What is Australia’s second-best batting line-up?

Edward L'Orange Roar Guru

By Edward L'Orange, Edward L'Orange is a Roar Guru


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    If Australia’s top six were all suddenly ruled out for the upcoming summer, who would replace them in the Ashes? Who are Australia’s second six?

    Australia’s top six for the Ashes will likely consist of David Warner (vc), Matt Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (c), Peter Handscomb and Glen Maxwell.

    In judging the contenders to replace them, I have not taken ODI participation into consideration, but purely first-class form and previous Test experience.

    Opening batsmen may just be Australia’s richest asset, with five contenders:

    Cameron Bancroft, Western Australia: first class (FC) average 36.89.
    Joe Burns, Queensland: FC average 38.9; 13 Tests averaging 37.95 with three centuries.
    Ed Cowan, NSW: FC average 42.2; 18 Tests averaging 31.28 with one century.
    Daniel Hughes, NSW: FC average 36.68.
    Shawn Marsh, WA: FC average 40.89, 24 Tests averaging 36.00 with four centuries.

    First drop is a spot Australia has struggled with in the years since Ricky Ponting’s fall from form. However, Khawaja has given us hope for a steady performer in this position (well, at least in Australia).

    I have four contenders for this position:

    Hilton Cartwright, WA: FC average 50.89, two Tests averaging 27.50.
    Ed Cowan, NSW.
    Shaun Marsh, WA.
    Marcus Stoinis, Victoria: FC average 35.08.

    For the positions four to six I have eight contenders:

    George Bailey, Tasmania: FC average 40.21, five Tests averaging 26.14.
    Aaron Finch, Victoria: FC average 36.57.
    Travis Head, South Australia: FC average 34.45.
    Moises Henriques, NSW: FC average 35.24, four Tests averaging 23.24.
    Jake Lehmann, SA: FC average 43.16.
    Mitch Marsh, WA: FC average 33.48, 21 Tests averaging 21.74.
    Kurtis Patterson: FC average 42.20.
    Ashton Turner, WA: FC average 38.48.
    Cameron White, Vic: FC average 39.80, four Tests averaging 29.20.

    My team
    The first of my openers is abandoned Test player Joe Burns. Of all players in Australia, none were as hardly done by as Burns. A casualty of Australia’s Test clean out following our capitulation against South Africa, Burns was punished for a few poor scores.

    The success of fellow Queenslander Matt Renshaw has meant that Burns was unable to reclaim his place, but with a solid first-class average last season and some excellent moments in his short Test career, Burns should be one of the first called back.

    The second opener is another former Test player, Shaun Marsh. Marsh has had his chances at Test level, some which he has taken, some which he has not. However, if our current top six were sidelined, Marsh’s experience would be invaluable.

    With this pair we have two experienced batsmen opening the batting, who hopefully will not be overawed by the stage: something important with a new order. Their right-left batting also complement each other, and they should make a solid opening partnership.

    Australian batsman Shaun Marsh reacts after scoring a century

    AAP Image/Dave Hunt

    With a first-class average of 50.89 is was impossible to omit Cartwright at first drop. In fact, some might even argue that he is actually an incumbent, having played in Australia’s last Test in Chittagong. However, back in Australia, he should make way for Khawaja.

    Cartwright should be a very useful prospect at three, having averaged 53.81 in last year’s shield season, while also owning some Test experience.

    The captain and No.4 is George Bailey. Bailey has been remarkably reliable in the Sheffield Shield, being in the top four run scorers the last two years. He has extensive experience at international level and is a good captain. Despite his age, Bailey’s experience and steady batsmanship make him a no-brainer.

    The number five space goes to NSW batsman Kurtis Patterson. Perhaps coming in a little bit under the radar, Patterson has nevertheless been a strong performer for NSW, averaging 52.64 and 44.53 respectively in the last two year. He has been a great asset to NSW, helping to steady the ship a number of times.

    Finally, number six goes to Jake Lehmann, who has played an important role in a solid South Australian middle-order over the last two years, averaging 44.50 and 40.70 respectively.

