Infotainment Factory: The forgotten man of Australian cricket

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Sunday, 14 April 2019

The forgotten man of Australian cricket


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A World Cup squad, an Australia A one-day squad, an Australia A four-day squad, plus the central contract player list.

At 10am on Monday, Cricket Australia dropped all those things in one press release, meaning there was an awful lot to unpack.

Here’s what you need to know.

THE ICC WORLD CUP

15-MAN SQUAD: Aaron Finch (capt), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon.

We’ve covered this in-depth here (main report) and here (Ian Chappell’s analysis). The headline points are the return of Steve Smith and David Warner, while Peter Handscomb and Josh Hazlewood have been left out.

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell told Wide World of Sports that he was impressed with the 15-man squad.

“It’s a pretty good squad, I think they’ve got most things covered there,” Chappell said.

“It’s a strong batting line-up now with the addition of Smith and Warner, a couple of all-rounders, good pace and a couple of decent spinners.”

Having looked in dire straits just a few months ago, Australia has beaten Virat Kohli’s India on home soil and smashed Pakistan 5-0. The title defence is back on track.

THE AUSTRALIA A SIDES

FOUR-DAY SQUAD: Tim Paine (capt), Marcus Harris, Kurtis Patterson, Will Pucovski, Travis Head, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Jon Holland, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Chris Tremain.

ONE-DAY SQUAD: Travis Head (capt), Matthew Wade, Will Pucovski, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner, Mitch Marsh, D'Arcy Short, Kurtis Patterson, Ashton Agar, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Kane Richardson, Sean Abbott.

Take a deep breath.

With the way Cricket Australia has set this up, no fewer than 18 batsmen are on a direct watchlist pre-Ashes, across the World Cup squad, Australia A squads and county cricket.

Matthew-Wade

Those batsmen are: Finch, Smith, Warner, Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Maxwell (WC), Harris, Patterson, Pucovski, Head, Handscomb, Wade, Mitch Marsh, Short (Aus A), Bancroft, Renshaw, Burns, Labuschagne (county). Somewhat perversely, probably only Smith and Warner are Ashes certainties.

Plenty of those names can seemingly be crossed off the list; Finch, the Marsh brothers, Handscomb, Bancroft, Renshaw and Short. It remains to be seen if Bancroft is genuinely still in the mix for Test cricket and a potential reunion with Warner; probably not, with Harris, Burns and Khawaja as opening batting options.

Khawaja will want a strong World Cup to cement his Ashes claims after a poor Test summer, but may struggle for opportunity with Warner back in the ODI frame. Maxwell is an Ashes roughie, yet may turn Australian coach Justin Langer’s head if his ODI form is outrageous enough.

Wade seems a long shot. A mountain of runs in the Sheffield Shield season apparently did little to convince Australian selectors that he is a genuine specialist batsman, despite this call-up.

Labuschagne is a Test incumbent but didn’t entirely grasp his chance. He recently made a century in country cricket but few will expect him to make the Ashes squad. Burns made 180 in his last Test, after a long-awaited recall, and should be at far shorter odds; though he’s no certainty to make a first-choice Ashes XI.

Harris topped the Sheffield Shield batting charts and had a reasonable maiden Test summer, as did Travis Head. Patterson bolted in for a Test debut and made an unbeaten century in his second match, after getting the nod over Pucovski. Both youngsters are a huge chance for an Ashes nod.

“I was disappointed that Pucovski didn’t get picked in the Test side when they picked him in the squad [for two Tests against Sri Lanka],” Chappell said.

“Then it became fairly obvious that he still had a few health problems. But if he’s cleared medically, I think there’s a good chance he could play in the Test side.

“I’ve still got a few question marks over Patterson, but I think he’s improved from what I saw of him as a young player.”

Pucovski

Chappell believes former Test paceman James Pattinson, back from injury and in sparkling form at the end of the Australian domestic season, is a certainty for Ashes selection.

“He was never going to be in the World Cup squad, I think they’ve got him marked down for the Test series,” Chappell said.

“They’ll probably be a bit choosy where they play him in the Test series. But I’ve got no doubt that he’ll be in the Test squad.

“The only reason why he won’t be in the Ashes squad is if he gets injured. He’s up there with the other three [Test quicks, Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins] when he’s fit and firing.

