There is a fair bit of conjecture regarding the squad for the forthcoming India tour but I’m not sure it is that complex.
It seems to me a simple case of elimination and getting into the mindset of the newly-formed selection panel and working out the strategy that will apply.
My guess is it should be a logical and explainable one.
A useful starting point is to look who has been picked in the last 12 months and work back from there.
From Sydney 2016 to Sydney 2017, 24 players have been used in 12 Tests.
Out of those 24 either due to form, failure, age or injury there are only nine definitely on the plane to India.
They are Steve Smith, Dave Warner, Usman Khawaja, Josh Hazlewood, Nate Lyon, Mitch Starc, Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb and Steve O’Keefe, the latter of which who was all but confirmed on Monday by Pat Howard.
Likely to join them are Jackson Bird and Shaun Marsh. Bird is reliable, did well in the Tests he played and is the current third seamer.
Shaun Marsh played the first Test of the summer and can bat anywhere in the top 6. He is rated highly against spin and will be on the plane.
Those not under consideration accounts for nine players out of the 24.
This includes Joe Burns, Adam Voges, James Pattison, Peter Siddle, Jon Holland, Moises Henriques, Callum Ferguson, Joe Mennie and Nic Maddison
Those under possible consideration are wicketkeepers Matt Wade and Pete Nevill, along with all rounders Mitchell Marsh and Hilton Cartrwight
So, who will be selected?
Nevill will come in for Wade, the logic being that the selectors will want their best keeper for the tour given the conditions. Wade, while improved, didn’t score enough runs to justify ongoing selection.
Mitchell Marsh will also replace Cartwright on the basis of being a superior bowler who did reasonably well in Sri Lanka. Cartwright’s four overs in Sydney has already labelled him as a batsman and more of a part-time bowler
That brings the squad to 13 with the need for three additions, namely another seamer, spinner and a utility player.
For the seamer, they will go with consistency and the current fourth seamer is Chadd Sayers. He can swing the ball, which could come in handy and other hopefuls are not fully under consideration.
For the spinner, they will not risk blooding a youngster who will get mauled in India and it will be a stand-off between Glen Maxwell and Ashton Agar, with the end result that it will go Maxwell’s way on the basis he is the better batsman and if needed could bat at six.
That leaves one spot, which I predict goes to James Faulkner. It is useful to have another left armer if anything happens to Starc, can score useful runs and is just short of being an all-rounder.
So, there you have, not as tricky as some are suggesting.
The final squad will read:
Smith, Warner, Renshaw, Khawja, Handscomb, S Marsh, Nevill, Starc, O’Keefe, Hazlewood, Lyon, Bird, M Marsh, Maxwell, Sayers and Faulkner
You heard it here first.