Australia’s batting options for the Ashes

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

195 Have your say

    Phil Hughes playing his famous cut shot at the SCG. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Three batting spots in Australia’s next Ashes squad are wide open. While Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke and Steve Smith are locked in, Australia must identify a number six as well as two backup batsmen.

    Following on from the piece analysing Australia’s pace options for the Ashes, we run the ruler over Australia’s batting stocks.

    This list consists of only those players who are competing for roles as a specialist batsmen, not all-rounders. Each player has been given an “Ashes rating” based on how likely his selection is.

    Phil Hughes, 24-years-old

    First-class record: 7832 runs at 45

    Ashes rating: 7/10

    Hughes’s last six Test matches have seen him return just 209 runs at 21, including eight single-figure scores.

    His numbers against England are even more depressing – seven Tests for 237 runs at 20.

    Yet, it would not be a least bit surprising to see him get selected in the next Ashes squad, mainly due to the selectors’ apparent faith in the fickle left handed batsman.

    He remains suspect against both pace and spin, although he is more comfortable in Australian conditions, where the quick, bouncy pitches favour his pet cut shot.

    Usman Khawaja, 26-years-old

    First-class record: 4425 runs at 41

    Ashes rating: 6.5/10

    Having been dropped three times in his Test career that spans over nine matches, Khawaja will be uncertain where he sits with the selectors.

    He is not alone – it is difficult to get an accurate read on how the selectors view Khawaja.

    They manifestly recognise his talent but seem to have little faith in his ability to bat himself into good form.

    Like all the players on this list, he needs to produce dominant touch early this summer in order to make it to the squad.

    Nic Maddinson, 21-years-old

    First-class record: 1863 runs at 41

    Ashes rating: 6/10

    The flamboyant left-handed batsman has made a robust run for the Ashes squad after dazzling at the recent Australia A tours to Europe and Africa.

    Maddinson piled up 528 runs at 75 in the first-class games, including two belligerent tons, scored at a phenomenal 109.

    More impressive than that pair of hundreds were his twin rescue efforts in the second unofficial Test against South Africa A.

    He scored 88 runs out of a team total of 146 in the first dig and 90 out of 277 in the second innings after twice coming to the crease with Australia in peril.

    Originally drafted into the NSW side as an obdurate opener, Maddinson would benefit from finding a balance between his current hyper-aggression and that discarded circumspection.

    Alex Doolan, 27-years-old

    First-class record: 2953 runs at 38

    Ashes rating: 5/10

    Doolan would have been close to making the last Ashes squad after a strong Aussie summer, in which he made 715 Shield runs at 42 and cracked an impressive ton against South Africa in a tour match.

    However, unlike Maddinson, he failed to capitalise on the recent opportunities he was offered playing for Australia A.

    On the two tours, Doolan made 336 runs at 37 with a highest score of 56 not out in nine innings.

    The fact he was the only batsman to play in all five of Australia A’s first-class matches suggests the selectors are very keen on the classical Tasmanian.

    George Bailey, 31-years-old

    First-class record: 5936 runs at 38

    Ashes rating: 5/10

    Bailey scuppered his chances of playing in the recent Ashes by stumbling in the Shield last summer, when he averaged at just 18.

    But as the captain of the Australian T20 side and an integral member of the ODI team, he is clearly held in high regard by the selectors.

    That respect, together with his continual crucial innings at ODI level, may over ride the selectors’ concerns about his form slump last Shield season.

    Prior to that, he had averaged 43 over his previous three Shield campaigns despite being based on the most difficult pitch in the country at Bellerive Oval.

    Bailey averages just 33 in domestic 50-over cricket and yet, has churned out 1061 runs at 46 in ODIs, displaying an ability to take his game to a new level in international competition.

    Adam Voges, 33-years-old

    First-class record: 8204 runs at 41

    Ashes rating: 3.5/10

    Similar to Bailey, Voges has displayed a capacity for quickly adapting to international cricket, cracking 721 runs at 48 in ODIs.

    Similar to Bailey, Voges blew a possible chance to make the last Ashes squad with a poor Shield season last summer, when he averaged 26 runs.

    Also similar to Bailey, Voges will rely upon the selectors weighing his considerable experience and great ODI form over his recent first-class performances.

    Jordan Silk, 21-years-old

    First-class record: 423 runs at 42

    Ashes rating: 2/10

    Possessing a pure technique and sound temperament, Silk is arguably better suited to long form of cricket than any other young Aussie batsman.

    After debuting at first-class level just six months ago, the patient opener played match-defining roles in two of his first three Shield games for Tasmania.

