Before the Tim Paine scandal broke, there were two big question marks over the national team: who would open with David Warner and who would bat at five?
Now George Bailey has publicly endorsed Marcus Harris, it’s down to Usman Khawaja versus Travis Head at five.
But a new selection dilemma has opened up with Paine stepping back: who should keep wicket in the Test team?
Most pundits seem to think it’s going to be either Alex Carey or Josh Inglis.
I can see the logic. Carey has been heir apparent for a while, but then the selectors seemed to go off him and develop a crush on Inglis.
Personally I think a third person should do the job: Jimmy Peirson.
First up, I’ll admit it: I am biased because I am a Queenslander and Peirson is the Queensland keeper.
But it’s the great unwritten rule of Australian cricket that your wicketkeeper should, if possible, be a Queenslander. That’s where, generally, our best ones came from: Don Tallon, Wally Grout and Ian Healy.
I say ‘generally’ because some fine ones are capable of coming from elsewhere (Rod Marsh, Adam Gilchrist and Brad Haddin).
But when in doubt, always go for a Queensland keeper. For whatever reason, they simply have the best attitude: laconic, tough, never say die, all that stuff.
When we haven’t, traditionally it’s been a mistake – they should’ve picked John Maclean over Steve Rixon in ’77-78, Ray Phillips over Wayne Phillips in ’85, and Chris Hartley over Matthew Wade in the 2010s.
And Peirson is good. Very good. A better keeper, I would argue, than Carey or Inglis.
I know this is difficult to measure without hard stats but just from watching him, it’s Peirson who seems the most consistent.
He seems more at home there. The skills of Inglis and Carey are good enough for white-ball cricket but over five days it adds up.
Peirson’s batting is absolutely fine. He averages 32 at first-class level, which is only two runs less than Inglis and Carey.
Importantly, he tends to get runs when they’re badly needed. Peirson has saved many, many a Queensland collapse with his fighting innings, which really is all wicketkeepers should be required do with the bat.
It’s foolish to ask anything more (‘Waaa! I want Gilchrist again! Waaaa!!!’) because they you find yourself doing things like making Wayne Phillips learn his trade as keeper at Test level then wonder why the team keeps dropping catches.
Peirson is also a leader and a captain, who would provide excellent advice to the captain. He’s younger than Carey and only a few years older than Inglis.
Personally I think they’ll give it to Carey.
The selection panel is entirely made up of representatives from AFL-first states and will find Carey’s AFL background too sexy. That and the fact he’s been around the group for a while.
But it’s a mistake. They should go with Peirson in Tests, keep Carey in ODIs and put Inglis in the T20 team when it’s time for Wade to go.
At the very least the conversation should be constantly including him as an option.