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Who should bat at No. 6 for Australia?

Roar Rookie
11th November, 2013
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Usman Khawaja is one of the few Aussie cricketers that should be guaranteed selection for the rest of the summer. (AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
Roar Rookie
11th November, 2013
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1457 Reads

For a nice change, the XI to take on England at the Gabba in ten days time is almost settled.

The much-maligned, made-for-TV squad announcement will take place tomorrow, with a Sheffield Shield round still to play before the real stuff starts, but at least a number of candidates have already presented strong cases for the vacant No. 6 position.

George Bailey
The man considered most likely after a stunning ODI year (1098 runs at almost 65), Bailey goes into the summer with a sound knowledge of his own game and supreme confidence against international attacks.

Critics have seized on the perfect conditions presented to Bailey in India, where harsher fielding restrictions and a surfeit of boundary balls led to record totals from both sides, while his technical foibles on the cover drive and against the short ball will be thoroughly tested.

Runs are runs though, and Bailey has those in truckloads.

Throw in astute leadership when the Aussies are crying out for it and you have a tempting case to throw him in.

Alex Doolan
Now a perennial contender, Doolan was arguably the most impressive batsman in the opening Shield round and backed up with a tidy cameo opening for Australia A.

Like many names on this list, he possesses an average overall first class record, but has been the most consistent performer across the last two seasons.

An unbeaten 166 against the touring South Africans (including Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander) last year still lingers strongly in the selectors’ minds.

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Chris Lynn
Earmarked as a future Test player for a number of years now, Lynn has put his name into the ring with a strong start to the year.

The 23-year-old warmed up for the Shield season with 198 runs at 49.5 in the successful Ryobi Cup campaign, followed by 175 for once out against the touring English and a brace of 50s versus Tasmania.

Would be an unexpected choice, but with a balanced technique and a sound knowledge of the Gabba surface, his inclusion could prove to be a masterstroke.

Usman Khawaja
Tough to read. Imperious in the Ryobi Cup, scoring 426 runs at 71 and taking the match award in the final with a superb century, but twin first class failures, including a short stay against England in no-win circumstances, mean question marks on his temperament remain.

Would be in a head-to-head battle with Doolan if Shane Watson’s injury troubles provide a vacancy at first drop.

Shaun Marsh
Marsh gets a guernsey in this list simply because many others are mentioning his name.

While there is no doubting his class when firing on all cylinders, Marsh still seems to be resting on the laurels of his debut series.

Since his annus horribilis against India in 2011/12, he has failed to put together a strong case for inclusion; indeed, his last first class century was his sparkling 141 on Test debut more than two years ago.

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His limited overs form continues to be solid but he pales in comparison to others across all formats.

A gamble worth taking if there were no strong candidates – not the case here.

Phil Hughes
The one-time boy wonder just can’t get a good go at it.

A promising third crack at Test level was cut short after twin failures at Lord’s, but there were some good signs in the one day series in India, where he threw the textbook out and trusted his eye, which is what got him in the team in the first place.

Comfortably possesses the best first class record of all contenders, but is that good enough to again front up to his Ashes demons?

Has been a shadow of his former self since his first omission in 2009.

Cameron White
Has stormed back into contention with a man of the series performance in the Ryobi Cup and some good innings in the Shield.

Failed in his only series in 2008 and his technique is perhaps too one-dimensional to take on England’s pacemen.

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Rank outsider.

James Faulkner
A smoky for the third quick’s position, Faulkner will come into calculations as an all-rounder should Watson’s hamstring prevent him from bowling.

Not out of place on debut at The Oval, his outrageous century in India should give him the belief he can replicate it on one of cricket’s biggest stages.

My verdict
Will Bailey take the Mike Hussey or Michael Bevan route? Australia will be hoping for the former, as they do not have enough time to take a losing gamble, so whichever way they go will be a bold call.

I would take any of Bailey, Doolan or Lynn.

There is no reason why Doolan’s languid consistency couldn’t be transferred to an Ashes series, while the Queenslander has many positives on his side: form, age, technique and runs against the Old Enemy.

Although it is difficult to look past Bailey, the selectors must ask themselves who is most likely to score big and score often against an attack that is anything but the pop gun offerings India served up.

Purple patches at the highest level mean everything though, which tips the scales in Bailey’s favour.

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