    He scored 52 and 127 runs in a must-win match against Victoria and backed that up by grafting 108 in the final, defying a Ryan Harris led Queensland attack for six hours.

    Silk faltered on the Australia A tour of Europe, reaping just 76 runs from four innings.

    He should be given at least one more Shield season to develop before being exposed to Test cricket.

    But if he starts the Shield season in blazing form, he could be a surprise selection for the Ashes squad.

    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 (195)

    • September 18th 2013 @ 3:27am
      Cantab said | September 18th 2013 @ 3:27am | ! Report

      It’s hard to say with Boof, It’s clear that he doesn’t mind picking players out of left field. I’m going with Voges as first choice, followed by Hughes. I think UK is going to ride the pine again for a while.

      • September 18th 2013 @ 8:39am
        jameswm said | September 18th 2013 @ 8:39am | ! Report

        A 33yo with an ordinary FC record?

        I don’t get that one.

        • Columnist

          September 18th 2013 @ 12:40pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

          If Australia do decide to include another older player then Voges will be in direct competition with Bailey as the selectors are very unlikely to include two new veterans. Which of them gets included in the Aus A game against Eng will tell us a lot.

          • September 18th 2013 @ 8:59pm
            ChrisUK said | September 18th 2013 @ 8:59pm | ! Report

            If they look at an older player, why not David Hussey?

            • September 18th 2013 @ 9:53pm
              Nudge said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:53pm | ! Report

              He’s scared of the kookaburra

              • September 18th 2013 @ 9:59pm
                ChrisUK said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:59pm | ! Report

                He’s not alone.

              • Columnist

                September 18th 2013 @ 10:22pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:22pm | ! Report

                Because Hussey is 36yo and has averaged 26 with the bat over his past 17 FC games (at Shield level and in the current county season).

          • September 18th 2013 @ 10:29pm
            ChrisUK said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

            Sure, I know – but his overall record is a fine one, and I was more thinking in terms of if he started the Shield matches strongly – especially since so many will be in India as we know.

      • September 19th 2013 @ 6:27am
        Ads said | September 19th 2013 @ 6:27am | ! Report

        My gut is that Bailey has already been pencilled in for No.5. He would need to have an atrocious start to the domestic season to miss out, I’m talking Shaun Marsh atrocious.
        The selectors will feel that picking experience over promise has been vindicated with Rogers and to a lesser degree Haddin (although in the paper today there is talk that Wade might lose his ODI spot to Haddin too because of poor form with the bat – Haddin averaged in the low 20s during the Ashes – he hardly set the world on fire – different standards expected from one of the boys)

        • Columnist

          September 19th 2013 @ 3:58pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | September 19th 2013 @ 3:58pm | ! Report

          I think if Bailey continues his good ODI form in India and then does well in the Shield and the Aus A game against England (assuming he is picked) then he is a certainty for the squad.

    • September 18th 2013 @ 3:46am
      gav said | September 18th 2013 @ 3:46am | ! Report

      Hold your horses Ronan, Champions League T20 and demanding 7 match ODI series in India is yet to come. We could have an injury or two given the conditions in India and the amount of constant cricket the team has been playing.

      Australia could well persist with Faulkner at 7 and Haddin/Wade at 6, so we may not need a batsmen. Plus few of the guys mentioned above will have a hit out in the couple of shield matches and the warm up matches against England leading up to the test. Make the decision based on form and not on reputation n stats.

      • September 18th 2013 @ 10:55am
        TheGenuineTailender said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:55am | ! Report

        IIf Australia pick Faulkner at 7 and a keeper at 6, thus sacrificing a batsman (our area of weakness) to include a bowling all-rounder (that we really don’t need) then the whole selection panel ought to be given life bans for brining Australian cricket into disrepute.

        • Columnist

          September 18th 2013 @ 12:42pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 12:42pm | ! Report

          If Watto is fit I’d be shocked if they include Faulkner at 7 as a sixth bowling option. I think he only played in the final Test because the series was done and they wanted to have a look at him.

          • September 19th 2013 @ 10:51pm
            Cricket113 said | September 19th 2013 @ 10:51pm | ! Report

            What about Michael klinger?
            The guy keeps piling up there runs year after year in nearly all 3 forms plus in England conditions… Yet is always overlooked!
            Doesn’t make sense!

      • September 18th 2013 @ 1:19pm
        abigail said | September 18th 2013 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

        Wade’s poor keeping and indifferent batting in the ODIs just completed will mean he’s moved way down the pecking order of wicketkeepers to replace Haddin. He will probably get the India tour as a last chance to regain some form. Don’t be surprised to see either Paine or Hartley move ahead of him for the Twenty20 and ODI matches in Australia this summer.

