Australia Ashes selection: who would you gamble on?

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Australia’s overall batting and ever changing order was culpable in the comprehensive 3-0 Ashes beating. With the opening Test at the Gabba just a little over three weeks away, the Australian selectors have some tough decisions to make. To make matters worse, they’ve seen next to nothing in the way of long form cricket since The Ashes.There are a few dilemmas that need settling.

Can they just persist with the status quo of jiggery pokery? Who could they pick based on the Argus report criteria of performance through making runs? What gambles might just work? We’ve written previously about the Australian batting cupboard being bare, but nevertheless some options do exist.

Is Mark Cosgrove worth the weight?

markcosgrove

The man who used to make Samit Patel look like Kate Moss is the most equipped batsmen in the country yet to play Test cricket for Australia. Cosgrove has recognised an opportunity and lost 16kg in the off season through torturous fitness sessions in sand dunes near the Bellerive Oval.

The Tasmanian left-handerĀ  was a huge factor in the state’s Shield winning sides of 2010-11 and 2012-13. He was top runscorer in 2010-11 and 2nd only behind Ricky Ponting in 2012-13. His track record of 22 first class centuries and average of 43 should make him a shoe-in. His batting is no doubt good enough. But you have to wonder if his running between the wickets and fielding is no longer a liability.

His relationship with the portly coach Lehmann could work in his favour. Cosgrove was coined “Baby Boof” during their time together at Queensland for some obvious similarities. The title of Lehmann’s autobiography “worth the wait” (great pun, I’m sure you’d agree), might suggest Cosgrove has a sympathiser to his weight problems and a rekindling of his international career. But should you be swayed by Cosgrove’s weight or weight of runs?

My verdict: pick him

Is Shaun Marsh really a bolter for selection in the first Test?

shaun marsh

Having recorded an impressive ton for WA in the Ryobi Cup, News Limited’s Malcolm Conn has labelled Shaun Marsh “the bolter to claim Australia’s last Test batting”. Respectfully Conn is paid to sell newspapers, but surely he’s living on another planet with this one. Marsh is one of the most aesthetically pleasing cricketers in the country but it’s fair to say he has to fall outside of the remit of the Argus Review’s selection criteria: amount of runs. It’s astonishing to think that Marsh can still be considered a prestigious talent at the age of 30. Perhaps it’s because he’s still only has registered 7 first class centuries in more than a decade.

Straight Bat’s SB Tang has written a brilliant piece on the Guardian Sport Network which takes up the Australian fascination with the selection of Marsh. It’s a fantastic read and insight on recent Australian selection.

My verdict: Marsh needs to score runs in the Sheffield Shield before he can be selected.

Should George Bailey be included on the back of ODI form?

george bailey

George Bailey’s ODI record is nothing short of staggering. He’s scored 1541 runs at an average of 53 at a strike rate approaching 90 in just 33 one day internationals. His batting in the India has been phenomenal with scores to date of 85, 92*, 43 and 98. He’s also proved a captain who seems to get genuine respect and guts out of his team.

Bailey has long proved himself a smart and resourceful cricketer, but can emphatic ODI form really translate into a starting berth in an Ashes series? If you were to select him, you’d be going with a guy who has only recorded 14 hundreds (granted more than Marsh) at an average of 38. You’d be going with a guy who only scored 256 runs and a solitary fifty in last year’s Shield at an average of 18.

Perhaps there is an argument to overlook this blip in Bailey’s first-class form. Consider what was asked of George Bailey throughout the 2012-13 season courtesy of Gideon Haigh:

From August 25 to September 3, four one-day internationals; from September 5 to October 5, nine T20 internationals; from October 14 to December 1, four Sheffield Shield four-dayers interspersed with five Ryobi Cup one-dayers; from December 9 to January 5, seven Big Bash League T20s; from January 11 to January 23, five ODIs; from January 26 to 28, two T20Is; from February 1 to 6, three ODIs; February 13, a T20I; February 19, a Ryobi Cup one-dayer; February 21 to today, four Sheffield Shield matches.

That represents no fewer than 18 different changes of cricketing format. That’s tough on anyone and a reflection on the problematic expectations placed on Australian cricketers as a whole.

If we take a brief look back before times got tough for Bailey, the signs look more promising. In the 2011-12 Shield season in which Tasmania were pipped to the title by Queensland, Bailey scored 697 runs at an average of 58 and recorded 3 centuries – proof that the credentials in the longer format are there.

It would obviously be a bold move to select Bailey. One that perhaps does not comply with the Argus Review. But in this instance, the Australian selectors can only make a decision of what they have witnessed since The Ashes. What more could Bailey have done?

My verdict: it’s time to select George Bailey.

Conclusion

In all honesty, your guess at the Australian top 6 is as good as anybody’s. Nevertheless, if I was to choose mine, it would look like this:

Chris Rogers
Shane Watson
Mark Cosgrove
George Bailey
Michale Clarke
Steve Smith

Who would you gamble on? What would your top 6 look like?


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