One doesn’t make two: Australia’s Ashes conundrum

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    When the Australian national selection panel discuss the team for the first Ashes Test this afternoon in Brisbane, they have one large problem to overcome.

    One replacement can’t fill two positions.

    Across the first three rounds of the Sheffield Shield, only Cameron Bancroft has put his hand up to challenge for the wicketkeeper or opening position.

    The Western Australian is trying for both and – given his unbeaten double century yesterday for the Warriors, finishing on 228 not out – doing a damn good job of it.

    Double ton gives Cam Bancroft one foot in the door for Ashes selection

    Unfortunately, that leaves Matt Renshaw and Matthew Wade in need of being replaced.

    It’s clear Bancroft should play in the first Test. I was happy to call him the wicketkeeper in yesterday’s article, but after another abject failure from Renshaw, I’m not so sure.

    Plenty want to see the Queenslander retained, and he may well survive purely because no one has scored runs, but the stats are pretty damning.

    In his six Shield innings this season, Renshaw has averaged a tedious 11.66, scoring just 70 runs. He has looked all at sea, unable to handle a swinging new ball.

    On a likely green Gabba deck, the notion that James Anderson and Stuart Broad aren’t going to be hooping the ball around corners is rather silly – the experienced English duo will give the Australian batsmen hell.

    The only other opener across the country who has made runs is Shaun Marsh, who has gone past 50 twice in the first three rounds of the Shield, despite only getting 17 yesterday.

    Yet this would be a massive step in the wrong direction – by now you’d think the selectors were smart enough to realise they need to blood young talent, rather than go back to Marsh again.

    Australian batsman Shaun Marsh reacts after scoring a century

    AAP Image/Dave Hunt

    The problem is, while Bancroft is doing it at Shield level, the selectors would be hesitant to throw him into the cauldron of Test cricket as both keeper and opening batsman

    It may be better to put up with the lack of production from Wade behind the stumps than stick with Renshaw, particularly given there are precious few other options as keeper.

    Peter Nevill again failed with the blade for the Blues, making just 17 against Queensland.

    Hoewver, South Australian Alex Carey has made a positive start to his innings – sitting on 26 not out at stumps – and would do his chances no harm with a big score.

    Essentially, Bancroft will be in the side for the first Test, it’s merely a question of whether Wade or Renshaw will miss out, based on team needs.

    Elsewhere, little was learnt in the battle for No.6. Neither Glenn Maxwell nor Hilton Cartwright – presumed to be the two front-runners – made any impact, with Cartwright bowling two overs for 20 runs against South Australia.

    Another half-century continues to show Usman Khawaja’s form and at this stage he looks to be the most in-form of any Australian batsman.

    Steve Smith, David Warner and Peter Handscomb looking scratchy, with none reaching 50 in their most recently completed innings. It’s been a lean start to the summer, with Smith reaching the half century twice and Warner once.

    In a communication breakdown, the fast bowlers were sat out of the final round of the Shield, before being told they had to hold back in the nets. Bowling at each other rather than a local net batsman must be a sure way to wasting a training session, and it appears Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Patrick Cummins did exactly that yesterday.

    Nathan Lyon, meanwhile, picked up his third wicket of the match, getting rid of the dangerous Khawaja.

    While the bowlers are locked in, the batters sure aren’t. Two spots have turned into three over the course of the summer, and chances for those vying to be in the Ashes squad are running out fast.

    Scott Pryde
    Scott Pryde

    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.

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    The Crowd Says (56)

    • November 15th 2017 @ 8:11am
      Curious George said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      Pryde (meats) have you now become an Uzzy fan? Good for you son

      Renshaw must be dropped. He and warner opening mean we could easily be 2/10 quite reguarly.

      Wade is a complete joke. He should not even be worth the keyboard strokes.

      The XI WILL be

      Reshaw
      Warner
      Smith
      Uzzy
      Handcomb
      Bancroft
      Nevill
      Starc
      Cummins
      Lyon
      Hazelwood

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 8:48am
        Scott Pryde said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:48am | ! Report

        Yeah nice reference to the butcher which I don’t have anything to do with…

        Anyway, I’ve always been a fan of Khawaja.

