My cricketing Christmas wishlist for 2017

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

By Ronan O'Connell, Ronan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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29 Have your say

    It’s been a hell of a ride in 2016, both in cricket and elsewhere. Let’s hope 2017 is just as exciting. Here is my wishlist for Australian cricket for next year.

    Australia revive cancelled Test tour of Bangladesh

    It’s now more than ten years since Australia and Bangladesh squared off in a Test match.

    After 16 years in the Test format, Bangladesh have only had four matches against Australia, whose scheduled tour of Bangladesh last year was cancelled due to security concerns.

    Cricket Australia was warned by the Australian Government that it had changed its travel advice for the country due to intelligence that “militants may be planning to target Australian interests in Bangladesh”.

    Cricket Australia then sent a delegation of senior staff to Bangladesh to analyse the security concerns and meet with the BCB, before deciding the tour was too risky.

    It was the correct decision by Cricket Australia to protect the safety of their players. They may also have inadvertently safeguarded the team’s win-loss record. Given how abysmal Australia were in Sri Lanka earlier this year it’s fair to assume they would have struggled in Bangladesh.

    It’s since been reported that Australia hope to revive the tour in 2017. That would be a great outcome for both teams. Bangladesh deserve the chance to play the high-profile Test teams more often, while Australia’s players would benefit from the chance to hone their skills in Asia.

    Glenn Maxwell TALL

    Glenn Maxwell returns to ODIs to dominate the Champions Trophy

    When Maxwell is at his best the Australian ODI team is extraordinarily intimidating. His ballistic batting is capable of turning what looks like a good total of 300 into a monster score of 350. His dynamic fielding creates wickets and saves up to 20 runs a match.

    And his underrated off spin adds terrific balance to the Australian attack, allowing them the option of fielding four specialist quicks on suitable pitches.

    This is just what Australia did during their triumphant World Cup campaign last year. Frontline spinner Xavier Doherty played just one match in that tournament, with Maxwell providing the lead spin option.

    The all-rounder did a solid job with the ball, taking six wickets at 36. But it was his phenomenal batting which caught the eye – Maxwell made 324 runs at an average of 65 with the jaw-dropping strike rate of 182.

    That helped him earn a spot in the World Cup Team of the Tournament. Maxwell is a big game player, having also earned Team of the Tournament selection at the 2014 World T20. If he can return to peak touch for the Champions Trophy then Australia will be nigh-on unstoppable.

    Nathan Lyon and Peter Nevill laughing

    Nathan Lyon finally works out how to bowl in Asia

    In Western conditions Nathan Lyon is a quality Test spinner, capable of being effective across all five days of a Test.

    It’s a different tale in Asia, though, where Lyon is clearly unsure what tactics to adopt. The off spinner has averaged 45 in his 11 Tests in Asia, despite the conditions there favouring spin over pace.

    Australia’s three-Test series in Sri Lanka earlier this year summed up Lyon’s travails in Asia. He altered his approach several times across that series in search of greater effectiveness. Lyon started the series bowling mostly in the mid-80kmh range, operating with enticing loop and heavy overspin as he’s done with success in Australia.

    As the series wore on, Lyon bowled flatter and faster to the point that, in the final Test, his average speed was above 90kmh, a good 10kmh faster than Sri Lanka’s rampant finger spinners. Australia’s batting in Asia has been a disgrace for years now. They have also, however, badly lacked a spinner capable of even tying down the home batsmen. They will be praying that Lyon finally takes this step during their upcoming four-Test tour of India.

    Matt Renshaw locks down the Test opener’s spot

    Elite Test openers are the most precious of batting gems. Just as rare are quality young Test batsmen who put an extremely lofty price on their wicket.

    In this era of fast-forwarded cricket few emerging batsmen have either the ability or the inclination to scrap their way to a valuable knock in difficult circumstances.

    For every old-school, grinding young batsman like England’s Haseeb Hameed and Australian rookie Matt Renshaw, we see half a dozen cavalier strokemakers.

    There is room for both styles of players in a Test line-up. The presence of a circumspect player like England’s Alastair Cook or New Zealand’s Kane Williamson in a team’s top order adds fine balance to a batting line-up.

    Australia have lacked this balance since the retirement of their top order rock Chris Rogers. In the infancy of his Test career Renshaw already had displayed vast reserves of patience. He shapes as the perfect foil to dashing opener David Warner.

    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 (29)

    • December 24th 2016 @ 7:23am
      Rob JM said | December 24th 2016 @ 7:23am | ! Report

      I’d like a capable test no 6!

      • December 24th 2016 @ 7:59am
        Basil said | December 24th 2016 @ 7:59am | ! Report

        I agree with Rob

        • Roar Guru

          December 24th 2016 @ 10:58am
          Cadfael said | December 24th 2016 @ 10:58am | ! Report

          Totally agree. I feel Maddinson was the wrong choice, I would have preferred Jake Lehman or Patterson. These two had form on the board. Now our third 6 in four (is it?) tests if Cartwright plays.

