Infotainment Factory: Gun Test rejects: Australia's unluckiest batsmen

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Sunday, 6 January 2019

Gun Test rejects: Australia's unluckiest batsmen


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In this miserable summer above all others, you have to feel sorry for some of our unluckiest Australian batsmen.

They were mighty players who scored a mountain of runs in the Sheffield Shield, back when it was a world-leading first-class competition, yet could only dream of being ushered into a marquee home Test series. Consider our current crop of Test batsmen. Entering the ongoing Sydney Test, where runs have again been hard to come by, here were their first-class records.

Marcus Harris: 4,330 runs at 35.20, nine centuries.

Usman Khawaja: 9,356 runs at 43.71, 27 centuries.

Marnus Labuschagne: 2,521 runs at 33.17, four centuries.

Shaun Marsh: 10,149 runs at 40.92, 26 centuries.

Travis Head: 5,189 runs at 36.80, seven centuries.

Peter Handscomb: 6,030 runs at 38.65, 14 centuries.

Only two batsmen - Khawaja and Marsh - are above 40, the long-accepted benchmark for Test class batsmen. Since the 2018 SCG Test, Marsh is averaging 18.10 with one half-century in Test cricket and his overall record is 38 Tests for 2,265 runs at 34.31, with six centuries.

No Australian batsman has averaged 40 in this series against India, which has had three players – Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli – above the mark.

The first-class records of the Indian batting order put the Aussies to shame.

Mayank Agarwal: 3,717 runs at 50.22, eight centuries.

KL Rahul: 5,496 runs at 46.97, 14 centuries.

Cheteshwar Pujara: 14,281 runs at 53.89, 47 centuries.

Virat Kohli: 8,839 runs at 54.22, 32 centuries.

Ajinkya Rahane: 9,531 runs at 50.96, 29 centuries.

Hanuma Vihari: 5,423 runs at 57.69, 15 centuries.

That’s every batsman bar one averaging above 50.

Pujara especially has put Australia to shame in this series, giving a masterclass on Test batting. Topping the charts with 521 runs at 74.42, with three centuries, the Indian No.3 has faced 1,258 balls. The best Australian (as of stumps on Day 4 in the final Test) was Khawaja with 592 (for 198 runs at 28.28, highest score 72), while Harris has the home side's top score: a modest 79.

A number of Australian batsmen have been gifted a shot at Test cricket this year by the suspensions of David Warner and Steve Smith. Except perhaps for Harris, no one has put their hand up for a permanent gig.

Just imagine how these players would have loved an opportunity to cement themselves in the Test side; players with wonderful careers who were stuck behind modern greats and got little to no opportunity to play for Australia.

Note, too, the first-class runs made above and beyond their Sheffield Shield exploits – most of them in England. What Australia wouldn’t give for that kind of proven performance on the swinging, seaming pitches of the Old Dart heading into this year’s Ashes series.

JAMIE COX

The opening batsman made 18,614 first-class runs in a decorated career, averaging 42.69 with 51 centuries and a highest score of 250. In Sheffield Shield for Tasmania, he made 10,821 runs at 38.92, with 30 centuries. That is the second-most Shield runs by any batsman since 1980 (behind Darren Lehmann, 13,635 runs). Cox could not get a game in Test cricket due to the likes of Mark Taylor, Michael Slater, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.

MICHAEL DI VENUTO

Another Tasmanian opener, Di Venuto had a monster first-class career that reaped 25,200 runs at 45.90, with 60 centuries and a best of 254 not out. He made 9,974 runs in Sheffield Shield, averaging 41.73 with 19 centuries. Like Cox, he never played a single Test, though he played nine ODIs for Australia.

JAMIE SIDDONS

The South Australian batting prodigy is another who never got a baggy green, despite a first-class record of 11,587 runs at 44.91, with 35 centuries and a highest score of 245. A stylish and aggressive player, Siddons made 10,643 runs in Sheffield Shield at 44.72 with 30 centuries; putting him third behind Lehmann and Cox for most Shield runs since 1980. He played one ODI for Australia, making 32. Siddons was stuck behind the likes of David Boon, the Waugh brothers and Ricky Ponting.

BRAD HODGE

Got his baggy green cap after mounting an irresistible case with Victoria, only to be dumped despite a strong start to his Test career. Hodge played six Tests for 503 runs at 55.88, with a best of 203 not out against an excellent South African pace attack. He was dumped two Tests after that double-century, simply because selectors preferred Damien Martyn. Hodge made 17,084 first-class runs at 48.81, with 51 centuries and a highest score of 302 not out. In Sheffield Shield, he hit 10,474 runs at 45.34, with 29 centuries.

STUART LAW

The Queenslander played a single Test for Australia when an injury to Steve Waugh momentarily opened the door. He made 54 not out in his one and only innings, leaving Test cricket with no average. In first-class cricket, he amassed 27,080 runs at 50.52, with 79 centuries and a best of 263. His Sheffield Shield record was 9,034 runs at 43.85, with 24 centuries. Law at least played 54 ODIs for Australia, making one century in green-and-gold.

MARTIN LOVE

Love played five Tests, but can count himself hard done given that he was dropped immediately after making his maiden century for Australia: 100 not out against Bangladesh. The Queenslander was another batsman who fell victim to Martyn’s return to the side. Love left Test cricket with an average of 46.60, and also made 16,952 first-class runs at 49.85, with 45 centuries and a best of 300 not out. In Sheffield Shield, he made 10,132 runs at 45.23, with 27 centuries.

