Posted: 13 January, 2017 by Dan Liebke

The Indian Tour Showdowns: Who should get a gig?

Tags: Cricket

Australia’s shambolic tour of India is due to commence shortly.

Seven players - Steve Smith, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood - have locked in their opportunity to have their batting and bowling averages utterly demolished by Virat Kohli’s utter-average-demolition team.

The other six spots in the squad are ripe for a showdown.

Spot Up For Grabs - Opener

Shaun Marsh v Matt Renshaw

The Showdown

Despite a successful summer at home, the fact remains that Matt Renshaw has not made a single Test run in India. Reason enough, surely, to give the spot to Shaun Marsh who, for all his flaws, has made loads of runs there.

Hmm? He’s never played a Test in India either? Well, be that as it may, he’s at least played Tests in Sri Lanka, which is near India, and that's more than that young fool Renshaw has ever bothered to do.

Who Will Go?

Shaun Marsh. If you don’t take Renshaw to India, he can’t fail there, and that’s the approach Cricket Australia should take. If it’s good enough for Bradman, it’s good enough for Matt Renshaw.

Spot Up For Grabs - Seaming All-Rounder

Mitch Marsh v James Faulkner

The Showdown

You’d think that Hilton Cartwright, as the incumbent, would be part of this showdown, but since Steve Smith is apparently unaware that Cartwright can bowl, that rules him out of contention for the seaming all-rounder spot. Or, indeed, the spinning all-rounder spot, if that’s what he bowls. Has anybody ever actually seen Hilton roll the arm over?

No, this showdown is between Mitch Marsh and James Faulkner, two big-hitting, tight-bowling, short-form specialists who have been to India to play IPL many times, so could show some of the other players around the sights.

Who Will Go?

Nobody. Why on Earth would you take a seaming all-rounder to India?

Spot Up For Grabs - Spinning All-Rounder

Travis Head v Glenn Maxwell

The Showdown

Glenn Maxwell is the wild card for this Indian tour. And, indeed, world cricket and life in general. On a four-Test Indian tour, he may be dismissed seven times for single figure scores. But that eighth innings could easily be a masterclass of Maxwellball - switch-hitting, slog-sweeping and reverse-scooping his way to a run-a-ball triple century to snatch a Test from the hosts. A 3-1 series loss? Pretty sure Australia would take that.

Travis Head, on the other hand, has a surname designed for pithy newspaper headlines. (Or, indeed, Head-lines. See?) Which is arguably just as important.

Who Will Go?

Both of them. Rudyard Kipling once began a poem with ‘If you can keep your Head when all about you are losing theirs…’, which I’m pretty sure is a divine prophecy for a partnership between Travis and Glenn.

Spot Up For Grabs - Wicket-Keeper

Matthew Wade v Peter Nevill

The Showdown 

While Matthew Wade’s mutated mating call of ‘Niiice, Garry’ has won hearts, minds and Facebook thumbs since his return, there’s a genuine risk that the incessant verbal tic will instead come across as sarcastic and cruel when the Indian batsmen begin effortlessly milking Australia’s GOAT.

(Mmmm… GOAT milk.)

Given the expected slaughter of Australia’s bowling attack on this tour, it may be more appropriate to have Peter Nevill’s dignified silence behind the stumps.

Who Will Go?

Matthew Wade must tour, because his perpetual praise of Lyon has now led to a situation where the spinner won’t even take the field, hand his baggy green to the umpire or dab in celebration of a wicket without Wade’s audible approval.

Spot Up For Grabs - Third Seamer

Jackson Bird v Chadd Sayers 

The Showdown

Let’s get real. This is a showdown for a twelfth man slot. Which makes the decision really rather simple. Chadd Sayers was twelfth man for three Tests this summer, Jackson Bird was twelfth man for just two. But in the second of those Tests, Bird took a record-equalling four catches as a substitute fielder.

Sayers, on the other hand, in a record-equalling performance at the other end of the table, did not take a single grab.

Pretty clear cut.

Who Will Go?

Jackson Bird. Australia will spend a lot of time in the field during this tour. Like, a lot. They need the safe hands of Jackson Bird to keep bringing them out drinks hour after hour, session after session, Indian century after Indian century.

Spot Up For Grabs - Left-Arm Spinner

Steve O’Keefe v Ashton Agar 

The Showdown

Which left-arm spinner will accompany Nathan Lyon to India? Will it be the adorable Ashton Agar, with the boyish handsomeness and winning smile? Or will it be Steve O’Keefe, who my friends assure me has ‘a really great personality’?

Since both will be hammered mercilessly by the Indian batting, the spot ultimately comes down to contribution with the bat. We saw in Agar’s Test debut that he can make handy runs in tough circumstances. We also saw in Sri Lanka that O’Keefe can bat for time with only one working hamstring. Imagine what he can do with two!

Who Will Go?

Steve O’Keefe has already been chosen. That’s why he’s not playing the Big Bash. Agar? Bashing it up bigly like nobody’s business.

Dan Liebke


Tags: Cricket

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