Almanac Cricket – Australia A: Who’s knocking on the selectors’ doors?

As Australia’s selectors shuffled the deckchairs during the Ashes debacle, the driptray defence tended to be…”it’s not as though there’s anyone knocking on the door.”

When pressed, none of these “authorities” even knew of the “A” team’s travels, travails and triumphs which I’d tried to follow, mostly on cricbuzz. They’ll need to become acquainted with some of these players who will form the basis of the new era in Australian cricket.

  • THE TOUR

The last trip to the sub-continent sniffed of the old “too hard” ethos so it was important that these “in waitings” had a crack. There was a triangular limited over series and a couple of first-class matches. Very strong sides represented the combatants but Australia comprehensively won their opening games, with Khawaja (c) and Burns dominant at the top of the order and Gurinder Singh Sandhu (the good quickie who then grabbed 3/10 with offies) consistent and successful with the ball along with the durable Steve O’Keefe.

Good experiences for the Aussies but, then, terrible luck for the Proteas – did you know about this?

“With half of the squad falling ill overnight, and more going down during the match, South Africa A were forced to use their video analyst Henrikus Coertzen in the field, as well as India A’s Mandeep Singh. Reeza Hendricks, Khaya Zondo and Mthokozisi Shezi took their place in the XI despite being among those to feel ill, however, they all had to be taken to hospital during the course of the match. The hosts collected a bonus point in a comprehensive eight-wicket win with 12 overs to spare, despite a sparkling century from opening batsman Quinton de Kock. The 22-year-old had been in the country for less than 24 hours before Dean Elgar won the toss and elected to bat. South Africa A ended up posting a target of 245 from their 50 overs at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium with wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Vilas’ knock of 50 from 50 balls the only meaningful support for de Kock (108 off 124). Allrounder Rishi Dhawan was the pick of the bowlers for India A to finish with figures of 4-49 from his 10 overs .Mayank Agarwal (130 off 122) and Unmukt Chand (90 off 94) made light work of the run chase as they compiled an opening stand of 219 in less than 35 overs against a depleted South African bowling attack. In further bad news for the tourists, de Kock was also forced to hospital after the match.”

Incredible.

SA were unable to field a side for their next fixture and the Aussies’ schedule was rejigged. Ultimately the Australians lost just the one game – alas, the Final, and spitting allegations soured relations!

In the first class matches the scores were-

DRAW- India 301 (O’Keefe 6/82) and 8d/306, Aust 268 (Handscomb 91, Stoinis 77) and 4/161 (Bancroft 51, Head 50)

AUST win by 10 wkts- India 135 and 274 (Sandhu match 36.5, 7/101) and Aust 349 (Bancroft 150) and 0/62

  • THE PLAYERS

Cameron Bancroft showed last season that he has the patience and technique to cope if Tests remain 5 day challenges! Khawaja did well and has emerged as an unlikely leader. As mentioned, the opposition was strong with plenty of Test experience and aspirants. The Australians, across the various formats, picked some of those to be entrusted with joining Steve Smith and the “next generation”. Batsmen included Bancroft, Khawaja, Burns, Head, Ferguson, Handscomb, Lynn and Maddinson, Wade kept wkts OK and batted productively when needed, Stoinis developed as an all-rounder and Abbott, Sandhu, Fekete, Pattinson, Coulter-Nile, O’Keefe, Agar, Boyce and others got valuable experience bowling in Chennai.

  • EXTRAS

There are other talents not used in The Ashes nor India. Max Klinger, for example, is plundering county attacks. James Faulkner will overcome the behavioural issues and be a good player. Finch, T20 only for mine, has been injured.

The U19s have also just toured UK.

  • THE FUTURE

Warner’s injury and sundry retirements have opened the door for a new direction. A Bangladesh tour, which beckons, is perfect. They are not a bad side and the challenges will bond a developing group.

Who should play in the first Test at Chittagong from October 9? Is it time for a total revamp and put faith in the next generation, or should players like Klinger, S.Marsh, Bailey and Siddle play a transitional role?

Quickly, on spec…for long form and on the dry deck –

Bancroft, Khawaja, Burns, Smith, Maxwell, M.Marsh, Nevill, Starc, Sandhu, Cummins, Lyon.

The selectors have some big calls to make before The ‘Gabba on November 5. The Kiwis fancy themselves and already are playing mind-games….look at McCullum’s cheap jibes at Smith in the wake of the Stokes controversy! Warner, Hazelwood and Pattinson will be amongst those rejuvenated and jostling for positions, and hopefully someone like Handscomb has raised his hand (or bat!).

There’s a full round of Shield matches scheduled from October 27; let’s hope these are selection trials and not another batch of players “rested” rather than tested. Rod Marsh and Darren Lehmann have a great chance to show some leadership and help Australia regenerate and bloom in to an exciting International force.

For once, we might have strong public interest, discussion and anticipation surrounding the summer’s rep side. It promises to be a very interesting remainder of 2015.

 

Comments

  1. Peter Warrington says:

    Where is Silk? Get him in. And Burns, Khawaja’s an Maxwell. No need for Voges of Marshes, Mirch potentially 3rd seamer on some decks but no number 6 for mine.

