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Chris Kettlewell

Roar Guru

Joined August 2013

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That is a match that involved 3 declarations and not a single innings finished with the team completely bowled out. So clearly it was a pretty flat batting track. So while he still did well, it’s very different to facing the Pakistan attack with a pink ball in Perth.

Burns, Head and Neser deserved their Test call ups

Maybe the selectors feel a bit burned from last summer when Marsh came back to the Shield after failing miserably in the UAE, and was the dominant Shield batsman, plus scored some ODI hundreds, had the form on the board, only to still fail once the tests came along. At 36 and with the number of chances he’s had, it’s hard to think he’ll get another one.

Burns, Head and Neser deserved their Test call ups

I didn’t see the game, but people who have seemed to suggest that while Bancroft made 49 it was still a very scratchy innings, where he really should have been out a few times. So it’s really hard to make the call based on a single match like that. The big issues is that we don’t seem to really have any real test quality opening options at the moment. It’s one of the big reasons why Warner’s position was still under no real threat for this summer even after his horror Ashes series.

Burns, Head and Neser deserved their Test call ups

I doubt it. Even on a Gabba with a bit of green on it, they will want to win the toss and bat, get through the first session and then go big.

Burns earns shock recall as Australia names Test squad

Just having a look at the schedule it looks like the Perth test is a D/N one. A bit surprised that CA went for a Day/Night test in Perth considering they generally avoid going too late night with matches over there because of E/C viewing times. But if that’s the case then Southee might potentially be worth a shot in a pink ball day/night test. But probably no others outside of that.

Burns earns shock recall as Australia names Test squad

They like him because he’s a tough guy who doesn’t mind wearing a few on the body, doesn’t even flinch at short leg when a full blooded pull shot is aimed at him. Langer loves a nuggety little tough guy!

Burns earns shock recall as Australia names Test squad

Yeah, seems pretty sure that will be the lineup. The selection of extra quicks would suggest the third pace bowling spot is really the only one up in the air. Starc surely has to be the front runner for that spot, but they might leave that decision until they see what the pitch is like on the first morning. If it’s looking like a green seaming pitch, maybe they’ll go Pattinson or Neser instead.

Burns earns shock recall as Australia names Test squad

Hazlewood only bowled 7 overs too. I’d suggest that there’s no problem, more just a case of being able to roll them without needing Cummins to do that much.

Burns earns shock recall as Australia names Test squad

So far in the Sheffield Shield this season he is averaging 40 having opened on the Gabba in conditions that gave the bowlers something to work with. I’d put that ahead of Harris having padded his average with scores absolute highways but failing when faced with conditions that give the bowlers something to work with. The way both were dismissed against Pakistan gives me little confidence in either though.

Burns earns shock recall as Australia names Test squad

I don’t know that it’s really such a “shock” recall for Burns. I thought most people had really picked that. The Australia A game didn’t help his cause, but then it didn’t help any of the batsmen’s cause except Bancroft. The main competition for Burns for the opening spot was Harris, who has scored a few more runs than Burns, but not that much considering two of his three matches were played on pretty flat batting tracks, one excessively so, while Burns has played all three of his in much more bowler friendly conditions, and on the same ground where the first test will be played.

Unfortunately we are in a situation with openers where it’s a case of struggling to find anyone really up to test standard. Sort of like the opposite of our fast bowling where the headaches come from which of the test quality bowlers we should leave out.

Burns earns shock recall as Australia names Test squad

Michael Clarke was probably an example of someone that was probably selected more on potential than first class record. He still averaged over 40 in first class cricket, but wasn’t the dominant 50+ sort of first class average. And in the end finished with a better test average than first class average. But again, he got the chance to be picked as the young guy in a pretty strong, settled batting lineup. Of course, he repaid selectors straight away, with a century on debut in India and then on his first match in Australia the following summer. (He was for much of his career considered one of the best players of spin around. I wouldn’t be surprised if that played a part in getting him that debut).

