'A' One-Day Quad-Series
Australia A squad preview: batters
A progress report on each member of the batting groups heading to India for the upcoming one-day and four-day contests
12 August 2018, 01:53 PM AEST
Travis Head (one-day & four-day)
Where he's at: Head will skipper the one-day squad, having recently returned from a stint with Worcester in the County Championship. There he averaged 33.90 with two fifties in 11 innings, and played four one-day matches (average 31.75, best of 77) and four T20 matches (top score 40). He finished the ODI series against England in June with three consecutive fifties, but was unable to hit a half-century from five knocks in the T20I tri-series in Zimbabwe. The 24-year-old is a regular in the ODI and T20I sides at the moment but a lack of big scores (he has seven first-class hundreds and 28 fifties from 68 matches) may have hampered his Test chances.
What he says: "In the past there has probably been small opportunities, probably not as many as there are now … I've probably thought about it a little bit and tried too hard and overdone it. I want to be (playing for Australia) in all three formats of the game, so I'll be working hard to get as many runs as possible but not try to over-complicate it or think too much about it."
Alex Carey (one-day & four-day)
Where he's at: Carey travelled to the UK with Australia under no illusions he was there as Tim Paine's understudy, and ended up playeing twice as a batsman, while he played in all six of Australia's T20Is in the tri-series that followed in Zimbabwe, for which he was vice-captain. The South Australian gloveman has also been named deputy in both squads heading to India, while a couple of good judges insist his wicketkeeping work has improved dramatically during an intense period of training at Brisbane's National Cricket Centre. At 26, he appears well placed to take the gloves from Tim Paine in the shorter formats, and also eventually at Test level.
What he says: "I've come back (from England) thinking more than ever that I want to play cricket for Australia, and I know that to do so I have to aim to be as good as – maybe even better – than Jos Buttler in the one-day format. That's why you play cricket – to challenge yourself against the best in the world as a means of trying to be the best."
Peter Handscomb (one-day & four-day)
Where he's at: It was a proper off-season for Handscomb, who hasn't played competitive cricket since his Test recall in Johannesburg in March-April. The Victorian linked up with former teammate and now Cricket Australia high performance coach Chris Rogers to make a few tweaks to his technique as he looks to combat some issues he faced with the full ball against England last summer. Out of favour with selectors in the one-day format, the tour of India is clearly Handscomb's chance to press his claims for a return to the 50-over side and ensure he doesn't lose his spot in the Test team. With regards to the latter, a couple of impressive performances in last year's India Test series, and his strong footwork against spin, will play in his favour.
What he says: "I've definitely taken some of that stuff (criticism) on board. I'm doing a lot of work with Chris Rogers, just to tinker with a few things and really get my straight drive and my cover drive back, so I can attack the bowler again rather than just waiting for them to come to me. I lost that ability to get forward when I needed to and really put that pressure back on the bowler. Guys are obviously going to target my pads and they're going to target my stumps. So I need to be able find a way to be able to score off those balls. Hopefully this is a way and I can go out and prove that I'm still a good player, and I'm still a good Test player."
Usman Khawaja (one-day & four-day)
Where he's at: After being overlooked for Australia's ODI tour of England, Khawaja signed with Glamorgan for a county and T20 stint and only flew back into the country last week. In England, he showed promising signs ahead of next year's Ashes, making three hundreds in his first three County Championship matches. His T20 form was less impressive (168 runs at 24, top score 44) but the left-hander looks fit and focused ahead of a tour in which he will need to score runs to show selectors he is over his issues with batting in Asia, where he averages 14.62 in nine Test innings.
