Champions Trophy: Handscomb could leapfrog Khawaja and Bailey

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    Marcus Stoinis is in doubt for the Champions Trophy just over two weeks out from Australia’s first warm-up match after injuring his shoulder in the IPL. Who, then, are his potential replacements?

    The all-rounder will later this week get scans on his shoulder, which he hurt during a fielding warm-up with his IPL team Kings XI Punjab on Friday.

    Australia will be very reticent to take a risk on Stoinis given there are already concerns about the health of squad members Mitchell Starc and Chris Lynn. Fast bowler Starc has been on the sidelines since suffering a stress fracture in his foot during the Test series in India two months ago.

    Attacking batsman Lynn, meanwhile, has only just returned from yet another injury. The physically fragile Queenslander missed almost a month of the IPL after injuring his left shoulder diving in the field in an IPL game in early April. That was the third time in two years he had injured the same shoulder.

    With David Warner, Aaron Finch and Steve Smith the only other specialist batsmen in Australia’s 15-man squad, Australia are light on for batting options. They went heavy on batting all-rounders picking Stoinis, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques.

    That was a gamble considering Australia’s middle order has been the weakest component of its ODI side for the past 18 months now. The selectors decided against picking a solid batsman who could provide a steady middle order presence like George Bailey, Shaun Marsh or Callum Ferguson, or including another top-order batsman in Usman Khawaja.

    Marcus Stoinis of Australia celebrates on reaching his maiden century

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    If Stoinis’ injury is serious, or if he is deemed too big a risk to take to England, the selectors may change tack and replace him with a specialist batsman. Why? Because there are no batting all-rounders left in Australia who offer an attractive option.

    Mitch Marsh, arguably Australia’s best batting all-rounder, is out injured. His Western Australia teammate Hilton Cartwright was included in Australia’s ODI squad for the home series against New Zealand last December but did not play a game.

    Cartwright is a fantastic first-class cricketer and deserves to be next in line for a Test middle order berth. But he is still very much a work-in-progress as a white ball cricketer and has a poor List A record, averaging 26 with the bat and 39 with the ball.

    Australia have a far better batting all-rounder already in their squad in Henriques. The NSW captain has been in stunning form with the blade over the past three years, making 882 runs at an average of 55 in the domestic One Day competition.

    Henriques is currently having a sensational IPL campaign, averaging 57 with the bat, and is fresh from a dominant Sheffield Shield season, in which he piled up 775 runs at 65. He is in the form of his career. While he has tended to underbowl himself as captain of NSW, Henriques is a decent stump-to-stump medium pacer who is just as useful with the ball as Stoinis.

    Blues Moises Henriques celebrates after taking a wicket

    (AAP Image/Daniel Munoz)

    If Stoinis is unavailable then Henriques, Maxwell and Head would provide Australia with sufficient all-rounder options. That is why Stoinis’ replacement, if required, should be a specialist batsman not another all-rounder like Cartwright.

    Khawaja could be in the mix. But, as an opening batsman, it could count against him that there are already three players in Warner, Finch and Head whose best position is at the top of the order. Australia would be tempted to pick a middle order specialist like Bailey, or a versatile player such as Shaun Marsh, who has batted in every single position in the order from one to seven across his 53 ODIs.

    In a squad already boasting aggressive ball strikers in Warner, Finch, Lynn, Maxwell and Head, a more subtle strokemaker like Bailey or Marsh could provide some required balance.

    There is a very real chance, however, that Khawaja, Bailey and Marsh all could be leapfrogged by Peter Handscomb. The 26-year-old Victorian has made a fantastic start to his Test career, averaging 54 after eight matches, and earned his ODI debut against Pakistan in January.

    He underwhelmed in his five ODIs, scoring just 90 runs at an average of 22. Handscomb, Bailey and Marsh each have one major advantage over Khawaja – they are currently playing and in good form.

    Khawaja hasn’t played a professional match in almost four months. Meanwhile, Marsh is having a very good IPL season, averaging 44 with the bat. Bailey has made 152 runs at 76 in three matches for Hampshire in England’s domestic One Day Cup.

    And Handscomb is dominating that competition with 407 runs at 102 and a scorching strike rate of 113. That ballistic form, combined with the fact he is a middle order specialist, may well earn him a Champions Trophy berth if Stoinis is ruled out in the coming days.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (40)

    • Roar Guru

      May 9th 2017 @ 8:25am
      Red Kev said | May 9th 2017 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Surely it would come down to what hole needs filling. Khawaja is a limited overs opener, if that’s not where he’s playing then they’re better off with someone like Handscomb who can come in down the order.

