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The Roar

Patrick Moran

Roar Pro

Joined February 2018









Yeah, 5 wickets in the second innings. In fairness, it looks like a fairly strong Pakistan A side.

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

An great article on a disastrous series. The all-rounder thing is interesting. We have a habit of picking a seam-bowling all-rounder in Asia to accommodate the loss of the third seamer.

To me a series that stands out for poor selection was the 2018 series against Pakistan in the UAE, where Khawaja salvaged the draw. O’Keefe missed out again, but Holland went and got smashed, Labuschagne somehow jumped Maxwell (makes sense now, but didn’t at the time), Finch opened (and did okay to be fair), and Mitchell Marsh staggeringly batted at 4. Somehow Handscomb went from being the reserve batsman on the previous Test assignment to missing out entirely- in conditions which suited him perfectly.

Test XIs we should have had: India 2013

In T20 cricket, it has to be Wade. In T20 Internationals he averages 21.13 (SR 130.7), compared to Carey who averages 11.64 (SR 113.14). In the scheme of things, Wade has done pretty well- he’s the only Australian keeper to pass 50 in T20 Internationals (and has done it 3 times). He probably sits second to Gilchrist for the best performed keeper-batsmen in T20 Internationals for Australia.

I agree Wade’s much better as an opener, and I would consider moving Finch into the middle order to accommodate him opening. If they don’t go down this path, then he bats at 7 or 8- they seem to want to play 4 bowlers instead of 5 now, so he doesn’t have to be in the top 6.

The other name is of course Josh Inglis. I would have used the West Indies and Bangladesh tours as a bat off between Wade and Inglis. Unfortunately this didn’t happen, so I think they have to go with the guy whose done the best job for them in the T20 format- Wade.

Carey vs Wade: Who should take the gloves for Australia?

I think form and injuries really halted his international career. The injuries meant he ultimately gave up First Class cricket- which is a pity as he would have been a good Test cricketer- and later even 50 over cricket. My memory is that opponents started to work him out, and play for his slower ball, where he had previously been highly successful in the death overs. Form has certainly played a part in his absence.

The only other factor I can think of is that Australian selectors have an aversion to T20 globetrotters- maybe CA doesn’t want to incentivise that path. It took ages for Dan Christian to earn a recall, Jono Wells has never been selected, and Chris Lynn was given less opportunity than other batsmen. As a T20 only cricketer, who plays BBL and PSL, Faulkner now fits into this category.

Your right though, he’s not as old as people think. His recent BBL and PSL seasons were good, so hopefully he can work his way back to international cricket. I really hope he returns to 50 over cricket, and ideally FC cricket, although the latter seems unlikely.

Australia cruise to ODI series win over West Indies

Great to see Ashton Agar perform well. With the next World Cup in India, I see him playing an important role in the ODI setup as that Jadeja-style bowler to race through the middle overs. A bowling average of almost 50 doesn’t do justice to the fact that Agar has conceded more than a run a ball in only 3 of his 15 ODIs. He’s also taken two wickets in each of his last 2 matches, so that average will continue to drop. Australia has struggled to find runs from its tail since James Faulkner stopped playing ODIs, so having a number 8 who averages 23 with the bat, and can be promoted up the order is a nice luxury too.

On another note, that match felt like a giant trivia question. Evin Lewis carried his bat, Dan Christian played his first List A match in four years having effectively retired from the format, Moises Henriques bizarrely opened the batting, and Nicholas Pooran bowled for just the second time in his professional career.

Australia cruise to ODI series win over West Indies

Ironic for a guy with a reputation as a selector’s favourite, but your probably right.

Australia are missing Shaun Marsh’s experience in eye-opening tour

Don’t disagree on Labuschagne, but why shouldn’t Marsh be in World Cup consideration? If we’re looking for someone to succeed in T20 cricket in Asia, why wouldn’t we consider the guy that dominated the IPL for a decade?

As you pointed out though, unfortunately neither will get a go before the World Cup. They haven’t replaced Finch in the squad, citing logistical challenges, which will make it hard for the likes of Labuschagne, Inglis, and S Marsh to make a case for selection.

Australia are missing Shaun Marsh’s experience in eye-opening tour

It’s incredible that Shaun Marsh has the second highest average in BBL history, and the 11th highest in IPL history, but has only played 15 T20 Internationals. The idea of him being a selector’s favourite comes from an Australian public that pays relatively little attention to white ball cricket.

In terms of the West Indies tour, I think he would have been a good Smith replacement- presumably to bat 3. As you pointed out, the team selected was very one paced. It’s also worth considering that the squad was selected before Labuschagne’s T20 emergence in County Cricket. With Smith in doubt for the World Cup, and Labuschagne yet to fire in T20 cricket at the time, selecting someone to play that anchor role would have been logical. The irony is that 3 wasn’t the problem in the end, with Mitchell Marsh having a breakout series. But when you look at his BBL record, there’s no reason why Mitchell Marsh can’t bat at 4 or 5.

