Usman Khawaja could be in doubt to play the first Ashes Test after being left out of the 24-man group for the Australia vs Australia A match starting Tuesday, the final game before the Ashes.
Given the number of all-rounders that the Australian ODI team has batting in the top seven, it’s worthwhile having a No.8 who is a viable batsman.
Australia’s best option for this role is James Faulkner. Faulkner had an excellent Twenty20 Blast in England during the off-season, taking 20 wickets at 17.6, going at less than eight an over. He has also had some good form in the Big Bash League.
Faulkner is also an experienced death bowler and is a good option for Australia at the end of an innings.
Picking Faulkner would mean one of Mitch Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood would miss out. On recent ODI form Cummins should be the one to make way because he took one wicket during the recent series against South Africa. However, it’s very likely that all three of the quicks will be rested at some point during the India ODI series.
While Adam Zampa has recently performed well in the Australian Twenty20 team, his ODI form over the last 12 month has been questionable. He struggled against England last January, taking only two wickets at 107, while he went wicketless against South Africa in November.
Australia’s two best ODI spin options are Test spinner Nathan Lyon and leg spinner Fawad Ahmed. When comparing the two Lyon is certainly a better fielder and batsman than Ahmed despite Fawad’s recent improvement with the bat.
It is difficult to compare the pair’s international bowling numbers because both have had limited opportunities at ODI level.
In his list a career Ahmed has taken a wicket every 6.3 overs, while Lyon has taken a wicket every seven overs. Lyon goes at 4.81 runs an over while Fawad goes at 5.16
Lyon’s better fielding should see him picked in the ODI team.
As for the composition of the top seven, D’Arcy Short should open the batting with Aaron Finch following his good start to the Big Bash League. Marcus Stoinis should bat No.3 with Shaun Marsh at No.4. Wicketkeeper Alex Carey should bat at No.5 with the big-hitting Glenn Maxwell coming in at No.6. The No.7 spot should go to Dan Christian, who is in good form at the moment and has experience in England, which will be useful for the World Cup.
Usman Khawaja deserves to be the reserve batsman.
My Australian team for the India ODI series is as follows.