      • May 9th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Ross said | May 9th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        Agreed red Kev, if there is a injury to a top order batsman or a top order position is required then get Khawaja but if we need middle order players then handscombe is your man

        • May 9th 2017 @ 9:54am
          Amith said | May 9th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          I would go for Khawaja, but selectors have ruined his confidence by not picking him for the NZ ODI series for early Dubai preperation when he wasn’t even neeeded in India and not picking him in a dead rubber Adelaide ODI against Pakistan.He is clearly our best long term opener with Warner but thats for another topic. Also i noticed that Finch has averaged 22 so far in the IPL so his lack of form continues over the last year. I also looked at the Indian squad who i think are the best opposition and the team to watch out but they got their selections wrong. They have selected a largely predictable – unimaginative or safe squad to defend a trophy they won 4 year ago”!. Except for the 4 fast bowlers & the 2 spinners, only Kohli, Rahane, Dhoni & possibly Dhawan can be called automatic Choices. This team needs 3 or 4 regular openers. Dhawan is the only one. Neither Rohit nor Rahane are regular openers. So India will have a poor opening stand. There isn’t a single batsmen with sound technique & footwork like Vijay, Rahul & Pujara. ODI format is closer to Test format NOT T20. So the Selectors should have eliminated the T20 guys & include more Test batsmen. With Vijay & Rahul unavailable, Pujara should have been an automatic choice for English conditions at #3 or even opening spot. This is where India will fail- lack of batsmen with right technique & footwork. If batsmen do not have skills to survive, why will S/R even factor IN? Poor Squad Selection by them which will help us.

          • May 9th 2017 @ 1:46pm
            jameswm said | May 9th 2017 @ 1:46pm | ! Report

            It beggars belief that you could pick Finch to open with Warner ahead of Khawaja. Khawaja got maybe 3 games and didn’t excel, but his test and Matador records suggest that if you give him time, he will be the right person long term.

            • May 9th 2017 @ 5:00pm
              Ross said | May 9th 2017 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

              Couldn’t agrrr more Jamesw, Khawaja averages over 50 in domestic one day crickey and he got 3 games this summer and was wrongly taken out of the final odi at Adelaide where he was denied the chance to bat on a good batting pitch. Finch on the other hand has averaged in tbr 30s in thr last year for Australia and 22 in tbr IPL this year, it beggars belief that finch has been picked ahead of Khawaja, I am a fan of hamdscombe but finch has had a million chances and continues to fail

            • May 9th 2017 @ 5:01pm
              Ross said | May 9th 2017 @ 5:01pm | ! Report

              Couldn’t agree more Jamesw, Khawaja averages over 50 in domestic one day crickey and he got 3 games this summer and was wrongly taken out of the final odi at Adelaide where he was denied the chance to bat on a good batting pitch. Finch on the other hand has averaged in tbr 30s in thr last year for Australia and 22 in tbr IPL this year, it beggars belief that finch has been picked ahead of Khawaja, I am a fan of hamdscombe but finch has had a million chances and continues to fail

      • Columnist

        May 9th 2017 @ 11:11am
        Ronan O'Connell said | May 9th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        I’d be very surprised to see Khawaja come in to replace Stoinis, it would be a mistake as Australia doesn’t need another top order batsman.

        The selection of Finch was a mistake at the time and his lack of form in the IPL is only making it look worse. Head is a better option than Finch to open with Warner.

        Realistically any of Bailey, SMarsh or Handscomb would be a good replacement for Stoinis, the selectors can’t make a wrong choice there.

        If Stoinis is out injured then I think Australia’s best lineup would be:

        1. Head
        2. Warner
        3. Smith
        4. Bailey/SMarsh/Handscomb
        5. Maxwell
        6. Henriques
        7. Wade
        8. Starc
        9. Cummins
        10. Zampa
        11. Hazlewood

        The other option being to play Lynn instead of Henriques. But that would leave 10 overs of bowling in the hands of Head (still learning as a bowler) and Maxwell (Smith has zero faith in him).

        Being able to share 10 overs between Henriques, Head and Maxwell would leave Australia with a lot of flexibility.

