Siddle should be well back in Ashes pecking order

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By , Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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    The veterans keep dominating, young guns are pushing for ODI spots, and WA will meet either SA or Victoria in the final. These are some of the major talking points from the JLT Cup.

    Nic Maddinson is a strong ODI prospect
    Maddinson has scored more runs than any other batsman over the past three domestic one-day tournaments, with 1070 runs at an average of 56 and a blazing strike rate of 96. He topped the runscorers list this tournament, after the six qualifying rounds, with 398 runs at 66, after being the eighth and third highest runmaker in the previous two summers, respectively.

    These numbers would normally demand consideration for the ODI side. The problem for Maddinson is that he’s played mostly as an opening batsman over those past three prolific seasons and Australia are flush with top order options.

    David Warner and Steve Smith are entrenched in the top three, leaving Maddinson to vie for the other position with Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh – seriously tough competition.

    Cameron Bancroft emerges as smokey for ODI keeping spot
    The Australian selectors think highly enough of Cameron Banrcroft’s keeping that they handed him the gloves, ahead of Peter Handscomb, during Australia A’s 50-over series last year against South Africa A, India A and the Australian National Performance Squad.

    Like Handscomb, Bancroft entered the domestic scene as a wicketkeeper only to find that another gloveman already had that position cemented. In Handscomb’s case that player was Matthew Wade, and for Bancroft it was Sam Whiteman who was ahead of him.

    With Whiteman out injured, Bancroft kept for WA in this current tournament and was outstanding. Not only was his glovework neat, but the 24-year-old displayed newfound dynamism batting at first drop, with a scorching strike rate of 110 while averaging 47.

    That was his third brilliant 50-over tournament on the trot – Bancroft has piled up 701 runs at 50 over the past three summers.

    Peter Siddle takes 50-over bowling back to the 1980s
    The former Test quick turned in arguably the most remarkable performance of the tournament by giving up just 3.35 runs per over across his six matches. Such a miserly economy rate has been virtually unheard of in the 50-over format for the past 20 years or so.

    This has prompted calls for him to be in contention for the Ashes. But Siddle never had a problem keeping things tight in Test cricket, it was his serious lack of penetration over the past four years in Tests which hurt his claims.

    Siddle remains a solid back-up should Australia suffer a raft of injuries to Test quicks. But he should be behind the likes of Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers and Jason Behrendorff in the Test pecking order.

    Peter Siddle claims a hatrick in an Ashes Test at the Gabba.

    (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)

    Daniel Hughes continues his extraordinary run
    After 14 List A matches, Hughes has the phenomenal career record of 782 runs at 65. Last year he was the third highest runscorer in the tournament and this summer he is second only to Maddinson so far. Like Maddinson, though, he has massive competition to squeeze into the ODI side because of Australia’s wealth of opening options.

    With Australia in greater need of a reliable middle order batsman, Hughes and Maddinson may find themselves overlooked when the ODI selectors reach down to pluck a batsman from the domestic scene.

    The veterans just won’t quit
    George Bailey (35 years old), Shaun Marsh (34), Cameron White (34), Callum Ferguson (32) and Michael Klinger (37) all are good enough to be playing ODI cricket right now.

    That group have been consistently commanding List A batsmen for years now but have been victims of the strong depth of Australia’s ODI batting stocks, as well as a tendency for the selectors to favour younger batsmen in the ODI line-up.

    This tournament Marsh is averaging 95, Klinger 67, Bailey 62, Ferguson 53 and White 50. Yet there is a good chance that none of them will again play for Australia in limited overs cricket.

    Australian batsman George Bailey plays a shot against England in the fifth Ashes Test

    (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

    Labuschagne and Patterson are future ODI middle order options
    A wonky middle order is the glaring weakness in Australia’s misfiring ODI team. While Australia’s top seven has tended to boast heavy hitting power, what it has lacked is another sturdy middle-order batsman to glue the line-up together.

    The likes of Ferguson, Shaun Marsh, Bailey or White could fill that role, but you sense the selectors may have moved on from those players. As I argued recently, I think Peter Handscomb can fix this problem as well as the wicketkeeping issue.

    But if the selectors don’t go with Handscomb, or they do and he fails, then youngsters Marnus Labuschagne and Kurtis Patterson are ready for a crack at ODIs.

    Queensland number four Labuschagne won the player of the tournament last season as a 22-year-old and was equally impressive this time around, with 291 runs at 48. Patterson, meanwhile, shone again in the middle order for NSW and the 24-year-old has made just under 500 runs at 46 across the past two tournaments.

    Crucially, both men have strong techniques and fine temperaments which is why they’ve also experienced decent success at first-class level for such young cricketers. This is the type of player Australia require in their middle order, rather than another hitter who relies on scoring boundaries.

    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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