Domain Test Series v New Zealand
Allrounders in focus, but selectors will keep the faith
Coach Justin Langer looks ahead to Australia's tour of Bangladesh, flagging few changes from the side that is celebrating an unbeaten home summer
Sam Ferris in Sydney
7 January 2020, 02:15 PM AEST
Australia's next Test assignment is six months away and in the vastly different conditions of Bangladesh, but head coach Just Langer says it will be hard to break up the Test squad that has swept through the home summer undefeated.
Australia breezed through Pakistan (2-0) and New Zealand (3-0) this Test season on the back of a powerful all-round bowling attack and mountains of runs from the top order.
Australia were expected to dominate on home soil in conditions they know intimately and will face a far sterner challenge on the slow spinning wickets of Bangladesh, where they drew a two-Test series on their last visit in 2017.
Langer and Australia's selectors have previously shown a willingness to make tough calls and choose a side best suited to win in specific conditions, as they did with Australia's bowling attack during the 2019 Ashes series in the UK.
But the head coach says the squad to tour Bangladesh will likely feature the same faces that triumphed at home this summer, with back-up options included.
"In the spirit of that continuity, it'd be hard to break up that squad," said Langer today following Australia's 279-run win in the third Domain Test in Sydney.
"We might add an allrounder and another spinner because we're going to get spinning conditions."
Queensland leg-spinner Mitch Swepson was drafted into Australia's squad for the Sydney Test and while the 26-year-old is yet to make his debut, he would be the frontrunner to partner chief spinner Nathan Lyon in Bangladesh.
While picking a second spinner might appear to be an easy choice, selecting a seam-bowling allrounder for the mid-year tour is not as simple.
Mitchell Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Moises Henriques and youngster Cameron Green were mentioned as possible options by Langer, who also pointed out the quartet have not been bowling a lot this summer.
Marsh has bowled only four overs in six KFC BBL matches since returning from a broken hand he sustained by punching a wall in frustration in the WACA Ground dressing room in October.
Henriques has bowled just one over in the BBL for the Sydney Sixers and 20 overs in the first half of the Marsh Sheffield Shield, while Stoinis hasn't bowled in the BBL as he manages a foot injury.
And Green continues to manage a stress fracture in his back that has put his bowling on ice, but the 20-year-old has kept playing as a specialist batter for Western Australia and Perth Scorchers.
Fortunately, time is on the side of Australia's allrounders who are pushing for selection.
"The reality, none of allrounders are bowling," Langer said. "Moises doesn't bowl a lot, we'll probably talk to him about bowling as much as he can.
"Marcus isn't bowling at the moment because of his foot. Mitch Marsh hasn't been bowling much, he bowled two overs in the Big Bash. And Cameron Green has a stress fracture in his back.
"Green's a talented player, no doubt about that. With a young bowler you think about Pat Cummins and Mitchell Johnson and these guys, it takes a while to develop and bowl enough to be in his case a genuine allrounder, because he's got to be doing both. He's certainly a talent, no doubt."
Langer and the selectors will have a deep roster of fast bowlers to choose from and would likely take four quicks – Pat Cummins, Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson – to Bangladesh.
How many would play in each match is yet to be known, but in the final Test of the 2017 tour, Cummins was the sole specialist fast bowler in the XI with WA's Hilton Cartwright the seam-bowling allrounder.
Langer recalls the 2004 tour of India where Australia beat the hosts for the first time in 35 years with an attack that featured three fast bowlers and Shane Warne, but says no plans are set in stone for Bangladesh just yet.
"I remember when Australia won after many, many years in India – in 2004 – it was on the back of some very, very disciplined fast bowling," Langer said.
"Adam Gilchrist was the captain, we had very clear plans and we talked about that during the Ashes series. We had very clear plans on that (tour).
"So it could happen, it'd be so hard to leave out one of those three or four (fast) bowlers.
"So we'll look at that when it comes to Bangladesh, but there's a good combination at the moment.
"It also helps with Marnus (Labuschagne) bowling leg-spin and also helps with Travis Head being able to bowl a few overs (of off-spin) as well."