Months of speculation can finally cease as the Australian squad for the first Ashes test has been announced. To say some selections are controversial is an understatement.
It broke late on Thursday evening that young opener Matt Renshaw, incumbent keeper Matt Wade and enigmatic all-rounder Glenn Maxwell have all paid the price for their poor shield form this season.
Upon reading this headline, I thought the decision to drop Renshaw was particularly ridiculous. He is a 21-year-old man with world cricket at his feet. It’s obvious that he feeds strongly off confidence and his lack thereof has held him back at the beginning of this shield season. One thing that would have brought his confidence back almost as surely as scoring a double ton for his state would be selecting him in the first test squad.
Showing faith in a young opener that deserves nothing less would have been the perfect remedy for his shaky start to the summer. Let’s not forget that the last time he batted in this country, he belted an incredible 184 and looked like a young Matt Hayden.
Now Matt Renshaw will watch on the sidelines as Cameron Bancroft occupies his position and has the opportunity to set his selection in stone with a solid series against the old enemy. Renshaw must now wait months to play another first-class game, all the while watching as his test career potentially slips away. This could turn out to be one of the biggest tragedies in test cricket. Ultimately the selectors’ decision not to select Renshaw could prove to ruin his confidence beyond repair.
We may be about to see the test career, of our most promising opener in recent memory, drift into nothingness due to the sheer lack of foresight of our selectors.
I am not arguing with the selection of Bancroft. I believe his form is more than worthy of the selection that he should have received 2 years ago. He recently scored 228* in a Shield match against South Australia, and I really hope he succeeds at the highest level.
However, Bancroft would have been an excellent selection in the number 6 spot, a solid batsman with a sound technique and good temperament. He would have been perfect for number 6 given Australia’s recent record of middle order collapses. As a natural opener, he is used to facing the new ball which is a likely occurrence in the number 6 spot. Instead, they have opted with Shaun Marsh, a man that has been part of countless middle order collapses, for the 8th test recall of his career.
For me enough is enough for Marsh, he does not deserve another chance. Renshaw should be opening, and Bancroft should come in at 6. Australian selectors, you have got it wrong once again.
An equally intriguing selection, albeit less maddening, is Tim Paine for the Keeper spot. This has come entirely out of left field but makes a bit more sense when you think of it. Paine is an immensely talented gloveman and has played for Australia more recently than any other keeper (T20 Series in India).
Neither Wade nor Neville really put their name forward with any conviction during the opening rounds of the first class season. Both have made a couple of simple errors with the gloves apart from struggling with the bat. So with no-one putting their hand up with the bat, it boils down to who is the best gloveman.
Taking batting out of the equation, Tim Paine is the selectors’ man. I don’t necessarily agree with this as he was not even keeping for his state this shield season. I believe Neville Deserved a recall. But I’m willing to give Paine a chance and genuinely hope he succeeds. Which is more than can be said for Marsh.
Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Chadd Sayers.