As the Shield season begins, the race for Ashes spots hots up

Giri Subramanian Roar Guru

By Giri Subramanian, Giri Subramanian is a Roar Guru


84 Have your say

    The major Ashes talking point over the last couple of months for Australia has been the No.6 position and the wicketleeper’s spot.

    Glenn Maxwell, who had occupied the six role in the recent subcontinent tours, has been patchy of late, and he must make the most of the three first-class games ahead of the series.

    The other six candidate is Hilton Cartwright, who made his debut against Bangladesh about a month ago. He had a brilliant Shield season last year, scoring 861 runs at 53.81, and offers an additional bowling option.

    The other batsman who might be of interest is Joe Burns, who may be an opener for his state side, but he made his Test debut in the middle order, and also had a good Shield season last year, scoring 724 runs at 40.

    Others who might also get a look in include George Bailey (839 runs at 59.92) and Moises Henriques (775 runs at 64). Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis will also be in the selectors’ minds as bowling all-rounders, but neither had a good first-class season last year.

    As for the wicketkeeping spot, Matthew Wade has been poor enough to be dropped for the Ashes, with the prime replacements being Peter Nevill and Alex Carey.

    Nevill had a decent Test season at home last summer and was unfortunate to lose his place, while Carey provides a younger option who could serve for a long time.

    Nevill had a stellar first-class season last year, scoring 625 runs at 56, with three hundreds, while Carey scored 594 runs at 33, meaning Nevill has his nose slightly ahead.

    Elsewhere, Matt Renshaw and Usman Khawaja will likely feature in the first Test, but they could be upstaged if any of the aforementioned players put in great performances in the first-class games preceding the Ashes.

    The Australian bowling attack is pretty settled, with Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood all expected to be fit. The backup seamer spot is still up for grabs though, with both Jackson Bird and James Pattinson unavailable for selection with injuries.

    The prime candidates for that position are Chadd Sayers (62 wickets at 19 last season), Jason Behrendorff (37 wickets at 17.59), Peter Siddle (played 62 Tests for Australia for 211 wickets) and Chris Tremain (42 wickets at 18.9).

    Siddle provides Australia with years of experience, but he missed the entire 2016-17 Shield season, so the next three games will be very important if he’s to stake his claim for the Ashes.

    The backup spinner spot also suffered a setback, with Steve O’Keefe injured, making Ashton Agar – who was picked for the Bangladesh tour – the top candidate for that spot.

    With so many combinations possible, the start of the Shield season gives aspirants an audition and the regulars a chance to get much-needed practice.

    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 (84)

    • October 21st 2017 @ 9:47am
      Paul said | October 21st 2017 @ 9:47am | ! Report


      You’ve thrown some interesting names into the mix of batsmen who might be a show, though I doubt greatly guys like Bailey are a genuine chance. I think though your article highlights Australia’s relative depth compared to England.

      Guys are likely to either get injured or maybe, dropped through poor form and Australia has players that can step up in all areas, though our keeper/batsman spot is weak. England however, have brought supposedly their strongest team, without Stokes, and guys like Vince and Balance are strong candidates to bat in the middle order, yet can’t average 30 in their recent Tests. If that’s the case, what are their replacements like?

      Can’t wait to see how the Shield games pan out. Hopefully everyone gets a decent chance to display their talents.

      • Roar Guru

        October 21st 2017 @ 12:07pm
        Giri Subramanian said | October 21st 2017 @ 12:07pm | ! Report

        England have surely made some odd selections. Haseeb Hameed’s injury did not help them either. Australia do have lots of talented players and especially will be great in home conditions. I mentioned Bailey and Henriques because of their stellar season in the last FC season. I also forgot to mention Ed Cowan who was the highest run getter last season.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:58pm
          matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:58pm | ! Report

          Given Ed just got dropped from the NSW side I would suggest his time is well and truly over. A big shame given he was NSW’s player of the season last year.

    • October 21st 2017 @ 10:25am
      Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 10:25am | ! Report

      With Test selection, say on the choice between Nevill and Carey, I don’t think it’s necessary to pick someone for the long term. Whether someone plays for a series or two, a year or two or a decade or two is not a high priority.

      We need to pick someone doing well. It is up to that player to perform well enough to make it long term.

