The Roar
The Roar

Ronan O'Connell

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Joined April 2013

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Based between Asia and Ireland, Ronan travels the world as a photojournalist, contributing stories and photography to 70+ magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, Forbes, The San Francisco Chronicle, Toronto Star, The Independent (UK), The Guardian, Irish Examiner, Australian Financial Review, South China Morning Post, Singapore Straits Times, The National, Emirates, News Ltd etc. Ronan has been a reporter for 16 years and his photojournalism work has taken him to more than 60 countries. Before becoming a freelance photojournalist he spent nine years working at daily newspapers in W.A. where he variously was a chief crime reporter, political writer, health reporter and features writer.

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That’s where Lyon comes in so handy because he is an extremely fit and durable bowler so, if necessary, he can easily wheel down 30 tight overs per day.

That leaves the 3 frontline quicks only needing to bowl 60 together – say Starc and Cummins 21 each and Pattinson 18.

Pattinson bowled 20 overs out of Sussex’s 71 over innings on day one in the Australia A match so they’re not trying to limit his workload too much.

Pattinson bowled as many overs as Bird and Neser combined that day.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Australia’s only hope of winning this series is to win or at the very least draw this opening Test, there’s no chance of them coming back from 1-0 down, so they have to nail their selections, can’t just pick guys because they’re incumbents, current/recent form is key.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Khawaja is the key for me in this series – I think Warner and Smith will do well, but they need a third guy to stand up and that really needs to be Khawaja at 3 with his experience.

If he has a good series then suddenly Australia’s top 4 will be formidable and it will really ease the pressure on the middle order.

If Australia’s middle order is regularly exposed early I think it will fall apart but if it gets decent protection from the top 4 I think the middle order can surprise England.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

In a small squad of 16 I actually don’t think Carey will get picked (unless he goes crazy in this match) because they already have Wade who is the better specialist batting option than Carey and also provides back-up as a keeper in case Paine gets injured.

I think from their 5 reserve players in the squad they’ll want – 2 quicks, 1 batsman, 1 spinner, 1 “all-rounder” (Labuschagne/Marsh). No place for a 3rd keeper in Carey.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

We need someone at the ground to do a live stream from their phone, even with grainy footage I’d still watch the whole match!

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Labuschagne is a much better leg spinner than Smith, who has very, very rarely bowled in first-class cricket for the past 6-7 years.

Smith – 4 first-class wickets in the past 4 years

Labuschagne – 35 first-class wickets in the past 9 months.

Labuschagne has taken 19 wickets from 10 matches in county cricket this season so he’s grown accustomed to the conditions.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Right now this is how I’d structure Australia’s pace attack in this Ashes:

Good batting pitch – Starc, Cummins, Pattinson

Seaming deck – Cummins, Siddle, Pattinson/Hazlewood

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Hi Bush,

I agree on Head, I would have him as a lock in my side and my gut tells me he’s probably 90% picked already in the selector’s minds. But if he has two single digit scores in this match and two out of Wade/Bancroft/Labuschagne/Patterson dominate then who knows, because the selectors have been shown in recent times to be heavily influenced by one sparkling performance.

On Hazlewood I disagree, I don’t think he’s locked in ahead of Pattinson at all due to:

(1) Hazlewood’s poor recent Test form – average of 37 in his past seven Tests.
(2) Hazlewood taking only 3 wickets at 62 on this Australia A tour so far, including 0-for in the same match where Pattinson took 7-77.
(3) Hazlewood’s lack of match bowling in the past 7 months – he’s played just one red-ball match in that time.
(4) Pattinson’s insane record in the last 18 months in the UK – 51 wickets at 14.
(5) Pattinson’s much greater value with the bat in a country where Australia have really battled for runs in recent times.

Hazlewood needs to bowl well, and perhaps even very well, in this match to play in the 1st Test.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Labuschagne is clearly a stronger batting option than Marsh so if they need a 5th bowling option I’d say it (should be) a pretty straightforward pick.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

I think it’s pretty unanimous among cricket pundits and followers that Paine is clearly a better keeper than Carey and with the bat we just don’t know – Paine has averaged 35 since returning to the Test team, and there’s no guarantees Carey would have done that well, let alone better.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

In the 1st Test if Burns bats at 6 and Hazlewood plays ahead of a fit Starc I’ll eat my cap.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

If Langer decides to go with an all rounder it pretty much guarantees a spot for Mitch Marsh since he’s the only one featuring in this match.

