The High-Performance Manager for Cricket Australia (CA) Pat Howard on Sunday revealed the selectors are eager to fill vacant number six Test spot for the Ashes 2017-18. The player who would be among runs during the first three rounds of the impending first-class season of the JLT Sheffield Shield competition which will be beginning from October 26.
“(The selectors) are looking for that and that multi-faceted ability won’t hurt,” Howard was quoting as saying by Special Broadcast Service.
The curtain raiser of the six-team tournament will be played between hosts Queensland and Victoria at Gabba in Brisbane, as the four-day competition will culminate with the grand finale on March 23, 2018.
Interestingly, for the Test No. 6 position, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Hilton Cartwright have emerged as first priority before fighting it out in the premium domestic fixtures, as Australian selectors would be closely monitoring the activities of the trio in particular.
The 43-year-old Sydney-born Howard believes added pressure would be on the players who have been called in for the making most out of the opportunity.
“It’s a really open race … much like it was between Hobart and Adelaide (Tests last year), there is a pressure to perform,” Howard remarked.
Howard made it clear by stating the set of skills with the bat would be given the first preference, before the traditional five-match series against England will kick start from November 23 in Brisbane.
“The selectors have said that it’s a batting role first, with any skills you can bring after that more than welcome,” Howard maintained.
As the case seems pretty clear for the batting all-rounders, Howard hinted the bowling would only remain as the second option in a bid to regain the Urn.
On the other side, Test contenders Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh have had also impressed in the recently concluded JLT One-day Cup, as Western Australia clinched the title by thrashing South Australia by six wickets.
Both the brothers – Shaun and skipper Mitchell – played an integral role in helping Western Australia side for lifting the trophy at Blundstone Arena in Hobart on October 21 (Saturday).
With players representing their respective sides, they are supposed to give their best to make their case stronger for Test cricket.
Howard, who expressed satisfaction with the side’s preparations in the build-up to Ashes while adding Usman Khawaja has also mentioned about the stability after his comment on ‘horses for courses’ selection process in Australian national fold particularly while considering the Asian pitches.
“And he [Khawja] also said that there is a stable set-up (in the squad of batsman), and I agree with him,” Howard concluded.
On the other side, it would be an interesting battle between the glovemen in form of Peter Nevill and Matthew Wade’s. The fate of both would be subsequently decided by the Cricket Australia ahead of the Ashes campaign, as promising South Australian wicket-keeper batsman Alex Carey has shown some promise.
Both Wade and Nevill struck hundreds in the grade cricket for Tasmania and New South Wales respectively.