Quicks Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson and Michael Neser will get a chance to audition for a late World Cup call-up when Australia A begin their 50-over tour of England tomorrow.
Sporting teams crave certainty. This statement has rung especially true for Cricket Australia as it has endured series losses against South Africa, Pakistan and India.
Australia has suffered a year of moral humiliation perpetuated by its lack of on field success. Ideally, a team always wants to know who its best 11 players are; which individuals will best contribute to the team’s performances.
We, as fans, want to have confidence that the captain is the right man for the job, and that the wicketkeeper is the best gloveman available.
This craving for certainty is about success. Basically, in sport, everyone wants to feel like an All Blacks supporter – supremely confident of success in every single game. The truth is though, that certainty is over rated.
For one, I think the allure of success is very much enhanced by the elements of mystery and surprise. Isn’t that what made England’s victory in the 2005 Ashes so iconic?
A team of supposed inferiors upsetting one of Australia’s best ever Test teams is unforgettable. Ditto, Mitchell Johnson’s demolition of the Poms in the 2013-14 Ashes?
A player horrendously mocked for previous performances took his extravagant revenge and raised his legacy to heights unforeseen prior to the beginning of the series.
The yet to be revealed storyline and narrative of a series as it unravels is what makes it special, what makes it worth remembering. Mystery, surprise, redemption – these are the key elements to an exciting and memorable success story. These are what will make the upcoming Ashes series special.
As such, here are some storylines I really hope come to fruition.
Steven Smith’s tour of redemption
O captain my captain. Smith let us all down, wasted a year of his prime and surrendered his rightful crown of world’s best test batsman to Virat Kohli.
Smith is already an all-time great, but he would elevate his legacy if he anchors Australia to an Ashes series victory in the Poms back yard.
Smith must be desperate to atone for his leadership failure and so, if he is re-called, his first century will be a career-defining moment of redemption. I am eager to witness such an emotionally-charged occasion that will reverberate in Australian cricketing folklore.
Starcy has been heavily criticised throughout this summer of Cricket. Michael Vaughan has called for Starc to be dropped for the Ashes opener at Edgbaston, with Jhye Richardson included instead as “number one of the team sheet.”
Mark Taylor has stated that Starc will be competing merely to make the wider Ashes squad. Shane Warne completed the vendetta against Starc by saying that selecting him in Canberra would “be a waste by the selectors.”
I’ve been appalled by the anti-Starc bandwagon commentary and so am glad he has paid no attention. Yesterday, Starc showcased his matchless, world-renowned pace as he claimed figures of 5-54. He’s still got it.
This is a man with over 200 Test wickets, of course he’s still got it. I hope he sticks it to the whiny Warne and co and spends this Ashes ripping the England batting line up a new one.
England drops one of its openers
England’s revolving doors policy of selecting Test openers knows no end. With Joe Denly’s selection, and subsequent twin failures, against the Windies, the side is no closer to solving its issue at the top of the order.
They have had glimpses of hope, in the form of Haseeb Hameed and Keaton Jennings, to no avail. Mark Stoneman, Adam Lyth, Michael Carberry failed in the past three Ashes series to make their mark on Test cricket. I’m hoping Rory Burns or Denly join the discard pile.
I admit this wish is slightly mean but, I suspect, very probable.
James Anderson gets smashed (again)
George Bailey didn’t have a very successful time in Test cricket. But one of his highlights was smashing Jimmy for 28 runs in one over. A repeat of this would be much appreciated. I’m betting on Travis Head to be the man to do it.
Clearly I have no clue if any of these things will occur. Hell, Shaun Marsh could light it up in Sheffield Shield, be recalled, and go on to star in the Ashes (although I very much doubt it.)
My point is though, that nobody knows what could happen. This year’s Ashes is shrouded in uncertainty. Is Australia’s success against Sri Lanka a momentary high? On the other hand, is England’s Carribean nightmare a momentary low?
The upcoming Ashes may represent the beginning or end of some special careers. It could represent Virat Kohli being put back into his deserved place of second best test batsmen on this earth (please Smithy). Hopefully, it will be the end of an awful period in Australia’s test cricket history.