Originally published on theroar.com.au
The Ashes has been a disaster for Australia. England are our ultimate rivals and to be skittled for 60 is nothing short of embarrassing.
However the time to dwell is passing and it’s onwards and upwards for a team about to experience “change not seen since the South African rebel tour”, as stated by Robert Craddock on Fox Sports News.
The next focus now is Australia’s Test series in Bangladesh. Normally such a series would not receive much attention, but with a new-look side on the horizon, there will be plenty of scrutiny.
Chris Rogers is expected to retire, Michael Clarke already has, and there are further questions over Mitchell Johnson, Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Brad Haddin and Shane Watson.
Here’s what I believe Australia’s squad should look like in Bangladesh:
1. David Warner (vc)
2. Chris Rogers/Ed Cowan
3. Steve Smith (c)
4. Usman Khawaja
5. Joe Burns
6. Mitchell Marsh
7. Peter Nevill
8. Mitchell Starc
9. Josh Hazlewood
10. Chadd Sayers/Peter Siddle
11. Nathan Lyon
12. James Faulkner
13. Adam Voges/Callum Ferguson
14. Steve O’Keefe
Warner will be safe for some time – he’ll be sworn in as vice-captain, is a game-changer at the top order, and symbolic of the aggressive approach Australia took under the leadership of Clarke. Further, with 42 Tests to his name, Warner will be a veteran of a new-look side.
If Rogers does retire, the logical option is 33-year-old Cowan, who has represented Australia in 18 Tests. Cowan, who scored 815 runs at 47.94 in the 2014-15 Sheffield Shield season, is a stop-gap option for the side because there’s no one else who can fill the position right now.
Cowan also contrasts effectively with Warner in their approach to batting, and should stay in the position until a player like Cameron Bancroft finds consistency within the Sheffield Shield.
The middle order is where the real problems lie, with Steve Smith leading the side as the captain. The case for Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja to be the new faces of the Australian middle order is growing stronger, with a certain level of patience required for their development within the squad. Burns and Khawaja are both familiar with the baggy green and at 25 and 28 respectively will most likely be trialled as replacements for Clarke and Adam Voges. After performing well in India, they have the experience in sub-continent conditions.
While a senior member within the squad, Watson’s time in the Test side seems finished, with the position belonging to either Mitchell Marsh or James Faulkner. At 23 and 25, the time is now for both all-rounders, however neither is overly reliable as a top-six batsman, with Marsh averaging 31.73 and Faulkner 31.78 in their first-class careers. Selectors need to make a decision on either all-rounder and move on from Watson.
The wicketkeeper’s position is Peter Nevill’s after solid performances in the Ashes. Nevill has the skills and quality to succeed Brad Haddin, however he needs to emulate Haddin’s aggressive approach to the game in terms of his chatter behind the stumps to get under the batsmen’s skin, this may develop as Nevill grows comfortable within the squad. Nevill also has to add to the culture of the dressing room as Haddin did.
Onwards to the bowling department.
In Bangladesh, pace won’t be significant, it’ll be all about hitting the right spots, bowling good lengths, and capitalising on any reverse swing.
Mitchell Johnson looks in need of a solid rest, so it’d be ideal to freshen him up for the West Indies tour of Australia where he can recapture the form that won us the previous Ashes 5-0.
The pressure is on Mitchell Starc, who despite obtaining wickets has been erratic. Josh Hazlewood has been disappointing this Ashes series and will need to find the line, length and rhythm that saw him selected in the first place.
The third pace spot is between Chadd Sayers and Peter Siddle. Both are stump-to-stump bowlers, with Sayers adding that extra dimension in swing, drawing comparisons to Terry Alderman. Both should be able to take advantage of any reverse swing on offer while providing pressure.
The spin bowling spot is Nathan Lyon’s for years to come, and he should be the leading wicket-taker at the end of this two-match series. Lyon’s job will be to attack, attack and attack. The pressure should come from the pace bowling, while Lyon’s soul focus should be taking wickets and being the match-winner.
Despite Fawad Ahmed being in the Ashes touring squad, depending on whether he plays at The Oval, Steve O’Keefe should be the second spinner selected in Bangladesh. He has age on his side compared to Ahmed, in a team that is rebuilding. O’Keefe impressed in India and is giving himself every chance to add to his one Test appearance. He could even replace the third pace option.
Players such as Voges and Callum Ferguson could also feature. Both are experienced cricketers and despite Voges’ failures in England he would be a solid fringe player on the tour, along with Ferguson, who at 30, still has time to secure his baggy green.
With such an inexperienced, youthful Australian side, Bangladesh shouldn’t be judged as pushovers, especially at home. This Test series is of huge importance for a new-look side, despite the minnow status of their opponent.