Khawaja and Handscomb must tour India

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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

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    Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb must tour India in October, Australia have missed James Faulkner, and Travis Head is becoming an invaluable asset – these are among the things we learned from the Champions Trophy.

    Australia joined South Africa and New Zealand in making unexpectedly-early exits from the tournament, each failing to get out of the group stage. Here are three key talking points for Australia from this tournament.

    Khawaja and Handscomb must tour India in October
    Australia’s next ODI challenge is a proposed seven-match series in India in October. It is likely their squad will look significantly different to the one they took to England.

    From the moment Australia’s Champions Trophy squad was announced many Roarers mirrored my concerns about the shortage of specialist batsmen and the reliance on big hitters.

    There was widespread surprise Australia had not included at least one extra solid batsmen like Usman Khawaja, George Bailey or Peter Handscomb.

    Instead the selectors favoured the bludgeoning approaches of Aaron Finch and Chris Lynn, both of whom were fortunate to make the squad given they did not have impressive form in the 50-over format behind them.

    Lynn sat on the sidelines throughout the tournament. Finch, meanwhile, failed twice before making 68 in the do-or-die match against England.

    The Victorian opener has averaged just 29 with the bat in his past 40 ODIs. If the series in India goes ahead, Khawaja should be given the entire series to stake his claim as David Warner’s opening partner.

    Handscomb should join Khawaja on that tour. The Test incumbent is fresh from a dominant campaign in the English domestic one-day competition, hammering 444 runs at an average of 63 and a blazing strike rate of 109.

    Handscomb’s nimble, confident play against spin is another reason he should go to India. One man who should not be involved in that series is NSW all-rounder Moises Henriques. Henriques was a surprise choice to bat at four throughout the Champions Trophy and continued his abysmal returns in ODIs, with a career batting average of nine from 11 matches.

    With Mitch Marsh expected to still be unavailable to tour India due to injury, Victorian Marcus Stoinis should be Australia’s sole seam-bowling batting all-rounder in the squad for India.

    Usman Khawaja of Australia hits a shot

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    Australia missed James Faulkner
    Bowling all-rounder James Faulkner would have been a very handy option when English batsmen Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes were teeing off on Saturday.

    It was a shock Faulkner was not taken to England given he has snared 27 wickets at an average of 23 in ODIs in the past year. More than that, the left armer adds valuable variety to the Australian attack.

    With his array of cutters and slower balls, and vast experience bowling at the death in ODIs and T20s, Faulkner is well suited to slowing the charge of rampant batsmen.

    As ODI batsmen become more and more aggressive with each passing year, 27-year-old Faulkner is the kind of adaptable seamer every side needs.

    Yet I’ll follow this high praise by stating that Faulkner should not be selected for the series in India. He should be an automatic choice for the Australian squad, except for when they are facing India, whose batsmen patently have a hold over Faulkner.

    Since the start of 2015, in his eight ODIs against India, Faulkner has averaged 46 with the ball at a sky-high economy rate of 6.16 runs per over. Compare that to his record over the same period against every other team – an average of 24 at an economy rate of 5.07 runs per over. The Indian batsmen are particularly adept at reading or predicting Faulkner’s changes of pace, hanging back in the crease to clatter them to the boundary.

    The likes of Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma would be delighted to see Faulkner handed the ball. So he shouldn’t even tour.

    Australian cricketer James Faulkner bowls during the Australian team training session at the Gabba in Brisbane, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014. Australia play England in the first One Day International at the Gabba tomorrow. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt) NO ARCHIVING

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Travis Head is a potential ODI star
    Head has blossomed to the point that he is now one of Australia’s most important ODI cricketers. After an unremarkable start to his international career, the 23-year-old has been in commanding form over the past six months, piling up 545 runs at 61.

    What makes Head such an appealing ODI batsman is his versatility. An opener in domestic 50-over cricket, the 23-year-old has shone against the new ball for Australia, averaging 57 across his three matches at the top of the order.

    Just as impressively, he has managed to adapt to the middle order, averaging 38 across his 16 matches batting between four and seven in the order. Head’s flexibility extends beyond his position in the order – he also has shown a fine ability to play to the match situation, something which is foreign to some of the more cavalier Australian batsmen.

    When Australia needs to consolidate, Head has the temperament and the skill to protect his wicket and work the ones and twos. At other times, when quick runs are required, Head can obliterate an attack. Batsmen who have multiple gears to their batting like this are a fantastic asset in the middle order.

    In this way, Head reminds me of former ODI champion Mike Hussey.

    As his batting has improved rapidly, Head has also come along nicely with the ball. While he is still some way short of being a genuine all-rounder, the off spinner is increasingly accurate and frugal. In the past six months he has given up just 5.24 runs per over, a very solid economy rate for a part-time spinner.

    Realistically, Head should be the sixth or seventh bowling option in the team, rather than the fifth. And he will fall into this less demanding role once Marsh returns to full health.

    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 (60)

    • June 13th 2017 @ 6:34am
      Yangbong said | June 13th 2017 @ 6:34am | ! Report

      Yep. And give the captaincy to Warner. Also try and get some confidence back into Maxwell. Job done.

