It’s simple. Some very good batsmen won’t go to India

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    If cricket is the national sport at this time of year, then selecting the Australian cricket team must run a very close second.

    As sure as day follows night, any discussion or debate on selection options will at some point include a new team being named. I fully expect to happen again today.

    On Monday, the national selection panel named the one-day squad for the three matches in New Zealand, kicking off the latest round.

    Nathan Lyon’s white-ball development is again on hold, in favour of the very promising Adam Zampa, while Usman Khawaja has once more been unable to force his way into the squad, which averaged more than 53 runs per wicket across the five games against India.

    Over the weekend, during the final ODI in Sydney, and the Big Bash League Final in Melbourne, I got to thinking about just how tough it’s going to be to make the Australian squad for the ICC World Twenty20 in India, to be held in March and April.

    Simply put, there’s going to be some very unlucky Australian batsmen.

    The NSP named a 17-man squad for the three T20Is against India, starting tonight in Adelaide. The series heads to Melbourne on Friday, and concludes in Sydney on Sunday.

    Joining skipper Aaron Finch – and I’ll admit surprise that he’s held onto the T20 captaincy – on the batting front are Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steven Smith, David Warner and Shane Watson. That’s eight genuine batting options even without wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, and bowling allrounder James Faulkner.

    For the WT20, squads will be restricted to 15. So two more players – I’d presume one batsman and one bowler – have to drop out of this initial squad. So not only are players already unlucky to miss out, but more will have to be dropped.

    Initially, the two to make way in the current 17 will be Smith and Warner; at the time the T20 squad was named, it was announced “Steve Smith and David Warner will only feature in the first Twenty20… as they both prepare for the first ODI of the Tour of New Zealand that takes place in Auckland on 3 February.”

    Furthermore, the NSP also told us that players currently outside the current T20 squad are still in the hunt to make the WT20 cut.

    In naming the Twenty20 squad, national selector Rod Marsh explained, “sadly we could not find places for George Bailey and Mitchell Marsh in the Twenty20 international squad but for both of them, and for others who have missed out on places in that line-up, the door is certainly not closed for selection for the ICC World Twenty20.

    “We know what both those players are capable of, and both have significant experience of playing Twenty20 cricket in India where the ICC World Twenty20 takes place, but we want them to continue to press their cases for inclusion while we take this opportunity to look at other contenders,” Marsh said.

    Zampa was named in the ODI squad for New Zealand because it will “give us a chance to have a good look at [him] ahead of the ICC World T20.”

    Khawaja was, along with left-arm quick Joel Paris at the time, advised by the NSP after the first three ODIs against India to “go back to [their BBL] clubs and demand we select them again through outstanding performances.”

    Khawaja has certainly done that. Even if we ignore the sheer stupidity of commentary during the BBL Final on Sunday night, where he was described among other things as “arguably the best batsman in world cricket”, Khawaja can’t have done much more.

    But from a selection point of view, 11 – or more – batting options simply won’t go into seven.

    Mitchell Marsh will be the first casualty. His hundred in Sydney was well made, and exactly the sort of innings we’ve wanted to see from him all summer, but as an allrounder he doesn’t bring as much to the team as Maxwell or Faulkner. So now we’re down to ten.

    At the other end of the scale, Smith, Warner, and Maxwell will all definitely go. So will Finch, I’d presume. Though I still question whether he’s a better captain than Smith, Finch is currently the No.1 ranked T20 batsman in the world, more than 200 points clear of Warner, the next best Australian.

    So that leaves six batsmen competing for the final three spots.

    Watson is ranked inside the top 20 T20 batsmen, inside the top 50 bowlers, and is third on the allrounder standings. All that, along with his vast IPL experience, will almost certainly see him picked for his international swansong.

    So it’s now five into two: Shaun Marsh, Head, Lynn, Bailey, and Khawaja.

    And from here I have only questions.

    Is Marsh’s form this summer so commanding that his excellent IPL record can get him over the line?

    Are Head’s gentle off-breaks with a remarkable habit of getting wickets just an exclamation mark on top of his obvious batting talent and potential?

    Is Lynn likely to be anywhere near as destructive in India when the ball isn’t coming on as well as it does at home?

    Could Bailey’s lower-order experience, and his ability to manage the situation late in the innings, be invaluable?

    And is Khawaja in such supreme form that you can’t ignore him any longer?