        • May 9th 2017 @ 11:23am
          Ross said | May 9th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          All good points ronan given we are short of middle order options however would you agree that if there was a injury to a top order batsman then Khawaja is the guy to bring in. Also I don’t think Faulkner can be bought in even though he is a good all rounder as he is low on confidence as seen by his hit out by the 19 year old kid in the ipl

          • Columnist

            May 9th 2017 @ 11:39am
            Ronan O'Connell said | May 9th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

            Ross if Australia needed to replace a top order batsman at some point then either Khawaja or Marsh are the best options.

            It’s hard to split them but Marsh has the advantage that he’d be coming in fresh from a lot of white ball cricket in the IPL, where he’s been in great form, whereas Khawaja would be coming in cold after 4-5 months of no cricket.

            • May 9th 2017 @ 4:22pm
              Stephen said | May 9th 2017 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

              Surely we can move past shaun marsh now, he leepfroged Khawaja in the India tests and averaged 18, he is a good player but he keeps breaking down with injury and seems to get all his runs either in the IPL or in Sri lanka, at 33 lets move on now. Khawaja should come in. He opened the batting in three of Australia’s five ODIs against Pakistan in January but faced stiff competition for a top-order berth for the showpiece event. He averages 53 at domestic one day level, only bevan and smith have done better, lets stop making excsues and get him in if there is a injury. Bailey is anotther one to consider but he didn’t do too well in his last 20 games for Australia. The Tasmanian was dropped after recording 288 runs at 36 in his 10 previous ODI innings before the Pakistan series.

        • May 9th 2017 @ 11:57am
          matth said | May 9th 2017 @ 11:57am | ! Report

          Surely Lynn get’s first crack at the number 4 spot. Even if we only get one ballistic innings before his arm falls off, he could win us a vital game.

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2017 @ 9:36am
            Chris Kettlewell said | May 10th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

            I feel like, assuming his fitness holds, we have to find some way of getting Lynn in there. He’s in imperious form at the moment, even coming in and out of injury it seems to make no difference, he’s straight back in hitting them well!

          • Roar Guru

            May 10th 2017 @ 4:28pm
            Ryan H said | May 10th 2017 @ 4:28pm | ! Report

            I also wonder is 4 perhaps a spot too high for Lynn?
            I suppose the earlier Australia utilise the power hitting they have on hand the better, yet I can’t recall him batting so high very often for QLD – he seems to be a perfect number 5 in ODI cricket as he can ideally arrive at the crease with 20 or so overs remaining, allowing him to naturally start the clean ball-striking he is in there for – if picked.

        • Roar Pro

          May 9th 2017 @ 12:11pm
          mrrexdog said | May 9th 2017 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

          I don’t see Lynn being left out

          I think the most likely xi is

          Head
          Warner
          Smith
          Lynn
          Handscomb (wk)
          Maxwell
          Henriques
          Cummins
          Starc
          Zampa
          Hazlewood

          There’s a chance wade gets squeezed out of the xi

          • May 9th 2017 @ 12:22pm
            matth said | May 9th 2017 @ 12:22pm | ! Report

            Wade is the Golden Boy at the moment and his ODI form as a finisher has actually been pretty good, so I doubt this will happen, but it’s not the worst idea in the world.

          • Roar Guru

            May 9th 2017 @ 1:28pm
            Rellum said | May 9th 2017 @ 1:28pm | ! Report

            If Chris Lynn wants to really play One Day cricket he needs to take time away from the game and get his shoulder right. Given the current point of his career I don’t think he can afford to do that.

            The lack of Fielding he needs to do in T20 cricket can let him get through games but One Day cricket and heaven for bid First class cricket will greatly test a shoulder that is currently not up to it.

            • Columnist

              May 9th 2017 @ 1:38pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | May 9th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

              No chance Wade will get dropped for Handscomb.

              Wade’s been in very good form – he’s made 537 runs at 38 in his past 20 ODIs and has held Australia’s middle order together on numerous occasions.

        • May 9th 2017 @ 1:51pm
          jameswm said | May 9th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

          Ronan I do think that team is one specialist batsman short. From 5 down it looks a little suspect. Moises is in great form, but he’s the one I see missing out.

          • Columnist

            May 9th 2017 @ 2:14pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | May 9th 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

            Jameswm if Stoinis can’t play then I can definitely see Henriques coming into the starting XI because the selectors love having a seam-bowling all-rounder in the top six, they’ve very rarely gone without one for years now.

            Moises bats at 4 for NSW and, from memory, has the best batting average (55) among the top 10 runscorers in the Matador Cup over the past 3 seasons.