“I think they’ll probably pick where they play him. I see [Victoria coach] Andy McDonald reckoned that he had a couple of Test matches in him. They’ll be having a look at the conditions and picking a couple where they reckon he can do some damage for them.”

Fringe Australian pacemen Peter Siddle and Daniel Worrall are on the watchlist, having been left out of the ‘A’ teams to continue playing with their county teams.

CENTRAL PLAYER CONTRACTS

2019/20 CONTRACT LIST: Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Alex Carey, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

IN: Steve Smith, David Warner, Marcus Harris, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Pattinson.

OUT: Mitchell Marsh, Matt Renshaw, Ashton Agar, Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye.

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Joe Burns, Kurtis Patterson, Marnus Labuschagne, Will Pucovski.

Mitchell Marsh is the headline fall-from-grace here. Having said that, his omission was to be expected after his Test axing during the summer and his disappearance from the limited-overs radar behind Stoinis and Maxwell. It seems an eternity ago that Marsh was whacking two Ashes centuries in a 4-0 series win over England.

Matt Renshaw

And spare a thought for Renshaw. Having copped a rough axing from the Australian Test team in the first place, he has gone from a squad recall for the Sri Lanka matches this past summer to no man’s land, toiling in county cricket as the roughest of Ashes chances.

With the rise of Harris, the revival of Burns, the potential return of Bancroft and the possibility of Khawaja opening the batting (if Smith was chosen at No.3), Renshaw is at risk of becoming Australian cricket’s forgotten man.

The left-handed opener, who announced himself with a big 184 at the SCG in the 2017 New Year’s Test, had a dismal Shield season but Chappell feels he could resurrect his Test claims. Having just turned 23, time is on Renshaw’s side.

“Most players get dropped at some stage of their career,” Chappell said.

“I saw a few things that he was looking to improve, and I think that was a good sign. I wouldn’t be writing him off just yet.”

As for Burns, Patterson, Labuschagne and Pucovski, they will need to cement themselves a Test spot to have a hope of making next year’s contract list, which features very few five-day specialists.

A World Cup squad, an Australia A one-day squad, an Australia A four-day squad, plus the central contract player list.

At 10am on Monday, Cricket Australia dropped all those things in one press release, meaning there was an awful lot to unpack.

Here’s what you need to know.

THE ICC WORLD CUP

15-MAN SQUAD: Aaron Finch (capt), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey (vc), Pat Cummins (vc), Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jason Behrendorff, Adam Zampa, Nathan Lyon.

We’ve covered this in-depth here (main report) and here (Ian Chappell’s analysis). The headline points are the return of Steve Smith and David Warner, while Peter Handscomb and Josh Hazlewood have been left out.

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell told Wide World of Sports that he was impressed with the 15-man squad.

“It’s a pretty good squad, I think they’ve got most things covered there,” Chappell said.

“It’s a strong batting line-up now with the addition of Smith and Warner, a couple of all-rounders, good pace and a couple of decent spinners.”

Having looked in dire straits just a few months ago, Australia has beaten Virat Kohli’s India on home soil and smashed Pakistan 5-0. The title defence is back on track.

THE AUSTRALIA A SIDES

FOUR-DAY SQUAD: Tim Paine (capt), Marcus Harris, Kurtis Patterson, Will Pucovski, Travis Head, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Jon Holland, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Chris Tremain.

ONE-DAY SQUAD: Travis Head (capt), Matthew Wade, Will Pucovski, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner, Mitch Marsh, D'Arcy Short, Kurtis Patterson, Ashton Agar, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Kane Richardson, Sean Abbott.

Take a deep breath.

With the way Cricket Australia has set this up, no fewer than 18 batsmen are on a direct watchlist pre-Ashes, across the World Cup squad, Australia A squads and county cricket.

Matthew-Wade

Those batsmen are: Finch, Smith, Warner, Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Maxwell (WC), Harris, Patterson, Pucovski, Head, Handscomb, Wade, Mitch Marsh, Short (Aus A), Bancroft, Renshaw, Burns, Labuschagne (county). Somewhat perversely, probably only Smith and Warner are Ashes certainties.

