Will Pucovski (243) and Josh Phillipe (41 & 104) were amongst the runs in the opening round of 2018-19 Sheffield Shield matches. It was good to see young batsman such as Sam Heazlett and Will Bosisto in their respective state XIs as well, even if they didn’t quite churn out Pucovskiesque innings. Question marks still linger over much of Australia’s batting line-up, what with Shaun Marsh’s inconsistency, Mitchell Marsh batting far too high at times and Usman Khawaja (Now injured) and Aaron Finch both needing to back-up encouraging performances against Pakistan in UAE, Pucovski could well have put himself to the front of the selection queue. With Peter Handscomb having fallen away horribly after a promising start to his Test career and Glenn Maxwell clearly not fancied by the selection panel, the twenty-year-old Victorian’s path to the national XI is being cleared of obstacles.
Another player that peaked interest in the opening round of this year’s Shield was leg-spinner Lloyd Pope. Not all that long ago, Pope terrorised England at the Under-19 World Cup with an eight-wicket haul that went viral. In truth, aside from that match-winning performance he had a quiet tournament. His maiden First Class wicket, trapping Steve O’Keefe LBW, saw him go viral again even though his two wickets cost in excess of a hundred runs. It was extremely alarming however to see the reaction of the Australian media. Labelling Pope as the “New Warne” is surely both unnecessary and unoriginal.
Back to batting and another player who could possibly solve Australia’s batting problems… Meg Lanning. There are some that say there’s no need to suggest women cricketers aim to play in men’s teams and that women’s cricket is a good enough sport on in its own right. I’m not necessarily suggesting that run-express Lanning represent her country’s men’s team but it’s worth pointing out just how good she is. Still only twenty-six, she has in excess of 3000 ODI runs from just 68 matches. She averages north of 53 with twelve tons and eleven fifties. She’s fresh off the back of another hundred against Pakistan in Kuala Lumpur.
It’ll be interesting to see just how much Lanning can achieve in her international career and who lines up for Australia’s men’s team come next year’s Ashes encounter in England.
Bye: Is Mason Crane the first player to make his Test debut in a city with which he shares his middle name?
Leg Bye: Have the following players misunderstood an instruction to have Don Bradman like averages?
Tom Curran: 100.00
Jake Ball: 114.33
Mason Crane: 193.00
Yet Craig Overton (37.66) doesn’t average over a ton. Go figure!
No Ball: Will Chris Lynn ever be fit?
Wide: After returning figures of 0-108 in Melbourne, has Jackson Bird played his last Test?
It’s been a while since the last Extras post but here’s an Ashes treat. It’s a kind of quiz question special!
Bye: Should Peter Handscomb make way for Glenn Maxwell?
Handscomb looks jittery at the crease while Maxwell is performing well in the Sheffield Shield. There’s an old adage that ‘You shouldn’t change a winning team’ and with Oz 2-0 to the good, this could be a good opportunity to let Handscomb ride out the tempest. Some however may argue that you should make changes when you’re winning if those alterations strengthen the side.
Leg Bye: Should England drop Moeen Ali?
He’s probably not fully fit, looks ineffectual with the ball and limp with the bat. His potential to score runs though makes a straight swap with Mason Crane seem unlikely.
No Ball: Can Dawid Malan convert starts?
Malan seems to be winning over some doubters with his effort and application but teens and twenties won’t keep him in the Test side forever. The Middlesex man will be seeking at least a half-century in Perth.
Wide: Would Jake Ball be better off with England Lions?
If JB3 is now only around to serve beverages then he may as well get some game time with the back-up brigade. If any of the senior bowlers trip up on the morning of a Test, is Ball next in-line anyway?
Australia have assumed an unassailable 3-1 lead in their ODI series at home against Pakistan. The hosts totalled a formidable 353-6 (Warner 130, Maxwell 78, Head 51) then dismissed the tourists 86 runs short of their total, despite Sharjeel Khan’s 74 from 47 deliveries at the top of the order.
Our sole duckee at the Sydney Cricket Ground was Junaid Khan, the last wicket to fall as Josh Hazlewood (3-54) wrapped up victory. Spin bowler Adam Zampa, who has been omitted from Australia’s Test squad to tour India because the selectors accuse him of being a defensive bowler, claimed figures of 3-55 from his full allocation. Zampa now has 33 wickets in 20 ODIs at a very healthy average of just 26.93 but he’s too defensive for Test cricket so the selectors picked Mitchell Swepson instead. Well you can never have enough Mitchells!
Meanwhile in Johannesburg, Sri Lanka have levelled their 3-match T20I series against hosts South Africa. Skipper Angelo Mathews’ 54 not out was the deciding factor and only South Africa’s Andile Phehlukwayo merits a mention in today’s edition of IDW.