The only issue I have with selecting Shaun Marsh is that he doesn’t fully solve the problem. He’s just another guy who can only bat in the top 3. Whilst his strike rotation solves something which was glaringly absent in the Caribbean, he can’t really start an innings batting lower than number 3. I’d love to see someone with that same ability to rotate the strike, and a proven ability to bat at 4 or 5 come into the side. Unfortunately Jono Wells was overlooked when in form, and Jordan Silk hasn’t been selected after an excellent BBL season.

Australia are missing Shaun Marsh’s experience in eye-opening tour

Joel Paris as well, if we’re talking about 50-over cricket- when he’s not injured of course.

This second-string XI dispels the myth that Australia has no white-ball depth

I tend to agree on a couple of points:
1. We don’t need to panic about a series loss to the West Indies. With players returning for the World Cup, we can expect a much better showing.
2. I agree Australia has very good depth in the 50 over format. Your XI didn’t include Handscomb, Heazlett, Ben McDermott, or Joel Paris, which in itself highlights the depth in that format. Considering the limited importance placed on the Marsh Cup, Australia is very fortunate to have such depth- arguably we have more depth than Cricket Australia deserve.

I would argue though, that 50-over cricket is different to T20 cricket, where Australia’s depth players have struggled. Looking at the squad in the West Indies, I don’t think it was overly poorly selected. I’d probably throw in Inglis and Labuschagne, and maybe Jordan Silk for Ashton Turner, but on the whole the players there largely deserved their place. Australia’s T20 unit is heavily dependent on Finch, Warner and Maxwell’s runs, along with the frontline bowlers of Starc, Cummins, Agar, Zampa, and sometimes Kane Richardson. Depth batsman haven’t made much impact, and the likes of Meredith and Sams have been smashed.

By contrast, Joe Root can’t make England’s T20 XI, and Liam Livingstone just came into the side and belted a century at number 5. The comparison between Australia’s T20 side and England’s ODI side was odd, given the difference in formats. The point is not ridiculous though- England get much more out of their depth players.

This second-string XI dispels the myth that Australia has no white-ball depth

An interesting point about Khawaja- he also played at the last T20 World Cup, and batted well.

The only issue I have is that he really needs to be at the top of the order. The premise of the article is that Australia could potentially move an opener down the order to accommodate a wicketkeeper. In that sense, Khawaja doesn’t really solve any of the team’s problems. I think he’s in the same category as guys like Shaun Marsh and Chris Lynn- good top order options that won’t get a look in.

It’s interesting that you view him as a good option for Asian wickets (and I agree, he is). It wasn’t that long ago, he was routinely dropped in Asia, particularly in Test cricket. His epic Test hundred in Dubai, and the ODI series you point to are testament to genuine improvement. It’s notable that he opened in all of these innings. My theory is that he struggles to start against spin, but can play it well if he’s already set- it’s why he was an excellent ODI opener, but ordinary middle order bat, and also explains why his Test performances in Asia improved considerably when opening.

The radical change needed to fix Australia's T20 middle-order problem

Completely agree. I’ve wanted to see Finch move down the order for quite a while. I thought the tri-series in early 2018 with England and New Zealand (where Finch batted 5) was the best Australia’s batting lineup has functioned in T20 cricket in a long time.

Out of curiosity, what changed your mind? When I raised this possibility a few months ago, you were opposed to the idea:

The radical change needed to fix Australia's T20 middle-order problem

Australia seem to have altered there approach with the bat. Finch spoke after the first game about trying to score quicker through the middle overs, which was a strange ploy with only 4 runs per over required after Wade’s blistering start. It’s reflected in selection too- having played 5 bowlers for the last 2 years, they changed to a 7-4 model, hoping to bat deeper, which gives the freedom to take more risks, compensating for the loss of a fifth bowler with a multitude of all-rounders. In some ways it’s reminiscent of the last T20 World Cup, where Peter Nevill batted in the tail, as the team was stacked with all-rounders.

As for the upcoming World Cup, much will be decided from the remaining 8 games. As always, the challenge will be the number 5 and 6 positions (I’d still like to see Finch there, but it seems increasingly unlikely). With Smith potentially unavailable, I figured that Wade would bat 3 at the World Cup, but Mitchell Marsh may well secure that position. The issue then becomes where to bat the wicketkeeper, with none of the incumbents performing well in lower order roles, and Inglis seemingly out of the equation. Perhaps the 7-4 structure could help solve this problem. Number 7 batsmen aren’t that important in T20 cricket, so they could dump the keeper there, much like Nevill spent the 2016 World Cup in the tail in light of his ordinary T20 record.