Plenty of those names can seemingly be crossed off the list; Finch, the Marsh brothers, Handscomb, Bancroft, Renshaw and Short. It remains to be seen if Bancroft is genuinely still in the mix for Test cricket and a potential reunion with Warner; probably not, with Harris, Burns and Khawaja as opening batting options.

Khawaja will want a strong World Cup to cement his Ashes claims after a poor Test summer, but may struggle for opportunity with Warner back in the ODI frame. Maxwell is an Ashes roughie, yet may turn Australian coach Justin Langer’s head if his ODI form is outrageous enough.

Wade seems a long shot. A mountain of runs in the Sheffield Shield season apparently did little to convince Australian selectors that he is a genuine specialist batsman, despite this call-up.

Labuschagne is a Test incumbent but didn’t entirely grasp his chance. He recently made a century in country cricket but few will expect him to make the Ashes squad. Burns made 180 in his last Test, after a long-awaited recall, and should be at far shorter odds; though he’s no certainty to make a first-choice Ashes XI.

Harris topped the Sheffield Shield batting charts and had a reasonable maiden Test summer, as did Travis Head. Patterson bolted in for a Test debut and made an unbeaten century in his second match, after getting the nod over Pucovski. Both youngsters are a huge chance for an Ashes nod.

“I was disappointed that Pucovski didn’t get picked in the Test side when they picked him in the squad [for two Tests against Sri Lanka],” Chappell said.

“Then it became fairly obvious that he still had a few health problems. But if he’s cleared medically, I think there’s a good chance he could play in the Test side.

“I’ve still got a few question marks over Patterson, but I think he’s improved from what I saw of him as a young player.”

Pucovski

Chappell believes former Test paceman James Pattinson, back from injury and in sparkling form at the end of the Australian domestic season, is a certainty for Ashes selection.

“He was never going to be in the World Cup squad, I think they’ve got him marked down for the Test series,” Chappell said.

“They’ll probably be a bit choosy where they play him in the Test series. But I’ve got no doubt that he’ll be in the Test squad.

“The only reason why he won’t be in the Ashes squad is if he gets injured. He’s up there with the other three [Test quicks, Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins] when he’s fit and firing.

“I think they’ll probably pick where they play him. I see [Victoria coach] Andy McDonald reckoned that he had a couple of Test matches in him. They’ll be having a look at the conditions and picking a couple where they reckon he can do some damage for them.”

Fringe Australian pacemen Peter Siddle and Daniel Worrall are on the watchlist, having been left out of the ‘A’ teams to continue playing with their county teams.

CENTRAL PLAYER CONTRACTS

2019/20 CONTRACT LIST: Pat Cummins, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Alex Carey, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa.

IN: Steve Smith, David Warner, Marcus Harris, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Pattinson.

OUT: Mitchell Marsh, Matt Renshaw, Ashton Agar, Billy Stanlake, Andrew Tye.

NOTABLE OMISSIONS: Joe Burns, Kurtis Patterson, Marnus Labuschagne, Will Pucovski.

Mitchell Marsh is the headline fall-from-grace here. Having said that, his omission was to be expected after his Test axing during the summer and his disappearance from the limited-overs radar behind Stoinis and Maxwell. It seems an eternity ago that Marsh was whacking two Ashes centuries in a 4-0 series win over England.

Matt Renshaw

And spare a thought for Renshaw. Having copped a rough axing from the Australian Test team in the first place, he has gone from a squad recall for the Sri Lanka matches this past summer to no man’s land, toiling in county cricket as the roughest of Ashes chances.

With the rise of Harris, the revival of Burns, the potential return of Bancroft and the possibility of Khawaja opening the batting (if Smith was chosen at No.3), Renshaw is at risk of becoming Australian cricket’s forgotten man.

The left-handed opener, who announced himself with a big 184 at the SCG in the 2017 New Year’s Test, had a dismal Shield season but Chappell feels he could resurrect his Test claims. Having just turned 23, time is on Renshaw’s side.

“Most players get dropped at some stage of their career,” Chappell said.

“I saw a few things that he was looking to improve, and I think that was a good sign. I wouldn’t be writing him off just yet.”

As for Burns, Patterson, Labuschagne and Pucovski, they will need to cement themselves a Test spot to have a hope of making next year’s contract list, which features very few five-day specialists.

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