          • Roar Guru

            December 24th 2016 @ 11:02am
            Michael Keeffe said | December 24th 2016 @ 11:02am | ! Report

            Yes and it will also be our 4th No. 6 in five tests. M Marsh, Ferguson, Maddinson & Cartwright (assuming he plays)

    • December 24th 2016 @ 8:15am
      Justin from Canberra said | December 24th 2016 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      Here’s hoping for your wishes granted Ronan. Agree whole-heartedly. I have a few in no particular order.
      Steve Smith to continue his development as captain and as part of that, treat Starc as the strike bowler he is, using him in short, sharp bursts, not expecting him to beocome a McGrath like performer (yet).
      Along the same lines, Starc needs to focus on his main strike-strength; fast in-swinging yorkers.
      Australian selectors to re-instate Peter Neville. If he is considered the best keeper in Australia, then pick and stick with him.
      Australian selectors to pick the best batsmen available for the number 6 position, with his batting ability, not bowling the integral reason.
      All our batters to devote extra time to combatting very good spin bowling.
      If Cummins is fit enough, pick him in a Test match anytime he is available.
      Merry Xmas and looking forward to your future missives.

    • December 24th 2016 @ 8:16am
      Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | December 24th 2016 @ 8:16am | ! Report

      Yep – a decent number 6 and wicket keeper would be good. And someone to get in Lyon’s ear about how to bowl off spin.

      I find it amazing that Lyon has over 200 test wickets but he still doesn’t seem to have a firm simple plan to bowl outside off stump at about 85 kms to the right handers and go for the LBW or bowled for the one that turns – or a catch at first slip or the keeper for the arm ball. This was stock in trade for off spinner like Tim May and Graeme Swann and any number of offies on the sub continent. Lyon seems to want to have a stock ball of going around the wicket and turn the ball from middle to leg to get a catch close in on the leg side. The Aussies need a decent spin bowling coach.

      I watched Tim Paine bat in the T20 last night and thought why isn’t he being talked about as the Australian keeper? He’s a very solid batsman and couldn’t do any worse than Wade and Nevill with the gloves. Both Wade and Nevill look all at sea keeping to the spinners in recent matches.

      The number 6 spot could go to any number of players as no one has cemented this spot in the last few seasons. Unfortunately Nick Maddinson hasn’t taken his opportunity but I’d rather see a proper batsman fill this spot than a bits and pieces all rounder like M Marsh, Cartright or Stoinis.

      And a further comment on the Pakistan batting performance in their second innings. While it was a fantastic sustained performance the Brisbane wicket was an absolute road for the last two days. The fast bowlers had to work incredibly hard as there was no juice left in the wicket which makes Smith’s decision not to enforce the follow on even more ridiculous in hindsight. If he had enforced the follow on the Aussies could have had Pakistan 3 or 4 for 100 or so when there was a bit more life in the wicket and the middle and lower order may have eventually crumbled.

      • December 24th 2016 @ 9:31am
        jonty smith said | December 24th 2016 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        Exactly right Geoff. The tassie selectors can’t even find a spot for paine in their shield side. What I am hoping for is he plays in the t20is against Sri Lanka in feb off the back of good big bash form- since we have to play our 2nd xi as our Aussies will be in India. Then hopefully he shines with bat and gloves and finds a place in the champions trophy squad- then he will put himself on Australia’s selection radarmoreso and hopefully come in. He has been keeper of the last 2 bbls and 2 of the last 3 matador cups but isn’t being considered. He also combines Nevills keeping, Matt wades yap and Chris Hartleys pure batting

      • December 24th 2016 @ 11:26am
        Don Freo said | December 24th 2016 @ 11:26am | ! Report

        Stoinis and Cartwright are proper batsmen. Stoinis is a genuine top 3 batsman.

        The reason Lyon has over 200 Test wickets is because he DOES know how to bowl. Roarers who are “amazed” at his success possibly lack the experience of Test cricket that Lyon has…hence an inability to appreciate what he is doing.

        • December 24th 2016 @ 4:39pm
          Basil said | December 24th 2016 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

          I appreciate that Lyon is struggling to take wickets this summer.

        • December 25th 2016 @ 8:45am
          Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | December 25th 2016 @ 8:45am | ! Report

          I may not have played test cricket but I played cricket for 20 years and have been watching test cricket for 50 years. Listen to any reputable commentator and they will say the same thing about Lyon’s bowling. He bowls too fast and doesn’t bowl a consistent channel just outside off stump to the right handers. I’d love to know how many batsmen he has got out bowled or LBW. Not enough I would have thought. Contrast this with how Swann got his wickets against Australia and the way the spinners on the subcontinent get their wickets against Australian batsmen.

          Smith is obviously frustrated at Lyon’s lack of consistency. He just doesn’t put enough pressure on the batsman. Someone needs to get him in the nets and sort him out quickly as he will be going to India in February and we will need Lyon and O’Keefe bowling well in tandem.