      • September 18th 2013 @ 1:23pm
        Nudge said | September 18th 2013 @ 1:23pm | ! Report

        Gav seriously mate wade. He was an absolute embarrassment in the one day and 20 20 in England. Fumbles everything can’t take bounce throws from the outfield and dropped 4 catches and 2 of them my misses could have taken with her eyes closed. And he is only an above average bat. The Indian series will be the last time he ever plays for Australia at any format again in my opinion. I honestly don’t think he would be in the top 10 keepers in Australia

        • Columnist

          September 18th 2013 @ 1:30pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

          Wade is really at a low ebb confidence wise both with blade and gloves. He is in danger of losing his spot not only in the limited overs sides but also as Australia’s number 2 Test keeper.

          • September 18th 2013 @ 6:26pm
            Nudge said | September 18th 2013 @ 6:26pm | ! Report

            If it is just confidence with the gloves mate he’s been low on it for 18 months

            • Columnist

              September 18th 2013 @ 8:33pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 8:33pm | ! Report

              But his keeping is worse now than it was in his first few Tests, and his batting has followed suit. He is better with both than he has shown recently.

      • September 18th 2013 @ 3:10pm
        Roger said | September 18th 2013 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

        Why not? Australia had no problem racking up 500 in the final test with faulkner batting at 7, the man before him; Cowan, Hughes and Khawaga as the ‘extra batsmen’ averaged 19, faulkner came in and made 22 & 23. He was scoring about the same amount of runs that hughes, Khawaga and cowan was but also added 6 wickets to the teams cause which hughes or UTK don’t give you.

        The pitches in OZ will no doubt be relatively flat with a little there for the seamers, breaking up late to give something for the spinners. Like they were in England, good for batting with something there for the seam & spin if you work hard.They’ll just be bouncier and quicker.

        I just think the thing missing from this side (as evident in the Ashes, South African series last summer) is the ability to close out games, take 20 wickets. Particualry with Starc gone i think a line up of siddle and harris as our workhorses, patto as our strike weapon and faulkner as left arm option as well as watson and lyon, taking 20 wickets shouldn’t be a problem. If its going to be tough work taking 20 wickets then the extra bowler will be invaluable, particularly if he’s contributing the same as what your 6th batsmen would be, but also taking 3/4 wickets a game.

        • September 18th 2013 @ 4:00pm
          Pope Paul VII said | September 18th 2013 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

          Roger it was a good effort by Faulkner but that was a dead test on a dead wicket, an opponent not looking to score initially, along with the lost time to weather and an attempt to convolute a result. All these factors affected the match.

          Didn’t our blokes take 20 wickets twice without the allrounder? In the first and the fourth. Still lost.

          They’ll keep losing too until they bat big with depth. 6 bats gives you depth.

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2013 @ 4:09pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

            Faulkner had a good debut but until he starts averaging closer to 40 rather than 30 at FC level he can’t be risked in the position of a specialist batsman.

            • September 18th 2013 @ 7:28pm
              Vivek said | September 18th 2013 @ 7:28pm | ! Report


    • September 18th 2013 @ 7:53am
      Red Kev said | September 18th 2013 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      I think you’re overlooking Joe Burns and Callum Ferguson, both more likely than Silk or Maddinson in my opinion simply by virtue of experience.

      • September 18th 2013 @ 8:42am
        jameswm said | September 18th 2013 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        I dunno Kev.

        If Maddinson for example starts the Shield season with a rush of runs, and shows that he knows when to attack and when to dig in, then he’d be a serious option. He is young, super-talented, has shown an ability to score big and has dug the A team out of holes. In fact if the A tour is taken seriously and Maddinson was the best performed there, he should be right near the front of the queue.

        He’s a leftie, but can presumably score off a right arm offie (setting him apart from Hughes, Khawaja and Rogers).

        And as I’ve said over and over, Smith should bat at 6 not 5, for what it’s worth.

        • September 18th 2013 @ 9:26am
          Red Kev said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          Maddinson has never shown the temperament for serious batting – he’s David Warner without the international exposure and therefore pressure. Until he scores a double ton at shield level at a strike rate between 50 and 60 I’ll consider him a limited overs slogger.
          Why do you “presume” he can score off the best offspinner to left-handers in the world?

          • September 18th 2013 @ 9:36am
            jameswm said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:36am | ! Report

            Kev I assumed we’d know about it by now if he couldn’t. If you look at Rogers, Hughes and Khawaja, they don’t score off right arm offies – as well as getting out. They go into block mode and can’t even eke out singles. If Maddinson scores freely, then I don’t see him being similarly bogged down.

