The Roar
The Roar

Advertisement

Is the Australian Test side set up for success over the next four years?

5th August, 2023
Advertisement
Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Replay
Cancel
Next
Roar Rookie
5th August, 2023
21
1527 Reads

And breathe. Finally, inevitably, the Ashes is over.

At some points over the last five weeks it felt as if we might never stop playing cricket, that the men’s teams had agreed with the ICC that it was better for broadcasters and advertisers if they simply played in perpetuity.

The fifth Test, while littered with great moments and the compulsory drama that went with this series, was notable mostly for the glaringly obvious fatigue which had set in amongst the players.

Both teams featured a number of players who competed in all five matches, and the minds and bodies looked more than ready for the post-series drinks that eventuated (supposedly) in a London nightclub.

But let’s look to the future and take a look at how the Australian squad fared, and how they’ll factor in to the next four years until the team finds themselves in England once again.

Usman Khawaja

Mr Slow. Captain Attrition. The Silky Opener. Call him what you will, but Khawaja finished the series as the leading run-scorer and second on the all-time list for Test opener averages at 60.58.

The return to the Test team for Khawaja has been nothing short of extraordinary, both home and away, and his candid and often funny post-match interviews were a highlight of the media coverage.

Advertisement

Khawaja has no plans to retire but at 36 he will be a longshot for the next Ashes in 2025. With David Warner bowing out at the end of the Australian summer, selectors will hope he hangs around for at least a further year to avoid the scenario of two fresh openers joining the team at the same time.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 30: Usman Khawaja of Australia bats as Jonny Bairstow of England keeps wicket during Day Four of the LV= Insurance Ashes 5th Test match between England and Australia at The Kia Oval on July 30, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

David Warner

Another disappointing overseas return for Warner led to constant speculation about his place in the team, however the New South Welshman’s trove of blackmail content against Cricket Australia means he will get his final swansong at the SCG in early 2024.

Finished with 285 runs, a far better output than 2019 but well below what he hoped. His final innings in England was probably his best, and he leaves the overseas test stage as a generational talent at the top of the order.

Marnus Labuschagne

A tough series for Labuschagne ended brightly, his century under apocalyptic skies at Old Trafford ensured Australia survived to secure a draw. The No. 3 never looked up to his best, however, with his trademark ability to leave the ball outside off lacking across the series, particularly against the swinging ball.

Advertisement

Marnus still has a guaranteed spot in the XI for the next decade, but needs to work on his overseas returns. Expect another double-century against Pakistan at the end of the year.

Steve Smith

Smith looked good throughout the series but was only able to convert his starts into one century. The SGOAT (second greatest of all time) seemed hellbent on getting himself out at pivotal moments and may have carried Australia to a series win if he hadn’t decided to slog the ball on numerous occasions.

Smith will undoubtedly play in the 2025 Ashes, but a return to England two years later will be 50-50. Smith overtook Bradman to become the touring player to score the most career runs at The Oval, a number which may never be beaten.

Travis Head

A barnstorming 171 against India in the World Test Championship Final looked to have Head primed for a big campaign, however England’s short ball tactics worked a treat on Trav and apart from his two innings at Leeds, looked a long way off the aggressive plan he usually employs.

Advertisement

Head is a long-term lock in Australia’s XI and touted as a future captain if Pat Cummins gets tired of being the nicest, most maligned leader in Australia’s history. Needs to work on the short ball and moustache regrowth.

Cameron Green

The all-rounder endured his toughest series to date, looking nervous at the top of his innings and asked to mainly bowl short when required. Missed out on selection in the final match and will probably need some domestic game time to regain confidence.

Green is a pivotal part of the limited-overs set-up, however, and will travel to India for the World Cup. Still an enormous talent, Green may find some short-term game time is taken by Marsh. Will retire as the greatest cricketer to ever play the game in 2035. Still very tall and looks like a sweet guy.

Manage, strategise & dominate. Download Wicket Cricket Manager today!

Mitchell Marsh

Fourteenth time’s the charm for Mitch Marsh.

