Uzzie or The Big Show to replace Mitchell Marsh?

Piyush Pal Roar Rookie

By Piyush Pal, Piyush Pal is a Roar Rookie

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17 Have your say

    Steven Smith’s men bear a strong resemblance to Allan Border’s side of 1987, defying expectations and succeeding in India. All that could have gone right for them has. Well, almost. The one chink in their armour has been the all-rounder spot.

    Scores of 4, 31, 0 and 13 don’t do Mitchell Marsh’s reputation as a top-six batsman any good, and it isn’t as if he has been terrorising the opposition with his mid-120 kmph bowling.

    Used as an afterthought thus far in the series, bowling a grand total of five overs in four innings, one does wonder what Marsh brings other than family name.

    It might be a blessing in disguise that Marsh has been ruled out of the series due to a shoulder injury. A change in the playing XI for the Aussies is thus inescapable when the two teams head to Ranchi.

    But while Marcus Stoinis has been called into the squad, the real shoot-out could be between Glen Maxwell and Usman Khwaja for the vacant spot.

    The familiarity of Khawaja
    Before being made a scapegoat along with Joe Burns after the series against Sri Lanka, Usman had scored 1726 runs at an average of 47.94 in 23 Tests, with five hundreds and eight fifties. He also had a productive home season – scoring close to 600 runs at an average of 58, with one hundred and five fifties.

    Having been unfairly dropped for Shaun Marsh after such a good season, it is only fair that Usman is allowed a chance at reclaiming his place.

    That said, there is a growing perception that he is not at ease in the subcontinental conditions. When he last played in Asia, Usman was axed for his ineptness against spin, Rangana Herath and Co. exposing his technique. Caught in the crease a few times, Khawaja fought his way to a highest score of 26 in four innings against the Lankans, which isn’t what one expects of a top-order batsman.

    The team management too, seems to have lost confidence in Khawaja’s abilities in Asian conditions, preferring Shaun Marsh and even Matthew Renshaw over him.

    If the Australians do finally decide to give Khawaja a heads up, it will be based more on hope rather than rationale.

    Steve Smith Usman Khawaja

    The lure of Maxwell
    Flown in as all-rounder who could roll his arm over when required, Maxwell could swap in for Mitchell Marsh without altering the overall composition of the team.

    That he has plenty of experience of batting at number six, albeit in limited overs format, only adds more weight to his claim.

    Further, Maxwell doesn’t have the ghosts of subcontinental failures hovering. To the contrary, it was in India that Maxwell first became a world-known commodity, after he was bought by the Mumbai Indians in the IPL auction for $1 million in 2013.

    His performances in the IPL pushed him into Australia’s limited overs teams, he held his own against Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in the 2013 ODI series, scoring 248 runs at an average of over 40 and a strike rate above 150. Even in the yearly carnival that is the IPL, Ashwin and Jadeja have often been tamed by this Victorian.

    Maxwell’s off-spin will also be a welcome addition. Starting with a third seamer in Indian conditions was a mistake to begin with, which can easily be corrected by including Maxwell, who could give a well-deserved break to other bowlers.

    And while critics argue that Maxwell’s devil-may-care attitude might be his undoing in Indian conditions, players such as Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen have shown how an attacking approach is not an impediment to success in India. Mitchell Starc’s exploits as a batsman in the series so far also point to the fact that having an attacking batsman in your team is not such a bad thing after all.

    One can only wonder what might have been had Maxwell walked out to partner Peter Handscomb chasing 188.

    With the series wide open at 1-1, this decision could very well determine the outcome.

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • March 15th 2017 @ 2:24pm
      Adrian said | March 15th 2017 @ 2:24pm | ! Report

      I’d much prefer Khawaja. I don’t for a moment believe he is bad in India. He hasn’t even played in India before. The fact he was born in Pakistan probably makes him predisposed to do better in those conditions, I would have thought. He just got unlucky in Sri Lanka, I reckon.

      • March 15th 2017 @ 6:45pm
        AlanC said | March 15th 2017 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

        Got unlucky a lot in England too…

      • March 15th 2017 @ 7:23pm
        Rob JM said | March 15th 2017 @ 7:23pm | ! Report

        Not quite as unlucky as Mitch Marsh though.

    • March 15th 2017 @ 3:30pm
      matth said | March 15th 2017 @ 3:30pm | ! Report

      “Scores of 4, 31, 0 and 13 don’t do Mitchell Marsh’s reputation as a top-six batsman any good”. The really sad thing is they didn’t do his reputation nay harm either.

      • March 15th 2017 @ 10:19pm
        Adrian said | March 15th 2017 @ 10:19pm | ! Report

        It was the best damn 4 you’ve ever seen.

    • March 15th 2017 @ 4:13pm
      George said | March 15th 2017 @ 4:13pm | ! Report

      And what of Warner’s capability in ‘Asian conditions’ across a far-greater sample size of innings?

      • March 15th 2017 @ 10:21pm
        Adrian said | March 15th 2017 @ 10:21pm | ! Report

        Warner on a bad day is better than Mitchell Marsh on a good day.

    • March 15th 2017 @ 4:22pm
      Pope Paul VII said | March 15th 2017 @ 4:22pm | ! Report

      Handscomb and S Marsh (average vs India 22) are teetering on the brink. I suppose that doesn’t matter?

      • March 15th 2017 @ 7:27pm
        Rob JM said | March 15th 2017 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

        The same S Marsh who top scored last test and the same P Handscomb who was left stranded in the last innings?
        If anything Its warner who is the big disappointment, If we seal the series and he fails again then Khawaja should take his spot.

        • March 15th 2017 @ 9:24pm
          John Erichsen said | March 15th 2017 @ 9:24pm | ! Report

          I understand what you are saying but I wonder how many have missed the reality that Warner and Smith have scored about the same number of runs this series, except that Smith made 109 after India missed 5 chances. Perhaps, all our batsmen, bar Renshaw, should be feeling like they haven’t really pulled their weight. Warner certainly has the reputation for struggling away from home more than most.

        • March 15th 2017 @ 9:34pm
          Pope Paul VII said | March 15th 2017 @ 9:34pm | ! Report

          That’s them.

    • March 15th 2017 @ 5:10pm
      Pope Paul VII said | March 15th 2017 @ 5:10pm | ! Report

      A bit of trivia regarding Khawaja being shunned in India because of performance in Sri Lanka

      Khawaja is the only current aussie test player (assuming he get’s another game some time) who has actually played in a winning test in Sri Lanka.

    • March 15th 2017 @ 9:27pm
      Jameswm said | March 15th 2017 @ 9:27pm | ! Report

      Last I heard Maxwell will be in.

      • March 15th 2017 @ 10:29pm
        Linphoma said | March 15th 2017 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

        Cannot agree with that. I’ve said elsewhere on this forum, if Warner foes his job then Maxie is redundant.

        Having said that, “”It might be a blessing in disguise that Marsh has been ruled out of the series”
        No truer sentiment could be said.

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