      • December 24th 2016 @ 1:10pm
        BurgyGreen said | December 24th 2016 @ 1:10pm | ! Report

        I almost wonder if the new selectors picked Maddinson because he bowls – a sneaky effort at sticking with the five-bowlers philosophy.

        • December 24th 2016 @ 4:43pm
          Train Without A Terminus said | December 24th 2016 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

          Have you seen his bowling?

          Warehouse C grade would be a little high for him.

    • December 24th 2016 @ 9:32am
      Harry said | December 24th 2016 @ 9:32am | ! Report

      Renshaw needs lot of work despite the basics being promising. Needs to play straighter and with a fuller face of the bat … already out once of the edge of the bat when turning it too early. Great prospect though and the temprament looks great.
      I sincerely hope Darrne Lehman and his acolytes don’t ruin Renshaw with their disasterous approach of always “playing your shots’ whatever, which has reduced Australian test batting to a joke sadly, with collapse after collapse in recent years.
      Renshaw is very young , its no great problem if he misses tests. In fact he would be better off getting experience in shield and county cricket rather than joining the ill disciplined dedication lacking rabble that is the Australian batting lineup.

      • December 24th 2016 @ 11:36am
        Jeffrey Dun said | December 24th 2016 @ 11:36am | ! Report

        “I sincerely hope Darrne Lehman and his acolytes don’t ruin Renshaw with their disasterous approach of always “playing your shots’ whatever, which has reduced Australian test batting to a joke sadly, with collapse after collapse in recent years.”

        I have wondered about Lehman’s role with the Australian team for some time. I’m not sure what a cricket coach actually does (we played test cricket for almost a 100 years without them) but our batting line-up is so fragile that someone should be held accountable. If a football coach boasted Lehman’s record they would have been sacked long ago.

        If the coach can’t iron out technical deficiencies against the spinning and swinging and seaming ball, or assist the spinners adapt to subcontinental conditions, then what is the point of having them.

        In my view getting rid of Lehman would be a good start to 2017 and, if we must have a coach, appoint Gillespie, who has had some success with Yorkshire.

        • December 24th 2016 @ 2:52pm
          Harry said | December 24th 2016 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

          The Lehman approach has seen collapse after collapse of the Australian top order. Its fundamentally lazy and a copout. Lehman and his gang just go the easy “play your shots, attacking cricket is best cricket” blah blah. NEVER an acknowledgement that altering this approach and putting a higher premium on your wicket and the huge benefits of just occupying the crease. Why? Because its easy to coach and easy to explain … but at its heart its a cop out and betrays the Australian cricket test team’s proud heritage. Grinding out tough situations and disciplined batting have always been a hallmark of all great teams – instead, tine and again, we see our guys collapse to frankly terrible shots and Lehman just shaking his head saying he doesn’t know how that happened.
          The prime example – where he should have been sacked or had the decency to resign at tour end – was the debacle at Trent Bridge in 2015 where we were bowled out after 18 odd overs or something pathetic. Lehman’s response was to throw up his hands and say he had no idea how that happened i.e. dissasociate himself. No acknowledgement that the approach was masssively flawed and that AUstralian batting needed to change – instead, carry on. No wonder the side is now greatly diminished.
          Until shield cricket is taken seriously and there is a change of coach I can’t really see it improving.

    • December 24th 2016 @ 11:26am
      GD66 said | December 24th 2016 @ 11:26am | ! Report

      Renshaw shows considerable promise, not least because he calmly exhibits something that has been sadly lacking in the batting lineup since Rogers’ departure : PATIENCE.

      My end-of-year wish list would also include the abolition of the teeth-grinding use of the term “batters”….

      • December 25th 2016 @ 2:06pm
        tim said | December 25th 2016 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

        I wholeheartedly agree. Furthermore, we should also use the terms ‘bowlsman’ and ‘wicketkeepsman’ to preserve the usage of archaic, sexist terminology.

        • December 25th 2016 @ 3:52pm
          Simon said | December 25th 2016 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

          Nah c’mon, we’re on your side but ‘batters’ are something that you make on Sunday morning before frying em up to make pancakes. It can’t be the default term, batsmen just sounds 100x better

          • December 26th 2016 @ 10:43pm
            Dexter The Hamster said | December 26th 2016 @ 10:43pm | ! Report

            Even when watching the WBBL…????

    • December 24th 2016 @ 12:37pm
      Craig Swanson said | December 24th 2016 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

      If Cartwright does not own #6 I want CA to abandon this idea of a all rounder must at #6 over a specialist batsman.
      Maxwell is Maxwell. One day taking an attack apart and winning games. The next going cheaply with a rash shot and putting the side under pressure. Travis Head to take is place for the Champions Trophy. Renshaw is a novice but a talented one who is prepared to put a high price on his wicket. I want to see the happy go lucky QLander cement his spot for the future.

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