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BILLS ASHES WATCH

Kahu Sports Writer Bill Fuller Follow Him On Our Sports Facebook Group

 

Welcome to the first edition of Bill’s Ashes Watch for the 2017-2018 Cricket season. The count-down to the beginning of the Ashes series on Thursday 23rd November in Brisbane is well-and-truly on!
Having seen off the useless one-day series (well, does it give rise to any Test selection prospects … well, does it?) we return to normal service with the Sheffield Shield season which commenced today. There are three full rounds of Shield matches between today and 16th November, with the squad for the 1st Ashes Test expected to be announced on Friday 17th.
Round 1, which began this afternoon, is a day-night match in all three cases, played with the pink ball. Rounds 2 and 3 will see the pink ball give way to the normal red one. The 2nd Ashes Test at Adelaide Oval from 2-6 December will be played under lights with the pink ball.
We know that there are some spots “up for grabs”, so to speak, so who is going to take advantage of this golden opportunity to scream at the Selectors: “here I am, pick me!”? In fact, our News services today carried a statement from Aussie Captain, Steve Smith, that there are just two places in the team that are not settled.
It would seem that those two places are that of wicket-keeper (how must Matt Wade be feeling right now?) and a batting spot at #6 in the line-up. Again, I ask how must Glenn Maxwell be feeling right now? Let’s deal with the ‘keeping spot first.
Matt Wade was restored to Test Cricket in November last year following Peter Nevill’s failures with the bat against the Proteas in Tests 1 & 2. There was little wrong with Nevill’s keeping (that’s what he is selected for) but his batting, according to the not-for-one-minute missed ex-Chairman of Selectors, Rod Marsh, “wasn’t producing”. Hmm … I remind you all that Rod Marsh selected an okay bowler for a Test ahead of a wicket-taking bowler because the okay bowler’s batting was far better than the wicket-taking bowler! Thankfully, his term as a Selector is over.
Wade, too, has failed to “produce” with the bat, and was replaced quite effectively and efficiently behind the stumps during the recent ODI series in India by Peter Handscomb. Wade said on Tuesday that he is ready to score runs to shore up his spot behind the stumps, so we’ll have to see what develops. He has shifted from his long-term stay with Victoria back to his home-State of Tasmania, whilst Handscomb has stated loud anKahu Sports Writer Bill Fuller Follow Him On Our Sports Facebook Groupd clear that he does NOT wish to be considered as a ‘keeper/batsman.
Alex Carey is a 26-year-old South Australian wicket-keeper and left-handed batsman who has made a serious impression since his debut season in 2012/13. Last season, he captured 59 dismissals, a record tally for a ‘keeper in a Shield season, raising the eyebrows of Darren Lehmann in particular. Carey is being touted as the “logical” man to step in should the axe fall on Wade and it is hard to argue against his inclusion, should the selectors feel Wade has had ample chances … which he has.
But what about Peter Nevill? A week after his dumping from the Test team at the end of the Hobart debacle, Nevill returned to Blundstone Arena and blasted the Tasmanian attack all over the place to the tune of 179 not out, and he, in fact, totalled 461 Sheffield Shield runs after his Test dumping at a fairly acceptable average of 115.25 … ahem, Selectors! I don’t rule out a return for Peter Nevill.
Now for the #6 spot in the batting order which it would seem, as I alluded to earlier, is Glenn Maxwell’s to lose! Who would fill that role, should Maxwell not “perform” in the first three Shield matches? Well, I’m not going to make any suggestions whatsoever as I believe this is a question which will need no answering, other than to say “back to normal” and we’ll see Maxwell in the Baggy Green Cap come 23rd November! Yes, I’m tipping him to retain his spot, and (what’s more) have a good series!
Who else could be considered for selection, given some good performances in the Shield matches? Well, I’ll just mention some names, as opposed to offering thoughts on why they should or should not be selected, and we’ll just see how their form goes. Here are eight names: Shaun Marsh Mitchell Marsh Usman Khawaja Moises Henriques Adam Zampa Mitch Swepson Chadd Sayers Peter Siddle
No, you do NOT need to visit Specsavers, I DID write the name of Peter Siddle!
What other names can anyone come up with to challenge the “incumbents”? I’d love to hear! Let’s base this on long-format performances only, and completely forget about any roles, starring or otherwise, in the recent Domestic ODI series and the 5-match ODI and 3-match T20 tour of India. As I’ve said on so many occasions, those tours are designed to wreck the form of any Test aspirants, feather the financial nests of the host Country and stroke the ego of the sponsor companies who present the meaningless trophies and hand out over-sized Man-Of-The-Match cheques.
I might also add that in my Ashes Preview on Monday 23rd November, I’m going to dissect the selections for the Brisbane 1st Test, and true to form, I won’t be backward in coming forward. Who knows, I might smile in satisfaction with the picks, write a couple of lines and call it a day. But then again, I might not!

Kahu Sports Writer Bill Fuller Follow Him On Our Sports Facebook Group

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