It’s time to take yet another look at the Australian Test team, this time because of the release of the Australia A team to take on England shortly. In some aspects the A team is the team that should be facing England in the Ashes. By this I mean that many of the players need to be in the Australian team, however are being overlooked for national selection. It has also been in the news recently that all players are representing their respective state sides in the coming week. For some, such as Ricky Ponting, it is three years since they last walked to the middle in their state colours. However, onto the test teams –
AUSTRALIA A Squad
Cameron White (Captain, Vic)
Tim Paine (Vice-captain, Tas)
Mark Cameron (NSW)
Callum Ferguson (SA)
Peter George (SA)
Phil Hughes (NSW)
Usman Khawaja (NSW)
Shaun Marsh (WA)
Steve O’Keefe (NSW)
Steve Smith (NSW)
Mitchell Starc (NSW)
The average age for that team is somewhere between 23-25 years old, which is a perfect start. Some of the young performers of domestic cricket will get their chance at gaining some “legitimate” international cricket.
Other good points to observe are that Cameron White is captain, there is no doubt in my mind that White is one of the great, modern day captains that Australia has. The overall success’ (not necessarily final victories, but victories and performances overall) by the Victorian team under his leadership is inspiring and this captaincy should be his first step to what many are hoping is a similar position in the Australian team.
The second point to notice is that players like Callum Ferguson have been picked. Ferguson has been a staple in the ODI team over the past two years, until last year when he was hampered by injury that left him out of the game until very recently. However, his comeback into the domestic test arena has been extradordinary with century stands and him clearly looking dangerous for an Ashes call up. This should happen! Ferguson has displayed great technique in the ODI format and has clearly proven that he is a performer when it comes to tests from his displays for South Australia. Players shouldn’t have to wait like Brad Hodge and Mike Hussey to get picked for the baggy green, get them young and early when they are performing and still have many years to perform. Callum Ferguson should be a walk in player for Australia come Ashes time.
The third point worth making is that Steve Smith gets a chance to show his arm in the test format. I believe that with Cameron White as captain, Smith will have ample opportunity to bat, bowl and do a bit of everything. Unlike under Clarke and Ponting, Smith will now be able to display to the selectors why he should also be in the Australian test team. He is also a very, very good fielder and fits Australia’s need for youth in the test team.
The fourth point, what the hell is the rest of the team doing here? Is this NSW v ENGLAND? Ok, now that I got that out of the way, why are six of the eleven positions made up of NSW players? Aside from Phil Hughes, who deserves his chance at another shot, considering he made a century against England last Ashes (if I’m correct) in one of his first few tests. He is young, he is talented, no more than talented, he is damn good and should be the Australian opener. Shaun Marsh is another who could stake a claim in this match, like Ferguson he has been fairly constant in the ODI team and recently has been performing well in tests for Western Australia, is now his time for a test cap? I say possibly, name him in the original 15 man squad and if someone is injured give him the green light. The rest of the team however I don’t like. Players like Mark Cosgrove (scores something along the lines of 60, 60, 60, 100-and-something in his last few test outings), Xavier Doherty (who they just brought into the ODI team, why not in the test discussions too? If your going to give him one, you need to try him at all forms), Andrew McDonald, these are players that should be in this team. Others that need to be considered are Clint McKay (great in the ODI, why not tests?), James Pattinson, Josh Hazelwood, these players bring youth to the team, they bring excitement.
So here is what I say we do with this Australia A team, lets give the youth a go, but not exactly all from NSW and lets include players that have played ODI’s from Australia because it would make sense to give players with international experience in one form of the game and go in the other forms of the game. So my team would look a little something like this –
Cameron White (c), Tim Paine (wk)(vc), Phil Hughes, Shaun Marsh, Mark Cosgrove, Callum Ferguson, Andrew McDonald, Steve Smith, Xavier Doherty, Mitchell Starc, Clint McKay
However that team could be a little short on pace bowling stocks, so a simple swap of McDonald or Doherty out, for Pattinson or Hazelwood to come in would be the smart thing to do. That team has a balance of experience, courtesy of White, Paine, Ferguson, McDonald with the raw talent and youth of Hughes, Smith, Starc, Hazelwood and Pattinson.
Australian cricket needs to head in this direction. Every other country has done it and because of that has overtaken us in the rankings, Australia is down to fifth in the rankings now, our lowest for a very long time. So for the Ashes I would seriously consider bringing in players like Ferguson, Starc, McKay, Smith, Doherty. They bring youth, they bring energy and something that helps considerably when playing elite sport, they bring unpredicatability.