  2. Yeah, Peter, doesn’t look Test standard to rely on Maxwell and M.Marsh in the middle order. I made an exception for Chittagong but certainly not Gabba

  3. Anyone who considers Maxwell for a spot in the Test team has no respect and little knowledge for the game of Test cricket. Let him play ODIs and T20s, where no one really gives a stuff if you don’t put a price on your wicket. Compare him to Steve Waugh and ask yourself whether he should occupy a spot in the squad, let alone the great mans batting position…….

  4. And why has Cowan been discarded? He didn’t do a lot wrong when he was there before. Plenty of experience is what we need right now. And I’d have Voges.

  5. Thanks Crio – I wasn’t even aware of the spitting incident – will have to look it up.

    Cowan has essentially given up on international cricket, Adrian. He is no longer a realistic selection option. As for Maxwell, I think it is reasonable for people with respect and knowledge of the game to discuss his potential selection. He is an incredibly talented cricketer and the idea that a batsman is either capable or incapable of valuing his wicket would have seen Warner never playing test cricket.

  6. Good stuff, Crio.
    For what it is worth, I am actually looking forward to watching a new generation of cricketers play for Australia.
    Finch: Slightly disagree with you here, I think he is ok in the 50-over format also.
    Max Klinger: I reckon he has missed the boat, unfortunately. Has Jamie Siddons written all over him.
    James Faulkner: a stellar season at Lancs (they won the T20 Blast comp) which surely can only improve his Test prospects. he just needs more runs at FC level.
    Ed Cowan: he quit Tassie for family reasons to move back to Sydney without a contract or the promise of a spot in the NSW team.
    Sandhu: he just does not have the weapons for Test cricket – nowhere near quick enough.
    Maddinson: for me, he is the one to watch. Superior talent. But I reckon T20 is ruining him at present.

  7. Smokie, I have Sandhu and Maxwell in at Chittagong, not Brissie.
    Maddinson has been spoiled by T20
    Finch bats well at MCG but woe betide a seaming deck
    Maybe they could try Boyce or someone in Chittagong … I remain a Lyon skeptic

  8. Terry Towelling says:

    Apart from the fact that T20 didn’t exist at the time, Steve Waugh was regarded exactly as Glenn Maxwell is now, for a solid 7 or 8 years after he started his Test career. That is to say, a flashy batsman who was well suited to limited overs cricket, but who didn’t place sufficient value on his wicket.

    In his first 4 calendar years in which he played test cricket, Waugh averaged 9, 30, 36, 30. He then had a big tour of England, scoring his first ton after 4 years of trying, and made 1989 a banner year, before slumping again and averaging 14, 23, 17 in the next three years and being dropped in the process. All the while he was arguably the best player in the Australian ODI squad. He then got his nut down, stripped his game back and became one of the great Test batsmen.

    Maxwell has had very little opportunity to prove himself at a Test level, compared to the long armchair ride Steve Waugh was afforded. Why people think he is finished as a test prospect at 26 with less than a handful of matches behind him surpasses my understanding.

  9. I followed the 2nd Team tour of India as best as I could. The South African’s being hit with Delhi Belly was a nice little throwback to how tours of the subcontinent were more than just the battle out in the middle. It is highly doubtful a proper Test touring team would be subjected to any sub-standard fare.

    The Indian’s fielded more like their 1.5 team than their 2nd’s, and still suffered defeats in the round robin of the tri tournament. The Final was more a case of the Australians waiting to play their worst game whilst the Indians finally got it together.

    I can’t recall a time since the Rebel tours hot on the heels of the retirements of Chappell, Lillee and Marsh where there is such a quick turnover of players who will wear the baggy green.

    After so many years of dominance, perhaps the most intriguing part of the looming summer will be to see who will step up to maintain the standard we have become accustomed to.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Remember, the Kiwis won the last Test they played in Australia.

  10. Hobart = neutral venue!

  11. Not cool, Chris. Funny, but not cool.

  12. Ball moving around a bit in Leeds – Aussies in strife. Finch, Burns, Smith out already.

  13. Maxwell is such an enigma. He shouls have twice been out tonight when the side was reeling but now is on the verge of a ton. Fascinating contrast with Bailey who has a steady head and steady mind. Great partnership.

  14. and, not surprisingly, the shot to get out (by Maxwell) was embarrassing – beach cricket

  15. Crio, what was the spitting incident ?

    Re future test side , as a test player Maxwell is fantastic in limited overs cricket, but tests? If a side was picked on April 1he’d be an option, otherwise leave him where he excels. Where is Fawad Ahmed in the equation? He was fast tracked to Australian citizenship, leading wicket taker last shield season, he deserves a test. Michael Klinger, handy cricketer, but not worthy of considering a test berth. Are Ferguson and Quiney off the radar? I still prefer Wade to Nevill, though the latter is the incumbent.

    Glen!

  16. 15 man squad for Balgladesh has been announced:-

    Steve Smith (captain), Adam Voges (vice-captain), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Patrick Cummins, Andrew Fekete, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Stephen O’Keefe, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc.

  17. Fekete was indeed a surprise, not because of ability and Shield form (ironically criteria many of us have been prioritising) but his age and the stage of Australia’s rebuilding seemed to hint of a younger prospect – perhaps his selection is allowing the fragile young bucks time to reload?

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