    If like me you can answer ‘yes’ to all of those questions, then you’re getting the point. Compelling cases can be made to include any batsman, but that’s the easy bit.

    Working out who misses the WT20 cut is where the selectors will earn their money.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (88)

    • January 26th 2016 @ 6:23am
      Nordburg said | January 26th 2016 @ 6:23am | ! Report

      Very good points made here.People are going hysterical about Usman’s omission,forgetting the fact that the selection panel seem to have a plan at the moment to give a lot of players exposure in these meaningless matches,much like Ange did to the Socceroos before the Asian Cup.The selectors know what Usman can do so why not get him ready for the big tests in NZ?At the moment Australia,in the short form of the game, are in a similar situation as they were in the test arena 10-15 yrs ago where they were the best in the world and a lot of very good players unfortunately missed out on spots in the 11

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

      • January 26th 2016 @ 11:31am
        Anwar said | January 26th 2016 @ 11:31am | ! Report

        Ponting called Khawaja the best batsman in the country and I agree, Khawaja is the best across the three formats and a average of 175 in BBL shows his class, also averaged over a 100 in test cricket

        • January 26th 2016 @ 12:00pm
          Andy said | January 26th 2016 @ 12:00pm | ! Report

          The fact is that No one is seeing the ball better than Usman Khawaja. From the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba in November, Khawaja has rattled off scores of 174, 9*, 121, 109*, 144, 56, 62, 104* and 70. It totals 849 runs at 141.5 across all formats. That equates to 504 Test match runs at 126 against the Black Caps and West Indies, with another 345 at 172.5 in the Big Bash League. He is a must for the T20 world cup, amazing talent.

          • Roar Rookie

            January 26th 2016 @ 12:28pm
            Tana Mir said | January 26th 2016 @ 12:28pm | ! Report

            Not just the runs, it’s how he gets them. Pure cricketing shots. No slogs. That is he secret to his success I reckon.

          • Columnist

            January 26th 2016 @ 12:29pm
            Brett McKay said | January 26th 2016 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

            Khawaja is certainly seeing the ball very well Andy, but it’s not a fact he’s seeing it better than anyone; that’s simply your conjecture..

            • Roar Guru

              January 26th 2016 @ 3:58pm
              Joey Johns said | January 26th 2016 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

              conjecture, when backed up by triple digit averages across multiple formats, quickly morphs to fact

              • January 26th 2016 @ 4:06pm
                Andrew said | January 26th 2016 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

                Brett when will you give Khawaja his due credit, surely he has done enough even to win your respect now, andy is spot on with his analysis on Khawaja, no one so seeing the ball better then him

              • January 26th 2016 @ 7:50pm
                Ami said | January 26th 2016 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

                Usi will more than likely get into the WT20 squad but it seems as though the selectors want him to focus on test cricket more than any other format. He is the no.3 batsmen in the line up and he has a big role to play if we are any chance of beating NZ. ODI’s don’t really matter all that much and the T20’s against India are not a priority either. Its a shame as khawaja is the best T20 batsman we have along with Warner and Smith.

              • Columnist

                January 26th 2016 @ 8:36pm
                Brett McKay said | January 26th 2016 @ 8:36pm | ! Report

                Andrew when will you clowns get it through your heads that I have nothing against Khawaja at all, and all my angst is directed toward the fanatical carry on of the like of you and Andy and Ami and Anwar and Amith and whoever else you line up.

                I’ll say it again, I like Khawaja as a player, I like him lot.

                What I don’t like is the way you blokes troll and hijack cricket threads and turn everything into a Khawaja love fest. I know you like him as a player, you ALL literally make that clear EVERY TIME YOU POST.

                So again, I like Khawaja. I’m not so fussed on you lot.

                So do me a favour and tell the rest of your posse so I don’t have to keep repeating myself. though judging by the way you guys operate, repeating myself might be the only way to get the message through..

              • January 26th 2016 @ 8:57pm
                Ami said | January 26th 2016 @ 8:57pm | ! Report

                Brett this article is about khawaja, if we can’t even comment on this then on what, don’t hide your negative views by calling us trolls, i hardly comment on khawaja, its just that he is in the best form right now and you just can’t accept that khawaja belongs in all 3 formats, you even quoted that calling him the most in form batsman in the world is unfair by the commentators in BBL, how is that unfair. The man is averaging 100 in tests this season, 175 in BBL, 150 overall, what does he have to do to get in your top 11 players in all formats for Australia

              • January 26th 2016 @ 10:49pm
                scottyridge said | January 26th 2016 @ 10:49pm | ! Report

                Read the article again!

