The first Ashes Test starts on August 1 and the make-up of the Australian XI is anybody’s guess.
Before the series starts, Australia will play Australia A in four-day game beginning on July 23, a little more than a week before the first Test.
Cricket Australia have indicated that performances in this match will be used to determine the make-up of the Australian Ashes squad.
Selecting the Australian team for the tour match was relatively simple. I picked the players who scored centuries during Australia’s last Test outing in February – Joe Burns, Travis Head and Kurtis Patterson – alongside returning batsman David Warner and Steve Smith. Captain Tim Paine would keep, while Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood would make up the bowling attack.
I would have picked Usman Khawaja in the the team at No.3, but because of his injury he hasn’t been considered. So instead I’ve opted for World Cup keeper Alex Carey. Carey has had an excellent World Cup and should be considered as a specialist batsman in the Ashes and should bat No.3 in the tour match.
The Australia A side would be made up of the other players who have made strong cases for Ashes selection.
The openers for Australia A should be Marcus Harris and Cam Bancroft. Harris had an outstanding Sheffield Shield season, scoring more than 1000 runs, while Bancroft has been in good form since returning from suspension.
In the four Shield games he played last season, Bancroft scored one century and three fifties at an average of 56, while in the County Championship Division 2 he has averaged 45.41 from seven games.
Up-and-coming batsman Will Pucovski should bat at No.3, with Glenn Maxwell batting at No.4.
Marnus Labuschagne has had an excellent county season and should bat at No.5, while Matthew Wade should keep and bat No.6.
Unfortunately, none of Australia’s spinners have made a significant case for selection, so instead I’ll go for a five-man pace attack of Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Chris Tremain, Jackson Bird and Jason Behrendorff. Matthew Wade should be captain with Glenn Maxwell as vice-captain.
My Australia team
David Warner, Joe Burns, Alex Carey, Steve Smith, Travis Head (vice-captain), Kurtis Patterson, Tim Paine (captain and wicketkeeper), Pat Cummins (vice-captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood (vice-captain).
My Australia A team
Cam Bancroft, Marcus Harris, Will Pucovski, Glenn Maxwell, Marnus Labuschagne, Matthew Wade (captain and wicketkeeper), Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Chris Tremain, Jackson Bird, Jason Behrendorff.