Seven contenders for Australia's Test squad

A look backwards and forwards at some leading contenders for the upcoming Test tour on the subcontinent

Australia will name their squad for the four-Test Qantas tour of India on Sunday, with speculation growing each day as to who will fly with the Test team to the subcontinent.

Ten players look certain to be in the touring party but who will make the journey with them is yet to be known.

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Below are seven players who could be selected as either an extra batsman or an allrounder in what’s to be an enthralling series against two of the world’s Test heavyweights.

Shaun Marsh

2016-17 first-class record: M: 2 | Runs: 261 | Ave: 65.25 | 100s: 1 HS: 110

Test matches in Asia: M: 3 | Runs: 393 | Ave: 78.60 | 100s: 2 HS: 141

All but a lock as one of Australia’s specialist batsman, Shaun Marsh will likely travel to India on the back of his stellar record in Asia. From his maiden hundred on Test debut to his last-start century in Colombo last August, Marsh has proven he has the game to thrive in the subcontinent. If he didn’t injure his finger in the first Test of the summer there’s a good chance the 33-year-old would still be in Australia’s starting XI. That injury and lack of red-ball cricket are the only things holding him back from a return in the batting line-up.

Travis Head

2016-17 first-class record: M: 4 | Runs: 362 | Ave: 60.33 | 100s: 1 HS: 130

Test matches in Asia: N/A

Head has cemented his place in Australia’s ODI outfit and could be ready to take the next step up to Test match level. The South Australia captain is a terrific package for the selectors to consider; he’s an accomplished batsman at domestic level, a leader at just 23-years-old and bowls more-than-handy off-spin. The concerns in playing Head would be another left-hander in the line-up for India ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin to target, and there’s no tougher place to make a Test debut than the subcontinent. Having said that, it worked out OK for Michael Clarke.

Mitchell Marsh

2016-17 first-class record:

M: 3 | Runs: 52| Ave: 8.67 | 100s: 0 | HS: 26

W: 10 | Ave: 32.2 | BB 4-38

Test matches in Asia:

M: 5 | Runs: 327 | Ave: 32.70 | 100s: 0 | HS: 87

W: 2 | Ave: 114 | BB 1-30

While his bowling was still at Test level, a lean run with the bat saw Marsh dropped from Australia’s five-day team after the Hobart hammering. Australia love having an allrounder in their top six and Marsh was that player but he couldn’t score that elusive maiden Test century to cement his spot. The 25-year-old has put his Test disappointment behind him to star in limited-overs cricket for both Australia and the Perth Scorchers in the BBL. Boosting Marsh’s claims for India is his experience in Asia having made his debut against Pakistan in the UAE in October 2014 and playing all three Tests in Sri Lanka last winter. 

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Hilton Cartwright

2016-17 first-class record:

M: 5 | Runs: 330| Ave: 36.67 | 100s: 0 | HS: 84

W: 4 | Ave: 75.75| BB 2-38

Test matches in Asia: N/A

The Western Australian was a surprise choice to make his Test debut in the final match of the summer against Pakistan and looked the part in his 37 at No.6. While he’s the incumbent allrounder in the Australia XI, his inexperience in the subcontinent could count against him. Test spinner Nathan Lyon is in favour of having an allrounder in the Test team in Asia, one who’s able to give the specialist fast bowlers a rest in the hot climates. Skipper Steve Smith said Cartwright had picked up a yard of pace, which can only enhance his selection chances.

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Glenn Maxwell

2016-17 first-class record:

M: 3 | Runs: 129| Ave: 25.80 | 100s: 0 | HS: 81

W: 1 | Ave: 89 | BB 1-9

Test matches in Asia:

M: 3| Runs: 80 | Ave: 13.33 | 100s: 0 | HS: 37

W: 7 | Ave: 38.71 | BB 4-127

Maxwell has been an Asia specialist in his fledgling Test career to date. His three Tests have been spread between India (2) and the UAE (1) and has batted anywhere from opener to No.8. Maxwell is regarded as a fine player of spin bowling due in large to his fast feet and vast inventory of strokes. The Victorian is also one of the few batsmen in Australia who can confidently sweep spin bowling, whether it be in orthodox fashion or his trademark reverse sweep. Maxwell’s off-spin is better than part-time and Adelaide Strikers coach Jason Gillespie believes that is one area of the allrounder’s game he can really work on. Australia coach Darren Lehmann pointed out during the summer that Maxwell hadn’t scored a Sheffield Shield century in two seasons, but his vast knowledge in the subcontinent, and his gun fielding, could prove invaluable. 

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Ashton Agar

2016-17 first-class record:

M: 4 | Runs: 115| Ave: 19.17 | 100s: 0 | HS: 35

W: 16 | Ave: 27.81 | BB 6-110

Test matches in Asia: N/A

Australia’s selectors may have already shown their hand when it comes to Agar after they brought in the Western Australian for the third Test at the SCG. While he didn’t play in Sydney, Agar trained with spin twins Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe. The lanky left-arm orthodox spinner claimed 10 wickets at the SCG during the first half of the Shield season and has continued to improve his game. What makes Agar such an attractive prospect is his left-arm spin, his natural ability with the bat (who could forget his 98 on debut) and his athleticism in the field. Whether Agar is capable of batting in the top six in India is yet to be seen, but the 23-year-old considers himself an allrounder and has plenty of confidence.

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James Faulkner

2016-17 first-class record: 

M: 3 | Runs: 228 | Ave: 57 | 100s: 1 | HS: 100

W: 6 | Ave: 33 | BB 2-26

Test matches in Asia: N/A

Faulkner scored his maiden Shield century this summer, finally getting the monkey off the back. He’s a proven commodity in white-ball cricket – he was the 2015 World Cup final man of the match – but hasn’t transferred those excellent performances to first-class level. However, Faulkner’s high-speed cutters and slower balls could be super effective in the subcontinent, arrowed into the stumps in search of sideways movement and variable bounce. The Tasmanian has boat loads of experience in India having played multiple seasons in the Indian Premier League and has an ODI century to his name in 2013.

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