Khawaja vs Maxwell on Australia ‘A’ tour

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

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

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    Glenn Maxwell of Australia bats. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

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    The upcoming Australia ‘A’ tour of India is set to shape Australia’s batting line-up for their next Test series against Pakistan in the UAE.

    With Australia having a huge six-month gap between the Tests in South Africa and this tour against Pakistan, it seems likely most of their incumbent Test batsmen will feature in the ‘A’ tour of India in just over two months’ time.

    It shapes as particularly crucial for the Test hopes of Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell, who were all affected by the ‘horses-for-courses’ batting selection strategy Australia used on their two tours of Asia last year.

    That strategy, which involved Australia favouring batsmen who were better against spin, saw Khawaja dumped for the series in India, and then recalled in Bangladesh only to be axed after failing in the first Test.

    Australia instigated this selection tactic as a response to their humiliating 3-0 loss in Sri Lanka, during which the likes of Khawaja and opener Joe Burns struggled against spin. Khawaja was dropped for the third Test of that series and Marsh came into the team and creamed 130.

    Marsh, at that stage, was developing a reputation as an Asian specialist, having made 393 runs at 79 including two centuries in his three Tests on the turning pitches of Sri Lanka. But then he floundered in last year’s Tests in India, averaging 19 across four matches, and was omitted from the squad for the subsequent tour of Bangladesh.

    So, despite now being Australia’s two most experienced Test batsmen, Marsh and Khawaja both are vulnerable due to their torrid recent records in Asia. Both batsmen may well have to earn their spot for the Tests against Pakistan via the Australia ‘A’ tour, which is expected to involve two first-class matches.

    Australian batsman Usman Khawaja.

    Australian batsman Usman Khawaja. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    The same goes for two of Australia’s other Test incumbents, middle-order batsman Peter Handscomb and opener Joe Burns. Handscomb showed encouraging signs in India and Bangladesh, playing spin with authority.

    He made 344 runs at 34 across those two series, a solid return for an inexperienced batsman in Asia, a place where so many other Australian batsmen have flopped.

    It was pace which was his undoing in the Ashes, with the English quicks exposing his tendency to stay deep in the crease against fast bowling. Handscomb is, alongside Matt Renshaw, the best player of spin currently in the Australian team.

    But he too will need runs against India ‘A’, who have a history of fielding strong bowling line-ups in their series against Australia. Burns, meanwhile, has a huge amount to prove against India ‘A’, being still tainted by the debacle in Sri Lanka two years ago.

    The Queenslander made 34 runs at eight in that series and looked clueless against the Sri Lankan tweakers. Burns was too slow to read their length and, as a result, was frequently caught on the crease, neither back nor forward. Of course, he wasn’t alone – this was a major issue for most of the Australian batsmen in that series.

    Joe Burns Australia cricket

    Joe Burns (AFP PHOTO / Saeed KHAN)

    Outside of the incumbent Test top six of Renshaw, Burns, Khawaja, Handscomb, Shaun Marsh and Mitch Marsh, the man who looks most likely to press for a starting spot against Pakistan is Maxwell.

    The Victorian all-rounder deserves to play in the UAE after being impressive in Asia last year, averaging 37 across four Tests and scoring a rare ton by an Australian in India.

    Maxwell has two possible avenues into the Test XI to play Pakistan. The first would be as a replacement for injured all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who is recovering from ankle surgery and may not be fit for that series.

    The second would be stealing the spot of one of Shaun Marsh, Khawaja, Handscomb or even Burns. Those four batsmen will be in a fascinating shootout with Maxwell, and each other, during what shapes as the most significant Australia ‘A’ tour in memory.

    Australia “A” predicted squad for the first-class tour of India
    Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Swepson, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Chris Tremain.

    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 (55)

    • May 25th 2018 @ 8:19am
      jameswm said | May 25th 2018 @ 8:19am | ! Report

      Are you saying the batting lineup for the A tour will be

      Wouldn’t that be our test top 6 with Mitch Marsh out?

      Surely we take someone like Doran, or Weatherald, Turner or Head?

      Lehmann and Cartwright finished the season with a horrid run of scores.

      Bowling wise, I’d like to see them take Agar, a leggie, and Tremain as one of the quicks. Behrendorff and Stanlake potentially if fit, and Sayers too.

      • Roar Guru

        May 25th 2018 @ 9:39am
        JamesH said | May 25th 2018 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        It would be, but of that team only S Marsh and Khawaja were in the side before the final SA test. It’s a bit of an unusual situation where most of the ‘incumbents’ are actually very recent additions.