            Of course, we wouldn’t actually know until we saw Swann bowling to Maddinson.

            I also don’t see how scoring a double ton is a selection prerequisite. I’d rather 2-3 solid tons than one big score. Anyone can score big on their good day.

            Maddinson seemed to show the temperament for serious batting in SA. If that was the best of the rest, then he’d have to be near the front of the queue.

            • September 18th 2013 @ 9:40am
              Red Kev said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:40am | ! Report

              If you look at the shield form Khawaja demolished Lyon the other year in scoring a ton. Scoring against Ashwin and Swann is a very different proposition. Maddinson played on roads for AustA and has yet to face top quality tweakers (to my knowledge).

              A double ton is important for a few reasons:
              1 – Occupying the crease (demonstrating the ability not to get out).
              2 – Demonstrating the ability to kick on with an innings.
              3 – Dealing with mental pressure (it’s a big milestone, 201 is more impressive than 181).

              Double tons and high averages used to be the benchmark for marking a batsman in the shield as one to watch. Now a solitary century seems to be enough for some people.

              • September 18th 2013 @ 9:45am
                jameswm said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:45am | ! Report

                We don’t have that luxury Kev. Someone needs to fill that 6th batting slot.

                If someone is scoring at 80-140 consistently, then they get the spot.

              • September 18th 2013 @ 9:59am
                Bearfax said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:59am | ! Report

                On several of those ‘roads’ Red, no one else was scoring consistently for Oz. Of course I also would like to see what Maddison does in Shield this coming season. If he sparkles, he should be very seriously considered for a test spot.

              • September 18th 2013 @ 10:20am
                Red Kev said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:20am | ! Report

                Maybe not for Australia, but for countries with decent cricketers people were peeling off run-a-ball centuries without breaking a sweat.

              • September 18th 2013 @ 10:57am
                Praveen said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:57am | ! Report

                Early shield runs will be the key, my tip is it will be khawaja as he plays much better in our conditions

              • September 18th 2013 @ 11:14am
                TheGenuineTailender said | September 18th 2013 @ 11:14am | ! Report

                Regardless of who each of us would like to see take the number 6 spot, the likely scenario is whoever has the best average or highest run tally in the shield come the time of the first tests team selection will likely get the spot.

              • Columnist

                September 18th 2013 @ 12:44pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

                As the article states Red Kev this list is based on who is MOST LIKELY to get picked by the selectors for the Ashes squad, not who I think should be in the squad.

                As such, the fact neither Ferguson nor Burns were selected on either of the recent Aus A tours suggests they are a fair bit back in the pecking order.

              • September 18th 2013 @ 1:10pm
                Bearfax said | September 18th 2013 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

                And what does that tell you Red about who should be selected.

              • September 18th 2013 @ 2:30pm
                Rob Barrow said | September 18th 2013 @ 2:30pm | ! Report

                It has to be all about shield runs, my tip is also UTK to take the spot on shield runs but i back whoever scores them.

              • Columnist

                September 18th 2013 @ 2:47pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 2:47pm | ! Report

                Khawaja needs to smash the Shield and Aus A games and make himself impossible to overlook. The first few rounds of the Shield are going to be fascinating…all this competition for spots will be great for the comp.

              • September 18th 2013 @ 3:52pm
                Praveen said | September 18th 2013 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

                I also think UTK is the man to do it and yes Ronan will be a very fascinating start to the shield season and that’s how it should be

              • September 18th 2013 @ 7:29pm
                Vivek said | September 18th 2013 @ 7:29pm | ! Report

                +1 Praveen

              • Columnist

                September 19th 2013 @ 3:59pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 19th 2013 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

                Yep really looking forward to the start of the Shield season for the first time in years.

    • September 18th 2013 @ 8:11am
      Freddy from Bondi said | September 18th 2013 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      Its hard to take a cricket article seriously when the author doesn’t know the difference between an ‘average’ and ‘strike rate’….

      • September 18th 2013 @ 10:02am
        Carmelin said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:02am | ! Report


        • September 18th 2013 @ 10:45am
          David said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:45am | ! Report


          • Columnist

            September 18th 2013 @ 11:51am
            Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 11:51am | ! Report

            Those errors (and others) have all been created by whoever edited my article. Trust me I’m well aware of the difference between an average and a strike rate.

            • September 18th 2013 @ 2:52pm
              Freddy from Bondi said | September 18th 2013 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

              All good mate. That makes sense because normally your articles are on the money. On the other hand, if a David Lord article had the same errors….

