Ashes 2017-18: Opinion – Prime Contenders At No. 6 Spot For Australia
Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Hilton Cartwright and Marcus Stoinis are perhaps the most sought-after names who come to mind when the debate for Australia’s number six spot begins. The Ashes isn’t far, starting on November 23rd at the Gabba in Brisbane; and the hosts’ are still finding the answer of who to pick for the vacant sixth position in the batting order.
A few of the former players have thrown their support behind Maxwell, including the legendary Shane Warne, who calls the all-rounder the ‘X-factor’. Even before the talks regarding Maxwell’s future started floating, Warne had said Maxwell has improved his technique and can react to tough situations. His comments came after Australia had toured Bangladesh for two Tests early this year, where Maxwell scored 100 runs in four innings, including a best of 38.
Not known for his technique, Maxwell had scored a hundred against the duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in March during India tour.
However, of late, he didn’t catch up with the hype and managed just 151 runs in four innings during the Sheffield Shield games at an average of 37.75. Now, with these numbers, this author unsure whether Mark Waugh, the chief selector of CA, would rush to pick him ahead of other contenders, also taking into account Maxwell hasn’t played a single Test in Australia since his debut.
After Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Hilton Cartwright are in line to knock the selectors’ doors. Inconsistent with the bat, both haven’t impressed with the ball as well to present their case. In the two Sheffield Shield games played so far, Cartwright has bagged just a solitary wicket while Stoinis has gone wicketless.
With the chances of them looking bleak, Mitchell Marsh, who returned from an injury, appears to be the selectors’ last hope when they sit around the table to pick the final squad on November 17th.
Marsh had scored 0, 6, 36 and 4 in all four Sheffield Shield innings so far; he failed to deliver big at the right time.
So now, who else is there to fill the void? Mitch’s elder brother Shaun Marsh could be the answer to all the pending questions. The batsman, with experience under his belt, had played Ashes before, both in England and Australia, and could be the apt player for the sixth spot. Knowing Australia’s likely pace battery: Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummings for the first Test match, Steven Smith could be apprehended to go in for an all-rounder, and might just ask Shaun to bat the sixth position. Marsh has batted at five or six in the past; who can forget his match-saving innings against India in Ranchi where he and Peter Handscomb helped Australia salvage a draw on day five.
The 32-year-old would fancy his chances as well, considering his current form, which reads 2, 91, 63 and 11 in latest two Sheffield Shield games played.
The first of the five Test matches will start on November 23 in Brisbane with Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, respectively scheduled to host other four matches.
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