After greater than half a decade of looking, Australia lastly discovered a gap accomplice for David Warner earlier this 12 months — albeit by chance.
An premature Covid-19 scare for Travis Head opened the door for Usman Khawaja to make his long-awaited return to Take a look at cricket, and the Queenslander has been an absolute marvel in Australian whites ever since.
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However all good issues should come to an finish.
Warner and Khawaja are getting into the twilight of their enjoying careers, each aged 36 and nearing retirement. In the meantime, Warner’s latest kind has sparked hypothesis he might not even board the aircraft to India subsequent month.
It’s virtually a certainty Australia will start trying to find a brand new opening partnership within the subsequent 12 to 24 months — and there are already a number of candidates.
“It’s good to see we’ve obtained a little bit of depth in that space,” former Australian Take a look at batter Michael Hussey informed foxsports.com.au final month.
“David Warner’s made it public that he would possibly solely play Take a look at cricket for one more 12 months, and clearly Usman Khawaja’s coming into the twilight of his profession as properly, so who is aware of how lengthy he’ll wish to hold enjoying for.
“It’s going to be essential to have a few actually good gamers which have had some Take a look at match expertise to fill these two pairs of large sneakers.”
Presently a member of the Australian Take a look at squad, Harris is the undisputed subsequent cab off the rank.
The Victorian, who most not too long ago represented Australia throughout final summer time’s triumphant Ashes marketing campaign, is coming off a profitable 12 months in red-ball cricket.
Harris collected 726 runs at 42.70 in 9 first-class matches for Gloucestershire over the winter, together with three centuries, and the opener’s wonderful kind continued after returning house in September, scoring 288 runs in 4 Sheffield Defend matches at 41.14, headlined by a century in opposition to Western Australia in October.
Extra not too long ago, he smacked an aesthetic 73 in opposition to the West Indies in the course of the Prime Minister’s XI match at Canberra’s Manuka Oval.
However critics will inevitably level in direction of Harris’ mediocre Take a look at document and ask whether or not the 30-year-old deserves one other likelihood. The left-hander has averaged 25.29 with the bat in 14 matches, statistically making him the second-worst Australian opener in Take a look at historical past.
Nonetheless, numerous Australian batters have dominated the Take a look at enviornment after being axed and refining their craft at home stage — Khawaja, Matthew Hayden and Steve Smith to call just a few.
One other left-handed opener with worldwide expertise, Renshaw has been broadly tipped for a return to the Take a look at aspect within the close to future.
The Queenslander made his Take a look at debut in November 2016 as a 20-year-old, scoring a maiden century in opposition to Pakistan on the SCG later that summer time.
However following a disappointing Take a look at tour of Bangladesh in 2017, he was axed in favour of Cameron Bancroft.
Renshaw took a break from cricket in early 2020 after being dropped from Queensland’s Sheffield Defend aspect, however has been one of many Bulls’ most prolific run-scorers since his return.
The 26-year-old is averaging 51.66 within the Sheffield Defend this summer time, scoring an unbeaten double-century in opposition to New South Wales in Sydney.
Renshaw then turned heads throughout final month’s Prime Minister’s XI match in opposition to the West Indies in Canberra, smacking 81 and 101 not out in opposition to the pink Kookaburra.
It’s additionally price noting Renshaw has Take a look at expertise within the subcontinent, scoring two fifties in opposition to India in early 2017.
“I’m prepared,” Renshaw informed AAP when requested about the potential for a Take a look at re-call earlier this month.
“The previous few years I’ve undoubtedly re-thought about how I am going about my cricket.
“The Aussie stuff is essential however you may get caught up along with your mindset and attempting to play for that, somewhat than simply enjoying for my workforce and doing properly for Queensland.
“That’s the huge studying I’ve had, together with having fun with my cricket. If (a Take a look at recall) comes then it comes. It would care for itself.”
Head has been a marvel within the Australian Take a look at aspect this summer time, profitable back-to-back Participant of the Match accolades for entertaining knocks in Adelaide and Brisbane.
The left-hander at present averages 44.55 within the five-day format, accumulating greater than 2000 Take a look at runs since his debut in 2018.