      • Roar Rookie

        October 21st 2017 @ 11:15am
        Matthew Pearce said | October 21st 2017 @ 11:15am | ! Report

        I agree. Long-term players are nice, and should a be massive priority if they definitely can fill that role, but it shouldn’t be a necessity. Hussey was selected when he was 30 and “only” played tests for 7 years, but he’s still the best middle-order batsman we’ve had for some time. I think we’ve gone a bit too far on this whole “youth” business.

        Something I’ve noticed hasn’t really come up in this whole debate is that quite a few keepers have to give that up a few years in advance, but then they’re good enough to make it as a batsman, especially when they don’t need to focus on keeping anymore. You can get a couple of extra years out of a player that way. Potential for another selection twist there?

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 2:59pm
          matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 2:59pm | ! Report

          Greg Chappell has always been a big believer in youth above all else.

          • October 28th 2017 @ 12:02am
            John Erichsen said | October 28th 2017 @ 12:02am | ! Report

            Not many of our more experienced domestic batsmen average enough to make them a better choice than the under 25’s anyway. For example, Klinger is considered unlucky not to have played test cricket, yet he doesn’t average 40 in domestic.

      • Roar Guru

        October 21st 2017 @ 12:09pm
        Giri Subramanian said | October 21st 2017 @ 12:09pm | ! Report

        I just mentioned that in case that is what the selectors are looking for. But to be frank the selection of Nevill is kind of a no brainer as he had a brilliant FC season and also did not do that badly over the last 2 years at home in tests.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:00pm
          matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

          If Wade can jag a 50 or two in the first couple of rounds he will keep the spot. According to Crash Craddock, Smith is desperate to keep him. He describes Wade as the stone in the opposition’s shoe.

          • October 24th 2017 @ 9:00am
            dan ced said | October 24th 2017 @ 9:00am | ! Report

            He’s the stone in Australia’s shoe!

          • October 28th 2017 @ 12:08am
            John Erichsen said | October 28th 2017 @ 12:08am | ! Report

            Highlights why our test captain should play no part in team selection. Wade’s return to the team at the expense of Nevill has been the most idiotic selection decision in recent years. Even worse than Mitch Marsh’s constant selection to bat at six. Nevill was axed for only averaging 22 with the bat. Wade, since his recall in 10 tests is averaging 20 and is a significantly worse keeper. Nice work Steve Smith…

    • Roar Rookie

      October 21st 2017 @ 11:23am
      Matthew Pearce said | October 21st 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

      Well, at least we don’t have to worry about depth with our bowlers.

      The only problem with that list of batsmen is that half of them are test discards, for varying reasons. Hard to see Bailey and Henriques getting picked again, and if Maxwell gets dropped, something tells me he’s not going to come up in discussions again for some time. Cartwright might be persisted with, but I get the feeling he’s going to be one of those “in-again, out-again” players.

      Burns probably has the best chance out of the players mentioned, although with our penchant for crossing over with long and short-form performances, I’d bet on someone like Head being suddenly catapulted up before they go back to Burns.

      • Roar Guru

        October 21st 2017 @ 12:10pm
        Giri Subramanian said | October 21st 2017 @ 12:10pm | ! Report

        Cartwright should be persisted with and he is a good young player but again the selectors will mostly stick with Khawaja for home games. Cartwright can still make the number 6 spot. Joe Burns also is a middle order candidate as I don’t think the Renshaw-Warner combination should be discarded so soon.

        • October 21st 2017 @ 12:29pm
          Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

          I’d suggest Cartwright sits behind 5 other West Australians in terms of the best batsmen. This doesn’t include stats…just a subjective reading of ability.

          The best is easily Shaun Marsh, then Sam Whiteman, Marcus Stoinis, Mitch Marsh, Cam Bancroft then Cartwright (on a par with Ashton Turner).

          That is not to diminish Cartwright but I do think many comments go flavour of the month and don’t cast their glance far enough.

          I hope Sammy can pick up a bat soon, even if he doesn’t keep for a while. The only reason his FC average is down is because he has come in for a slog before bonus points expire. If he batted top 3 before he took the gloves, he’d be a Test top 3 now.

          • October 21st 2017 @ 2:14pm
            BurgyGreen said | October 21st 2017 @ 2:14pm | ! Report

            From my point of view Cartwright is better than all of those guys (just from watching them bat), though I haven’t seen enough of Whiteman. Hilton really impressed me from the first time I watched him play (I think for the CAXI in the Matador) with his technique and natural power. That WA trusted him at first drop early in his career, and that he took to it with ease, is telling I think.

