With Australia's selectors preparing to name their squad for the upcoming tour of India, I thought I'd have a go as well and pick the squad I would take if I had a say at the selection table.
Obviously this is just my opinion, and everyone's got one of them, but I think I've picked a well-balanced 16-man squad that covers all bases.
David Warner is obviously a quality player so he will open the batting and I'd like to see Matthew Renshaw in the squad as well. I think the youngster has shown enough to be given the opportunity and, whether he's successful or not, we've got to remember he's still just 20 years old. He's been thrown into the side and he's probably performed above expectations already. India is a tough place and the conditions are very foreign to all Aussies, so it'll be a great challenge for him and I'd certainly like to see him there.
Then you have the other batsmen in the squad - Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Peter Handscomb and I'd take Shaun Marsh as well. Given Shaun’s effectiveness in Sri Lanka in Test cricket where the conditions are similar to India, I think he could perform quite well in India as well.
I'm a huge fan of Glenn Maxwell so I'd take him as one of two allrounders. I think Glenn is quite technically sound as a batsman. I think sometimes people form their opinions about him based on some of his unorthodox stroke play in white-ball cricket, but I think there's a very good cricketer there in the longest form of the game. He has the game to succeed at Test level, batting at six and being able to offer the captain an option with his off-spin. He's not a 20-over-a-day bowler but he'll be able to give the captain a couple of really good spells. And something I'd challenge Glenn to do is to really work hard on his bowling to be an even better option with the ball in the future.
For the second allrounder in the squad, I've gone with Mitchell Marsh over Hilton Cartwright, only because I haven't seen a great deal of Hilton play. The little bit I have seen of Hilton has been decent and I think he's got a future in the Baggy Green. It's a tough one, but I'll go with Mitch because he's had a bit of experience in India and I think he'd be a little more effective with the ball over there.
I think having both Maxwell and Marsh means the squad covers all bases in terms of what conditions they'll confront over there. With a spinning allrounder in Maxwell and a pace-bowling allrounder in Marsh, there's both options there and they are two guys who could take the game on with the bat and really look to put some pressure back on the Indian spinners.
I'd also take two wicketkeepers in my squad. I'd go with Peter Nevill and I'd also like to take a young gloveman to get some experience, so I'd go for Alex Carey from South Australia. Alex hasn't had an opportunity for the Strikers yet this season but he's made a good start to his Sheffield Shield career and he's shown he's very tidy behind the stumps for the Redbacks. I think picking someone like him is a very forward-thinking option. It's an opportunity for him to learn and develop by working closely with Nev and the other coaches and seeing everything India has to offer. I think he's very sharp with the gloves and I really think he's a player for the future.
That means Matthew Wade misses out, which is a tough call because he's a bloody good player. I just think he's more suited to standing back to the quicks then up to the stumps to the spinners, so I've gone that way. But it's a tough decision on him.
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For the spinners, I'd take Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe and I would have considered Jon Holland as well, but he's been injured and hasn't had any cricket. I rate him quite highly but it's probably too big an ask for him given he hasn't been playing. I like the look of Queensland leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson, so I'd take him as well. I think he's got a lot about him and I'd pick him not necessarily as a back-up option, but someone who might even play a role in the series.
Adam Zampa is another name that has been spoken about and I think he's a very good bowler, but he's far more effective in the shorter version of the game, at least at the moment. I think Zampa should be a walk-up start in the Australian one-day and T20 sides, but a Test tour is a little too soon for him.
As for the quicks, I'd take Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird. I would love to take Pat Cummins but I just don't think he's had enough bowling and I know they're building him up to play some time in the future. I think the temptation is there to take him, but I don't think they'll go down that path.
I've been fortunate enough to tour India a couple of times and it's an amazing place to play, but it's a really tough challenge and it's really, really difficult to win there. There's nowhere to hide and you've just got to step up, back your skills and be brave.
And being brave doesn't mean running down the wicket every ball and trying to smack sixes. It means being able to absorb pressure and then identify the key moments in the game to take it to the opposition.
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Most importantly, this team has to go there believing they can do it. They'll get belief from the selectors and the coaches and the supporters, but they have to believe in themselves.
And believing in yourself is a lot easier to do if you prepare properly for the tour. I know they're going over to Dubai to train on the kind of surfaces they're going to face in India, and they need to use that time to fine tune their game plans.
If they prepare well and prepare specifically, they should feel confident going into the Test series knowing they've done all the hard work. And these guys aren't afraid of hard work, so I'm backing them to really put up a fight against what is a very, very good Indian side.
Dizzy's Test squad for India: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Matthew Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Nathan Lyon, Steve O'Keefe, Mitchell Swepson.