            He’s putting up fantastic numbers for a batsman in all three formats, and offers that extra flexibility with the ball. His ODI performances to date have been rank though.

        • Roar Guru

          May 9th 2017 @ 3:35pm
          JamesH said | May 9th 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

          Ronan, Australia were perfectly happy to play with Head and Maxwell as the 5th and 6th bowlers on a couple of occasions against Pakistan this summer (with Head bowling 10 overs and Maxwell 0 in each match!). But I think your lineup there is just about right.

          The only thing I would add is that Lynn was in the squad ahead of Bailey/SMarsh/Handscomb and will probably play if fit. In that scenario I’d like to see him at 3 and Smith at 4, although it’s unlikely to happen.

          • Columnist

            May 9th 2017 @ 4:02pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | May 9th 2017 @ 4:02pm | ! Report

            JamesH the big difference is that in that series you mention is that Pakistan are the 8th ranked ODI team in the world and a very poor ODI batting outfit.

            It’s one thing getting 10 overs out of Head against a feeble batting side in a meaningless bi-lateral series, it’s a whole other thing asking him to take heavy responsibility with the ball against the powerful batting lineups of SA/India/Eng.

            Head hasn’t been tested out against India or England yet and when he played SA his bowling was absolutely hammered – 1 for 117 at just under 8 runs per over.

            It would be a big risk to plan the whole tournament around getting 10 overs out of him and Maxwell (who as I said Smith seems intent on never bowling).

            • May 9th 2017 @ 4:32pm
              Stephen said | May 9th 2017 @ 4:32pm | ! Report

              I know i am in the minority here but what about Billy stanlake. He made encouraging one-day and T20 international debuts last summer and his potential was underlined with a call-up to the Indian Premier League, where he’s played two matches so far for Royal Challengers Bangalore. If he can stay fit, Stanlake’s name is one likely to feature in future national squads.

              • Roar Guru

                May 10th 2017 @ 9:39am
                Chris Kettlewell said | May 10th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

                He’s not in the squad, and they aren’t going to replace a batting allrounder with another fast bowler. We are pretty well covered in the squad with fast bowling options, Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins, Pattinson, Hastings.

        • May 10th 2017 @ 10:27am
          BurgyGreen said | May 10th 2017 @ 10:27am | ! Report

          I think Lynn will definitely play at 4 ahead of Handscomb, and I think that’s the right decision. Despite his awful ODI performances so far I’m willing to give Henriques a shot at 6. Handscomb on the bench to come in for either Lynn or Henriques as necessary.

          As for the bowling, if we end up not playing Henriques then Smith simply must be willing to bowl Maxwell and Head. Maxwell has bowled fairly well in the IPL this season. To be completely honest I don’t rate Henriques’s bowling much higher than Head and Maxwell these days. With Mitch Marsh and Stoinis out we simply don’t have a batting allrounder who can bowl quality seam, so we’ll have to either make do with what we’ve got or consider playing Faulkner at 7 as a bowling allrounder, which of course weakens our batting significantly.

        • May 10th 2017 @ 5:44pm
          James Jackson said | May 10th 2017 @ 5:44pm | ! Report

          Good team Ronan, I’d put Cummins ahead of Starc in the batting order as my personal preference

          • Roar Guru

            May 11th 2017 @ 1:05pm
            Chris Kettlewell said | May 11th 2017 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

            Cummins has certainly been hitting them well, played a couple of nice cameo’s in the IPL lately also.

    • May 9th 2017 @ 8:26am
      Simon said | May 9th 2017 @ 8:26am | ! Report

      Cameron White has been the best domestic one day batsmen for a few years in a row now, be great to see him picked

      • May 9th 2017 @ 9:16am
        Ross said | May 9th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        White has been impressive

        • Columnist

          May 9th 2017 @ 11:17am
          Ronan O'Connell said | May 9th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

          Australia are blessed with batting depth in ODIs – White and Ferguson both would be very good options in the middle order.

          But it won’t happen. Neither of them have played an ODI in a long time and they’d need to leapfrog four guys who have been in the team recently in Bailey, SMarsh, Handscomb and Khawaja.

      • Roar Guru

        May 9th 2017 @ 12:30pm
        Ryan H said | May 9th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

        Yep White truly deserves it; and they just have to forget about age when you’re talking about a one-off tournament. When you’re looking at pure form and weight of domestic one-day runs, he logically goes straight in.