What he says: "I was extremely disappointed (at missing ODI squad to tour England), in all honesty. I've had a lot of chats to the selectors and a couple with 'JL' (Justin Langer) about it. I was a bit disappointed but some things you can’t control … Hopefully I'll get a chance over the next year. I'm not sure there's a lot more I can do other than just keep trying to score runs and hopefully I get a chance." (June 2018)
Matthew Renshaw (one-day & four-day)
Where he's at: Renshaw was another to star in the County Championship, and in early June the young left-handed opener was the leading first-class run-scorer for the calendar year. A fractured finger ended his time with Somerset, and Renshaw has since been recovering from surgery. He hit the nets at Allan Border Field in Brisbane last Tuesday for the first time, engaging in regular conversations with Langer throughout the stint. The 22-year-old made some adjustments to his technique at the beginning of the year and improved his fitness, and the result has been a run of spectacular form at a significantly improved strike-rate. He now gets his chance to impress in the 50-over format for the first time with Australia A, having played six times with Somerset in the domestic one-day competition for 180 runs at 30, with a best of 56 and a strike-rate of 103.44.
What he says: "If I have a bit more intent, I'll generally bat a lot better than sitting back and blocking. It's been a tough couple of months (for Australia) in the white-ball format. Obviously if I can put my name forward it would be quite nice being in that format as well. I've been (pigeonholed) as a red-ball cricketer over the last few years of my cricket career.
Marnus Labuschagne (one-day)
Where he's at: Queenslander Labuschagne was in India this time last year with the National Performance Squad, so his selection for Australia A represents impressive growth in a short time. The right-hander was the second-highest run-scorer in last summer's Sheffield Shield competition and posted a couple of hundreds, while the year before he was the Player of the Tournament in the domestic 50-over competition. He has spent the past week with the Australia A group in Brisbane, working largely on his play against spin, and in particular his sweeping. The 24-year-old is lightning in the field and also a handy leg-spinner.
What he says: "I've got chills right now even thinking about (playing Test cricket). We're so close at the moment. It's going to come down to the batters who step up in India and really knock the door down, then come in to JLT Cup with some form, and if you can continue to roll on with some form in the JLT (Cup), it's going to put you in a really good spot. I want to be that player; I want to be the person that they're looking for. So my job is to make sure I do that talking with the bat, ball and in the field."
D'Arcy Short (one-day)
Where he's at: Short has been a busy man since being catapulted into national colours off the back of his stunning Big Bash campaign, in which the left-handed opener smashed all sorts of records. From there, he endured a tough time of things in the Indian Premier League, and looked short of his fluent best in England (ODIs) and Zimbabwe (T20Is) until his 76 from 53 balls in the final of the latter. A return to India for the one-day leg of the tour will represent a stern challenge for the 28-year-old, who thanks Langer – and no small amount of hard work for his career turnaround after first appearing in WA colours way back in 2011.
What they say: "He has to continue developing his red-ball game. He's an aggressive left-handed opening batsman, who's a gun fielder and bowls a bit. He could be, dare I say it, like Davey Warner. He knows that he's by no means the finished product, especially in red-ball cricket. But how exciting is that? He's a professional cricketer, he's going well, and he's still got massive areas of improvement, both mentally and technically." – Justin Langer (April 2018)
Kurtis Patterson (four-day)
Where he's at: Patterson is still only 25 but last summer was his sixth of first-class cricket. The left-hander hasn't played competitively since then but was again a consistent performer, becoming the only batsman to finish in the top 10 Sheffield Shield run scorers for each of the past three seasons. That reliability has earned him a nod for the four-day leg of the India A tour, where the tall left-hander's confidence against the turning ball should hold him in good stead.
What he says: "As batters, we'd be lying if we said there wasn't some opportunities in the Australian team at the moment. We're all aware of that. I'll be trying to go over there and win games for my team and hopefully score some big runs along the way. I enjoy playing spin. Playing at the SCG, we've got the wickets that are the closest (in Australia) to what you're going to get in the subcontinent."
Australia A Tour of India
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Matthew Renshaw, Jhye Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain, Jack Wildermuth
One-day fixtures in Vijayawada
17 August v India A
19 August v South Africa A
21 August v India B
23 August v India A
25 August v South Africa A
27 August v India B
29 August - Quad-Series Final
Australia A four-day squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Kurtis Patterson, Matthew Renshaw, Mitch Swepson, Chris Tremain
Four-day fixtures in Vizag
2-5 September v India A
8-11 September v India A