Australia's Windies woe exposes startling lack of depth

1. Glenn Turner
2. Tom Latham
3. Kane Williamson *
4. Martin Crowe
5. Ross Taylor
6. BJ Watling +
7. Dan Vettori
8. Richard Hadlee
9. Neil Wagner
10. Shane Bond
11. Trent Boult

To me, Latham and Taylor both have to be there. Taylor has more runs than Fleming at a higher average, whilst Latham’s record will likely be better than Wright’s by the time he plays as many Tests- his average is better, and he has one less hundred.

I’m happy with McCullum or Watling- I went Watling as McCullum only kept in half of his Tests. McCullum averaged 34 when keeping, compared to Watling’s 39. Either would be fine though.

With Vettori and Hadlee in the side, you can pick an extra bowler instead of Chris Cairns. Southee is unlucky, but I like Wagner as he offers something different and very unique.

The best New Zealand Test cricket side of the last 50 years

He doesn’t get very far forward essentially. This article explains his game pretty well:
Whether this is a deficiency or not is up for debate. We’ll probably only know if we see him at Test level again. The article explains that he actually moved his contact point forward in his second and third stints in the England side, and was less successful. Maybe he is better off not changing. That said, it does note that he improved considerably against the full ball, but largely encountered problems against spin in later stints, so perhaps the changes against pace were successful.

What happened to Gary Ballance?

He could be- they were both born in Zimbabwe for a start. Ballance has four Test hundreds in 42 innings vs Hick’s six in 114. His average is better as well. At least Hick was given a (more than) reasonable chance to cement a place at Test level- Ballance, by contrast had an excellent start to his Test career, and hasn’t been seen since his form slump four years ago.

What happened to Gary Ballance?

In the T20 format, most. Australia play Agar (AVG 13.53, SR 112.82) at 7, New Zealand play Santner (AVG 15.22, SR 126.89), India play Jadeja (has never passed 50 in a T20 International- AVG 15.5, SR 112.43), and England play Sam Curran who also offers little more than a cameo. All of these players average more than 25 in First Class cricket- they can bat, but have ordinary numbers in T20s as they often come in with an over left, and effectively throw their wicket away in search of quick runs.

In T20 cricket, most teams consider a fifth bowler more important than a seventh batsman. An expensive fifth bowler can lose the game for a team, whilst the typical number 7 faces a limited number of balls and can feed the strike to a more accomplished batsman. In an ideal world, Agar improves his short form batting, or Sams improves his bowling and pushes Agar to 8- in the interim, the 5 bowlers strategy works.

Labuschagne making a run at T20 World Cup

The Handscomb comparison is interesting, and their Test careers have followed similar trajectories to date. The difference is that Handscomb averages 37 in First Class Cricket, and Ballance averages 47. Handscomb made the Test side on the back of strong form, which deviated from an otherwise average career record. Ballance dominates County cricket every year. They’re different level players.
It could well be that Ballance’s technique isn’t up to Test standard, but to me it’s a risk worth taking. Almost everyone that England has tried since has failed. In the last year alone Sibley, Burns, Crawley, Root, and Pope have all gone through an extended form slump as bad as Ballance’s in 2017. If England treat everyone the way they’ve treated Ballance, they’ll have no one left to choose from. A good team could ignore Gary Ballance and jump to the conclusion that he’s not Test standard- I don’t think England have the luxury.

What happened to Gary Ballance?

Malan only averaged 27 from 15 Tests, so I think he has less right to feel aggrieved. He’s been exceptional in county cricket and T20 Internationals since though, so I think he should be in the mix for a recall as well.

What happened to Gary Ballance?

I’m not huge on the idea of only 3 of 5 Ashes Tests counting.
I actually don’t dislike the current format of splitting 120 points across a series. Sweeping a two Test series isn’t that difficult, so I would make every series at least 3 Tests. If Australia, England, and India want to play longer series then I don’t have an issue with the 120 points being split over 4 or 5 Tests- if anything it disadvantages bigger nations (given longer series are harder to sweep), which is hardly a bad thing. I would also increase the value of the draw, to make the numbers less confusing- Australia and England taking 56 points each out of the Ashes was bizarre- just give them both 60.
The issue of not playing every team is a fair criticism, although without COVID, I feel this would have been less of a problem. In future, I would have each team play 4 home series and 4 away, to ensure they play against every team. If this pushes the cycle from 2 years to 3, I don’t have an issue with that- although I don’t think 8 Test series in 2 years is an unreasonable workload.
Hopefully one day, more Test playing nations emerge, allowing the creation of a second division, with a promotion-relegation system. There are already 3 Test playing nations (Zimbabwe, Ireland, and Afghanistan) not in the WTC- perhaps the likes of Scotland, the UAE, and the Netherlands could join them in a second tier. Afghanistan played their first international in 2009, and have already gained Test status, so it’s perfectly feasible for other nations to develop rapidly, creating a second division with 7 teams (3 series at home, 3 away). Given the costs of staging Test matches, I would allow 2 Test series in the second division.