    One of Lehmann’s best assets is his ability to preform under pressure – incredibly valuable batting with the tail.

    My second six for the Australian Test team
    Joe Burns, Shaun Marsh, Hilton Cartwright, George Bailey, Kurtis Patterson and Jake Lehmann.

    Honourable mentions (third six): Daniel Hughes, Cameron Bancroft, Ed Cowan, Travis Head, Cam White and Ashton Turner.

    There have been upsets aplenty in the World Cup so far, so be sure to check out our expert tips and predictions for South Korea vs Sweden, Belgium vs Panama and England vs Tunisia and get the good oil on who to tip tonight.

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    The Crowd Says (55)

    • September 26th 2017 @ 3:49am
      RM said | September 26th 2017 @ 3:49am | ! Report

      good list – and I agree about how harshly Burns was treated. He was first dropped straight after scoring two 50s in just his second Test. Then he was dropped again only two Tests after he had put in a match-winning performance away from home to win a Test and seal the series against New Zealand. I think he had 3 100s and 4 50s from his first 13 Tests, which is normally considered an excellent start to a Test career…(and far better than players like Steve Smith, for example) and yet he was never given the latitude to have a bad couple of games like other players.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like Renshaw and think he has the potential to open for Australia for the next decade, but Burns was treated appallingly by the selectors.

      • September 26th 2017 @ 6:57am
        nick said | September 26th 2017 @ 6:57am | ! Report

        yep and he would still be a better and far more consistent number 6 than Maxwell in the test team

        • Roar Guru

          September 26th 2017 @ 7:54am
          Edward L'Orange said | September 26th 2017 @ 7:54am | ! Report

          Apparently Burns doesn’t like coming in down the order, as he has a problem with nerves. Not sure if this is still the case, but originally at least that is why the selectors didn’t include him down the order.

    • Roar Guru

      September 26th 2017 @ 8:30am
      Ryan H said | September 26th 2017 @ 8:30am | ! Report

      I’d go something like;

      S.Marsh, Cowan, Head, Cartwright, K.Patterson, Burns

      • September 26th 2017 @ 11:24am
        matth said | September 26th 2017 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        Why Travis Head?

        • Roar Guru

          September 26th 2017 @ 12:19pm
          Ryan H said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

          Granted his FC average is below where it needs to be for him to become a test prospect; that’s why he’s in the second XI.

          • September 26th 2017 @ 12:47pm
            Ben Brown said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

            Head is a terrible First Class batsman. Wouldn’t make it in the 3rd XI

            • September 26th 2017 @ 1:52pm
              Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

              Head is a very solid FC batsman. The up and comer with the best Test future.

            • Roar Guru

              September 26th 2017 @ 4:10pm
              Ryan H said | September 26th 2017 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

              Sure his FC average is nowhere near where it needs to be, it’s the biggest thing holding him back from being in test selection frame, as his ODI efforts show he has the steel for International cricket. But to label him a terrible FC batsman is a bit extreme; he scored 645 runs from just 9 matches @ 43 last season; and that is far from terrible.

    • September 26th 2017 @ 9:10am
      Freddy from Bondi said | September 26th 2017 @ 9:10am | ! Report

      Is it just me…or does the cupboard actually look scarily bare??

      Apart from Cartwright, noone has a FC average demanding selection. And even Cartwright’s numbers would be over a small sample size.

      We need young batsmen, and we need them soon! When Maxwell is in your top 6 batsmen in the country I feel like its only a matter of time until we need to call on new faces…

      • Roar Guru

        September 26th 2017 @ 10:30am
        Edward L'Orange said | September 26th 2017 @ 10:30am | ! Report

        Our overall averages are certainly lower than they were back in the day; think about how much Hayden and Hussey had to do to get into the team.

        That said, we do have a particularly strong roster of bowlers at the moment, so that might have some impact on the averages.

      • September 26th 2017 @ 12:08pm
        Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:08pm | ! Report

        Cartwright’s “small sample size” is 2 and a bit seasons…starting from his first 5 years ago.

