What happens in the next chapter of Australian cricket?

Australia’s summer of cricket is upon us.

The next chapter of Australian cricket is about to get underway with Steve Smith at the helm.

Brisbane’s traditional First Test is less than two weeks away (5-9 Nov), and there are still several spots up for grabs in the Australian team. Our opposition at the Gabba and for two more Tests after that is New Zealand, who arrived on our shores this week.

The Black Caps squad will play the obligatory warm-up games against the Prime Minister’s XI (23-Oct) and Cricket Australia XI’s (24 & 29-Oct) in preparation for that First Test, with their last Test match being a win against England at Leeds all the way back in May. Many of the players who were in their World Cup squad are returning for the Test series, which looks to be a strong line-up. New Zealand managed to steal a win against us the last time they played a Test here, at Bellerive Oval in 2011, but haven’t won a series in Australia since 1985. The usually vast gap between the two sides has been cut down significantly in recent years, however, and the Kiwis will represent a tough challenge for Australia with their talented pace attack and world-class middle-order batsmen.

There is plenty of uncertainty around Australia’s team, still reeling from that fourth consecutive away Ashes defeat. The aftermath of the series was that Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Chris Rogers all retired from cricket, leaving us 265 games of experience lighter. The transition would have been made much easier if September’s tour of Bangladesh went ahead, but security concerns meant the two Test matches were cancelled. The competitive Bangladesh team coupled with the difficult foreign conditions was going to be a great opportunity for inexperienced batsmen Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns, and would have at least made clearer who deserves to play at the Gabba.

But with those two Tests cancelled, the Aussies have been playing for their respective state teams in the BBQ Matador Cup, facing the white ball instead of the red (or pink) ball. The late inclusion of the players who were supposed to go to Bangladesh has been great for the tournament’s sponsors and has probably helped Channel Nine promote their coverage of it, but for the development of our elite cricketers I don’t think it’s been as good as it could be.

Peter Siddle can’t get a game for Victoria in the Matador Cup, so he isn’t able to have any sort of form-line going into the first Test, despite being taking 6/43 in the last Test match we played. It puts him at a disadvantage that wouldn’t exist if the summer was scheduled differently. The addition of a Cricket Australia XI to the competition was certainly positive for our up and coming players, but for me the state schedule should fit in around the international schedule.

Why have the summer’s entire allotment of state one-dayers as a lead-up to the Test series, and when the next One-Day International involving Australia isn’t until after all six Tests? It leaves too many questions unanswered about the Australian Test team. The three-match series against New Zealand will be used to stabilise the team, giving the Kiwis a genuine chance to beat us on our own soil. The first ever day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval (27-Nov – 1-Dec) might well be the series decider, making the historic occasion a final of sorts.

Australia should be settled by the time the West Indies arrive for their three Tests, which should be a much easier set of matches and could present another chance to blood new players.

The Sheffield Shield, which I love, will roll on throughout the course of the summer, and the Big Bash will come and go in no time. India pays us a visit for five one-dayers and three t20’s in January, before the Aussies follow New Zealand across the Tasman for a jam-packed February involving matches in all three forms of the game. At the beginning of March, Australia will commence a tour of South Africa.

The next chapter is about to start, and we won’t have to wait long to find out if it’s a good one.

About Tom Riordan

Tom Riordan is in his second year of a Bachelor of Journalism at Swinburne University. He loves all sports, and plays for Brunswick Cricket Club. He supports the Western Bulldogs and can be found on weekends among half a dozen others in Q38 on the top level of the MCC.

Comments

  1. Peter Warrington says:

    I imagine there must have been similar excitement and apprehension in the early-mid 60’s, as Davo and Harvey and Benaud and Slasher, not long after Jim Burke, MCDonald etc. The selectors generally went young, with a touch of Peter Burge around the sidelines, and unearthed Lawry, Redpath, I Chappell, Cowper, Stackpole, Walters between 61-5. Pretty solid return.

    I am much more nervous about the bowling, and why Hazxlewood is on the outer after averaging 8 or something in the Windies and then 26 in England, while Johnson at 34 and after averaging 35 in England is a walk-up start. Wrong wrong wrong. Patttinson Starc Cummins a spinner M Marsh and let the future in…

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