Recent Test discards Matt Renshaw, Glenn Maxwell and Peter Handscomb are set for stunning turnarounds in fortune by becoming cornerstones of a revamped batting order when Australia plays Pakistan in October.
Australia’s new coach Justin Langer and the selectors are facing a monumental task to rebuild the Australian Test batting line-up after losing Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft to bans and getting hammered by South Africa 3-1 in the recent Test series.
Australia’s next Test assignment will be in October against Pakistan, the location of which is yet to be determined by will most likely be in spin-friendly United Arab Emirates. Australia have an abysmal away record in recent times, having not won a series overseas for over two years.
The Australian selectors are using the Australia A tour of India, beginning in July, which includes two four-day first-class games against India A, to prepare for the series against Pakistan.
Here is what Australia’s revamped Test batting line-up will likely look like against Pakistan:
1. Matt Renshaw
After being dumped before the Ashes Renshaw will be one of the first players pencilled in by the selectors after being the top run scorer in the Sheffield Shield with 804 runs and showing promise in his initial foray into Test cricket. It is a remarkable turnaround for the young Queenslander, who has just peeled off three centuries for Somerset in a county cricket stint.
2. Usman Khawaja
Opening up against the new ball might be Khawaja’s best chance at holding his place in the team after struggling to score runs against quality spin bowling in the past. Khawaja has been selected in the Australia A squad to India to try and find his form against the spinning ball. The Australian team needs to lean on his 33 Tests of experience after losing Smith and Warner. If he struggles, fellow Queenslander Joe Burns is the best candidate to replace him after playing in the final Test against South Africa.
3. Shaun Marsh
If anyone can get the best out of Marsh, it will be his old Western Australian coach Justin Langer. Langer is credited with helping turn Marsh’s life and career around after he was axed from a Perth Scorchers Champions League T20 game in 2012 for over-celebrating younger brother Mitch’s 21st birthday while on tour.
4. Peter Handscomb
He was incredibly axed during the Ashes with a Test average of almost 50 but he returned to the team for the last Test against South Africa. Handscomb showed impressive courage and skill in difficult spinning conditions last year in India and Bangladesh and deserves another shot in the middle order against Pakistan.
5. Glenn Maxwell
Maxwell has been omitted from the Australia A tour to India so he can recharge his batteries after a hectic year, but he is still a near certainty to be recalled to the middle order for the Pakistan Test series. Maxwell has answered the selectors call for more consistency. In the last year he has scored his maiden Test century, averaged over 50 in the Sheffield Shield and earnt a T20 player of the series award for Australia. This year shapes as Maxwell’s big opportunity to nail down a spot in the Australian Test team. Is it make or break for Maxi?
6. Mitch Marsh (vice-captain)
The younger Marsh is in a similar position to his older brother Shaun. Justin Langer has known Mitch his whole life and made him West Australian skipper last season. Marsh could also be Paine’s deputy after being appointed captain of the Australia A four-day team and being tipped by many to be the next captain of Australia.
The series against Pakistan will be a sizeable challenge for the revamped batting order in testing conditions and is followed by a home series against Test-ranked number one team India.