With the distinct lack of cricket on the Australian cricketing calendar right now, what better time than now to run the rule over those vying for a plane ticket to India?
Luckily for those vying for a place in Darren Lehmann’s sub-continental touring squad, there are ample opportunities for players to prove themselves in domestic four-day cricket between now and then.
Based on hard evidence and infallible logic, here is a look at who should and shouldn’t be packing their bags.
It has been well reported following the conclusion of the Sydney Test that there have been no guarantees made by Lehmann that Renshaw will be included for the upcoming series. Lehmann said of Renshaw.
“Renshaw made 184, played really well and showed he can up the ante when he needs to. So that’s going to be a really difficult call. He’s a good young kid and you’re trying to give him as much experience as you can,” Lehmann stated, while pondering whether or not to give Renshaw as much experience as he can.
It’s an all too familiar tale for young professionals wishing to kickstart their careers in the ‘real world’. It doesn’t matter if it’s a junior corporate position advertised or a Test opener’s berth in India – you need to have prior experience despite not having the opportunity to gain said experience. Why should Renshaw get any special treatment?
Further, Lehmann also contemplated the side’s balance with the young
Middlesborough Queensland opener in the side.
“It’s a case of what’s the best line-up to win in India and compete. At the moment you would say he would play but we have to sum up what the conditions are like, what the pitches will be like, how we’ll play, how we’ll play everyone in the XI to give us a chance to take 20 wickets,”
Having not taken a single wicket at domestic or international level, it will be difficult for the 20 year-old to prove he can pull his weight in this respect.
Shaun Marsh will have recovered from a rare injury setback, making him available for selection.
Often described as Australia’s sweetheart, Marsh will provide a durable option with an unquestioned temperament. His experience in India will be vital, having played a staggering 0 Tests in India.
As mentioned above, experience is key and there is no better substitute than four career Tests in Sri Lanka. A selection with an eye for the future – lock him in.
The enigma. Maxwell is a man of breathtaking talent, with a reliable temperament to match. The number 6 position has been difficult to predict in recent times, suiting the Victorian down to the ground.
Lehmann has called for his team to post large totals with the bat, stating: “you need to make big, big scores and put pressure on India that way”.
The middle order is crying out for reliability and Maxwell could be the one to provide it. That, coupled with the added team chemistry of potentially having his Victorian captain and friend Matthew Wade on the same tour, Maxwell is a ‘no-brainer’.
Close to earning a Test recall in Sydney, Agar declared in the build-up that he’s an allrounder now. Selectors have no choice but to take his word for it, and the stats make a compelling case.
A first-class average of 26.41 with the bat and 40.24 with the ball suggests Agar could be a key figure in both posting large totals and heavily contributing to the need to take 20 wickets with his potent, ripping left-arm orthodox.
Sayers will be unlikely to play in India. The reason? He’s just not quick enough. Pace is everything and Sayers is a one-trick pony whose only stock-in-trade at domestic level is wickets.
Lots of wickets, most of which are on batsmen-friendly Adelaide pitches. He swings the ball but who cares?
The pitches may be spin-friendly, which is why dropping Lyon potentially for another quick has been mused recently.
With the large queue of high-performing spinners knocking down the door for selection, Australia’s most accomplished off-spinner of all time faces stiff competition to retain his place.
Just because conditions dictate that slow-bowlers may have success, does not mean that Australia will be dictated to either. Four quicks at Pune may also be the best option. Shane Warne struggled in India after all.
Wade needs to be retained for catchphrases that never get old and his penchant for immaculate glovework.
Since replacing Peter Nevill behind the stumps due to his superior batting, Wade has been prolific in amassing 47 runs across his four innings.
Much talk on social media has surrounded the possibility of Peter Handscomb taking the gloves in order to strengthen the middle-order. There’s merit in this for two reasons.
1. India’s dustbowl pitches call for a part-time ‘keeper; and
2. History has proved time and time again that batsmen responsible for the gloves score more runs (nb. Kumar Sangakkara, Brendon McCullum).
Watch this space in the coming weeks.