        Given the recent records of Marsh and Khawaja in Asia it wouldn’t make sense to omit them for the A matches. I think we should just treat these as early warm-ups for the UAE.

      • May 25th 2018 @ 10:15am
        BurgyGreen said | May 25th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

        Given our rather unusual circumstances, having lost our only world-class player of spin and the guy who made a hundred last time we were in the UAE, I think playing most if not all of our Test bats in this A series is the right way to go.

      • May 25th 2018 @ 10:52am
        bearfax said | May 25th 2018 @ 10:52am | ! Report

        We have an opportunity with the loss of Smith, Warner and Bancroft for a time, to give some young batting aspirants a chance to experience international red ball games with a view to the future. I wouldnt be considering Khawaja and Marsh because they are assured of spots in the test side. Hanscombe had his chance but blew it for now. I would go for

        and either Cartwright or Lehmann

        Bit of experence with older heads Burns and Maxwell, Renshaw because he is now the best opener available, supporting young up and comers with tests in their likely future in a year or two like Head, Doran, Cartwright and Lehmann. Would also have liked to give Heazlett as chance but he’s only just back from injury and has been passed by others in the interim. Take the chance with the young players. Gives them early experience that will assist them when they eventually get their chance on the test stage.

        • May 25th 2018 @ 11:12am
          BurgyGreen said | May 25th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

          Cartwright and Lehmann have horrible recent form and I think it’s much too soon for Doran. Of youngish players, I’d be looking at Patterson and Head. Patterson is a very consistent player with an excellent temperament and technique but has flown under the radar because he struggles to convert his 50s into tons. However, he has been consistently solid for a while and has a first class average of 41. Head I think is probably still too loose for Test cricket but he has some runs on the board as well as international experience.

          My pecking order of batsmen outside the first XI is as follows:

          1. Maxwell
          2. Ferguson
          3. Patterson
          4. Head

          • May 25th 2018 @ 12:55pm
            bearfax said | May 25th 2018 @ 12:55pm | ! Report

            My mistake there Burgy. I forgot Patterson, who I think is a must. Yes it is too early for Doran at test level, but this is Aus A meant for potential future test players. Doran looks the goods in that respect. I agree that Lehmann had a lean season but Cartwright did finish off the season with a tidy 83 and 111 in the last Shield match WA played. However I will concede that I was looking for a 6th batsmen and had forgotten Patterson. My revised team is therefore


        • Roar Guru

          May 25th 2018 @ 12:18pm
          The Bush said | May 25th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

          Can’t agree, Khawaja and Marsh have to play. Otherwise how much FC cricket are they going to be playing between now and the Pakistan series? If they don’t pick Khawaja for this tour, they may as well not pick him for the Pakistan tour at all, because we don’t go back to Asia for test cricket for a few years, by which time we’ll have probably moved on from Khawaja anyway.

          • May 25th 2018 @ 1:02pm
            bearfax said | May 25th 2018 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

            I accept your point The Bush. I just think these types of matches should be for the up and comers. Marsh is getting experience in English county at present. Khawaja will miss the hands on experience I guess. If they are prepared to take a seventh batsman, I guess taking Khawaja to get ‘spin’ experience is worthy.

            • Roar Guru

              May 25th 2018 @ 1:29pm
              The Bush said | May 25th 2018 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

              The fact that we don’t play warm up matches anymore means a tour like this is the next best thing, so may as well play the best possible line up.

          • Roar Guru

            May 26th 2018 @ 12:26am
            Ryan H said | May 26th 2018 @ 12:26am | ! Report

            Yeah surely for experience they do? We have to remember what a delicate, unprecedented time we are in

          • May 26th 2018 @ 11:04am
            Stephen said | May 26th 2018 @ 11:04am | ! Report

            Khawaja and marsh must play, interesting ronan has titled this article maxwell vs khawaja and not maxwell vs shaun marsh, because shaun marsh did worse in the recent series then khawaja against South africa as khawaja got 2 half centuries, marsh got zero

        • Columnist

          May 25th 2018 @ 3:00pm
          Ronan O'Connell said | May 25th 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

          I disagree strongly – Khawaja and SMarsh badly need match practice on turning decks against good spinners if they aee to turn around their fortunes in the Tests in the UAE.

          This is not your normal “A” tour which is about developing young players – this tour is all about trying to ensure Australia can be competitive in the Tests against Pak.

