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I’m going to have a guess at which way the selectors will actually go for Bangladesh and probably the first test at the GABBA. It won’t particularly be the team I think it should be but a rational look at what the selectors will do. A quick review then it’s time to move onto the ODI series, which isn’t the foregone concluded series victory the world rankings suggest it should be.
A poor batting performance in Bangladesh would cause an unnecessary meltdown. It’s a dangerous two test series for some of the team. Outside of Warner, Smith, M Marsh, Lyon and Johnson (whose form is up for discussion but he won’t be dropped) the rest are jostling for spots with outside pressure building.
It’s expected that we will see at least one or two out of Khawaja, Bancroft or Burns move into the side. All three have good cases and the selectors will get a bit of stick no matter which way they go. Given Shaun Marsh has only played one test this series, I think he will be first in line at Rogers opening spot. He had been filling in there after getting kicked out of line in the middle order by Voges, and had been scoring runs. His double failure at Trent Bridge wasn’t a lone act, so it will probably just be swept aside for now with a start fresh in Bangladesh. As long as the team is winning and if Warner is in form, I think they will give him the whole summer and it will protect him more.
I think Burns will come in and play at three. The fact they have brought him into the ODI team ahead of Khawaja may point to wanting him in the set up for all forms. Khawaja was banging on the door for an ODI call up but maybe the selectors want him to get some more cricket after a long layoff with injury.
Smith could move to four to protect the middle order. Warner and Marsh have opened together in the Windies and tour games and they both performed pretty well. So that brings the new kid, Burns in at three, and gives him the captain and vice-captain, either side.
Voges will probably hold his place at five after a couple of half centuries and also for his experience factor. The selectors might be banking on the fact that by 35 you have gained a lot of match awareness. If he can breakthrough at test level, he might be able to play a two season bridge for a team in transition. Voges really needs another couple of half centuries in Bangladesh to get a start against New Zealand. If he hasn’t locked it down by the Boxing Day test, the selectors will probably make a move; but if nothing comes in the next four innings, he may not play a home test match.
Mitch Marsh at six. His bowling has sold him as test quality, we know he can bat, he just hasn’t put it all together in these three tests. He will get an extended run at six through the summer at home.
Like M Marsh, Nevill has shown enough to get the same extended run. Outside of a disaster, he should be there still at the end of Windies series. He has been forced to play a rock behind a collapsing middle order with only limited chances to bat freely. He has looked more good than bad, despite letting a couple through the gate.
Johnson isn’t going anywhere. I think his form suggests he could be the first bowler dropped. He’s been out-performed by the both Starc and Hazelwood since the India series.
In my view, Siddle is a chance to be hard done by for Bangladesh. I’m wondering what angle the selectors will take with the two spinner option. Will they want to have two quicks that blast the batsmen out while Marsh and two spinners chip away? If they pick Siddle and the decks are doing nothing, do they risk him and M Marsh becoming easier targets?
Personally, I think they will play the horses for courses card. I’m guessing Starc will keep his place, and Siddle will take Hazelwood’s role. If there are two spinners required in the first test, maybe Siddle will be the one to miss out. Marsh will be tested with the extra responsibility to keep it tight at one end, on a wicket offering nothing.
Lyon has obviously got both hands on the number one spinner’s role for the foreseeable future. He is still improving and has constantly been contributing with top order wickets. He’s also starting to get a lot of respect from the opposition teams, which wasn’t always the case.
This leaves the last spinners spot… It’s all down to how Agar goes in the ODI series. If he takes some wickets and shows some good match awareness he will be in the squad. If he gets belted to all parts and fails miserably, I think the selectors will look at any excuse to get Glen Maxwell back in the team. He might even get in front of Agar because of his batting. Maxwell is handy enough with his spinners and seems to get breakthroughs often enough. Throw in a few from Steve Smith and there is probably a case to be made.
The thought of Maxwell getting a start would infuriate so many of us. The memory still burns with his dismissal from an attempted reverse sweep in the UAE. However, it would still be hard to argue that he isn’t a better batsman than the other contenders. Maxwell coming in at seven or eight can play however he wants. If he has the ability to hang around in support of a top order bat and score a century at eight, that is a game breaker. If he just needs to tee off and take the game away like Ali did (but quicker) we know Maxwell could do that too. Outside of the top six he is less of a liability with his sometimes stupid decisions. Any runs from eight down is a bonus, a bonus 100 in session if he gets it right.
So if two spinners are needed, my predicted XI for the first test against Bangladesh is:
- S Marsh
- M Marsh
If its three pacemen, I’m guessing Siddle comes in ahead of Hazelwood in place of Maxwell. This is assuming the selectors don’t rule anyone out with just having a ‘rest’ or ‘some niggles’. I can probably see Starc as an possibility for a rest before the summer.
Now that’s over, it’s hard to really give a two hoots about the ODI series at the moment. We are bringing in some new blood in preparation for the World Cup in 2019, so we are every chance of getting a bit of stick in this series and having them laughing on all fronts.
I have seen the ads for the T-20 series here in Australia and they are televising the double header with the women’s game. Great move. They will be playing double headers through the Australian summer which is a great way of extending your live day experience by effectively doubling your day out. It’s also fantastic for the exposure of the women’s game. It’s also fantastic for the exposure of the women’s game which is riding a big wave in the build up to the first Women’s Big Bash League, running parallel with the current Men’s franchises.
As for England… Congrats on the Ashes. Have fun working through your own problems; there are just as many questions to be asked there. I might have a vent later if they are getting up in the ODI series.