        I really wish another opener had stuck their hand up… Although, if you’re indicating Bancroft won’t take the gloves, wouldn’t you prefer him opening ahead of Renshaw who you have said must be dropped?

        • November 15th 2017 @ 9:34am
          Curious George said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

          Scott, nice pick up on the butcher. A mind pun nothing more. You must be a Sydney boy to know the reference.

          My bad I meant Bancroft to open with The Professor (Warner/OLED tv man) and the rest of the team selects itself

          Maxwell will be carrying the drinks or playing for VIC next week, not in the XI.

          Wade will be playing grade cricket for Devonport in TAS next week

          Fair call on another opener sticking their hand up …..someone like Marcus Harris you reckon Scott?

          • Roar Guru

            November 15th 2017 @ 9:46am
            Scott Pryde said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:46am | ! Report

            Ha – yep, Sydney. I get it more often than you’d believe.

            Agree with what should be happening… I just don’t know the selectors will see it that way.

            It’s funny George – I talked about Harris yesterday. For mine, he needs some more consistent performances for a longer period of time before we consider him for Test cricket, but I think he is on the radar. A point raised but someone yesterday (I’m not sure who) is worth noting as well – similarly aggressive to Warner. Will two batsmen like that work at the top of the order? I’m not sure. Worth a chat anyway.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 10:56am
          Rob JM said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:56am | ! Report

          Harris has a 100 and top scored with 86 this game in the vic innings of 144. Could be worth a punt. Otherwise I’d give carey a go with bancroft to open. Still, having bancroft as keeper would have the slectors drooling after yesterdays performance.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 12:05pm
          Basil said | November 15th 2017 @ 12:05pm | ! Report

          Jake Weatherald?

        • November 15th 2017 @ 7:08pm
          Guru murthy said | November 15th 2017 @ 7:08pm | ! Report

          Doesn’t Tim Paine deserve one more chance to play test matches for Australia?
          He scored a half century against a quality bowling attack in tour match against England and also he has scored 71 against in his most recently completed innings .
          He seems to be batting well than wade and needless to say , he is also a better wicket keeper than wade .

          • November 16th 2017 @ 11:06am
            Simoc said | November 16th 2017 @ 11:06am | ! Report

            Paine is also the current Australian T20 keeper so is being watched closely. Prior to his injuries he was next in line.

    • Roar Guru

      November 15th 2017 @ 8:18am
      Chris Kettlewell said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:18am | ! Report

      It does feel a bit like Bancroft has pretty much bought himself a test debut, and now the only question is which of the three available positions to put him into. That will largely come down to which of those three positions has the worst other options. At the moment that probably rules out him batting at 6, as, while nobody else has really set the Shield on fire this season, there are a number of players who could probably do a decent job there. While in the keeping position we seem to be trying to find the least worst option, and the opening position Renshaw’s issues are so pronounced that it’s starting to seem like he’s almost unselectable, despite coming into the summer as a player most considered pretty much a certainty, and he really only needed a couple of mediocre scores to be able to retain his position, but hasn’t even managed that.

      Both those positions are critical, and in both cases Bancroft may well be the best current option, but obviously he can’t take both. Yes, he’s opening the batting and keeping for WA, though I suspect that if he was really considering being the long term keeper there he’d probably move further down the order, not try and keep that up long term, even if he is a bit of an iron man fitness-wise.

      I don’t know which way the selectors will go, but with Renshaw continuing to struggle so badly, it’s at the point where he will be hard to select, and if that’s the case, it’s probably going to be Bancroft to open and one of Nevill, Carey or Wade to keep. Nevill seems to have a lot of backing, despite the number of keeping errors he’s been making. But as pointed out, if Carey can come out and do something with the bat here that might give him a chance. He’s got the chance on comfortably the best batting pitch of any of the matches so far too.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 8:47am
      Jameswm said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:47am | ! Report

      Maybe we’re at the point where Bancroft opens and keeps. How often is that done in tests? 120 overs in the field, run off son and put the other pads on.

      He’s been on the field the whole time this match – 2 days so far. Doesn’t seem to be worrying him.