Not necessarily given that Labuschagne has now become an impactful 5th bowler.

Since his Test debut Labuschagne has taken 35 wickets from 25 first-class matches.

Mitch Marsh has 32 wickets from his last 25 FC matches.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

The strength of England’s tail is one reason why I think Starc is a certainty to play the 1st Test, he has an unparalleled ability to run through tails and against England that is crucial.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Carey certainly won’t be playing the 1st Test ahead of Paine but the top 7 will have up to 5 left handers regardless.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

Yeah I’ve not seen any signs yet that CA will stream this match which is a real pity as there’s a lot of fans who’d love to watch.

Five Ashes spots up for grabs tomorrow

I understand your viewpoint on 5th bowling options Dave but every Test selection panel in the world disagrees with you – every Test team makes a point (more often than not) of picking someone in their top 6/7 who can act as a decent 5th bowling option.

The fact Labuschagne has made 5 county tons this season is reason enough to treat him as a proper specialist batsman, with his handy leg spin then an added bonus that improves the balance of a red ball side, the same way Pattinson’s batting is an advantage for him in a hypothetical line-ball call between say he and Bird.

I’m not saying Labuschagne should be a lock in the Test XI rather that, if he is picked, then his bowling 100% improves Australia’s attack for a variety of reasons.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

I’m not saying Australia has 2000-era levels of batting talent I’m pointing out that it is many years – at least 7-8 years – since there has been such heavy competition for Test batting spots.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

I don’t think sections of the Barmy Army would have any qualms about attacking Pucovski’s mental health, they’ve served up some vile chants in the past.

They humiliated Candice Warner with a misogynistic chant – there are some absolute s cumbags amongst the Barmy Army crew.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

The Ashes squad is only 16 players this time.

No idea why they’ve reduced it would definitely have made more sense to have 17/18.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

Wherever possible I think it’s best to introduce all new Test players in the easiest circumstances possible because those first few Tests are always a steep learning curve and trying to find your feet at a much higher level amid the intense spotlight of an Ashes, for example, or a tour of India/SA must be so much harder.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

I’m a fan of Patterson, have been for 3-4 years now, but in such a big series you really want guys coming in with hot form and he’s only averaged 21 with the bat in his last six FC matches.

He’ll need a score in this last warm-up match to hold his spot in the Test XI I think.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

Personally there’s no way I’d be throwing Pucovski into the Ashes with just 14 FC games under his belt, especially when they have so many other more experienced options who are in form.

It would have been one thing to give Pucovski a taste of Test cricket at home against Sri Lanka last summer but it’s too early for him to be facing Anderson, Woakes and Archer on greentops.

The good thing about Australia’s array of Test batting options at the moment is that they can afford to let a young guy like Pucovski develop – let him get another 10-15 first-class matches under his belt and if he’s still flying then give him a crack.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

Australia have so many good pace options that I’d just leave Jhye to get extra recovery time and forget about him playing in this Ashes at this point.

He’s going to be so important to Australia in all 3 formats going forward that it’s crucial he’s managed properly now.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

Indeed, it’s a long time since Australia have had so many batsmen who genuinely justify Test selection.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot

I agree Nudge that Bancroft has significant potential as a Test batsman.
His impressive mental strength has been obvious since 4 years ago when he batted for more than 6 hours on a Chennai dustbowl to make 150 against a strong India A attack featuring 3 bowlers with Test experience.
That was a truly remarkable innings given that the pitch was so difficult that India A had just been bowled out for 135 batting first despite boasting Kohli, Pujara, Mukund, Nair, Iyer and Naman Ojha.
That pitch was such a dustbowl that Aussie opening bowling Sandhu abandoned bowling pace and ending up taking 5 wickets with off spin.

Bancroft or Labuschagne could take Khawaja's Ashes spot