            • October 21st 2017 @ 4:11pm
              Ross said | October 21st 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

              Alan border was on tbr mark yesterday as he said renshaw will be a sleeping giant from his quiet tours in Asia, he listed khawaja as one of the premier batsman in Australia and said he deserves not just a run here where he dominates but overseas too which I agrrr with. Lastly he said to keep wade as keeper though I am
              leaning towards Neville

              • October 21st 2017 @ 4:38pm
                Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 4:38pm | ! Report

                Like many elite ex cricketers, AB may not be aware of what is happening around the states.

                There is no possible sustainable argument for selecting Wade.

            • October 21st 2017 @ 6:33pm
              Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

              Cartwright is nowhere near Shaun Marsh. Marsh is the best we have had since Martyn and Langer.

              • October 21st 2017 @ 7:00pm
                BurgyGreen said | October 21st 2017 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

                This is where we have to agree to disagree I think. For all his aesthetic brilliance, he nicks off too early, too often which accounts for his serviceable but generally unimpressive record.

                Also, would that mean that you’d put him above Hussey?

              • October 21st 2017 @ 8:12pm
                Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 8:12pm | ! Report

                Yep. In terms of pure class, He’s there with Damien Martyn and Kim Hughes.

                For pure class, I’d have him above Langer too but Huss and JL had something Shaun never quite delivered.

              • October 21st 2017 @ 8:46pm
                BurgyGreen said | October 21st 2017 @ 8:46pm | ! Report

                Interesting, thanks. Hussey and Langer were certainly batsmen who maximised their ability through sheer grit.

            • October 21st 2017 @ 11:15pm
              Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 11:15pm | ! Report

              Just on Cartwright, his elevation to #3 was in the 2nd year of his second stint in the side. He first played in 2012/13 season. He has been a work in progress.

          • October 21st 2017 @ 7:49pm
            Steve said | October 21st 2017 @ 7:49pm | ! Report

            Give it as rest Don, I said that I thought Cartwright was a better batsmen than Mitch Marsh in a reply to you quite a while ago and you disagreed, what a coincidence that he is second in line for the number 6 spot ahead of all those guys you mentioned, give it a rest.

            • October 21st 2017 @ 8:10pm
              Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 8:10pm | ! Report

              “2nd in line” to what? I’m not talking about Aussie selection. I am suggesting the quality of the batsmen in WA. Have a go at making a subjective assessment of the top 5 in your state.

              You needn’t be combative. Just join the conversation.

              • October 21st 2017 @ 8:19pm
                Ben Brown said | October 21st 2017 @ 8:19pm | ! Report

                Hey Don, you got no clue mate. How about that?

              • October 21st 2017 @ 8:27pm
                Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 8:27pm | ! Report


              • Roar Rookie

                October 21st 2017 @ 8:31pm
                Matthew Pearce said | October 21st 2017 @ 8:31pm | ! Report

                Hey Ben, that’s pretty weak to say that behind an anonymous profile. Do you go around saying that in real life?

          • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:08pm
            matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:08pm | ! Report

            Interesting call Don. I think everyone can agree that Shaun Marsh is the classiest batsman to come of WA from this current generation, however the results have never lived up to the hype at either state or national level in the long form game. However his last stint for Australia prior to the India tour indicate that he finally might be getting the results to live up to that talent. But at 34 is it too late?

            As for putting all those guys ahead of Cartwright despite him averaging around 15 better than any of them. Well, its style over results isn’t it. Further down you mentioned Kim Hughes as a supreme talent. and he was. But Alan Border, who even his Mum wouldn’t have called a stylish player, averaged 15 more in test cricket. Who was the better bat? My gut tells me that Cartwright might just have that something extra, ahead of the undoubted style and talent of the Marsh boys, etc. Surely with a career average over 50, we have to find out before putting in another 35 run average guy (e.g. Stoinis, Henriques, Maddinson, M Marsh, even S Marsh).

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:10pm
              matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:10pm | ! Report

              I forgot about Bancroft. An unlucky cricketer so far, being picked for a cancelled tour and then losing form just as a new opener was required. He is young yet and I see him as a good number 3 after Khawaja.

            • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:14pm
              Don Freo said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

              I mention it only as an interesting point. No argument being made. Stats are only a loose guideline. Mitch Marsh, for instance has played 2 (maybe 3) Shied games since 2014. We can’t measure his Shield batting as a result but, in that time, he has scored a double century against India A while a Shield game was on. Where does that stat fit?

              • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:35pm
                matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:35pm | ! Report

                I hear what you are saying but his overall long form record is underwhelming. Of course, that is partly because he has not got a good run at it for a while (similar to Maxwell actually), but it’s hard to support his case against those that have had a good run and have capitalised on it. The first three games will be very interesting. because he looked great in the 50 over comp. To fair, his 50 over credentials have never been in doubt. He should always be one of the first picked for the white ball stuff in my opinion.

              • October 28th 2017 @ 3:14pm
                John Erichsen said | October 28th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

                No doubt at all that Shaun Marsh, in full flight, is great viewing, but that only makes the mediocrity of his career performances more disappointing. I could support Shaun going to India given his previous success in the subcontinent, but his FC record has always been his greatest deficit for regular test selection. As for hundreds against “A”teams, where should they fit? Probably in the same “Who Cares Bin” as performances against a PM XI.

          • October 28th 2017 @ 12:13am
            John Erichsen said | October 28th 2017 @ 12:13am | ! Report

            Cartwright is the one player in contention with first class performances that scream “pick me”. Nobody else in the mix averages 50+ in first class cricket. I could live with selectors taking a punt with him.

    • October 21st 2017 @ 2:02pm
      Roshan said | October 21st 2017 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

      Why not the article mentioning about travis head chances. I think he will be in selectors mind even in India lehman mentioned head was in frame for selection at no. 6 spot. He is young and has a decent record in first class and shield session. The way he has performed in odi and improved every game his chances are becoming even more optimistic. Another player is hilton cartwright looking his recent form and tight technique. The thing that might go against him is experience and confidence to play international cricket. Alex carey is my pick for ashes.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:11pm
        matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

        Head is yet another ‘next big thing’ with a 30 something first class average. Not ready yet.

        • October 24th 2017 @ 9:05am
          dan ced said | October 24th 2017 @ 9:05am | ! Report

          Head would be in the Maxwell role.. which they pick someone that’s an exciting batter who bowls a bit of spin.. but doesn’t score runs or take wickets!~

          I think Head would be better value than Maxwell in the Test arena if they are experimenting with that spot, but I also think Cartwright deserves more innings as a pure bat, or someone like Lehmann or Patterson. OR KLINGER

      • October 28th 2017 @ 2:54pm
        John Erichsen said | October 28th 2017 @ 2:54pm | ! Report

        Averaging 35 in First Class is ample reason for Head to be excluded from consideration, along with a few others. His time will come when he lifts his domestic 4 day average through consistent big scores. Head is certainly one to keep an eye on but his domestic performances in the 4 day format screams, “Not yet”.

        • October 28th 2017 @ 8:29pm
          Don Freo said | October 28th 2017 @ 8:29pm | ! Report

          Another person who quotes career long averages as if they have something to do with current form.

          Rubbish thinking.

          • October 29th 2017 @ 5:28pm
            John Erichsen said | October 29th 2017 @ 5:28pm | ! Report

            That “rubbish thinking” is still more logical and reasonable than your praise of Mitch Marsh for making 36 in quick time on day of a shield game. Please stop projecting on others.

            Career stats are always a valid measure when viewed in context, for those with understanding. For example, Head averages 35, despite averaging over 50 last year. He needs to back that up this summer at domestic level and when he does, he will have earned his baggy green. The Mitch Marsh experiment should be a warning to all that selecting players too soon hurts everyone, including the promising young player themselves.
            Head’s 8 and 0 against NSW hasn’t helped his test claims but he is young and time is on his side.
            Cartwright has the best credentials of those in the mix and with runs in the shield games should be a walk up starter for the first test. Khawaja was always going to play in the Gabba test and a very classy ton against VIC highlights why.

            • October 29th 2017 @ 6:15pm
              Don Freo said | October 29th 2017 @ 6:15pm | ! Report

              It’s Head’s average of 50 last year that has him in the conversation…not his career average.