Will Pucovski to have mental wellbeing break, won't be picked for Pakistan Tests

Yes, of course, they wouldn’t necessarily want to be forced to just pick from whoever happens to be available in the city at the time if a player goes down. You’d think they’d want someone considered next in line, pretty much, to be the one ready in case such a thing happens. A touring side would generally have that, as you travel with a larger squad, but it’s something home teams are going to have to start considering.

Will Pucovski to have mental wellbeing break, won't be picked for Pakistan Tests

Yeah, Australia has never been one to pick them too young. Renshaw would be the youngest picked since Phil Hughes, who was 20 when he was picked, Agar made his test debut at 19. Ponting was 21 too I think. There aren’t many in recent history. Most of the real youngsters were a long time ago. Of course, Cummins was our second youngest as an 18 year old, and did great on debut, but then didn’t play another test for 5 years because of injury. That’s less of an issue for batsmen though.

Most of the teenagers to play test cricket are from the sub-continent. In fact, Tendulkar is the only one of the 14 youngest not from Pakistan or Bangladesh. Those two countries tend to be in to picking youngsters quickly into test cricket, which is why it should be no surprise to hear them talking about possibly picking a couple of teenagers for the test series here.

Will Pucovski to have mental wellbeing break, won't be picked for Pakistan Tests

Yeah, that’s the standard thing, they usually do that. But I can’t help but think that with the whole concussion sub being a thing now, that there may become more need to have some available options just in case. At least make sure that such a player is available, in the same city, even if needing them could mean ripping them out of a Shield match or the like. Don’t want to have to fly someone in from interstate if they need a concussion replacement.

Will Pucovski to have mental wellbeing break, won't be picked for Pakistan Tests

Sometimes it can certainly be warranted to pick people still really young. There are certainly some success stories of players picked really young who did well. But the list of youngest test cricketers is also littered with players who were never able to forge any sort of career in test cricket. Obviously 21 isn’t on the really young end for youngest test cricketers, but it’s pretty young for Australia, we don’t pick too many teenagers. (Interestingly, I had a look at the list of youngest test cricketers and was surprised to realise Pat Cummins was actually Australia’s second youngest test cricketer! Didn’t realise that!)

Also, I think going to him because we are desperate and struggling for options is a mistake. If we had a really strong, settled batting lineup, like 20 years ago, and then a position became available, picking the young prodigy could be a good thing. But picking him in this situation, really looking for him to become the big star asap because we need it, I think is too much to put on his young shoulders.

Will Pucovski to have mental wellbeing break, won't be picked for Pakistan Tests

Yes, it’s an interesting one, regarding the concussion substitute needing to be a “like for like” replacement. I suspect there will have to be some leeway based on the available options. (For instance, if Australia only has pace bowlers available in the squad, maybe they just need to allow that as a replacement for Lyon. At least it’s bowler for bowler), and if the keeper goes, then someone has to take the gloves.

Interestingly, Abid Ali actually kept for a significant amount of the tour match just completed. Had 3 catches listed as ct. (Sub) Abid Ali, but they were all caught behind by the keeper. So while he’s not even listed as a keeper on ESPNCricinfo’s profile, I guess he’s in the squad as the backup keeper and thus they decided to give him some practice.

Will Pucovski to have mental wellbeing break, won't be picked for Pakistan Tests

He’s improving, but still has a bit of work to do. Especially his bowling seems to be getting better, but would have liked to see him convert some of his starts into big scores. To push for the number 6 spot he needs to make it in on the strength of his batting with his bowling just a bit of a bonus. At this point I think they can go in with 4 bowlers and Labuschagne’s spin as the 5th bowling option enough.

VOTE: Who should Australia pick for the first Test vs Pakistan?

Depends, if the bowler is able to swing it both ways you can’t necessarily just leave it, just ask Cameron Green who got done in that way by Cummins in the first innings of the Shield match. Bowl a few outswingers, have him leaving them, then start one in exactly the same spot but bring it back to hit the off stump, still leaves it and is bowled.

I did think that Burns got his foot out to it a lot better, but probably pushed at it too much instead of letting it come to him and playing with soft hands. He’s certainly vulnerable around that off stump, but then, so are all the other contenders. So it’s hard to know the way to go.