In this miserable summer above all others, you have to feel sorry for some of our unluckiest Australian batsmen.

They were mighty players who scored a mountain of runs in the Sheffield Shield, back when it was a world-leading first-class competition, yet could only dream of being ushered into a marquee home Test series. Consider our current crop of Test batsmen. Entering the ongoing Sydney Test, where runs have again been hard to come by, here were their first-class records.

Marcus Harris: 4,330 runs at 35.20, nine centuries.

Usman Khawaja: 9,356 runs at 43.71, 27 centuries.

Marnus Labuschagne: 2,521 runs at 33.17, four centuries.

Shaun Marsh: 10,149 runs at 40.92, 26 centuries.

Travis Head: 5,189 runs at 36.80, seven centuries.

Peter Handscomb: 6,030 runs at 38.65, 14 centuries.

Only two batsmen - Khawaja and Marsh - are above 40, the long-accepted benchmark for Test class batsmen. Since the 2018 SCG Test, Marsh is averaging 18.10 with one half-century in Test cricket and his overall record is 38 Tests for 2,265 runs at 34.31, with six centuries.

No Australian batsman has averaged 40 in this series against India, which has had three players – Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant and Virat Kohli – above the mark.

The first-class records of the Indian batting order put the Aussies to shame.

Mayank Agarwal: 3,717 runs at 50.22, eight centuries.

KL Rahul: 5,496 runs at 46.97, 14 centuries.

Cheteshwar Pujara: 14,281 runs at 53.89, 47 centuries.

Virat Kohli: 8,839 runs at 54.22, 32 centuries.

Ajinkya Rahane: 9,531 runs at 50.96, 29 centuries.

Hanuma Vihari: 5,423 runs at 57.69, 15 centuries.

That’s every batsman bar one averaging above 50.

Pujara especially has put Australia to shame in this series, giving a masterclass on Test batting. Topping the charts with 521 runs at 74.42, with three centuries, the Indian No.3 has faced 1,258 balls. The best Australian (as of stumps on Day 4 in the final Test) was Khawaja with 592 (for 198 runs at 28.28, highest score 72), while Harris has the home side's top score: a modest 79.

A number of Australian batsmen have been gifted a shot at Test cricket this year by the suspensions of David Warner and Steve Smith. Except perhaps for Harris, no one has put their hand up for a permanent gig.

Just imagine how these players would have loved an opportunity to cement themselves in the Test side; players with wonderful careers who were stuck behind modern greats and got little to no opportunity to play for Australia.

Note, too, the first-class runs made above and beyond their Sheffield Shield exploits – most of them in England. What Australia wouldn’t give for that kind of proven performance on the swinging, seaming pitches of the Old Dart heading into this year’s Ashes series.

JAMIE COX

The opening batsman made 18,614 first-class runs in a decorated career, averaging 42.69 with 51 centuries and a highest score of 250. In Sheffield Shield for Tasmania, he made 10,821 runs at 38.92, with 30 centuries. That is the second-most Shield runs by any batsman since 1980 (behind Darren Lehmann, 13,635 runs). Cox could not get a game in Test cricket due to the likes of Mark Taylor, Michael Slater, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer.

MICHAEL DI VENUTO

Another Tasmanian opener, Di Venuto had a monster first-class career that reaped 25,200 runs at 45.90, with 60 centuries and a best of 254 not out. He made 9,974 runs in Sheffield Shield, averaging 41.73 with 19 centuries. Like Cox, he never played a single Test, though he played nine ODIs for Australia.

JAMIE SIDDONS

The South Australian batting prodigy is another who never got a baggy green, despite a first-class record of 11,587 runs at 44.91, with 35 centuries and a highest score of 245. A stylish and aggressive player, Siddons made 10,643 runs in Sheffield Shield at 44.72 with 30 centuries; putting him third behind Lehmann and Cox for most Shield runs since 1980. He played one ODI for Australia, making 32. Siddons was stuck behind the likes of David Boon, the Waugh brothers and Ricky Ponting.

BRAD HODGE

Got his baggy green cap after mounting an irresistible case with Victoria, only to be dumped despite a strong start to his Test career. Hodge played six Tests for 503 runs at 55.88, with a best of 203 not out against an excellent South African pace attack. He was dumped two Tests after that double-century, simply because selectors preferred Damien Martyn. Hodge made 17,084 first-class runs at 48.81, with 51 centuries and a highest score of 302 not out. In Sheffield Shield, he hit 10,474 runs at 45.34, with 29 centuries.

STUART LAW

The Queenslander played a single Test for Australia when an injury to Steve Waugh momentarily opened the door. He made 54 not out in his one and only innings, leaving Test cricket with no average. In first-class cricket, he amassed 27,080 runs at 50.52, with 79 centuries and a best of 263. His Sheffield Shield record was 9,034 runs at 43.85, with 24 centuries. Law at least played 54 ODIs for Australia, making one century in green-and-gold.

MARTIN LOVE

Love played five Tests, but can count himself hard done given that he was dropped immediately after making his maiden century for Australia: 100 not out against Bangladesh. The Queenslander was another batsman who fell victim to Martyn’s return to the side. Love left Test cricket with an average of 46.60, and also made 16,952 first-class runs at 49.85, with 45 centuries and a best of 300 not out. In Sheffield Shield, he made 10,132 runs at 45.23, with 27 centuries.

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