013 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

          For mongrel, see also ‘Sledging’, ‘David Warner’, ‘Andre Nel’ etc. etc.

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