Opening batsman Joe Burns has been dropped from Australia’s Test team… probably for the last time!
Aged 31, with 1442 runs including four centuries, Burns has been a little unlucky to be dropped and recalled on multiple occasions previously but this time it seems terminal. Despite an undefeated half-century in the first Test against India, he reverted to recent woeful form in the second Test. With Will Pucovski now fit, he’ll belatedly make his Test bow… well, unless David Warner really is fit, then Pucovski may still have to wait. Either way, temporary opener Matthew Wade will probably drop into the middle order with much criticised Travis Head being harshly axed.
With the likes of Jake Weatherald, Daniel Hughes, Nic Maddinson and younger players coming through too, it’s surely the end for Burns. That said, an insatiable run of form could earn him yet another recall. Shaun Marsh was famously in and out of the side and Australia haven’t hesitated in selecting older players. Chris Rogers was one whilst Moises Henriques featured recently.
For now, it’s back to Brisbane Heat in the Big Bash for beleaguered Burns!
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.
Here’s my CricketXI fantasy team for Australia’s Sheffield Shield competition this winter (Or Summer if you’re actually in Australia!).
Typically I have Will Pucovski and Peter George in reserve and both performed well in the opening round of matches. George seems unfortunate not to have had more opportunities at both domestic and international level. For the record, 50% of his Test wickets are Sachin Tendulkar! I was surprised to see PG valued as high $56,400 and typically he rocked up on day one and claimed some wickets.
I’ve tried to avoid picking players that will be on international duty and plumped for Gurinder Sandhu off the back of a good One-Day Cup campaign ahead of George.
Will Bosisto is an odd one who I toyed with the idea of picking. He’s listed as a bowler but openened the batting in Western Australia’s first match. Sam Heazlett was in the runs though and my batting line-up seems strong on paper.
I’ll provide an update at the conclusion of the campaign to inform followers how I got on.
To be honest, I’ve forgotten what year it was and have also tried to forget nearly all our limited overs performances!
Somewhere and somehow, Somerset’s Craig Overton claimed astonishing analysis of 4-0-6-2 in a T20 International. Unfortunately his twin brother Jamie hasn’t been able to back-up an impressive start to his international career which included figures of 6-14 against Australia in a ODI a few years back. He’s failed to take a wicket in three T20I appearances to date.
There was another T20I World Cup, we didn’t win but we did at least win the Ashes in Australia. Against a home side that changed their openers more often that their players changed their underwear as well as constantly shuffling their middle order, we sealed a 3-1 (Or was it just 2-1?) series win. The less said about Will Pucovski’s batting for the hosts the better but he’s welcome to play against us anytime!
Following the euphoria of Ashes success, we took an experimental side to the West Indies and having won the first match comfortably, subsided to defeat in the second by a margin somewhere in the region of 500 runs!
The new season commences with a three-match home Test series against everybody’s second favourite team, New Zealand. Alastair Cook, who performed admirably in Australia and reached the epic milestone of 200 Tests when playing in the fifth and final Test before being rested for the tour of West Indies is again omitted. Haseeb Hameed has come of age and Max Holden will debut alongside him at the top of the order. Sam Hain who replaced James Vince in the Caribbean, maintains his place. Joe Root will continue to skipper the Test side at number four while Ollie Pope keeps Joe Clarke out at number five. Clarke will be disappointed to have fallen for so many forties in recent times. Still only tweny-five, his time will come again but for now he will be better served playing the domestic game. Gloucestershire’s Ryan Higgins, who swashbuckled 97 not out on Test debut in the fifth Ashes Test will bat at six. Jonny Bairstow keeps the gloves at seven while the new Broad and Anderson, Jamie Porter and Ben Coad, will each hope to reach 100 Test wickets during the series. They’ll be backed up by the ever-improving Josh Tongue and Matthew Parkinson (159 Test wickets to his name) is our sole spinner.
Pucovski has a bit of a track record for getting hit and of course for Abbott, the bowler of the delivery that tragically terminated Phillip Hughes’ life, it must have been particularly distressing.
Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash would chew gum when batting and if he was not out overnight, he would stick the gum to the top of the bat handle then carry on chewing it the following morning. I’ve previously written about why I think all players should where a helmet when batting even if the spinners are on.
At the risk of drawing you to the obvious, I don’t think any athlete should chew gum when playing sport.
Imagine a batsman is at the crease and is chewing gum, they get hit by the ball or even when diving for the crease they accidentally allow the gum to fall down the back of the throat. It could become lodged and they could choke. The other players and medical team might not be aware that the player was chewing gum. It may seem like one of those once in a blue moon scenarios but it could happen and it’s just not worth the risk.
In football (Soccer), a player chewing gum may jump for the ball, get a knock to the head from an opposition player and choke on their gum. It’s just not worth the risk. Is the gum enhancing the player’s performance? No!