Alex Pyecroft has had a great start to his Sheffield Shield career. Yet, this wasn’t his finest moment.
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The Australia squad for the tour to UAE was announced and it is nice to see the selectors rewarding good performances with a national call up.
The selectors have picked five uncapped players for the tour to UAE which includes Travis Head, Michael Neser and Aaron Finch. Young Brendan Doggett and Marnus Labuschagne also receive their maiden Test call up.
The biggest surprise though was the omission of Glenn Maxwell. Maxwell had a great Shield season last year and is one of the experienced members of the Australian Test team.
Maxwell has played a lot in the subcontinent and his presence in the middle order would have provided the Australian team with the right balance. The selection of Brendan Doggett is a surprise as well as his first class record is not exceptional.
He has played only nine games and has an average of 30 with the ball.
Peter Siddle makes a comeback in to the Test side after two years. His experience with the new ball will be crucial for Australia in the absence of Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
The batting line up though looks little short on experience and a lot will depend on how Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh perform in this series.
Travis Head who had a great A tour to India will be another crucial member of the Test middle order. Matt Renshaw gets another opportunity at the top of the order after losing his spot to Cameroon Bancroft last year.
Aaron Finch’s selection is a curious one as well. Finch has been part of Australia’s limited overs format for years. He gets his maiden Test call up and it will be interesting to see how he goes about things.
Aaron Finch is probably the kind of opener Australia needs to break open the game in UAE. The pitches there does not have much swing and the new ball will come on to the bat well.
This might be the opportunity for Australia to get some quick runs before the spinners come on. Jon Holland gets a deserved recall as well as he had a wonderful A tour to India and will probably be the first choice deputy to Nathan Lyon in UAE.
It is completely not clear if Mitchell Marsh is picked as an all-rounder or a specialist batsman. Marsh did not bowl in the unofficial Test against India A, so not sure if he would bowl in UAE.
The third pacer spot is something which is a cause of concern in this squad. Chris Tremain who has a brilliant FC record has been overlooked again and Brendan Doggett has been preferred ahead of him.
It is a strange selection. Tremain was the highest wicket taken in the 2017-18 Shield season in Australia. Michael Neser who was the second in the list of wicket takers last season will probably take up the third seamer mantle.
Overall the team selection has few hits and misses. The Australian team in the absence of Steven Smith and David Warner have a huge task on their hands.
The Pakistan team haven’t been defeated by anyone other than Sri Lanka in UAE for a while and this will be a huge challenge for the largely inexperienced batting side.
Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja and Matt Renshaw will be expected to guide the batting line up against the Pakistan spin bowlers.
The series will kick of next month and it will be interesting to see how these young players go in one of the toughest challenges for the visiting teams.