Saturday, January 14, 2017

Assessing Australia's Test Squad for India

Mitchell Swepson- The bolter for the India Tour
Australian Squad for India:

Steve Smith (capt), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O’Keefe, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade (wk)

Likely starting 11:


Warner, Renshaw, Khawaja, Smith, Handscomb, Maxwell, Wade ( wk), Starc, O'Keefe, Lyon, Hazelwood


The squad selected is very admirable.

It has a great balance with the selected players the best available for the confines.

Mitchell Swepson's selection is ahead of time but is recognition of his potential as a leg spinner. It might have been wiser to blood him in a less demanding tour like Bangladesh, but by throwing him in the deep end it is a huge show of faith in his potential.

The only changes I would have made is selecting a more astute gloveman for the tour to replace Wade, a specialist batsman ( Travis Head ) in place of either Maxwell, or Agar as well as a specialist paceman ( Chadd Sayers ) in place of Mitch Marsh .

By selecting 5 spinners, it is a near certainty that they will play 3 spinners in their 11 with either Maxwell, or Agar the all rounder at 6.

Maxwell will likely have the first opportunity at 6 when the series starts.

Here is my take on the players prospects:

Steven Smith ( C ) 


Smith's ranking as the best batsman in test cricket is vindicated by his incredible career average of 60.15 from his 50 Tests.

This series will pose a litmus test to his calibre with him exposed by spin, primarily Rangana Herath in Sri Lanka recently. The Indian spinners will pose a greater challenge to the cavalier Aussie and how he fares will go a long way to defining how his team does.

His battle with Rajendra Jadeja, a spinner very similar in style to Herath will be pivotal.

The other challenge is how Smith's Captaincy stands up in unfamiliar surrounds. He came up well short in Sri Lanka with him looking betwitzed and between with how to utilise the spinners and taking a leap of faith by depending on them. Shane Warne's recent comments about Smith being a 'fast bowling Captain' rang true and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to the demands of India .

Summary:


 I think Smith might struggle in India with his reputation as being a great player of spin laid to waste by the Indians. Impacting on him will be the pressure brought to bear on his Captaincy that will struggle with the demands of the tour.


Dave Warner ( VC )


The maverick opener is Tarzan at home and Jane away as his career splits indicate:

Home average: 59.21

Away Average: 36.77

Warner is crucial to Australia with the fear of God he puts into oppositions and how it facilitates his team mates with the pressure it takes off him. I just cannot see him getting it done in India against their attack. It is not just the spinners but their very able pacemen that will make it very difficult for him

Summary:


Warner will struggle with him averaging low 30's with no centuries

Matt Renshaw 


The irony of the young opener is the many calling for him not to tour India despite arguably being the Aussie best equipped to adapt to the challenges. He is very like Matt Hayden in his style and it would not surprise to see him be very able on this tour.

Summary:


I think he will be Australia's best performing batsman on the tour, averaging 45 with a century.


Usman Khawaja


' Horses for courses......'


Referring to let Khawaja be the Bradman like figure he is in conditions that suit and save him from humiliation in Asia where he is all at sea.

Summary:


After watching Khawaja's calamities in Sri Lanka he will be obliterated by the Indian spinners. Likely be dropped by the third test


Peter Handscomb 


The cavalier stroke maker has ripped Test cricket to shreds in his infancy averaging 99.75 with two tons.

His highlight has been him putting the spinners to sword with his dancing feet making you wonder can he replicate this against the Indian tweekers?

Impacting on his prospects will be the further dissection of his technique in the lead into the series. With the focus on how far he goes back on his stumps as a natural instinct, in the process playing with bat far away from pads leaving him susceptible to LBW/Bowled. It will certainly put a target on his head for the likes of skilled Indian quicks like Mohammad Shami.

Summary:


I thought Handscomb's Test career would be dead on arrival due to his 'quirky technique' but he seems part of the new generation of 'eye players'. Very like his Captain Steven Smith.

He will be tested big time in India with doubts over him succeeding..


Matthew Wade ( WK )


I cannot come at Wade in Test cricket, not only a dreadful gloveman but a vastly overrated batsman.

Summary:


It will get biblical for the Aussies in India due to Wade underpinning the creed ' You reap what you sow....'