A fairer format for the World Test Championship

I think England’s batting selection should be a key talking point, after their feeble first innings performance. Sure, Stokes and Buttler are missing, but I struggle to see how a batting lineup with these numbers will win many Tests.

Sibley- 19 Tests, 942 runs @ 31.4
Burns- 24 Tests, 1448 runs @ 32.9
Crawley- 13 Tests, 687 runs @ 31.22
Pope- 18 Tests, 840 runs @ 32.3
Lawrence- 6 Tests, 248 runs @ 24.8
The backup batsman in this squad (Haseeb Hameed) has a First Class average of 32.

The one that I really struggle to understand is Crawley- he made an excellent 267 against Pakistan, but prior to that innings his FC average was at risk of dropping below 30. Nothing before or since his epic knock suggests he is ready for Test cricket. He was plucked from obscurity, as a random young opener with a modest domestic record. He’s only 23, so he may well be Test level one day, but it’s hard to see how he got into the side to begin with.

There are other options available:
Gary Balance has a FC average of 47 (including 40 centuries), a better Test record than all of these guys selected in front of him, and makes runs every season domestically (292 @ 41.71 this year, missed 2020, 975 runs @ 46.42 in 2019, 906 runs @ 39.39 in 2018, 951 runs @ 67.92 in 2017). England’s second best batsman hasn’t played a Test in four years.

Dawid Malan’s first Test stint was ultimately unsuccessful, but he’s been exceptional domestically (and in white ball internationals) since: 1005 runs @ 47.85 in 2019, 332 runs @ 66.4 in 2020, and 199 in his first game this season.

They won’t do it, but surely a better top 6 for the second Test would be:

The talking points from the England-NZ first Test

It’s bizarre isn’t it.
Mitchell Santner- Test: 41 wickets @ 45.63, FC: 84 wickets @ 47.39
Ajaz Patel- Test: 22 wickets @ 33.31, FC: 244 wickets @ 32.59
Ish Sodhi- Test: 41 wickets @ 48.58 (not great either), FC: 264 wickets @ 34.48
Will Sommerville- Test: 15 wickets @ 32.46, FC: 113 wickets @ 29.55

Todd Astle (334 FC wickets @ 32.17) retired from FC cricket after the Sydney Test last year, but was picked just 5 times. His record with the bat (4345 runs @ 25.86) is pretty comparable to Santner’s.

They’ve always had better options than Santner, one of which was just as accomplished with the bat.

The talking points from the England-NZ first Test

I think those numbers are a touch misleading. Smith has batted 5 times at number 4 in T20 International cricket- hardly a significant number. In the IPL, he averages 35 at number 4.

Australia should rotate their top six during the Caribbean and Bangladesh tours

For some reason I thought he had batted a bit more than that. Nonetheless, based on his performances domestically, and in ODI cricket, I would have expected better than an average of 12 from 14 completed innings.

Australia should rotate their top six during the Caribbean and Bangladesh tours

I tend to agree that a rotation policy is the best way to establish the ideal XI. I hope this also involves testing Finch down the order, which could solve the keeping problem by allowing Wade or Philippe to open.

Another option would be to push Smith to 4 and Maxwell to 5, allowing the keeper to come in at number 3 if a wicket falls in the powerplay. They listed Wade at 3 in the first T20 vs India last summer, but after Short and Finch batted out the powerplay, he ended up sliding to 6. I don’t mind the idea of Wade or Philippe playing as a third opener, but then sliding down the order if no wicket falls early (In Wade’s case he could even slide as low as 7).

Inglis’ omission is puzzling, given his performances in the middle order for the Scorchers- he’s signed to play T20 Blast for Leicestershire, so maybe he was left out for the same logistical reasons as Labuschagne (but the Blast hasn’t started yet, so surely they could have changed his plans). I find Carey’s failure in the T20I format strange, given his success as a lower order batsmen in ODIs. He also batted pretty well in his stint at number 4 for the Strikers, but hasn’t managed to translate the success to internationals.

As for the non-wicketkeeper spot, I think Stoinis’ improvement has been impressive, and he is probably the most likely to get the role. I think much of his improvement down the order can be attributed to his time in the IPL, where he has performed strongly batting at 5 and 6. It’s a pity there’s no Dan Christian, but I don’t begrudge Stones, Marsh and Henriques the opportunity.

On another note, it’s a shame that Daniel Sams has struggled with the ball at international level. His late order hitting could be a real asset to the team, but there’s no justification for picking him as the third seamer, given the calibre of the other bowlers.

Australia should rotate their top six during the Caribbean and Bangladesh tours