      • Roar Guru

        September 26th 2017 @ 4:12pm
        JamesH said | September 26th 2017 @ 4:12pm | ! Report

        Paterson comes close, having averaged about 48 in his last two years. He was stiff to miss out to Maddinson last summer.

        • September 26th 2017 @ 5:12pm
          Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

          Funny how quickly the world has gone off Maddinson. His career has more legs than that.

          Stoinis will fly now he is back home. He is a geniune top 3 batsman (not a middle order all rounder) and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him open if they bat Shaun at #3. Stoinis started his career for Scarborough and WA as an opener.

    • September 26th 2017 @ 9:55am
      jameswm said | September 26th 2017 @ 9:55am | ! Report

      Geez, not that close to what I would pick. I would go:

      1. Bancroft – has done well on A tours, can play spin, has the patience to do well
      2. Burns
      3. Cartwright – no brainer
      4. Patterson or Lehman
      5. Head – solid ODI form, would deserve a shot here despite so so FC record
      6. Turner – really excelled last season, good prospect

      3, 5 and 6 double as part time bowlers but that’s not why I picked them.

      • Roar Guru

        September 26th 2017 @ 10:40am
        Edward L'Orange said | September 26th 2017 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        The problem there, James, is I think there’s a lack of experience. Who do you turn to when wickets fall? I’m a big proponent of experience counting at test level, e.g. Buck Rogers.

        Also, I’m just not fully on the Head train yet. I like what I’ve seen from him at times, but I just haven’t seen the kind of consistency I would like to see. He did ok last season (av. 43), if he backs up with a good season this year, I’ll jump right on board.

        • September 26th 2017 @ 11:02am
          jameswm said | September 26th 2017 @ 11:02am | ! Report

          Most of those guys have a few seasons behind them.

          • September 26th 2017 @ 11:25am
            matth said | September 26th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

            But there does need to be one or two old heads to steady the ship.

            • September 26th 2017 @ 12:13pm
              Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

              No. There doesn’t.

              Travis Head is a Shield skipper. Burns and Turner, particularly Turner, have extensive seniority at State and Oz A level.

              • September 26th 2017 @ 12:50pm
                Ben Brown said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

                Don Freo you got no Idea mate. Most of the batsman in that side are flashy players, none except Patterson know how to graft and show application. Head being the first example of an ‘exciting players’ with no brain.

              • September 26th 2017 @ 2:06pm
                Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 2:06pm | ! Report

                Exactly the opposite. Burns flashy? Have you watched Turner’s rearguard innings at all? Head has won matches with his Allan Border style graft.

                Just because they hit well in short form does not mean that is their only game.

                Watch them.

                By the way, there is an explosion of young talent beyond this usual mob. Watch them.

              • September 26th 2017 @ 2:22pm
                jameswm said | September 26th 2017 @ 2:22pm | ! Report

                Who Ben? Maybe Head and Lehman who I had bracketed. The rest are solid types.

            • September 26th 2017 @ 2:21pm
              jameswm said | September 26th 2017 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

              Matt who says a younger head can’t steady the ship?

          • September 26th 2017 @ 12:10pm
            Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

            All 6 of them have over 2 seasons, most over 5 seasons.

      • September 26th 2017 @ 11:22am
        BurgyGreen said | September 26th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Was about to criticise your inclusion of Bancroft, who has not been great in the Shield of late, but then I looked at his last game for Gloucestershire in which he made 206* and 72. Still, I think he’s fallen behind the pack because of his form for WA. I’d be picking Ed Cowan or perhaps Marcus Harris as my second opener.

        • September 26th 2017 @ 12:12pm
          Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

          Harris, yes. Cowan? He is such a level below plodder. Way out of his depth when he was better. Far out of his depth now.

          • Roar Guru

            September 26th 2017 @ 12:59pm
            Edward L'Orange said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

            But you could argue he is as good or better than he’s ever been, Don. He was the leading run scorer last season.

