With Steve Smith due to return to the Australian test team for the 4th Ashes test, the main talking point is who will he replace? While Marnus Labuschagne was the man who came in to replace him, Labuschagne has been the best batsman in the Australian team coming in, and it would seem foolish to kick Labuschagne out, but who else should go?
If we can’t think of anyone else, it’ll be him. With scores of 59, 74 & 80, he doesn’t just have big scores but he has been top-scoring and in games when others were crumbling. How can we leave him out?
He scored a Test Century, but his other scores were 1, 6, 1, 0 and 33, and, added to that, it was really a choice of Wade versus Labuschagne for the final middle order spot. Wade got him due to his Australian all-formats form, while Labuschagne has been good in County Cricket. It would seem that Wade should go, but boy has he looked good in spite of the low scores.
The vice-captain has been in some pretty good test form with scores of 35, 51, 7, 42 not out, 0 and 25, but it hasn’t been amazing, and he has a pretty poor first class record. There was a thought pre-series to cut him and leave both Wade and Labuschagne in, who have been in far better form. There’s certainly no doubt that Smith is in better form than Head, but is he really the worst of the players in contention?
With scores of 13, 40, 36, 2, 8 & 23, Khawaja has been getting those middling scores that aren’t terrible, and, in the context of a low-scoring series, aren’t too bad, but he just keeps getting out just as he is going well. His first test 40 saw him looking for all the world like getting a big century, equally for his second test 36, before he got out. He’s just not converting. The question is whether we believe that next time around he will convert or if we think he is going to fail every game no matter what.
While Smith isn’t going to open, Khawaja would be happy to, and even Head could give it a try, and Warner’s scores of 2, 8, 3 & 5 leading up to the third test suggests that this was his last chance. A score of 61 seemed to keep his spot safe, but a 2nd innings 0 suggests otherwise. The question is whether we think that his incredible best in the world form that he had shown before the test series will continue, or is he just out of form, at least in tests?
He looked magnificent in his 8 & 19, the big problem being that they were only 8 & 19. Better than Bancroft was doing, and, bar that 61, far better than Warner, but perhaps we can leave out the guy who has the highest first class runs for anyone for 43 years. I mean, really, he should have played all of the tests, but he’s certainly not Smith level.
Matthew Wade is the one to go for me. While it seems harsh, given his wonderful domestic run, and given his test century, and even his 33 in his last innings, I just think it is fair to let him go. He’s had 4 failures in 6 innings, and his one century was without much pressure. They were cheap runs. Arguably, his recent 33 were cheap runs too. Khawaja has scored tougher runs, as has Head. That’s not to say that Wade will never play again so much as he is the weakest of the players who are in contention. He might play again later in the series, though. Warner and Harris are certainly not doing well enough. Perhaps, if Warner fails in the 4th test, he can be left out with Khawaja opening and Wade coming back in. But not yet.