With the Ryobi Cup done and dusted, attention for a majority of Australia’s cricketers has turned to red ball action, and with that an opportunity to press their claims ahead of this summer’s much anticipated Ashes series.
The Aussie squad for the 1st Test at the Gabba is to be announced on the 12th of November, and with potentially only one middle order spot up for grabs, Cricket Plus Magazine picks through the credentials of those in the running.
Bailey has been next to untouchable on Australia’s one-day international tour of India where he has amassed 471 runs at an outrageous average of 117.
John Inverarity has signalled that George Bailey is beyond playing in the A squad, perhaps an indication he has one finger on a baggy green, but one may have thought that playing England on a seaming Hobart pitch could have been the perfect Test for a man in a rich vein of form.
Before Mike Hussey became Australia’s official Mr Middle Order Fix It in Test cricket; he performed in the coloured clothes, which is exactly what Bailey has been doing. His career ODI average of 56 from 34 matches is up there with the best in the game, proof he can match it on the world stage, but his 2012-13 Shield average of just 18 was too hard to justify an elevation to Test cricket during the recent Ashes series. Is it time he should be rewarded?
What He Need To Do:
If he can lead Australia to a series victory in India and score more runs along the way, then one may have thought the spot is his. A shield score in the range of 70 plus, it would just about be a lock.
Khawaja is coming off a sensational century to lead the Queensland Bulls to the Ryobi Cup title, a tournament in which he scored 426 runs at 71.
Having been Australia’s perennial back up batsman in the 12-months leading into the Ashes, he was finally rewarded with a regular place in the side, but failed to take the opportunity and was dropped for the fifth Test at the oval.
Khawaja looked like a man in control throughout the Ryobi Cup, but it was a far cry from the batsman Anderson, Broad and Co. were getting out for fun in England when he looked a tad out of his depth.
Technically he is one of the finest players in the country, but does he have the mental edge to become a Test standard batsman?
What He Needs To Do:
This one is pretty simple; score a mountain of runs. At the moment he is probably behind Bailey in the pecking order, and he would most likely need two tons in the games leading into the Ashes to make Australia’s XI.
He will line up for Australia A against England next week, and a big score against some potential Ashes combatants will only heighten his chances.
Marsh was a shining light in an otherwise dark Ryobi Cup for the Western Australian Warriors, finishing the tournament with 304 runs at an average of 76. He got a start in this week’s shield match with Victoria, scoring 42, but he really needs triple figures in the second dig to keep his name in the selectors mind.
Anyone that can score a century on their Test debut is obviously a gifted batsman, but he has failed to reach the same standard since. At his best Marsh is an aggressive and powerful player, but perhaps hasn’t scored constant runs under pressure to leapfrog Bailey or Khawaja.
What He Needs To Do:
Like Uzzie, Marsh will also get a shot at England while playing for Australia A, and although he may not line up at the Gabba, a solid start to the red ball season could see him in with a shot if the likes of Steve Smith or Shane Watson fail to perform.
In the absence of David Warner in Australia’s one-day side, Hughes has had a regular run at the top of the order, although he has been completely overshadowed by Bailey, Watson and Aaron Finch.
Like most of his career, he was given an opportunity in the Ashes but lasted only a few Tests, and currently seems an outside chance to feature in Brisbane.
He has three Test tons to his name, although two of those were in the same match over four years ago, and has played in three Ashes series, but has registered just one win.
What He Needs To Do:
One might think that any score between now and November 12th when the first Test squad is announced won’t be enough to have him in the XI. He will need a few early shield hundreds to keep him above Adam Voges and Moises Henriques in the middle order pecking order.