          • May 26th 2018 @ 11:00am
            Stephen said | May 26th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

            I agree with bearfax, with smith and warner gone its absurd to take khawaja and marsh out, they are out 2 best batsman now and this witchhunt on them for asian conditions needs to stop. Ronan you won’t get enough until you have taken khawaja out. We need khawaja and marsh in the top 3 to have any chance to win against pakistan. Khawaja is now our best batsman until smith and warner return

        • May 26th 2018 @ 9:11am
          Larry1950 said | May 26th 2018 @ 9:11am | ! Report

          I just can’t fathom this fascination with Cartwright who has shown absolutely nothing in most of his matches at every level over the past two years. He has, as quoted, had two scores of note in shield cricket but as the old saying goes” give a monkey a typewriter & he’s bound to spell a word”.
          Surely a guy like Head who seems to be able to play spin with some assurance is entitled to a decent crack ahead of proven failures being resurrected. Lehman has done very little all season so I’d be considering the younger guys who showed consistent red ball form in the shield rather than hyped big bash rubbish where they play like there’s no consequences. Weatherald, Doran, Carey as a batsman & a few of those young Queenslanders are all worth consideration ahead of the usual NSW promoted suspects.

          • May 26th 2018 @ 9:51am
            I no said | May 26th 2018 @ 9:51am | ! Report

            When has head been successful against spin Aaron finch is top 3 with Smith and Maxwell for playing spin and has averaged over 48 for 4 years in England and Australia and has dominated ODI cricket for past 12 months he surly deserves a crack.

            • May 26th 2018 @ 11:01am
              Stephen said | May 26th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

              Finch and maxwell just had really bad IPL tours, maxwell has IPL success behind him but finch has now failed in 7 IPL seasons but somehow he is captaining our T20 side

              • May 26th 2018 @ 11:24am
                Ross said | May 26th 2018 @ 11:24am | ! Report

                So let me get this right, we lose our 2 most experienced batsman and what do we do we take out our next most experienced batsman in marsh and Khawaja. This is the time we need Khawaja and marsh most which is why this article is disappointing

          • May 26th 2018 @ 11:35am
            bearfax said | May 26th 2018 @ 11:35am | ! Report

            Actually Kurt Patterson has better averages and consistency than any of those batsmen you’ve mentioned at 41.1. After Khawaja, Marsh and Renshaw, he should be the next batsman selected, even ahead of Burns and Maxwell.

            • May 26th 2018 @ 2:50pm
              Flemo said | May 26th 2018 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

              Bearfax I agree that Khawaja marsh and renshaw should be locks in particular Khawaja, but shouldn’t Daniel Hughes be in consideration too along with burns Pattinson and others

              • May 26th 2018 @ 3:43pm
                bearfax said | May 26th 2018 @ 3:43pm | ! Report

                I always in the end look back at batsmen’s averages. Though not a perfect indicator, it is far more reliable than other methods of assessment. So what are the averages for those being considered

                Firstly I would get the wicket keeper out of the way. Though Wade at first class level has far better batting average than Paine at 38.16 to 30.15, Paine has produced the goods in recent tough tests and is averaging 40.82 at test level. He therefore should get the nod, given most consider him the better wicket keeper.

                In batting though, it is far less obvious as to who should get the nod. But looking at their first class averages, and of batsmen with multiple seasons under their belt the following averages reveal interesting information

                Khawaja 43.11
                Patterson 41.11
                Maxwell 41.07
                Shaun Marsh 40.61
                Renshaw 40.38

                These are the only batsmen with 40+ averages which I usually feel sre test level batsmen

                What follows are

                Hanscomb 39.49
                Lehmann 38.58
                Dan Hughes 38.33
                Cartwright 38.08
                Burns 36.76
                Head 36.14

                I only suggested Doran because in one season his average rose from the low 20s to 31.27 and the fact he averaged about 45 this last shield season.

                Many would say that Head is dsadvantaged because he started very young in first class cricket but then so did Patterson and Renshaw. Dan Hughes is a big question mark because he’s 29 and has only played 27 matches. Maybe a late blossomer, but I’d like to see him over another season. Obviously Renshaw must open, but Khawaja has shown often he handles opening well. So based on those figures who would you pick as the next 4, when considering Patterson has the best averages and best consistency of those left in the list. Marsh and Mawell for sure. Handsomb?

              • May 26th 2018 @ 8:45pm
                Flemo said | May 26th 2018 @ 8:45pm | ! Report

                Fantastic analysis Bearfax

              • Columnist

                May 26th 2018 @ 9:48pm
                Ronan O'Connell said | May 26th 2018 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

                Comparing Test averages of some batsmen vs FC averages of other batsmen makes zero sense Bearfax.