              • Columnist

                September 18th 2013 @ 4:10pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

                Cheers Freddy, the inserted errors have been corrected now.

      • September 18th 2013 @ 10:59am
        TheGenuineTailender said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:59am | ! Report

        I was completely confused by the constant mix ups. Let me get this straight, Nic Maddinson averages 110 at a strike rate of 41, right?

        • September 18th 2013 @ 11:02am
          jameswm said | September 18th 2013 @ 11:02am | ! Report

          I wish

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2013 @ 11:53am
            Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 11:53am | ! Report

            No Maddinson averaged 75 in those Aus A games at a strike rate of 109. As I pointed out above it has been curiously edited after I submitted it.

            • September 18th 2013 @ 1:38pm
              TheGenuineTailender said | September 18th 2013 @ 1:38pm | ! Report

              I was kidding Ronan.

              • Columnist

                September 18th 2013 @ 2:45pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 2:45pm | ! Report

                Haha ok took this all a bit seriously because it’s embarrassing for me as a journalist to have so many errors inserted in my article.

    • Roar Pro

      September 18th 2013 @ 9:12am
      smithha said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      One guy you have overlooked is Queensland’s Joe Burns. Averages nearly 40 in FC cricket, and looks very promising. He hasn’t enjoyed the best of times playing for Leicester, but if he gets big Shield runs early on then he should be considered.

      • Columnist

        September 18th 2013 @ 12:46pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 12:46pm | ! Report

        Yeah Burns is another who would have been a big chance for the last Ashes squad if he had a good Shield season last summer. But he was pretty ordinary and has been the same at county level so his form line over nearly 12 months is poor. He’d need to have a phenomenal start to the season to come into calculations.

        • September 18th 2013 @ 5:13pm
          formeropenside said | September 18th 2013 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

          or he could move to NSW, where merely getting a start for the Blue Bags puts you in contention for an unearned Baggy Green

    • September 18th 2013 @ 9:29am
      Bulli Tiger said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      We just want to win the Ashes. Go back to re-buliding after the Ashes series. My batting order would be:

      1. C.Rogers
      2. S.Katich
      3. S.Watson
      4. B.Hodge
      5. M.Clarke (c)
      6. S.Smith
      7. B.Haddin
      8. M.Starc
      9. P.Siddle
      10. J.Pattiinson
      11. N.Lyon

      • September 18th 2013 @ 9:32am
        jameswm said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:32am | ! Report

        No Ryan Harris?

        • September 18th 2013 @ 11:01am
          TheGenuineTailender said | September 18th 2013 @ 11:01am | ! Report

          Nah, an injured Starc is way better than Ryan Harris.

          • Columnist

            September 18th 2013 @ 12:47pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

            Bulli Tiger believes in miracles.

            • September 18th 2013 @ 1:27pm
              Bulli Tiger said | September 18th 2013 @ 1:27pm | ! Report


              Who would be in your 11 for the first test in BNE?

              • Columnist

                September 18th 2013 @ 1:34pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 1:34pm | ! Report

                I would keep the side the same as the last Test except draft in Pattinson (if fit) for Starc, and pick a number six batsman much closer to the date in light of the form of players in the Shield and Aus A game.

                I don’t disagree Katich would probably play well if given the opportunity but it just won’t happen.

      • Roar Pro

        September 18th 2013 @ 9:35am
        smithha said | September 18th 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

        Hodge and Katich….. Optimistic, but I love it! Throw in Mike Hussey and they certainly would have a red hot go….

        • September 18th 2013 @ 10:47am
          David said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:47am | ! Report

          Why not Ponting, Waugh, Mcgrath and Warne? Let’s move on.

          • Roar Pro

            September 18th 2013 @ 11:15am
            Matt Lengren said | September 18th 2013 @ 11:15am | ! Report

            All of which retired so we can move on from them. If Rogers’ funeral service was postponed for him to have another crack at tests, there’s no reason Katich can’t get the call-up. Don’t get me started on Brad Hodge, his axing was the day Australian Cricket lost all credibility.

            • Columnist

              September 18th 2013 @ 12:48pm
              Ronan O'Connell said | September 18th 2013 @ 12:48pm | ! Report

              Katich is less than zero chance of playing…sub zero.

      • September 18th 2013 @ 10:03am
        Bearfax said | September 18th 2013 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        I like the suggestion. We’d be world beaters with Rogers, Katich, Clarke, Hodge and Smith in the same side. Regrettably that chance has passed. We’ll just have to be satisfied with Clarke, Rogers and Smith. And I’d have Harris for Starc, but Starc would be the next selected.

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