The Australian squad for the First Test against South Africa was named earlier this week without too many shocks.
Victorian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade got the nod over veteran Brad Haddin in about the only contentious decision, but by the sound of it, Haddin knew that was coming.
The pace bowling stocks are in pretty good knick. It’s likely that Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson will join off-spinner Nathan Lyon in the XI for Brisbane.
Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Ben Cutting, Alister McDermott, Jackson Bird, Luke Butterworth and even Mitchell Johnson (yes, that guy) could easily play at least one form of cricket for Australia this season.
We’re not short of wicket-keepers either. Both Haddin and Tim Paine have Test match experience. Some have wondered whether back-up NSW keeper Peter Nevill should in fact be the number one NSW stumper, while Queensland veteran Chris Hartley is still arguably the tidiest of them all.
The spinners are another story, although Lyon should be pretty secure with Victorian Jon Holland out for the season after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction. That’s not to say an all-rounder like Glenn Maxwell or Steven O’Keefe couldn’t step in either.
No, what worries most Australian fans is the apparent lack of quality batsmen coming through. Very few are knocking on the selection door, let alone kicking it down.
In the current batting lineup, only David Warner is under 30. Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey need strong starts to prove last year’s efforts against India weren’t the final exploits of dying stars. Ed Cowan still needs that three figure score to really nail down his place in the side.
What of the others? While Phil Hughes has made an impressive start to the season and looks like the next in line, the rest are just lacking that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that selectors are looking for.
Players like Callum Ferguson, Moises Henriques and Usman Khawaja have all made solid starts, while Liam Davis, Rob Quiney and Alex Doolan were all picked in the Australia A side to play South Africa before the Test.
Yet, you would probably argue that these guys are only tapping on the door, rather than thumping it.
But what if I said that there’s an overlooked batsman, who has a first class average in the mid-forties, can bowl some handy medium-pace a la the Waugh twins, and is still 18 months away from celebrating his 30th birthday?
Tasmanian Mark Cosgrove is probably better known as the man you want to beat to the buffet, but like New Zealand shape-sake Jessie Ryder, he has a touch of class about his batting.
He’s started the season well, scoring a century in Tasmania’s opening match and backing it up with another 80 runs in their second game.
In yesterday’s Ryobi Cup match against former team South Australia, Cosgrove got Tasmania off to a good start with 37 from 47 balls, striking seven fours.
Sure, Cosgrove is a bit bigger than normal, but so was Darren Lehmann… who was 28 on his Test debut. Keep making runs, and “Baby Boof” may well Lehmann once more.