Advertisement

Often maligned by Aussie fans throughout his stop-start career, Marsh rose to the occasion when called in for the third Test and oozed class in his first overseas century. That he did it just after his father Geoff had left for Bali was not very spirited, but he can hold his head high from his performances across the final three Tests.

Marsh will undoubtedly start at 3 in the World Cup, and his career beyond that is anyone’s guess. On paper, his 250 runs at an average of 50, alongside three handy wickets, will give the selectors something to think about.

Test series against Pakistan and the West Indies in the coming summer could be a good chance to give Green an uninterrupted run against opponents that struggle in Australian conditions. Like Michael Neser, Marsh might find himself unable to crack into the team.

Alex Carey

Boy, oh boy. The villainous Carey. Stole Bairstow’s dignity and followed it up by stealing a barber’s life savings.

In pure cricketing terms, Carey had a below average campaign. He struggled with the bat and only made a sizeable impact in the final Test when he almost saw Australia over the line before being Stuart Broad’s final Test wicket.

His keeping was solid across the series, showing Jonny Bairstow how it’s done and keeping a cool head through the furnace of Lords. Carey is essentially unchallenged for the wicketkeeper position and barring an enormous reversal of fortunes, will be back in England in four years’ time to mop up the tears of English fans.

Advertisement

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Mitchell Starc

Finishing the series as the top wicket-taker from just four Tests was quite possibly not something anyone would have guessed at the outset of the Ashes. His economy rate of 5.49 was the highest of all the bowlers bar Todd Murphy, however he consistently drew the English batters into plays and misses and found swing earlier than his Aussie cohort.

His position at 8 may come into question after solid batting performances from Cummins and Murphy, but Starc can hold his head high after another solid series. Will play in 2025 but may not make it to 2027 as injuries are starting to become a more regular occurrence.

Pat Cummins

A bittersweet tour for the Australian captain, Cummins leaves the UK having won the WTC mace and ensured the Ashes remain in Australian hands for at least a decade straight, but has faced near constant criticism for his decisions across the series.

A true fighter, don’t expect Cummins to back down from his post, but he will continue to need the input of senior players when he’s bowling. There’s a reason most captains are batsmen: it’s hard to be thinking about field placements when you’re also thinking about your next delivery.

Advertisement

At the end of the day, however, his accomplishments over the past 18 months speak for themselves. If he can add a World Cup win in October he will go down as one of the greats. The 2027 series will be his final chance to win an away Ashes.

Nathan Lyon

If he hadn’t torn a muscle, Lyon may well have turned a 2-2 draw into something much more positive for Australia. Arguably the teams most important player, Lyon’s absence from seven of the series’ 10 innings was what hurt the Aussies the most.

Picking up nine wickets across three innings showed that the GOAT is still at the top of his game, and will quite clearly stroll straight back into the side in the coming summer. Lyon will play in 2025, and no doubt have eyes on one last crack in 2027, however he may be sharing duties with Murphy by then.

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Todd Murphy

The bespectacled youngster probably didn’t think he was a chance of getting a game on this tour, but was promptly thrust in, thrust out, and thrust back into the hottest cauldron in international cricket.

Advertisement

Murphy was under-utilised by Cummins but took his chances when he could, and has proven himself as the next frontline spinner once Lyon calls time. Guaranteed nightwatchmen duties when in the team, Murphy pulled out an array of impressive shots at The Oval in both innings, and will probably move up the order in the future.

Josh Hazlewood

Looked below his best in his four matches but still picked up 16 wickets to finish fifth for the series. As a line and length bowler, Hazelwood was uncomfortable when asked to pitch it short but battled hard throughout.

Sports opinion delivered daily 

   

His capture of Ben Stokes at Lords was the moment every Australian watching was waiting for, and his outstretched arms in that moment will be an image seared into the collective brains. Might struggle to make it to 2027 but it is a certainty for the next Aussie series.

Scott Boland

Advertisement

A measly return of two wickets in four innings for Boland ensured he did not get picked for the last half of the series. After riding a wave of enormous momentum following the last Ashes, it’s hard to see where Boland fits into an ageing bowling attack.

The likes of Neser, Jye Richardson and Lance Morris will be gunning for spots and it would make little sense to pick him if one of the big three pacers are out.

close