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Opinion

Who should travel to the subcontinent to build Aussie cricket depth?

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18th January, 2022
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What a fabulous few months it has been for the Australian cricket team – first the T20 World Cup victory when nobody was expecting it and then complete domination of the old rival in the Ashes.

The team looks to be performing exceptionally well in all the departments under a new Test captain.

I have criticised the selectors in the past but will give them an honourable mention.

Firstly, they got the squad selection absolutely right in the World Cup and the result was there for all to see. Now, in the Ashes, they managed to give some blokes a go and created depth in batting as well as bowling. So kudos to them.

And it is no coincidence that these good selections have come under the new selection panel now headed by George Bailey with Tony Dodemaide as his deputy.

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However we saw how important having depth in your batting and bowling ranks can prove last summer, against India. So this process of creating a pool of Test-ready players needs to continue.

Currently, due to the bio bubble environment in which every series is played, every touring team is travelling with at least 20 to 25 players. This provides the opportunity to give some useful experience to the next cabs off the ranks.

Currently there are seven batsmen in the Test squad, with Nic Maddison and Mitch Marsh covers for Sydney. In addition to these nine, Will Pucovski, Bryce Street and Henry Hunt – who, except Puc, were already part of Australia A against England Lions – should be on the upcoming tour as reserves.

This will help in a couple of aspects. The first is that they get a taste of how the Test team works so they are familiar with the setup. Secondly, they get good experience of subcontinent conditions.

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The issue is that they will lose out on the Sheffield Shield rounds that will be played in March. There is a delicate balance between gaining experience in domestic cricket and being with a touring team – gaining experience in alien conditions.

But these guys have proven they can perform in Aussie conditions. Now to make their games all-round and further improve them in all aspects of batsmanship, it is important that they are confronted with foreign conditions. They can still go ahead and play all rounds of Sheffield shield in February and early March, then head abroad.

Imagine a scenario where suddenly Street has to open against India on a subsequent tour with no prior subcontinent experience – that would not be fair to the youngster.

Bryce Street of Queensland

Bryce Street of Queensland. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Until a few years ago, Australia A was a regular fixture, and tours and matches proved useful for fringe players to get experience. But now, with less and less A cricket being played, the only feasible solution to give fringe players a taste of foreign conditions is to have them travel with the Test and ODI squads.

I would even go a step further and suggest that we have some sort of similar arrangement for younger players.

With the new selection panel showing that they are flexible in selections and ideas, I am optimistic that some solution like the one above may be put in place to create further depth and talent.

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