      No.6 is the easiest position to fill. Maxwell or Carwight. Not a lot between them, I’d go the H8ilton as I think medium to long term he’ll score you more runs.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 8:50am
        Scott Pryde said | November 15th 2017 @ 8:50am | ! Report

        I’m wondering if we are at that point James… You can’t possibly select Renshaw or Wade can you?

        • November 15th 2017 @ 1:26pm
          Jameswm said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:26pm | ! Report

          Not Wade. Struggling with Renners now too.

          Then Bancroft fills 2 holes in one.

      • Roar Rookie

        November 15th 2017 @ 9:14am
        Lancey5times said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:14am | ! Report

        If they feel Renshaw is unselectable and want Bancroft to keep there is another easy way.
        What about this,

        Warner
        Khawaja (significant opening experience)
        Smith (spent plenty of time at 3)
        Cartwright (FC average over 50 as a top order bat)
        Handscomb
        Bancroft
        Maxwell

        To be honest you could stack 4,5,6 in any order you like.

        My gut is that CA asked Bancroft to put on the gloves given the performance of the other candidates but then Renshaw has backed them into a corner where they now have to pick at least one out of form player. If they don’t believe a longer order can allow for Renshaw to get a chance you think Nevill plays and Bancroft opens (unless they are brave enough to do the above)

        • November 15th 2017 @ 9:31am
          Curious George said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:31am | ! Report

          Lancey,

          Picking 2 all rounders for our top 6 will be the end of the Ashes

          Not a strong batting lineup at all

          Cartwright and Maxwell could fall like nine pins and we find ourselves 6-50 at lunch

          No.

          • Roar Rookie

            November 15th 2017 @ 9:45am
            Lancey5times said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:45am | ! Report

            Cartwright is not an allrounder and I have not named Maxwell in the top 6. You would notice this if you took the time to read the post rather than scanning through for Maxwell’s name and then just ranting.

          • Roar Rookie

            November 15th 2017 @ 9:47am
            Lancey5times said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report

            And it’s amazing how your rampant negatively has us at 6/50 all because the 4 and 7 that I’ve named fail.

            I think you need to find a new outlet for your hostility

            • November 15th 2017 @ 6:21pm
              Don Freo said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:21pm | ! Report

              Curious George hasn’t picked up the tone of this site yet. I shudder to think which sites he has been exposed to previously.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 9:25am
        Ben said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:25am | ! Report

        Darren Lehman said that Maxwell was not picked against SA last year because he didn’t get a 100 in 2 Years.
        http://www.cricket.com.au/news/feature/glenn-maxwell-hundreds-sheffield-shield-darrenlehmann-reason-third-test-selection-australia/2016-12-02
        Now that he got a 100 against India at No. 6 and has more runs this season then Warner and Handscomb i hope Lehman doesn’t forget what he said.
        Maxwell is more comfortable at the crease than Cartwright and should play at least the first 2 tests.
        If Banacroft opens and keeps we add an extra batsmen (Lehman before Cartwright).

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 9:54am
        Red Kev said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        The two that come to mind are Alec Stewart and Kumar Sangakkara. Although I believe both moved away from doing both opening and wicketkeeping at the same time to either bat lower or not keep.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 1:33pm
          Ironmonger said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

          Wayne Phillips

    • Roar Guru

      November 15th 2017 @ 9:09am
      Red Kev said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:09am | ! Report

      Two words: Ed Cowan.
      Two more words: problem solved.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 9:12am
        Scott Pryde said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        If he had been picked for the Shield, I’d agree with you. We know (unfortunately) though, that he wasn’t and he isn’t going to be wearing the baggy green on November 23 – as much as he was probably the best option.

        • Roar Guru

          November 15th 2017 @ 9:33am
          Red Kev said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

          Yeah it’s a shame since piling on the runs in the shield is supposed to be the pathway.

          • Roar Guru

            November 15th 2017 @ 9:44am
            Scott Pryde said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

            Yup.

          • November 15th 2017 @ 11:24am
            George said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

            But Smith think it’s okay to circumvent that… and then has audacity to call criticism of his mates’ picks ‘absolute garbage’. Not impressed with him as a captain at all.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 11:25am
        Ryan H said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        100% agree sadly. Had he been picked in the Shield side to begin this season and continued to pile on scores, it’d almost have been criminal not to pick him.

