HEAD OF STEAM

Ashes call-up looms for at­tack­ing South Aus­tralian

Geelong Advertiser - - SPORT -

THE first Ashes Test is just a month away and de­bate lingers over a few po­si­tions in our Aus­tralian team.

The three po­si­tions up for de­lib­er­a­tion are the No. 3 bat­ting po­si­tion, the No. 6 bat­ting all-rounder po­si­tion and the cru­cial role of wick­et­keeper at No.7.

The rest of the line up is most likely locked away, un­less some­thing ex­tra­or­di­nary jumps up in the first three Sh­effield Shield matches in the com­ing weeks.

David Warner and Matt Ren­shaw will walk to the mid­dle to open our in­nings at the Gabba on Novem­ber 23.

It is widely tipped that Us­man Khawaja will have the pads on at No. 3, wait­ing for his chance to re­deem him­self af­ter be­ing dropped in Bangladesh.

Khawaja has a bet­ter record at home as op­posed to away on the spin­ning sub­con­ti­nent pitches.

Shaun Marsh will make a play but I’m not sure the se­lec­tors will go back down that path.

The only other op­tion here is for cap­tain Steven Smith to as­sume the No. 3 role, which he did in the sec­ond Test in Bangladesh.

The po­si­tion of that elu­sive bat­ting all­rounder will be hotly de­bated again and sadly Keith Miller still has not been rein­car­nated, there­fore I would sug­gest pick­ing the best bat­ting op­tion and be done with it.

This po­si­tion will cause most dis­cus­sion around the se­lec­tion ta­ble. Medium pace all-rounder Mitch Marsh, who has failed in 21 Tests, is a long way back now, although high hopes are held for him to one day nail down this po­si­tion.

The lat­est name to be talked about is Mar­cus Stoi­nis, who re­cently re­turned home to West­ern Aus­tralia, iron­i­cally to play along­side Marsh in the same state side and, even more bizarre, next to Hil­ton Cartwright, who also lays claims to the cov­eted No. 6 poi­son chal­ice.

Cartwright is the in­cum­bent but will he hold his po­si­tion for Bris­bane? It’s fair to say the West­ern Aus­tralian bat­ting or­der will be in­ter­est­ing this sum­mer as play­ers jos­tle for po­si­tions.

Two part-time off-spin­ning ag­gres­sive bats­men are the two I would be de­lib­er­at­ing over and both will cause headaches due to their in­con­sis­tency.

Glenn Maxwell, who played the last Test match bat­ting at No. 5, must be the fron­trun­ner to start in the Ashes se­ries.

If the se­lec­tors are true to their word, the first three Shield fix­tures may de­ter­mine this spot as Maxwell left the door ajar af­ter scores of 23, 14, 38 and 25 not out in Bangladesh.

Travis Head is my se­lec­tion and, if the se­lec­tors agree, they must pick and stick. Left-handed, ag­gres­sive and tough is what this young man will bring to the ta­ble.

He, like Maxwell, can change the com­plex­ion of games in a ses­sion and that is the type of player I would pick at No. 6 to bat be­hind Peter Hand­scomb at No. 5 and ahead of the wick­et­keeper at No.7.

Head would have been hop­ing for a bet­ter show­ing in the re­cent ODI se­ries in In­dia, where he dis­played glimpses of his skill but never con­vinced the se­lec­tors to lock him in.

The spot­light will fall squarely on him when South Aus­tralia meets a full­strength New South Wales in Ade­laide for the first day-night Shield game, start­ing on Oc­to­ber 27.

The Test bowl­ing at­tack of Mitch Starc, Josh Ha­zle­wood, Pat Cum­mins and Nathan Lyon will be the great­est ex­am­i­na­tion of his tech­nique and tem­per­a­ment in his still em­bry­onic ca­reer.

If he can stand up with a big score in that Shield game, I be­lieve he will win the race for the No. 6 po­si­tion.

The wick­et­keep­ing po­si­tion is still in limbo — as it has been since Brad Haddin was left out dur­ing the last Ashes se­ries in the UK.

Peter Nevill re­placed him and it ap­peared ini­tially that he would lock this po­si­tion down for the next six-seven years.

This has proven a volatile re­volv­ing door as Nevill and Matthew Wade have passed the ba­ton to each other sev­eral times across all for­mats of the game.

Now Tim Paine has worn the gloves in the re­cently com­pleted T20 se­ries in In­dia and been more than handy just to cloud the mat­ter even fur­ther.

The best glove­man in the coun­try is Nevill so give him the gloves and stick with him for the sum­mer.

He will pro­vide some back­bone and steel with the bat while Head and Starc ei­ther side of him pro­vides flu­ency and power.

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