However regardless of his success at No. 5, Head has emerged as a shock contender to interchange Warner on the high of the order.
Information Corp reviews that Head could possibly be thought-about a like-for-like substitute for Warner if the veteran opener decides to hold up the boots earlier than the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.
Though this resolution may appear outlandish at first look, Head’s aggressive batting model undeniably mirrors that of Warner, whereas the middle-order emptiness would create room for one more all-round possibility — maybe Mitchell Marsh or Glenn Maxwell.
And Head wouldn’t have to look far for inspiration — former nationwide coach Justin Langer and Australian teammate Khawaja each began their Take a look at careers within the center order earlier than flourishing as openers.
However sceptics will pose an apparent retort: Why change a profitable formulation?
“I don’t assume Travis Head will open the batting for Australia in red-ball cricket,” former Australian all-rounder Simon O’Donnell informed SEN Breakfast on Tuesday morning.
“He’s discovered his slot, and he’s improbable in it.”
The South Australian has additionally been earmarked as Aaron Finch’s substitute within the ODI workforce, anticipated to open the batting for Australia at subsequent 12 months’s World Cup in India.
One other forgotten Take a look at opener, Bancroft was one of many numerous cricketers Australia trialled on the high of the order alongside David Warner over the previous decade.
It was seemingly a match made in heaven when the duo scored an unbeaten 173-run opening partnership on Bancroft’s Take a look at debut, however the Cape City ball-tampering saga put each of their careers on pause.
Nonetheless, the West Australian was rushed again into the Take a look at aspect forward of the 2019 Ashes collection following a prolific stint within the County Championship, however he was axed in favour of Marcus Harris forward of the Headingley fixture.
Greater than three years later, Bancroft is as soon as once more in rivalry for a Take a look at recall following a powerful begin to this summer time’s Sheffield Defend, plundering 483 runs in six matches to develop into the event’s second-leading run-scorer.
The 30-year-old is the one cricketer with three Sheffield Defend centuries this season, whereas no person else within the competitors has confronted greater than 1000 deliveries, highlighting his longevity on the crease.
Followers will inevitably be divided on whether or not Bancroft deserves one other alternative at Take a look at stage, however nationwide selectors would discover it tough to disregard him if he maintains this run of kind.
The one-Take a look at marvel who can’t catch a break, Pucovski is vulnerable to changing into the forgotten man of Australian cricket.
As soon as earmarked as a future nice of the sport, Pucovski’s profession has been stricken by psychological well being and irritating damage setbacks.
The Victorian has suffered practically a dozen concussion scares, certainly one of which delayed his Take a look at debut till January final 12 months, the place he scored a powerful half-century in opposition to India on the SCG.
However a fielding mishap on the ultimate day of the New 12 months’s Take a look at sidelined the teen for the collection decider in Brisbane, opening the door for Marcus Harris’ return.
An simple expertise, Pucovski averages 48.97 at first-class stage with six Sheffield Defend centuries to his identify.
The 24-year-old obtained his summer time off a blistering begin by cracking an unbeaten 193 in Victoria’s second XI pre-season fixture in opposition to New South Wales in Coffs Harbour, surviving 404 deliveries and 682 minutes on the crease.
However he’s at present taking a break from cricket, stepping away from the game in October for private causes.
Pucovski remains to be in Australia’s future Take a look at plans, becoming a member of an eight-man squad of creating gamers despatched to coach on the MRF Academy in Chennai earlier this 12 months.
Hopefully the celebrities align and Pucovski will get one other alternative to show his price in Australian whites.
He might not be a family identify, however Hunt has been turning heads within the Sheffield Defend over the previous 24 months.
The South Australian was the fourth-leading run-scorer within the Sheffield Defend final summer time with 601 runs in eight matches, changing into the one cricketer to muster three centuries within the competitors.
Hunt boasts all of the attributes of an old school opening batter — persistence, self-discipline, method and endurance.
The 25-year-old pushed his Take a look at credentials with a match-saving efficiency in opposition to Victoria in October, surviving 326 deliveries on the crease within the fourth innings to clinch a draw from the jaws of defeat.
However he hasn’t been in a position to convert begins into huge scores this summer time, at present averaging 31.00 within the Sheffield Defend with two fifties in 10 knocks.