              • May 27th 2018 @ 10:05am
                Flemo said | May 27th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

                One thing that does stand out is that Khawaja has the best test average in the team now and even Ronan with his dislike for Khawaja can’t ignore that

              • May 27th 2018 @ 10:28am
                bearfax said | May 27th 2018 @ 10:28am | ! Report

                Ronan, you obviously dont read everything that’s posted on your site here. Check at the end of the list of comments for my response to just that transgression, and my falling on the sword response. Done worry Ronan. I have been sufficiently chastised. Burns makes the cut of course.

    • May 25th 2018 @ 8:46am
      Paul said | May 25th 2018 @ 8:46am | ! Report

      Maxwell as a possible replacement for Burns is a stretch.

      You comment about the length of time between Test series makes the decision to cancel the Bangladesh tour even more wrong. I bet Langer would have welcomed the chance to look at a few guys, but CA knows best.

      • Roar Guru

        May 25th 2018 @ 9:44am
        JamesH said | May 25th 2018 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        It’s pretty dumb, considering that one of their key strategies in their 5-year plan is “we will promote cricket to inspire love for the game”. I think they forgot to add “unless there is no short-term financial payoff”.

        • Roar Rookie

          May 25th 2018 @ 11:18am
          Tom VDS said | May 25th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          Absolutely, should have been reworded to “we will promote cricket to inspire love for the game, within Australia.” Australia’s history of completely ignoring and blowing off smaller nations is something that is very shameful..
          The Australian Cricket Board was very reluctant for a long time to play India when they were a developing cricket nation, but now that they have the big bucks, CA bow to their BCCI overlords!

      • Columnist

        May 25th 2018 @ 3:03pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | May 25th 2018 @ 3:03pm | ! Report

        It’s not a stretch at all Paul. Burns if he struggles against spin again in India could easily be dropped for the UAE Tests, with Maxwell coming into the XI and Shaun Marsh moving up to open.

        • May 25th 2018 @ 3:59pm
          Paul said | May 25th 2018 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

          hadn’t thought of that. Assuming of course Marsh doesn’t struggle as well.

          • May 26th 2018 @ 11:03am
            Stephen said | May 26th 2018 @ 11:03am | ! Report

            There are one of 3 common elements in Ronan’s article, one he praises finch, two he puts khawaja down or three he talks up one of the Western Australian boys

            • May 26th 2018 @ 2:38pm
              Flemo said | May 26th 2018 @ 2:38pm | ! Report

              To me Khawaja Shaun, renshaw, Mitch and Paine are locked for the 5 out of 7 spots. Khawaja is our best test batsman now after we unfairly lost Smith and warner for such a absurdly knee jerk reaction. Khawaja also got a half century in both his last test matches in South Africa on what were essentially sub continent pitches. Shaun is also now a senior batsman and despite a horendeous South African tour he should stay. Paine is our skipper and renshaw has been a rock in county. That leaves burns,maxwell and Hughes fighting for for the other 2 spots and the fight off is for them. To label this article maxwell vs Khawaja is once again biasness by Ronan against Khawaja and it’s ridicuculous given we just lost smith and warner

    • May 25th 2018 @ 10:19am
      BurgyGreen said | May 25th 2018 @ 10:19am | ! Report

      If Stoinis continues to do well for the ODI side I’d consider him the frontrunner to replace Mitch Marsh despite his awful medium-term Shield record.

      Maxwell is a possibility to play ahead of Khawaja but Usman’s Test experience is something they now have to consider in such a green side.

      • Columnist

        May 25th 2018 @ 3:44pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | May 25th 2018 @ 3:44pm | ! Report

        Mitch Marsh has no strong competition right now with Stoinis having flopped in the Shield the past few years and Henriques looking way out of his depth whenever he plays international cricket.

        Wildermuth is emerging and could leap into the side if he has a hot start to the Shield season with the bat.

        • May 25th 2018 @ 4:06pm
          BurgyGreen said | May 25th 2018 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

          Isn’t Mitch Marsh going to be out of the UAE tour with injury? I certainly don’t think he’d be dropped for Stoinis.

          • Columnist

            May 25th 2018 @ 6:01pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | May 25th 2018 @ 6:01pm | ! Report

            No Burgy the latest I’ve read about Mitch Marsh is that he’s targeting the UAE Tests for his comeback.

            That would be good for Australia as I think Mitch Marsh actually has generous potential in his batting against spin. He’s also a tidy reverse swing bowler and that will be important in the UAE.