      • June 13th 2017 @ 11:39am
        spruce moose said | June 13th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

        Give the captaincy to Warner??

        Silly decision. Smith is and should be the captain. South Africa have made the mistake of having two separate captains in ODI and Test cricket playing in the same team.

        • June 13th 2017 @ 1:14pm
          Ouch said | June 13th 2017 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

          Warner should be captain in the ODI’s. He’s not afraid of using his spin bowlers. I was impressed with his captaincy in SL

        • June 13th 2017 @ 3:16pm
          Yangbong said | June 13th 2017 @ 3:16pm | ! Report

          Warner has flourished as captain of Sunrisers in the IPL. Also, Australia didn’t do too bad when S. Waugh was captain in the Tests and Ponting in the ODIs, and before that Taylor and Waugh respectively.

          • June 13th 2017 @ 6:09pm
            James said | June 13th 2017 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

            Warner would most likely be better at captaining than Smith but the worry is how Smith would feel and how it would effect him. He is pretty emotional and replacing him is a pretty big slap in the face.

    • Roar Rookie

      June 13th 2017 @ 7:25am
      savage said | June 13th 2017 @ 7:25am | ! Report

      faulkner should’ve played as there was no india in his group.australia would hope he regains his batting form.despite his poor form,he still averages 34 at a strike rate of 105.

    • June 13th 2017 @ 8:17am
      jonty smith said | June 13th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      First I’ve heard of the tour, hopefully it happens, I love the lengthy ODI series, wish there was more of them. I’d love to see Khawaja opening (please give him a game in India) Head at 4, Handscomb at 5 and one of Lynn, maxwell or stoinis also in the eleven along with Hastings, Zampa, Hoff and Starc. This creates a balanced team with the reliability of Head and Handscomb who can adapt to the situation of the match, as you say

    • June 13th 2017 @ 8:17am
      blanco said | June 13th 2017 @ 8:17am | ! Report

      Handscomb (keeper)
      M. Marsh

      Would be my preferred 11.If M. Marsh is not fit then you could replace him with Stoinis and switch Maxwell n Stoinis around.

      Others : Wade Faulkner Pattinson

      • Roar Guru

        June 13th 2017 @ 5:12pm
        Cadfael said | June 13th 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

        What has Maxwell done to be included? He did not have a good CT competition with the bat and didn’t bowl. or do we pick him because of his potential?

        • Columnist

          June 13th 2017 @ 5:52pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | June 13th 2017 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

          Maxwell didn’t have a poor Champions Trophy …. he barely even had a chance to get involved, batting just once (made 20) and bowling 3 overs for the tournament.

    • Roar Guru

      June 13th 2017 @ 8:54am
      Chris Kettlewell said | June 13th 2017 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      I made the comment in a different thread that two of the biggest things for Australia are around Faulkner and Maxwell. If Australia have Faulkner playing anywhere near his best then he does add another dimension to the team. But also, Maxwell causes a problem. He needs to be there as an allrounder. If he’s not bowling, then there’s no place in the team for him. Effectively, Head takes Maxwell’s position in the team and that opens up a place for another pure batsman.

      As such, Australia’s best ODI XI at the moment would probably be something like:
      M. Marsh
      Starc / Cummins

      (Against India, you play both Starc and Cummins in place of Faulkner).

      Of course, Mitch Marsh is injured currently, so that throws the spanner in the works there. In truth, if they played Henriques in that #6 position in the above team in place of Marsh it probably would have been a better option. But with Marsh out, Stoinis probably becomes the option. He’s shown that he’s potentially the sort of player for whom stepping up the level and being put under pressure brings out the best in him, while Henriques seems the opposite, someone with definite talent, but just not with the mentality that means he’s able to step up when it counts. Hence he could get picked over Henriques despite not having such a good 50 over domestic record.

      The other possibility if the selectors can get away from the need for a pace bowling allrounder to replace Marsh could be Ashton Turner. He started to come through last season as someone who could potentially fill that sort of allrounder type role in the middle order well.

      • June 13th 2017 @ 12:35pm
        Nudge said | June 13th 2017 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

        Personally, as I’ve said on here before the most important batsman on your team is your no 4. A guy who can read the flow of the game. A guy that can steady the ship and not get out when you’re 2 for 20. He can also accelerate when he comes in at 2 for 160 off 30. Clarke and Bailey played that role brilliantly for the last 15 years. So I would drop Smith back to 4 who could play the role to a tee. If we are going to persist with Wade’s shoddy glove work ( which probably cost the Aussies the match) then I’d move him to opener as I think he could turn into a pretty decent one day opener. That then leaves you a chance to play another recognised batsman. Best one day team
        M. Marsh

        • Columnist

          June 13th 2017 @ 1:03pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | June 13th 2017 @ 1:03pm | ! Report

          I’d definitely give Wade more time. But if he falters then Australia should strongly consider handing the gloves to Handscomb.