Hunt received’t be on the aircraft to India subsequent month, however he’s not removed from incomes a coveted dishevelled inexperienced.
One other participant who has been dominating within the Sheffield Defend circuit over the previous 18 months, Whiteman is a smokey to earn a Take a look at debut.
The West Australian opener was the second-leading run-scorer within the Sheffield Defend final season, plundering 641 runs at 58.27 in seven matches.
Whiteman has additionally loved a profitable begin to his 2022/23 marketing campaign, scoring 390 runs at 43.33 in six matches, together with an aesthetic century in opposition to South Australia in Perth final month.
The 30-year-old was chosen for Cricket Australia’s latest tour match in opposition to South Africa in Brisbane, however he struggled in opposition to the formidable Proteas assault, registering scores of 11 and 1.
Whiteman’s glovework may be thought-about a bonus — having a reserve wicketkeeper within the beginning XI is all the time useful in case of damage.
Keep in mind the identify.
Earlier this summer time, the West Australian teenager grew to become the Sheffield Defend’s youngest centurion since Ricky Ponting following a breakthrough knock in opposition to New South Wales.
Enjoying in simply his third first-class match, Wyllie scored 104 on a tough WACA deck to develop into the primary individual born after 2003 to attain a Sheffield Defend century, attaining the feat in opposition to a bowling assault that includes 4 Australian representatives.
Chatting with the ICC earlier this 12 months, Wyllie in contrast his batting model to that of Indian legend Rahul Dravid, who was famend for his impenetrable defence.
“I‘m a really stodgy form of opener who simply tries to bat the innings,” he defined.
“I wouldn‘t say there’s one explicit participant that I’ve modelled my sport on, however I take into account myself to bat a little bit like Dravid. I wish to bat lengthy durations of time and never give my wicket my manner.”
Wyllie grew to become the second youngest cricketer to win a Sheffield Defend remaining final summer time, behind solely Take a look at captain Pat Cummins, serving to Western Australia break its 23-year title drought.
Chatting with CODE Sports activities in October, West Australian coach Adam Voges earmarked Wyllie as a younger expertise to keep watch over this summer time.
“He’s fairly a giant man, he’s obtained a bodily presence when he’s on the crease,” he mentioned.
“Technically he’s actually stable. He’s been a gap batter just about all of his profession, so technically he’s sound.”
One other batting prodigy who burst into the highlight earlier this summer time, Ashley Chandrasinghe compiled an old school century on Sheffield Defend debut in November, scoring an unbeaten 119 in opposition to Tasmania at Hobart’s Bellerive Oval.
His 311-ball century was the second-slowest Sheffield Defend ton for a Victorian, narrowly behind Shawn Craig’s 316-ball ton in opposition to Tasmania in January 1999.
Chandrasinghe modelled his batting method off trendy greats Michael Hussey and Kumar Sangakkara, and he undeniably boasts their temperament and persistence when on the crease, making only one run from his first 49 balls in opposition to Tasmania.
After he was dumped from the Victorian state pathways in 2019, Chandrasinghe determined to ply his commerce within the Northern Territory; an uncommon alternative contemplating the federal territory doesn’t have a Sheffield Defend aspect.
However he turned heads in the course of the latest winter season by plundering 5 consecutive centuries for Waratah within the Darwin Premier competitors, breaking the all-time document.
“He’s simply getting began,” Waratahs coach Udara Weerasinghe informed NT Information earlier this 12 months.
“He’s a type of gamers who is aware of the place their off stump is.
“Champions are made when no person is watching, that’s my story for him.”
Final month, Chandrasinghe mixed with Will Pucovski for a 270-run opening partnership throughout Victoria’s second XI pre-season fixture in opposition to New South Wales in Coffs Harbour.
“I feel he has all of the attributes, the private qualities in addition to the expertise to go to the best stage,” Waratahs membership president Simon Matthias informed the Information Corp publication.
“He’s completely suited to four-day cricket, and that’s why I feel he’s actually obtained a powerful future at first-class stage.”
Initially printed as ‘I’m prepared’: Contenders primed to interchange David Warner and Usman Khawaja in Take a look at aspect