            • May 26th 2018 @ 8:40am
              BurgyGreen said | May 26th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

              Ah ok. Disappointing that he missed out on the county season, with his batting on the rise it would’ve been excellent for him to get some experience in those conditions prior to the next Ashes.

            • May 26th 2018 @ 11:02am
              Stephen said | May 26th 2018 @ 11:02am | ! Report

              Finch and maxwell just had really bad IPL tours, maxwell has IPL success behind him but finch has now failed in 7 IPL seasons but somehow he is captaining our T20 sid

        • May 25th 2018 @ 4:07pm
          DaveJ said | May 25th 2018 @ 4:07pm | ! Report

          Who says you have to have an all rounder? Complete myth.

          • May 26th 2018 @ 8:22am
            Roger said | May 26th 2018 @ 8:22am | ! Report

            The selectors for a start.

            • May 26th 2018 @ 2:40pm
              Flemo said | May 26th 2018 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

              Mitch marsh deserves to keep his spot, Mitch and Khawaja were the only batsman who got more then one half century in spinning conditions in South Africa

    • Roar Rookie

      May 25th 2018 @ 11:12am
      Tom VDS said | May 25th 2018 @ 11:12am | ! Report

      First time an Australian A tour has gathered a bit of attention for a long period of time. Absolutely agree with playing the incumbents of the test line-up to get much needed match practice on the sub-continent. Australia has seemingly put a greater emphasis on preparation leading into series on the subcontinent, last year practicing on dust bowls in Brisbane then flying to the UAE as well for a training camp before heading to India. What a surprise, they played better because they prepared better!

      I think the horses-for-courses approach will be relaxed for the short-term with stability the key at the moment. So despite their previous struggles I think Burns and Khawaja both play against Pakistan, while Handscomb can remind everyone of his talent and what got him into the test team in the first place.
      Hope Maxwell takes his chance, because he has that something that can win you matches in a moment…

      • May 25th 2018 @ 12:31pm
        George said | May 25th 2018 @ 12:31pm | ! Report

        The last one to SA got plenty of attention too. But $utho couldn’t be bothered sorting out the pay dispute.

        • May 26th 2018 @ 2:42pm
          Flemo said | May 26th 2018 @ 2:42pm | ! Report

          The pay dispute can’t be compared with losing your best 2 batsman for a year. And given we have unfairly lost them for so long we have to hold on to our next best batsman which includes Khawaja, Shaun and Mitch marsh

    • Roar Guru

      May 25th 2018 @ 12:19pm
      The Bush said | May 25th 2018 @ 12:19pm | ! Report


      Just to be clear, this Pakistan tour is this year and not next year? The schedule says it is happening in March 2019, but that’s wrong?

      • May 25th 2018 @ 12:59pm
        Pope Paul VII said | May 25th 2018 @ 12:59pm | ! Report

        I thought it was next year too Bushy.

        • May 25th 2018 @ 1:32pm
          Jarijari said | May 25th 2018 @ 1:32pm | ! Report

          Two Tests against Pakistan in the UAE have been agreed to for Sept-Oct, no confirmed dates as yet. The ICC’s future tours program still indicates a five match one-day series and a T20 for that slot, with three Tests allocated for March 2019. That will be corrected when they have an itinerary.

          • Columnist

            May 25th 2018 @ 3:47pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | May 25th 2018 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

            Jarijari is correct, this series was originally planned for March next year but has been shifted to Sep/Oct this year with exact dates yet to be set.

    • May 25th 2018 @ 4:06pm
      DaveJ said | May 25th 2018 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

      Would be good practice for them, though hardly an A tour if 4 or 5 out of 6 are Test incumbents! And I don’t understand how Stoinis could be a selection. FC average of 32 with the bat and 46 with the ball. Why this fixation with allrounders who aren’t Test quality with bat or ball. Nobody in the top 6 batting for Australia should be considered if they don’t average 40 or close to it in FC. Or has had a brilliant past season. Maybe Stoinis did that, don’t recall.

      • May 26th 2018 @ 2:46pm
        Flemo said | May 26th 2018 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

        I agree DaveJ, we can’t bring in all rounded for good batsman. Mitch is the only one who can stay. Khawaja is our best test batsman now and I expect him to step up even more as he had a good South Africa series with 2 half centuries in spin conditions. Shaun had a bad South Africa series but he did well in the ashes. Renshaw has been on fire in county and deserves to come in. Aside from those 3 all other are fighting for their spots in the top 6

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