              Here’s a hint. Watch the cricket. The bowling and fielding of WA…as well as its fighting batting is worth watching. Beats the pants off reading an irrelevant stats sheet.

    • Roar Guru

      October 21st 2017 @ 2:20pm
      Rellum said | October 21st 2017 @ 2:20pm | ! Report

      I don’t care about Aus selection right now, QLD need to win these first four games to be in with a chance to get into the final.

      Care about who wins people, even if you only care about the national team, pressure to win in the Shield makes better Test players.

      • October 21st 2017 @ 2:49pm
        BurgyGreen said | October 21st 2017 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

        The first few rounds are always tough for anyone who plays NSW as the Blues tend to have the Test attack plus the two best batsmen in the country in their side. WA will likely be very strong all season though, whereas NSW come back towards the pack when the internationals are gone.

        As a Tasmania supporter, there’s little hope of getting more than a couple of wins out of the season. I’m just hoping to see guys like Ben McDermott get a good opportunity with the hope of building a side for the future. Sadly Bailey and Bird, by far our two best players, are closer to the end than the start of their careers.

      • Roar Rookie

        October 21st 2017 @ 2:52pm
        Matthew Pearce said | October 21st 2017 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

        Something tells me that’s not going to happen, if we actually manage to bowl sides out cheaply we usually collapse ourselves. Where’ve all our good bowlers gone?

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:13pm
          matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

          Our side looks as weak as I ever remember and I can remember back a fair way. I agree, where has our fast bowling production line gone? We also really miss Chris Lynn. Looking forward at least to break out seasons for at least a couple out of Marcus Laub… , Heazlett and Pierson.

          • Roar Guru

            October 23rd 2017 @ 7:19pm
            Rellum said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

            Our batting is decent. I would imagine we get Uzzi and Renshaw for 8 games this season. Add in Burns and you have three players capable of playing at the next level. Heazlett who needs to have a good year, even though he will miss some games at the start with his shoulder injury. Those 4 need to score big to make up for our poor bowling. Doggert looks good to me, Swepson is obviously a key bowler for us and if we do actually see Stanlake then we are a chance.

            Our top side to me is


            If Lynn was fit I would be playing with 6 bats personally. That side I don’t think we will see all year. This is the squad for the first game (although you will struggle to find it on the Bulls website)

            Usman Khawaja (c), Joe Burns, Brendan Doggett, Luke Feldman, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, James Peirson, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Sam Truloff, Jack Wildermuth.

            I imagine either of Feldman, Steketee or Doggett will carry the drinks.

            • Roar Rookie

              October 23rd 2017 @ 7:50pm
              Matthew Pearce said | October 23rd 2017 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

              My vote’s on Steketee, or as our local news begins their sports segment every second day: “Warwick’s Mark Steketee…”. Gotta support the local lad!

              Although more seriously, Doggett looked a good prospect in the JLT. We seem to have lots of blokes who are good enough for state level, but just can’t quite go up that next level, particularly with the bowling. Hopefully that changes with some of these young fellas.

              Good stocks with the batting, with some of the names being thrown around for “potential young guns” I’m surprised Labuschagne never seems to be in the mix.

      • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:14pm
        matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

        I think SA might have a good year. Their best players probably won;t be required for the Ashes and it’s a solid team.

    • October 21st 2017 @ 4:45pm
      bearfax said | October 21st 2017 @ 4:45pm | ! Report

      Looking forward to some of the young gun batsmen to show their wares. If Maxwell falters it will be up to Cartwright, Lehmann, Patterson and Head to plunder the runs and show they are ready. Then there’s the two openers with promise Dean and Bancroft. Look forward to seeing if Heazlett has learned from his struggles in his second year. Labuschagne is on the improve. And when are we going to see some spark from Bosisto and Doran, two junior stars who have struggled in the big time.. So much talent but the first four have the inside running. They just need a few triple figures and the green and gold is theirs I suspect.

      • October 21st 2017 @ 5:24pm
        Don Freo said | October 21st 2017 @ 5:24pm | ! Report

        Last weekend, Bosisto scored 100 and took 5 wickets in a Grade one dayer.

        He’s a bit down the pecking order at WA at the moment.

        • October 23rd 2017 @ 3:15pm
          matth said | October 23rd 2017 @ 3:15pm | ! Report

          WA has a lot of depth right now, for sure. Turner is another who is continually improving.