With the Sheffield Shield season underway in the city of churches, many people will be focusing on the players who could go out of the side and players who could come into the side for the first Test against India next month in Adelaide.
Here’s who should be in the first Test XI versus the men in blue.
1. David Warner
A bit of an obvious choice you could argue (given he loves playing here in Australia) but the big question for him is can he find a decent opening partner. He’s been in good form in the IPL recently, scoring the third-most runs and averaging around 37 runs a game.
He still has it even in his early 30s.
2. Will Pucovski
Now this may seem as strange, but after scoring 255* against South Australia, Pucovski is definitely in the mix to potentially open with David Warner. He has been in the Test squad for the Australians before, and with Joe Burns not in great form (scoring 36 runs at an average of 12 in three innings), Pucovski could be set to team up with Warner.
3. Marnus Labuschagne
He just continues to impress and develop into one of world cricket’s best batsmen and he’s been in stellar form at the start of the Sheffield Shield, averaging 94.7 runs. In fact, if you excluded his duck from his last innings, he’s averaging 142. If he keeps this up into the Test arena, look out India.
4. Steve Smith
He’s still one of the greatest batsmen to ever play international cricket. Smith should be determined to have much better performances after a just decent summer in 2019-20. Despite that, he still averages 62.8 in Test matches.
He’s also had a good IPL season, scoring 311 runs, averaging around 25.9 and has three fifties. He looks set for a massive summer.
5. Travis Head
A tough choice between Matthew Wade and Head, but Head just wins this one out. He has been in good form in the Sheffield Shield, scoring two 150+ scores, averaging 83.6 and scoring 418 runs in three matches. He does average 42 in Test matches and was pretty decent last summer. If he keeps this up, he’s definitely a locked-in 5.
6. Cameron Green
Someone who’s been in great form the last two years (especially in the Sheffield Shield), Green’s stock continues to rise even at the age of 21. Despite a pedestrian last couple of innings, he’s averaged 61.4 this Shield season and has scored 307 runs (including 197 versus NSW).
Following up from his average of 63.6 last season, he looks (in my books) to be set to play Test cricket.
7. Tim Paine (C/WK)
The leader of the Australian Test team since the horrific ball-tampering scandal, Paine has looked solid so far for Tasmania this Sheffield Shield season. He has only averaged 34.3 this season but did manage a second first-class hundred against South Australia in the second round.
He has also taken nine catches so far and could be in for a big summer yet again against India.
8. Pat Cummins
Currently the world’s best bowler across nearly every format, Cummins has continued to improve, especially in recent years. He has had a solid IPL too, taking 12 wickets so far at an average of 34.1, and has got 223 runs (averaging 17.2), including a best of 53*.
He will yet again be critical to Australia’s chances of winning this series against India.
9. Mitchell Starc
The speed demon who looks set for another big summer, Starc will yet again be an essential cog in this Australian team. He made his Shield return these past few days, taking five wickets, including 4/76 in the first innings against Queensland. He is currently the number seven bowler in the world and will be determined to improve that this summer.
10. Josh Hazlewood
Someone who loves Australian turf but has been ravaged by injury recently, Hazlewood could be set for a massive summer against the Indians. He hasn’t played much cricket recently, but did take four wickets in the ODI series against England and took 15 wickets last time India came to Australia.
Can he replicate that performance this time around?
11. Nathan Lyon
By far the greatest off-spinner produced by Australia, Lyon is like a fine wine and continues to get better with age. He has played in NSW’s first two Shield games and has only four wickets, but has an economy rate of 3.3 from 83 overs.
He has gotten the most wickets the last two times India have come down under and is again going to be crucial against them.