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The big questions for Australia after England's ODI whitewash

29th June, 2018
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Justin Langer doesn't exactly have the cream of the crop at his disposal right now. (AAP Image/Luis Ascui)
Roar Guru
29th June, 2018
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1062 Reads

Could it have gone worse than six-nil?

Well, yes, actually. No-one died. No-one got sent home for cheating or failing a drug test. No-one was revealed to have signed for a rival cricketing tour. We did win two tour games. Things have been worse.

It was still pretty bad but, let’s look at how the squad did.

1. Travis Head
Mixed success. Several 50s but never really went on with the job. He threatened to have a big breakthrough but never quite got there, a common story with Head. Still, it was encouraging – he and Finch look as though they could make a decent combination up the top of the order.

Big question: Why is he never bowled any more?

2. Aaron Finch
His was a good tour at the top of the order. He was tried down the order, an experiment which received some criticism, but I didn’t mind it – it was worth a shot even if it did fail. His consistent good form is a rare positive for Australian one-day cricket.

Big question: is he going to be captain? By all rights he should be. An established player, very experienced in captaincy – he should’ve been captain in England. I get the feeling Langer will want to push for Mitch Marsh, though. Langer simply has more invested in Marsh’s success than Finch’s and will have greater control over the team through Marsh. I could be totally wrong about this. But we’ll see.

Aaron Finch plays a square drive

(AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

3. D’Arcy Short
A bolter for the tour and a pet of Justin Langer, but I can see the selectors’ point. His domestic one-day record isn’t bad. He averages only 31 but has a strike rate of 100 and offers a bowling and good fielder option, something Usman Khawaja, for example, does not. He didn’t have a great tour but I wouldn’t mind seeing him tried down the order for a few more games before he’s discarded.

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Big question: is he capable of scoring runs on anything other than bouncy Australian wickets?

4. Shaun Marsh
A success story. The senior Marsh has long had a decent one-day record domestically – he averages 43 at a strike rate of 80 – and a pretty good one internationally. The ascension of Langer saw him get another chance in the not-particularly-good-fielder-but-stylish-batsman slot that Khawaja wants. Khawaja averages 45 in domestic one-dayers at a strike rate of 86 but only averages 31 in ODIs, and he has played 18.

Big question: should Australia play him and Khawaja at the same time?

5. Marcus Stoinis
The sexy success story in recent years, but despite starting with a century against Sussex, he was found out a little on this tour and his ODI average is drifting back to his List A figure of 33. He should be put back down the order, where Australia badly needs his explosive strength. His bowling is erratic but useful.

Big question: can he get his groove back?

Marcus Stoinis of Australia celebrates on reaching his maiden century

(AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

6. Glenn Maxwell
At one stage it looked as though he wasn’t even going to be in the first ODI, and he responded with a 60-plus score. He didn’t catch fire in the other two games and missed the last two for injury. Langer doesn’t seem to be a fan, but Ponting, who is in the set-up and has a soft spot for erratic geniuses, is. An Australian team shorn of star power needs Maxwell, let’s hope it can work out.

Big question: can Maxwell thrive under Langer?

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7. Tim Paine
Urgh. Most of us thought Paine would struggle – his domestic one-day strike rate is 71 after 132 games – but not this badly. I thought he might at least get, say, a fighting 50 in a losing cause or something, but it was a personal disaster.

He was lucky to go on the tour – or so he thought; his reputation would’ve been better had he missed it. I can’t see him playing ODI cricket for Australia again. They’ll go for Alex Carey, and if Carey doesn’t work out, I think they’ll look elsewhere.

Big question: how long will Paine last as Australian captain in Test cricket? If he loses to India at home I get the feeling he won’t make it to the Ashes – too many people above him will be looking to protect their own jobs.

8. Alex Carey
Carey is an exciting player although, as some have pointed out, his domestic one-day record with the bat actually isn’t awesome – he has an average of 29 and a strike rate of 77 – and is much less impressive than his T20 stats. He got to play some games as a specialist bat, which were a waste of time with Usman Khawaja in the actual country. He deserves a decent run before being turfed, though.