              • Columnist

                January 26th 2016 @ 10:03pm
                Brett McKay said | January 26th 2016 @ 10:03pm | ! Report

                No, Ami, once again you guys show that comprehension isn’t a strong point.

                This article is about how tough it’s going to be for the selectors to fit every worthy Australian batsmen into the WT20 squad, of which Khawaja is but ONE option.

                “i hardly comment on Khawaja”

                Oh, boy, this is getting genuinely hilarious. Ami, you’ve made six comments on this thread. EVERY one of them mentions Khawaja.

                You made another three on David Lord’s thread, and yep, you mentioned him in every comment there, too.

                And I didn’t say calling Khawaja “the best batsmen in world cricket” is unfair, I called it “sheer stupidity”

                And it’s stupid because it’s pure hyperbole. Did the commentator assess every other batsman on the face of the earth in order to reach the conclusion that Khawaja was better? Of course not. It’s the sort of baseless comment that’s great as a soundbite and seems to pass as analysis now.

                Had he said Khawaja might be one of the form batsmen in world cricket, well that’s hard to argue because he is clearly in excellent form, as his outrageous number this summer show and as you guys tell us every freaking day.

                So I called that out, because it’s ridiculous commentary, but you’ve managed to interpret that as a slight on Khawaja himself! And this is what annoys the hell out of me about you blokes, because you consistently misread or misinterpret or worse, you don’t read at all, because you’re in to big a rush to repeat Khawaja’s numbers again and commence the daily thread-hijacking that we’ve had to endure here again this summer.

                And that is trolling. I make no apologies for outing you blokes for what you are.

              • January 28th 2016 @ 6:32am
                IndianCricketFan said | January 28th 2016 @ 6:32am | ! Report

                Thank you Brett! Finally someone is telling it like it is! The Australian cricket team has an embarrassment of riches and someone or the other is going to miss out.

                As for giving Khawaja his due, I think no one is denying his form but calling him that best batsman in the world, that’s just an opinion and not a fact!

                This might be a bitter pill to swallow for some but it is the hard truth! Cheers Brett!

    • Roar Rookie

      January 26th 2016 @ 7:19am
      Tana Mir said | January 26th 2016 @ 7:19am | ! Report

      “Finch is currently the No.1 ranked T20 batsman in the world, more than 200 points clear of Warner, the next best Australian.”

      The statement is true, yet says a lot about ranking system. Anyone who thinks Warner is not a better batsman than Finch has rocks in his head (I”m not saying you made that statement).

      Free market states the obvious (IPL), Warner earning in access of 1 million dollars, while Finch struggles to get a game.
      Finch has been a dud in India/IPL. He was made skipper before the rise of Smith. Now that Smith has arrived, give him the captaincy and get Khawaja to open with Warner.

      Khawaja/Watson/Head/Lynn all better options than Finch.
      Keep an eye on IPL auction next Saturday.

      • January 26th 2016 @ 10:16am
        Don Freo said | January 26th 2016 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        Exactly right Tana.

      • January 26th 2016 @ 11:33am
        Anwar said | January 26th 2016 @ 11:33am | ! Report

        IPL scouts know that finch is no longer the batsman he was 5 years ago and why he won’t be captsin by end of this year, smith will be captain

      • January 26th 2016 @ 11:56am
        fp11 said | January 26th 2016 @ 11:56am | ! Report

        Yes, yes, yes!

      • January 26th 2016 @ 12:17pm
        ajay said | January 26th 2016 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

        Absolutely tana spot on finch is so poor can’t believe they said Lynn can’t play spin!how about rubbish finch?zero footwork finch is world class batsman when he plays (Canberra and mcg).

      • Columnist

        January 26th 2016 @ 12:31pm
        Brett McKay said | January 26th 2016 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

        Tana, it’s worth noting that the rankings are based on T20Is only – his IPL (nor his BBL) form doesn’t enter the equation. But it’s a good point about market forces, and I agree on your point about giving Smith the captaincy. I’ve said that myself today..