        Talk about in the form of their lives, despite his age Cowan was exactly that last season. If they were happy to pick Rogers and Voges at their respective ages, the same could have applied.

        • Roar Guru

          November 15th 2017 @ 11:41am
          Red Kev said | November 15th 2017 @ 11:41am | ! Report

          Cowan wears glasses and reads books, that doesn’t jive with Boof.

          • November 16th 2017 @ 11:11am
            Simoc said | November 16th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

            Its true. Cowan is quite an intelligent soul and writes very well. He is a cut above the other boofheads which probably doesn’t sit well with the boys club of coach / selectors.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 9:29am
      paul said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      I think the Test pitch will be very different from what we’ve seen at the Gabba so far this year. Yes the ball will move around early on, but this will not last long. The curator must make a wicket that will last 5 days, which should afford some hope to Renshaw, who’s been trying to bat on some pretty green surfaces. I wonder whether we’d be having this conversation if he’d played his first three games on the WACA? He’s now getting the bad decisions and is inventing ways of getting out. In saying that, he does have a great record at home, so ‘d take a punt and see how he goes.

      At the end of the day, I’d keep him in, bring in Renshaw at 6 and either Neville or Carey at 7.

      Scott, the reason why the bowlers are a lock is mostly because of the conditions. Yes they’ve been good enough to exploit them, but by and large, batsmen have had a hard time of it.

      I think too, the issues in the Australian side pale compared to England. In that recent tour game, they highlighted what happens if Root doesn’t get runs – a monumental collapse with effectively their Test lineup.

      Sure we might have some issues, but they have major problems.

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 9:44am
        Scott Pryde said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        Fair enough point regarding conditions, but I think Broad and Anderson are a very dangerous new ball combination. With his current form, I can’t see Renshaw getting past the opening spell once this summer. I’m not sure if you saw either of his dismissals in this match, but they were both pretty horrific, even if he might have got a bad decision in the first innings. His technique is all off and watching the stream, it’s pretty easy to see he is stuck on the crease, not moving well and in all sorts.

        And yeah Paul – no one is saying England don’t have issues. They have major, major problems and even with Australia struggling for form at times, I still can’t see them winning a Test, apart from maybe Adelaide when the ball is hooping around under lights and who knows what’s going to happen.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 9:55am
          Curious George said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

          Scott, good points re: Renshaw not surviving the new ball opening spell

          and you can honestly say that “hit and hope” Warner (in about 50% of his matches) will make it through ?

          • November 15th 2017 @ 10:39am
            Deir-ba-zor said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

            Yes Mr Pessimist Maximus.

          • November 15th 2017 @ 4:39pm
            matth said | November 15th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

            He did ok last year and in fact every year at home. The guy is has the best average as an opener for us since Hayden, so just lay off.

        • November 15th 2017 @ 10:16am
          paul said | November 15th 2017 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          I don’t know I’d call either dismissal “horrific”. He missed the ball by some margin in the first innings and was caught down the legside which all agree is an unlucky way to get out.In saying that, your basic premise that he isn’t batting well is obviously correct

          I think he’s down on confidence which is affecting his footwork. I think he has the mental strength to work through that for sure. The question is, will he be allowed to do so in a Test series or will he have to do so in 4 day games?

          Personally, I hope he gets a run in at least the Brisbane Test, with Bancroft batting at 6. Our long term issues are not at the top of the order, but further down and Bancroft is both a short and long term solution if bats at 6.

    • November 15th 2017 @ 9:40am
      Curious George said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      So the selectors are meeting tonight to decide the squad (over a Thai dinner i’m told) and then announcing the squad publicly on Friday?

      Is this correct?

      • Roar Guru

        November 15th 2017 @ 9:49am
        Scott Pryde said | November 15th 2017 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        I believe that’s correct, although I can’t confirm the nature of the dinner. I also heard it might be this afternoon, meaning Steve Smith would still be running around at AB Field.

      • November 15th 2017 @ 1:38pm
        Ironmonger said | November 15th 2017 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

        Som Tum on the table?

        • November 15th 2017 @ 6:05pm
          dave said | November 15th 2017 @ 6:05pm | ! Report

          Could be more to this story.A spicy dinner might be in favour of Maxwell.

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