Big question(s): how will his batting go in ODIs and who is our back-up option if Carey doesn’t cut it? Could it be Jimmy Pierson, with a domestic average of 24 with a strike rate of 84? Seb Gotch (30/74)? Peter Nevill (22/74)? Sam Harper (23/93)? Sam Whiteman (20/67)? Josh Inglis (31/110, albeit with only 11 games)? Do they bring back Matthew Wade (25/82)? I think they’ve got to commit to Carey.

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9. Ashton Agar
Another favourite of Langer’s, Agar has entered his fifth year of being promising. It’s hard to get excited about his batting or bowling, but to be fair both were pretty good. He offers some starch down the order and while watching him bowl you can’t help wonder if we’d be better off with a leg spinner (Fawad Ahmed? Mitchell Swepson?) he was better than most of the pace bowlers. His one-day domestic strike rate is 92 but he does only average 22.

Big question: is he good enough to bat at number seven internationally? Is he good enough to be a front-line bowler?

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10. Kane Richardson
Did he play? That’s right, he did.

Big question: do we persist or try someone new?

11. Jhye Richardson
More Langer favourites. Did he play? That’s right, he did. He did better than Kane, and he’s younger.

Big question: do we persist or try someone new?

12. Bill Stanlake
“He’s tall! He’s fast! He’s tall! He’s fast!” Does he actually get wickets? “He’s tall! He’s fast!” Look, I’ll give Stanlake the benefit of the doubt – he was the best of a dodgy batch – but can we hear a little less from journos about how he “hits the pitch at 145”? It’s not the only thing you need in a bowler.

Big question: when does the spate of injuries start?

Billy Stanlake of Australia celebrates

(AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

13. Michael Neser
I’ve got a soft spot for Neser, but he was picked for a one-day tour on Shield form more than domestic one-day form, with a batting average of 24, a strike rate of 85, a bowling average of 36.7 and an economy rate of 5.3. I don’t think he’s ever going to turn into the James Faulkner that the selectors want him to be, though. By the way, what did happen to James Faulkner?

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Big question: do we persist or try someone new?

14. Nathan Lyon
One of our best-ever bowlers looks as though he might get a decent crack at one-day cricket, and I’m glad. Agar’s superior batting might give him the edge, but with our bowling struggles we need Lyon’s skill too. Why can’t we play two spinners? Because of Australian prejudice, that’s why. But at the moment an attack including Agar and Lyon is our best option.

Big question: can Australia get over their prejudice against spinners who aren’t Shane Warne?

15. Andrew Tye
A T20 success story, very unproven at one-day cricket. Another Langer pet project.

Big question: do we persist or try someone new?

Nathan Lyon of Australia prepares to bowl

(AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

16. Justin Langer
This was very much a Justin Langer team, packed full of West Australians, but he fronted the end of the tour armed and ready with excuses. “We’re missing six top players” – we used to lose with them in the team too. “We’re a young team” – they could’ve picked players like George Bailey, Cameron White or Khawaja.

“England are settled” – Australia didn’t have to chop and change. “The domestic one-day competition has been stuffed around” – this is a completely accurate observation.

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What to do about moving forward? To be fair to the selectors, it’s not easy – but this disaster has in part been due to some weird selection policies (Sam Heazlett?). At least the top three seems settled. That just leaves the middle order, lower middle order, keeper and bowling attack.

Every cricket fan will throw in their ten cents, but here is mine. This is the team I’d be going for

  1. Aaron Finch (captain)
  2. Travis Head (vice-captain)
  3. Shaun Marsh
  4. Glenn Maxwell
  5. D’Arcy Short or Nic Maddinson (worth a punt)
  6. Marcus Stoinis
  7. Ashton Agar
  8. Alex Carey (take the pressure off him a little batting down the order, encourage him to go for it)
  9. Some bowler (I honestly don’t know with the bowlers – Joe Mennie?)
  10. Billy Stanlake
  11. Nathan Lyon

I’d also bring George Bailey into the squad to help with maturity, He’s still scoring runs, he’s only a year older than Marsh and the World Cup is only next year and teams tend to win when Bailey’s in them. Think about Khawaja and Joe Mennie.

And most of all, play a lot more one-day cricket against spinners.