        • January 26th 2016 @ 7:51pm
          Ami said | January 26th 2016 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

          I used to think Marsh was the sensible one of the Australian side when he played in that famed underarm match and was quite audibly saying ‘no’ to Greg Chappell. But seems it was an aberration because we havent seen that much common sense since. Mind you I dont mind because we get to see Khawaja in the Shield with Lynn and Burns in an increasingly strong QLD side, and it also may take some pressure off Khawaja, who just may have been otherwise over used. We want him fit for the test series against NZ and Sri Lanka. And Khawaja is a must for the T20 world cup as he is our best T20 batsman in the country

          • Columnist

            January 26th 2016 @ 9:48pm
            Brett McKay said | January 26th 2016 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

            “Mind you I dont mind because we get to see Khawaja in the Shield with Lynn and Burns in an increasingly strong QLD side”

            If you’re a NZ fan, Ami, as you stated yourself on the other thread tonight, why would you care about how strong Queensland’s Shield side is?

            And why “we get to see”?

          • January 27th 2016 @ 12:01am
            Matth said | January 27th 2016 @ 12:01am | ! Report

            It’s impossible to say that Khawaja is the best T20 batsman in the country. The Australian test / ODI players don’t get to play T20.

        • Roar Rookie

          January 26th 2016 @ 8:06pm
          Tana Mir said | January 26th 2016 @ 8:06pm | ! Report

          Brett, can someone remind selectors that the world cup is being played in India and will closely mirror IPL, were Finch has been rubbish. Ashwin and co will get him out in their sleep.

      • January 27th 2016 @ 12:11am
        Mr Bean said | January 27th 2016 @ 12:11am | ! Report

        Why not drop wade and finch and have Paine open?

    • January 26th 2016 @ 9:27am
      My2cents said | January 26th 2016 @ 9:27am | ! Report

      Realistically. I’d drop Warner. I’ve got nothing against the guy. But I’d rather have the extra all rounder, and Warner and Watson don’t bat well togeather. I also think Mitch Marsh is pretty unlucky. Australia could have batted close to 9 deep with him in the side. Peter Neville also looks pretty good and has a better batting record then wade. And would be my first choice at keeper.

      My side
      Watson
      Khawaja
      MMarsh
      Smith
      Maxwell
      Lynn
      Neville
      Faulkner
      Zampa
      Boyce
      Richardson

      • Roar Rookie

        January 26th 2016 @ 10:44am
        Tana Mir said | January 26th 2016 @ 10:44am | ! Report

        World Cup T20 is being hosted in India. Hence, pick the guys who have proven themselves in IPL year after year.

        Shaun Marsh/ Warner/Watson/Maxwell/Smith/Faulkner have tremendous record in IPL, proven performers year after year. Their price tag says it all.

        Pick those guys and build the team around them for WC in India, pretty simple really.

        • January 26th 2016 @ 11:35am
          Anwar said | January 26th 2016 @ 11:35am | ! Report

          Only 6 months back for Aus A Khawaja was the best batsman in the ODIs so the man can play well in India and will Fire for us in the T 20 world cup

          • January 26th 2016 @ 4:08pm
            Andrew said | January 26th 2016 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

            Well said Anwar, shows Khawaja does well on indian pitches and hence a must for the T20 squad, mark Waugh said he is playing better rhen Lara and I agree that he is close to Lara on present form

    • January 26th 2016 @ 10:12am
      Fox Molder said | January 26th 2016 @ 10:12am | ! Report

      Anyone but Matthew Wade in the team. Iron gloves, strike hog, can barely hit off the square, isn’t there ANY other option for keeper?!

      • Columnist

        January 26th 2016 @ 12:35pm
        Brett McKay said | January 26th 2016 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        Yes, several.

        But I’d imagine that 36 in Sydney the other night, in an 80+ run partnership with Mitch Marsh will be what’s pointed to when Wade it named..

        • January 26th 2016 @ 5:16pm
          Fox Molder said | January 26th 2016 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

          What about the 6 runs in Melbourne,the duck in Canberra, the multiple dropped catches the fact he soaks up strike when there is a ‘hot’ batsman at the other end and kills momentum.? He is deadset hopeless. The 36 in Sydney was streaky and in my opinion cost Australia another 20 runs ( and the game).

    • January 26th 2016 @ 11:43am
      BurgyGreen said | January 26th 2016 @ 11:43am | ! Report

      Yeah, good article. Someone’s gotta miss out. The dilemma is that dropping Finch would probably give us a better side, but the selectors can’t really do it. He’s the No. 1 ranked batsman, the captain, and did alright in the BBL.