            • September 26th 2017 @ 2:12pm
              Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 2:12pm | ! Report

              This was after 3 seasons of failure in Tas. He’d need more than a season on easy Sydney pitches. He’d also need to stop bad mouthing selectors when he misses out.

              Being able to field would help.

              • Roar Guru

                September 26th 2017 @ 5:14pm
                Edward L'Orange said | September 26th 2017 @ 5:14pm | ! Report

                Oh come on, he fields fine, and he may have only averaged 33 in 15/16, but he averaged 48 in 14/15.

          • September 26th 2017 @ 1:11pm
            BurgyGreen said | September 26th 2017 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

            Cowan has become a much better batsman since being dropped from the Test side and made heaps of runs in the Shield. I don’t think he’ll play Test cricket again but he wouldn’t be the worst choice if injury or form brought down both Renshaw and Burns.

    • September 26th 2017 @ 10:07am
      BriainsTrust said | September 26th 2017 @ 10:07am | ! Report

      This shows how poor the batting depth is.
      You expect players to average 45 in first class cricket to be able to make it in test cricket.
      These days you don;t have top line bowlers often in Sheffield Shield.
      Cartwright alright he averages 50 in first class from a smaller number of matches though the WACA is a bit of a road these days and his record is poor in domestic one day.


      • Roar Guru

        September 26th 2017 @ 11:51am
        Edward L'Orange said | September 26th 2017 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        I admit I was a bit taken back when I saw how few even had averages over 45, let alone 50.

        • September 26th 2017 @ 12:20pm
          Brian said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

          With T20 its inevitable that the best batsman will model their games more on Maxwell and Warner rather then Cowan or Rogers. If I was on the fringes much more rewarding to aim for a BBL contract then aim for a Shield one.

    • September 26th 2017 @ 11:31am
      matth said | September 26th 2017 @ 11:31am | ! Report

      I would go with Burns, S Marsh, Cowan, Cartwright, White, Patterson.

      I think if the scenario is not who comes in next, but what if our entire top six disappear overnight, then you would want a mix of experience and youth, not just the most promising players. For a start you need a captain and probably a vice-captain out of your top six plus keeper. Secondly you want some sort of experience in different conditions and some resilience.

      Burns is a certainty and has been hard done by in the past.
      S Marsh has been (up until India) in good test match form over the past two years when called upon. He also has experience.
      Ed Cowan has had a very good last couple of seasons and is my vice captain. He also shields against a collapse at number three by being good for a “Cowan (i.e. 100 balls)” in most matches.
      Cartwright is at four as the best performed domestic bat over the past two seasons.
      Cameron White is my number 5 and captain for a couple of years until we stabilise. He has had a good recent record and he’s got great captaincy credentials.
      Patterson just shades Lehman for slightly more experence, but Lehman comes in next.

      • Roar Guru

        September 26th 2017 @ 11:50am
        Edward L'Orange said | September 26th 2017 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        I really wanted to have Cowan in my team, but in the end he just missed out because I wanted 3 with test experience and 3 young guys. Still, he’s be a very good number 3.

        I feel like people are being harsh on Bailey. He’s been very consistent for the last couple of years.

        • September 26th 2017 @ 12:19pm
          Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

          Those with Test experience that are any good are still playing Test cricket. Those without Test experience that are not any good are the ones you have left.

          Test experience is over rated. Peter Forrest? Peter George?

          • Roar Guru

            September 26th 2017 @ 1:02pm
            Edward L'Orange said | September 26th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

            Come on now Don, you know it’s not as simple as that; plenty of test quality players have been dropped from the national team for various reasons. Cherry-picking a few who weren’t up to it isn’t solid argumentation.

            By that logic, Mitch Marsh should never play again, surely you don’t agree with that?

            • September 26th 2017 @ 3:40pm
              Don Freo said | September 26th 2017 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

              His issue is injury. We could certainly do with his bowling and batting in India.

              • Roar Guru

                September 26th 2017 @ 5:15pm
                Edward L'Orange said | September 26th 2017 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

                Mitch Marsh has not been kept from the team due to injury.