VOTE: Who should Australia pick for the first Test vs Pakistan?

Not sure Burns has fully excluded himself from the conversation. Since none of the batsmen did particularly well in that tour game, it’s possible that it may almost be discarded and the Shield form be the main indicator. But I must admit both Burns dismissals were pretty ugly. Bowled between a gaping gap between bat and pad in the first innings, then just pushing with hard hands to edge the ball in the second, having just been dropped a couple of balls earlier in similar fashion. Not what you want from an opener. Harris first innings dismissal looked exactly like more of the same from the Ashes unfortunately.

It’s a really tough call, because it really feels like whoever gets picked there are a lot of question marks over them.

VOTE: Who should Australia pick for the first Test vs Pakistan?

Shaun Marsh was the most in-form batsman in state cricket before the first test last year, and then flopped again in the tests. He’s done that too much, earned the spot through weight of runs, but be totally unable to replicate his form at test level. He’s had enough chances, time to move on and give someone else a go. Patterson is injured at the moment. Has missed NSW Shield games as a result too. I also have doubts on Harris.

VOTE: Who should Australia pick for the first Test vs Pakistan?

Well, Pucovski just pulled out anyway, but personally I’d just give him a bit of time, take the pressure off, let him just play state cricket without talking about test selection for a bit, and let him just go back and score runs and get his head straight. Even if it took 3 years, he’d still only be 24. There’s no rush. And his form so far this season has been some scores on really flat batting tracks and then really struggling in conditions with anything for the bowlers, plus what looks a weakness against the short ball. I don’t think he’s ready yet.

VOTE: Who should Australia pick for the first Test vs Pakistan?

The comment regarding Bancroft possibly there as a concussion substitute is an interesting one. Now that rule is in, it will mean that teams need to have more backup players around during tests at all times. Where in the past they might just pick a squad of 12-13 and often send the 12th and 13th men back to play state cricket and just have some locals as sub fielders, now they need to have players around who could count as like-for-like subs for each spot in the case of needing a concussion substitute. I suppose having someone like Bancroft means he could potentially sub for Paine as well as any of the batsmen. Of course, if Paine was knocked out, Wade could take the gloves too. Wonder how that works for concussion subs though. It’s supposed to be like for like, so technically you probably can’t say “we’ve already got a back up keeper in the side, so can we just sub in a batsman instead”. Would be interesting to know the ruling on that if it happened. There are plenty of sides around where there is a second wicket keeper, playing as a specialist batsman, in the side. Hey WA have played with 4 keepers in the top 7 for many of their matches this season so far.

Will Pucovski to have mental wellbeing break, won't be picked for Pakistan Tests

It’s hard not to wonder what’s going on in Victoria that we are seeing all this coming up and it’s all from Victorian players. Maybe just living in Melbourne is depressing and they need to move somewhere with better weather.

On a more serious note, even without this I think it would have been a mistake to pick Pucovski at this point. So far this season he’s only scored runs on a couple of pretty flat batting tracks and struggled in other matches. With him already struggling with mental health issues, putting him into the test squad when his form isn’t that great, thus giving him a high chance of failure and being dropped again, which is hard enough at the best of times, let alone when you have mental health struggles anyway. Give him time, he’s only 21. Could take 2-3 years before his debut and he’ll still be a young guy.

Will Pucovski to have mental wellbeing break, won't be picked for Pakistan Tests

Aaron Finch is not a test cricketer. Let him focus on white ball cricket.

Will Pucovski to have mental wellbeing break, won't be picked for Pakistan Tests

I’m sure I’ve heard a quote from Bradman at one point where he said something along the lines of suggesting other batsmen around were potentially more talented of “better” batsmen than him, but the difference was the level of concentration to keep going making runs on and on without making the error that gets you out. But in reality, that’s a big part of batting. It’s like when the commentators comment on an awesome shot that went straight to the fielder. Since placement is a big part of shotmaking, it’s not an awesome shot unless you find the gap. Same being that you can have all the talent and shots in the world, but if you regularly lose concentration and play a lose shot you aren’t a great batsman.

The boy who was better than Bradman