Battle on for Test batting slot

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THE START of the Sheffield Shield is good news for Glenn Maxwell as he looks to ward off the challengers for his Test No.6 batting berth. KEN PIESSE reports:

Glenn Maxwell will have a premium top five batting berth for Victoria in the soon-to-start Sheffield Shield. Maxwell, 29, is in a head-to-head duel with Zimbabwe-born Hilton Cartwright, 25, for the final batting berth in Australia’s top six in next month’s opening Ashes Test match.

The appointment of a new Victorian captain Peter Handscomb has eased the immediate pressure on Maxwell, who warred with his previous captain Matthew Wade over where he should bat.

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Handscomb is likely to go in at No.4 and Maxwell at No.5 come the opening set of Shield fixtures beginning at the ‘Gabba on October 26.

While Maxwell is the incumbent Australian No.6, having played the last two Tests in Bangladesh, the younger and heavier-scoring Cartwright played at No. 6 in the last Australian soil Test in Sydney in January.

Their two-man shoot-out is a highlight of the 2017-18 domestic opening. Whoever scores heaviest over the next three weeks will play in Brisbane.

Glenn Maxwell of the Stars bats during the Big Bash League Pic: Scott Barbour Getty Images
Glenn Maxwell of the Stars bats during the Big Bash League Pic: Scott Barbour Getty Images

Mitchell Marsh is not in Test contention despite boasting an average of 124 in the JLT one-day matches concluding this weekend. He is still recovering from an off-season shoulder operation and is unable to bowl at full tilt.

Shaun Marsh, the best batsmen outside the Test team right now, is unlikely to be recalled. At 34, the selectors believe he has had his chances and his best is behind him, despite his JLT average of 95.

Only Cartwright of the Top Six contenders has a first-class average of 50.

Tasmanian George Bailey, dropped after playing a full Ashes series four years ago, averages 40 in red ball cricket — as does Marsh.

The rest, including Maxwell, average under 40.

Australia has not had a reliable No.6 batsman since the days of Mike Hussey.

Victoria’s canny selection of Handscomb as Wade’s successor could be a stepping stone to national captaincy honors.

The last Victorian captain at national level was Cameron White at Twenty20 level in 2011-12.

 

The contenders for No.6

CricketerAgeFirst-class average
George Bailey (Tas)3540
Joe Burns (Q)2838
Hilton Cartwright (WA)2552
Callum Ferguson (SA)3238
Moises Henriques (NSW)3035
Nic Maddison (NSW)2536
Shaun Marsh (WA)3440
Glenn Maxwell (Vic)2939

 

CRICKET has long stopped being a gentleman’s game, but news that David Warner intends to re-visit the personal attacks on opposition players once the Ashes summer begins is bad news all round for the game — and the player.

Sledging is inevitable especially at the highest level, but our national players must remember that there are legions of impressionable young ones watching and mimicking their every move.

To his credit, Warner has softened his aggressive on-field demeanour and has been a better player for it.

He should do nothing which interrupts his focus as the most exciting opening batsman of the generation.

 

 

WONDERFUL to see Peter Siddle re-assume frontline new ball bowling status for the Victorians during the JLT one-dayers.

At 32, his days as an international-standard fast bowler may not be over just yet.

Eight economical wickets in the lead-up to Friday’s qualifying final in Hobart was just reward for his continuing efforts to remain in contention should some Test pace back-up be needed.

Test captains from Ricky Ponting to Michael Clarke loved having Siddle in their team. No one tried harder or were as likely to effect breakthroughs quite like the popular country boy from Morwell.

 

Ken Piesse’s 53rd cricket book, Heroes of the Hour (from cricketbooks.com.au). publishes next week. Ken is a three-time winner of Cricket Victoria’s major media award having first written cricket in the early ‘70s with The Age and Cricketer magazine. He will be one of Sportshounds regular correspondents this international cricket season.

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Author: Ken Piesse

KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. He has written, edited and published more than 70 sports books. Signed copies of his latest cricket book Heroes of the Hour, cricket’s quintessential moments from Bradman and Lillee to Warne and Steve Smith, is available from www.cricketbooks.com.au

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