    • May 9th 2017 @ 11:53am
      matth said | May 9th 2017 @ 11:53am | ! Report

      If we are going to win this thing via leapfrogging, surely we should have picked Billy ‘Lonshanks’ Stanlake!

      I remember with sorrow when the Australian team lost the 1985 leapfrogging championships by sending out David Boon for the leapfrog super over.

    • May 9th 2017 @ 1:06pm
      Pope Paul VII said | May 9th 2017 @ 1:06pm | ! Report

      Lehmann was in the AFL Adelaide Crow’s coach’s box the other day against North. Clearly his cricketing nous rubbed off as the scoreboard would have looked familiar as the Crows came up with a duckfest 0 0 0 at quarter time. North Melbourne meanwhile went T20 gangbusters piling on 10 4 64.

      Just get a batsman, any batsman. Too many flipping allrounders in this squad.

      • May 9th 2017 @ 10:48pm
        Nudge said | May 9th 2017 @ 10:48pm | ! Report

        Now that Handscomb has found a formula that works for him in 50 over cricket, I’d be telling Stoinis his scans came back no good. Handscomb is smashing runs in the 50 over English league and would have to be the leading and most consistent player over there right now. He should be the third batsman picked behind Smith and Warner in my opinion.
        The last spot I think should be between Lynn and Henriques.
        Wade
        Warner
        Smith
        Handscomb
        Head
        Maxwell
        Henriques/Lynn
        Cummins
        Starc
        Zampa
        Hazlewood

        • May 10th 2017 @ 8:50am
          jameswm said | May 10th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

          You’d open with Wade Nudge?

          • May 10th 2017 @ 1:51pm
            Nudge said | May 10th 2017 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

            Yeah I would mate. He’d be pretty solid up the top. He could play second fiddle around Warner but still go at close to a run a ball. Having Lynn, Maxwell coming in in the 40th over would be pretty dangerous

            • Columnist

              May 10th 2017 @ 4:19pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | May 10th 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

              Nudge I reckon Wade is badly needed at 7 where he’s been playing a crucial role either finishing off the innings aggressively or, more importantly, rescuing Australia with plucky knocks after the top six failed.

              He’s been fantastic with the bat over the past year in ODIs – he’s an insurance policy for Aus down the order in case their aggressive middle order gets rolled.

              • May 11th 2017 @ 1:54am
                Nudge said | May 11th 2017 @ 1:54am | ! Report

                Wade has been more than rock solid Ronan in the 50 over format of late. I just think the way Handscomb is batting if he did come in at 4 there would be a lot more stability in the middle order which we haven’t had in a while.
                In the only one day match Lynn played last summer he was playing 20/20 shots and perished with the Aussies at around 4 for not many with 30 or more overs still left.
                Wade, Warner, Smith and Handscomb is a pretty reliable top 4 let them set the platform and then let the likes of Head, Lynn, Maxwell and Henriques go crazy in the last 15 or so overs.

              • Columnist

                May 11th 2017 @ 11:46am
                Ronan O'Connell said | May 11th 2017 @ 11:46am | ! Report

                That could work Nudge, but I just think Head has looked much better in the top order in ODIs when he’s had time to build an innings.

                Head’s averaged 55 when batting in the top four compared to 31 down at 5/6/7. His strike rate is also way better up top – 102 compared to 81 in the middle order.

                Head opens for SA in 50-over cricket, I think it’s easily his best position.

    • May 10th 2017 @ 9:08am
      Swampy said | May 10th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

      I’m not sure what sort of bowling attacks people face in the IPL – from games I’ve seen there are guys who look likely under 12 prospects amongst each attack. Much the same in county cricket – weakened by so many other matches around the world running concurrently.

      I have no problem with Handscomb being given a run but seriously Khawaja has got be a trifle hard done by – his one day form is far superior to Finchy’s and he’s an opener that help when the inevitable collapse occurs. In actual fact looking at how volatile the lineup is I would seriously consider Ed Cowan lol.

      That team could score 500 but it also may frequently score 165 all out.

      On a sensible note, Henriques or Bailey have shown in the past that they can knuckle down with chaos all around to at least get us to a score to defend. Faulkner used to excell at this also but CA have basically battered him into submission since his drink driving episode.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 16th 2017 @ 10:11pm
      Greg said | May 16th 2017 @ 10:11pm | ! Report

      Agreed Ronan. I think it’s down to Handscomb and Bailey, since they’re both playing in England at the moment. If the selectors maintain their preference towards youth, Handscomb will get the nod over Bailey.

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