He will grass a few chances leading to the Indian batsmen making the Aussies pay big time......


Mitchell Starc


One of the most dangerous fast men going around, lethal when he gets the ball on the right lines with a bit of swing/seam. The oil in the ointment is his lack of consistency with him ranging from brilliantly unplayable to occasionally being complete rubbish.

He will be key in India with the new ball with his ability to challenge the vastly underrated Indian openers. His clash with Murali Vijay will be one of the series highlights.

Away from his bowling, he is developing into a very able lower order bat.

Summary:


I think Starc will be one of the Aussie bowlers who will do well in India. Think, 20 wickets at an average of 27-30.

A maiden Test century wouldn't surprise, either


Josh Hazelwood 


In my opinion the best fast bowler in Test cricket.

Very like Glenn McGrath in all regards with him being unrelenting in the pressure he exerts on batsmen and the sincere threat he poses.

Summary 


He will be brilliant throughout.


Nathan Lyon 


The off-spinner averages 42.57 from his 11 Tests in Asia making one doubt his ability to be a factor during this tour. Particularly when he is coming up against arguably the finest Asian batting line up he has bowled to.

They will be hell bent on dominating him which will challenge Lyon's fragile mindset. It will also challenge Captain Steven Smith's obvious lack of faith in Lyon that has been there for all to see since the Sri Lankan series.

The biggest query against Lyon is his inability to adapt to different conditions. He is very able in Australia where his over spin and the bounce it facilitates is key in his success. In Asia, the bounce isn't afforded dictating he gives the ball a greater tweek and bowls a line further outside off stump to use the spin. He has failed miserable in the past in Asia with this necessary change seeing him bowl a line too straight and being milked by batsman as well as posing minimal threat.

Summary:


The Indian bats will rip Lyon a new corn shoot.


Steven O'Keefe 


I agree with Shane Warne's view that O'Keefe is more an ODI style of spinner. Ironically, this will aid him in India with his defensive mindset and style countering the Indian batsmens natural desire to dominate spinners.

Summary


He will have a respectable series.


Jackson Bird 


Bird would play in every Test if I had my way. With him showing his ability as a brilliant bad pitch bowler that is very able in getting batsmen out despite the pitch and conditions offering him little support.

Sadly, the selectors will plumb for the spinners meaning he will not get a Test

Summary;


Squad player with him likely to not play in the series.


Ashton Agar


Agar has great potential as an all rounder.

A more refined version of Glenn Maxwell with his batting having similar threat but governed by a better temperament. His bowling is an unfinished article but has the potential to be very good.

A good comparison would be Agar having a similar career to New Zealand's Daniel Vettori.

Summary:


I think he might struggle in this tour but long term is Australia's best option as an all rounder.


Mitchell Swepson 


The young leggie is a great prospect but maybe picked prematurely for this tour. Having said this, he has all the tricks to be a very good leg spinner with his beautifully deceptive wrong un a standout. His other stand out is his beautiful temperament with him rarely ruffled despite any circumstance

Summary:


The Bangladesh tour would have been better to introduce him into Test cricket with this series representing being thrown in the deep end. But, Swepson is the type of character to take it in his stride meaning he could surprise


Glenn Maxwell


I am not a fan of Maxwell, mainly for I am old ( 64) and not enamoured by his flashy style of cricket.

Excusing my bias, I cannot deny his talent as a player with him mercurial in all disciplines. The sticking point is whether he has the mindset to bring fruition to his talents.

If he does, Australia has found a perfect remedy for their problematic number 6 position, very like they did with a similar free spirit in Andrew Symonds

Summary:


Despite his obvious talent, Maxwell's questionable temperament will be exposed in Test cricket once more


Shaun Marsh 


Very good player against spin and he would be in my 11 from ball one of the series.

With them likely to play an all rounder at 6 this is unlikely.

But, with the notable weakness against spin in the Aussie batting it will not be long before he is selected. Likely in place of Usman Khawaja.

Summary


Will start on the bench but come off it and be very able in the confines.


Mitchell Marsh


Mainly selected because of the obsession over all rounders with his bowling very able but batting miles off test class.

The worry is Smith's lack of use of him in Sri Lanka making one question why he was selected here.

Summary


A passenger on the bus.. 








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