BEHIND THE DESK: Have Australian selectors got it right?
WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT
AUSTRALIAN selectors announced the 14-man squad to take on Pakistan across two tests from November 21 yesterday and the changes are far from pleasing.
After retaining the Ashes in England earlier this year, we kept our dignity but it was mostly off the back of the astronomical work of Steve Smith and Pat Cummins.
To the shock of many, Cameron Bancroft was named alongside Joe Burns in place of Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris.
While Burns has looked solid when called up to the Australian side, Bancroft offers little on the park aside from the odd cracker of a catch.
Admittedly, Khawaja and Harris were average at best on their last appearance for Australia but if their Sheffield Shield form is anything to go off they deserve another chance.
Harris posted a competition top score of 250 to rack up an impressive average of 69.88 for Victoria this season while Khawaja has averaged 29.50.
Bancroft may have impressed with 49 in the first innings of the Australia A test against Pakistan but after scoring just six and 16, Khawaja and Harris lifted for 37 (not out) and 20.
Australia has a strong core but what we need is stability as we head into a tough summer of cricket with tests against Pakistan and trans-Tasman rivals, New Zealand.
Burns may be a good call in place of Khawaja, Australia will regret including Bancroft over Harris.
SQUAD STRIKES GOOD BALANCE
WITH the first testTest of the summer set to start next week, Australian selectors have announced a 14-man squad and I'm happy to see some new and familiar faces in the side that will take on Pakistan.
Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris make way for Joe Burns and Cameron Bancroft back in the side, while in the bowling stocks Michael Neser is in the mix along with the usual suspects all vying to lead the attack: Lyon, Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc and Pattinson.
For mine I thought Joe Burns was incredibly hard- done by when he missed the cut for the Ashes, with Bancroft and Harris showing very little in the way of handling the swinging and seaming deliveries of the English quicks.
Burns was impressive in his last testTest on home soil against Sri Lanka. He and averages 40.10, with four centuries in his 16 matches, and deserves another crack, especially considering the first test is at the Gabba, Burns's home ground.
When it comes to the bowling attack, Neser's inclusion is a reward for taking a bagload of first-class wickets in the Sheffield Shield and he has a strong case to join the three bowling locks of Cummins, Hazlewood and Lyon.
With the short turnaround between the first and second testTests, and with the second testTest a pink-ball game under lights at Adelaide, there's every chance Neser and Starc will be unleashed then in an all-out swing attack.
All I can say is after some dismal T20s, bring on the teTests!