• Archives
  • Categories
  • Wade and Maxwell on shaky ground for Ashes

    2019 - 02.13

    Chittagong: Darren Lehmann has backed Usman Khawaja to play the first Ashes Test, but the Australian coach was considerably more equivocal when talking about the spots of Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade and the chance four fast bowlers could be unleashed to take on England in Brisbane.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Australia fought back from their upset defeat at the hands of Bangladesh last week to level their two-Test series with a seven wicket win in Chittagong, but the tour has shed only limited light on the make-up of Australia’s team for this summer.

    The first ball at the Gabba is still 2?? months away, with a limited overs tour of India, the domestic one-day competition and the start of the Sheffield Shield season all to come before the battle for the urn begins.

    Despite that, Lehmann hinted that Khawaja’s position was not in doubt despite the batsman being dropped for the second Test in Bangladesh after his struggles in the subcontinent continued with scores of one and one in the first Test loss in Dhaka.

    Khawaja averages more than 63 from 13 Tests on home soil, which, according to Lehmann, should be enough to ensure his place at the start of the series. “I would think Usman would play the first Test match, although I’m only one of four selectors,” Lehmann said before the Australian team’s departure from Bangladesh.

    “Obviously for the make-up of the side we changed it here, but we think he’s a pretty special player and obviously he’s got a really good record in Australia.”

    Maxwell’s situation is different to Khawaja’s, given all seven of the Victorian’s Tests have come in Asia. Batting in the middle order, Maxwell has averaged 37 in four Tests since being recalled midway through the tour of India earlier this year, but despite several starts he has not reached the heights of his breakthrough century in Ranchi in seven subsequent Test innings. He has also been bowled sparingly by captain Steve Smith, taking just one wicket with his spin in the Bangladesh series.

    Lehmann suggested Maxwell’s position would be up for grabs in the Shield. “With No.6 in Australia, it’s totally different to Asia,” Lehmann said.

    “We’ll certainly be looking at that position, and anyone can jump out of the pack in the three Shield games and what we think the best make-up is for that first Test. Glenn is there at the moment, like everyone else, he’ll have to perform.”

    Likewise Wade’s hold on the wicketkeeping position appears tenuous after he made just 17 runs in three innings in Bangladesh. Wade is averaging just over 20 with the bat since returning to the team late last year, and Australia’s selectors had mulled over the possibility of leaving him out of the team for Chittagong and handing the gloves to Peter Handscomb. Lehmann would not rule out the possibility of Handscomb keeping in the Ashes, although he acknowledged that Handscomb had tired from fielding under a helmet at short leg during the Chittagong Test, the inference being that his batting could be affected if he had to keep against England.

    “We look at all scenarios,” Lehmann said.

    “We look at the best XI that’s going to perform for the game. One thing we do know is Pete doesn’t survive too well under a helmet all day, does he? So for us, it was the right call. Matthew was great [in his keeping] this game. End of the day, we love having the best keeper all the time; the subcontinent is a little bit different.

    “We obviously want runs from our keeper as well, which is important so for him and all the other keepers around the country. The Shield games are going to be important.”

    Australia’s attack for the Brisbane Test is also in question. Lehmann guaranteed off-spinner Nathan Lyon would play after his record-breaking feats in Bangladesh, but the coach also left the door ajar for all of Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc to feature as well. While Cummins impressed in Bangladesh, the other three quicks are all on the comeback trail from injury, though all three are expected to be ready for the start of the series.

    “End of the day, we just have to see how it all pans out,” Lehmann said.

    “With injuries, the bowling stocks, how they all come back and what the wicket is like. That’s still a long, long way away.”

    Lehmann will be relieved by assistant coach David Saker for the India series before a busy home summer.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Comments are closed.