          • June 14th 2017 @ 9:09pm
            jammel said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:09pm | ! Report

            Like the thinking Nudge!

            If we are having our wk open, what about Ben Dunk for the shorter forms of the game internationally? I think he offers more power than Wade.

            Personally I like Handscomb as an option for wk – at #5.

            • June 14th 2017 @ 11:02pm
              Nudge said | June 14th 2017 @ 11:02pm | ! Report

              Would definitely be happy with Dunk Jamel, particularly 20/20

      • June 13th 2017 @ 1:15pm
        Ouch said | June 13th 2017 @ 1:15pm | ! Report

        ” Maxwell causes a problem. He needs to be there as an allrounder. If he’s not bowling, then there’s no place in the team for him.”

        Agree completely.

        • Columnist

          June 13th 2017 @ 1:29pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | June 13th 2017 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

          It’s a tough choice on Maxwell. I agree that if they refuse to bowl him then his position is much shakier.

          However, people tend to look at his batting average of 33 and judge him almost solely on that. But you must factor in the huge value of his strike rate of 124 which is the highest of any batsman in the world.

          Consider that there’s only one other player in ODI cricket who averages as high as Maxwell or better and also has a strike rate of better than 105 …… and that’s Jos Buttler.

          So Maxwell is a truly rare batsmen for his ability to score at an insane strike rate yet still maintain a reasonable average.

          If Australia pick a better-balanced top five then Maxwell is a perfect guy to be coming in down the order to push their totals up to another level.

          We’ve seen now that against the elite batting teams like India, SA and England you need to be able to make or chase 330+ on a regular basis.

          That is a lot easier when you have someone at six who can absolutely destroy an attack from ball one – like Buttler, Miller for SA, Hardik Pandya for India, and Maxwell.

          • June 13th 2017 @ 4:39pm
            Brian said | June 13th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

            They shouldn’t drop Maxwell unless Lynn or Handscomb prove themselves a better batsman. The problem was Henriques. Any limited overs team is essentially
            5 best batsman (1 of whom can keep)
            4 best bowlers
            2 all rounders to bowl 4/10 overs and add batting depth

            In Aus case that is



    • Roar Guru

      June 13th 2017 @ 9:07am
      Giri Subramanian said | June 13th 2017 @ 9:07am | ! Report

      It is sad to see how James Faulkner has regressed. He was a fantastic bowler hitter and good left arm pace option for Australia. I don’t think Mitch Marsh is a long term prospect either unless he makes a complete U-Turn like how Smith did few years ago. Are there any other bowling all-rounders in domestic cricket? Ashton Turner looks more like a batting all-rounder, not sure. Are there any good bowling all-rounders like Faulkner?

      • Roar Guru

        June 13th 2017 @ 10:03am
        JamesH said | June 13th 2017 @ 10:03am | ! Report

        Have a look at Mitch Marsh’s ODI stats, Giri. They will surprise you. He averages mid 30s with both bat and ball, which is very respectable for an allrounder, and he’s improving.

        Outside of the selectors and his family, I don’t think you’ll find a person in Australia who believes Marsh should be in the test team. But ODIs are a different matter and he was sorely missed in England.

        • Roar Guru

          June 13th 2017 @ 10:15am
          Giri Subramanian said | June 13th 2017 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          Mitch Marsh’s batting record is indeed decent but his bowling could be better. If he can replicate his List A record at the international level, he would be a greater asset for Australia. He currently is either not bowling enough or needs to contribute more with the ball (He bowls less than 6 overs on an average). Faulkner has a better record at this point with the ball but has unfortunately regressed.

        • June 14th 2017 @ 9:15pm
          jammel said | June 14th 2017 @ 9:15pm | ! Report

          Applaud the sentiment on Mitch Marsh JamesH!

          There is, however, one person in Australia that believes MMarsh should join his brother SMarsh in the Test XI – Don Freo! lol

      • Columnist

        June 13th 2017 @ 11:17am
        Ronan O'Connell said | June 13th 2017 @ 11:17am | ! Report

        “It is sad to see how James Faulkner has regressed.”

        Faulkner has averaged 23 with the ball over the past year in ODIs. The only thing that’s sad is his treatment by the selectors.

        There’s not a bowling all-rounder in the world who has better ODI stats than Faulkner.

        • Roar Guru

          June 13th 2017 @ 11:33am
          Giri Subramanian said | June 13th 2017 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          Yes I saw that, he surely is in very good form over the last year or so with the ball. I think the reason for his non-selection is his batting over the same period of time. He averages under 20 over the last year (1st Feb 2016 to 5th Feb 2017). This is probably the reason for the selectors looking for alternatives. I guess he can still play in the team as a bowler alone as he is Australia’s best in the death overs. He is capable of hitting big and winning games singlehandedly. I really like James Faulkner and I hope that he gets back in the squad as I don’t think Aussies have someone comparable to him.

        • June 13th 2017 @ 12:10pm
          twodogs said | June 13th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

          Here here. Seemingly factors other than ability and stats gives one the ‘inside running’ for a spot.

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