      As others have said, picking successful IPL players is the best way to go about this. So you’d go Shaun Marsh, Steve Smith, Shane Watson, David Warner, James Faulkner, Glenn Maxwell. The rest of the batsmen should be capable players of spin, and the bowlers have to have lots of variations of pace and a good yorker. So my team would be:

      1. S. Marsh
      2. Warner
      3. Smith (c)
      4. Watson
      5. Maxwell
      6. Bailey (not really sure about this spot – Bailey has the experience and is a proven international finisher and an excellent player of spin, whereas Head and Lynn are relative unknowns, especially in subcontinent conditions, while Khawaja is a top order batsman and would be a reserve for the top 3)
      7. Faulkner
      8. Wade (wk)
      9. Boyce
      10. Tye
      11. Behrendorff

      I’d pick a full squad but picking just four other players is too difficult. Head, Hastings, Richardson, Lyon, Lynn, Khawaja, Finch would all be in the mix.

      • January 26th 2016 @ 12:13pm
        Amith said | January 26th 2016 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

        The fact is that No one is seeing the ball better than Usman Khawaja. From the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba in November, Khawaja has rattled off scores of 174, 9*, 121, 109*, 144, 56, 62, 104* and 70. It totals 849 runs at 141.5 across all formats. That equates to 504 Test match runs at 126 against the Black Caps and West Indies, with another 345 at 172.5 in the Big Bash League. He is a must for the T20 world cup, amazing talent.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 26th 2016 @ 12:26pm
        Tana Mir said | January 26th 2016 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

        Get Khawaja to open with Warner, and Marsh at 6. Harsh for Bailey to miss out, the call has to be made.
        Surely we have better keeper than Wade!

        Maybe get Tait in?

        • January 26th 2016 @ 3:29pm
          Don Freo said | January 26th 2016 @ 3:29pm | ! Report

          Yes Tait would be a better keeper than Wade.

        • January 26th 2016 @ 3:53pm
          BurgyGreen said | January 26th 2016 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

          S. Marsh is a top order player in my opinion – he’s not the guy you want coming in with five overs left trying to smash 12 an over. He’s a pretty rigid innings-building top-order player. Bailey only needs a few balls before he’s dropping the ball into the crowd off any kind of bowling.

          • Roar Rookie

            January 26th 2016 @ 7:52pm
            Tana Mir said | January 26th 2016 @ 7:52pm | ! Report

            I understand Marsh is better suited at top. But given the quality we have he is good enough to play at 6, played few games in IPL in middle order and absolutely smashed them.

      • Columnist

        January 26th 2016 @ 12:36pm
        Brett McKay said | January 26th 2016 @ 12:36pm | ! Report

        You’ve just completely proved my point, Burgy. It’s going to be a decent side, whoever they pick..

        • January 26th 2016 @ 4:00pm
          BurgyGreen said | January 26th 2016 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

          True. But I’m sure we’ll somehow manage to crash out in the group stage again.

          • January 27th 2016 @ 1:31am
            Broken-hearted Toy said | January 27th 2016 @ 1:31am | ! Report

            Australia doesn’t have the bowlers and also, it’s a very tough pool. I have no expectations of the team – no matter who is in it – getting anywhere.

        • Roar Rookie

          January 26th 2016 @ 7:57pm
          Tana Mir said | January 26th 2016 @ 7:57pm | ! Report

          Brett, you are missing the point. We don’t want a decent side, we want the best side possible.

          • Columnist

            January 26th 2016 @ 8:37pm
            Brett McKay said | January 26th 2016 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

            Good point. I’m missing my own point…

    • January 26th 2016 @ 1:21pm
      Adam said | January 26th 2016 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

      What about getting Khawaja to change his name to Usman Marsh or Mitch Khawaja?? Then he’s a definite to be picked.

      • January 26th 2016 @ 3:30pm
        Don Freo said | January 26th 2016 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

        That is such a stupid “yesterday” comment. Shaun Marsh has missed out most of the year despite stunning form and Mitch has been left out of the side.

        Don’t follow the game much, Adam?

      • January 26th 2016 @ 4:09pm
        Andrew said | January 26th 2016 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

        If khawaja last name was marsh he would be captain of Australia

        • January 26th 2016 @ 7:18pm
          Don Freo said | January 26th 2016 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

          As above.

          • January 26th 2016 @ 7:51pm
            Ami said | January 26th 2016 @ 7:51pm | ! Report

            Khawaja doesn’t have to change his last name, he is good enough to play all formats and will very soon, he is too good to ignore

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