What is Australia’s second-best batting line-up?

Edward L'Orange Roar Pro

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    If Australia’s top six were all suddenly ruled out for the upcoming summer, who would replace them in the Ashes? Who are Australia’s second six?

    Australia’s top six for the Ashes will likely consist of David Warner (vc), Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Peter Handscomb and Glen Maxwell.

    In judging the contenders to replace them, I have not taken ODI participation into consideration, but purely first-class form and previous Test experience.

    Opening batsmen may just be Australia’s richest asset, with five contenders:

    Cameron Bancroft, Western Australia: first class (FC) average 36.89.
    Joe Burns, Queensland: FC average 38.9; 13 Tests averaging 37.95 with three centuries.
    Ed Cowan, NSW: FC average 42.2; 18 Tests averaging 31.28 with one century.
    Daniel Hughes, NSW: FC average 36.68.
    Shawn Marsh, WA: FC average 40.89, 24 Tests averaging 36.00 with four centuries.

    First drop is a spot Australia has struggled with in the years since Ricky Ponting’s fall from form. However, Khawaja has given us hope for a steady performer in this position (well, at least in Australia).

    I have four contenders for this position:

    Hilton Cartwright, WA: FC average 50.89, two Tests averaging 27.50.
    Ed Cowan, NSW.
    Shaun Marsh, WA.
    Marcus Stoinis, Victoria: FC average 35.08.

    For the positions four to six I have eight contenders:

    George Bailey, Tasmania: FC average 40.21, five Tests averaging 26.14.
    Aaron Finch, Victoria: FC average 36.57.
    Travis Head, South Australia: FC average 34.45.
    Moises Henriques, NSW: FC average 35.24, four Tests averaging 23.24.
    Jake Lehmann, SA: FC average 43.16.
    Mitch Marsh, WA: FC average 33.48, 21 Tests averaging 21.74.
    Kurtis Patterson: FC average 42.20.
    Ashton Turner, WA: FC average 38.48.
    Cameron White, Vic: FC average 39.80, four Tests averaging 29.20.

    My team
    The first of my openers is abandoned Test player Joe Burns. Of all players in Australia, none were as hardly done by as Burns. A casualty of Australia’s Test clean out following our capitulation against South Africa, Burns was punished for a few poor scores.

    The success of fellow Queenslander Matt Renshaw has meant that Burns was unable to reclaim his place, but with a solid first-class average last season and some excellent moments in his short Test career, Burns should be one of the first called back.

    The second opener is another former Test player, Shaun Marsh. Marsh has had his chances at Test level, some which he has taken, some which he has not. However, if our current top six were sidelined, Marsh’s experience would be invaluable.

    With this pair we have two experienced batsmen opening the batting, who hopefully will not be overawed by the stage: something important with a new order. Their right-left batting also complement each other, and they should make a solid opening partnership.

    Australian batsman Shaun Marsh reacts after scoring a century

    AAP Image/Dave Hunt

    With a first-class average of 50.89 is was impossible to omit Cartwright at first drop. In fact, some might even argue that he is actually an incumbent, having played in Australia’s last Test in Chittagong. However, back in Australia, he should make way for Khawaja.

    Cartwright should be a very useful prospect at three, having averaged 53.81 in last year’s shield season, while also owning some Test experience.

    The captain and No.4 is George Bailey. Bailey has been remarkably reliable in the Sheffield Shield, being in the top four run scorers the last two years. He has extensive experience at international level and is a good captain. Despite his age, Bailey’s experience and steady batsmanship make him a no-brainer.

    The number five space goes to NSW batsman Kurtis Patterson. Perhaps coming in a little bit under the radar, Patterson has nevertheless been a strong performer for NSW, averaging 52.64 and 44.53 respectively in the last two year. He has been a great asset to NSW, helping to steady the ship a number of times.

    Finally, number six goes to Jake Lehmann, who has played an important role in a solid South Australian middle-order over the last two years, averaging 44.50 and 40.70 respectively.

    One of Lehmann’s best assets is his ability to preform under pressure – incredibly valuable batting with the tail.

    My second six for the Australian Test team
    Joe Burns, Shaun Marsh, Hilton Cartwright, George Bailey, Kurtis Patterson and Jake Lehmann.

    Honourable mentions (third six): Daniel Hughes, Cameron Bancroft, Ed Cowan, Travis Head, Cam White and Ashton Turner.

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