Sid Barnes is not a name a lot of people outside Australia know. He played only 13 Tests yet averaged a highly impressive 63.05 with the bat. Across 110 first-class games, he averaged an excellent 54.11.
World War II took away the years Barnes would have been at his peak, but even still, he was a key player in the post-War Tests and the 1948 Invincibles Tour – which was the last he was seen playing Tests.
Barnes spent a few years outside the game but in 1951, tried his hand again at playing Tests and was chosen to play in the first Test against the West Indies but the Board of Control vetoed his inclusion.
It seems they had given themselves the power to exclude a player from the national team “on grounds other than cricket ability” and Barnes had given them plenty of ammunition apply this exclusion. As a result, a player who could have been anything in the game was relegated to a cameo in Test cricket.
Fast forward to the present and Geoff Lemon wrote a piece in The Roar on why Matthew Wade is better off not playing for Australia. This piece really made me think about why Wade isn’t packing his bags for India, given the numbers he’s put up domestically.
It’s pretty clear Wade has really applied himself with the bat since being dropped two years ago and on paper, should be one of the first players chosen, certainly for the T20 side (based on BBL form) and would be a strong candidate for both the World Cup and Ashes squads based on his first-class form. The question is, why isn’t he being chosen?
I think there are only a couple of reasons that don’t relate to his performances on the field.
The first is his aggressiveness behind the stumps when he was in the Test team, which is clearly a ‘no-no’ in 2019. The other is because he’s somehow done something to put himself offside with the selectors – maybe he and Paine don’t see eye to eye which hasn’t thrilled the selectors?
Whatever it is, the current selectors seem hell-bent on keeping him out of our international sides.
If there is a non-cricketing reason why Wade is not being chosen – why is David Warner seen as a lock to come back into at least the World Cup squad and probably the Ashes team as well?
Surely there’s a massive double standard being played out here where a guy who is performing as well as any cricketer in the country can’t make an Australian squad, presumably because of issues other than cricket.
Warner, on the other hand, has a track record of poor behaviour over a number of seasons and his batting form has been less than stellar over the past 12 months but he is likely to waltz straight back into the team.
Don’t get me wrong, I want Warner to play. However, I don’t want to see Wade miss out if the reasons for his omission are based on ‘grounds other than cricket ability.’
The best option for the selectors is to choose both for the World Cup squad at least and probably for the Ashes as well, assuming Warner’s fit and Wade is still in form.
At the least, they have to have Wade as a standby for both series. If Wade doesn’t rate a place and Warner does, the selectors have no place choosing teams to represent this country.