Six questions ahead of Bangladesh Tests

17 August 2017

Who will join Lyon in Australia's bowling attack? // Getty

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Australia are ready to depart for Bangladesh, but there are some big questions about the make-up of the Test XI

About the Writer:

Adam Burnett previously wrote for and edited at Inside Cricket magazine and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia and The Telegraph and the Guardian in the UK.

Who will fill the No.3 position?

This was a no-brainer last summer, as Usman Khawaja pumped out scores of 50-plus in six successive home Tests, including a match-shaping hundred and two scores of 97 to be one of Australia's most consistent performers. But Khawaja was dumped for the Test series in India, ostensibly because of two disappointing matches in Sri Lanka the previous July-August. Shaun Marsh took his place but was overlooked for Bangladesh, so now the question becomes: was Khawaja front of the queue behind Marsh, or perhaps – is he still? The main challenger to the left-hander looks to be Hilton Cartwright, who debuted in Baggy Green in January and impressed in Darwin with a fine 81. Cartwright has the added bonuses of being a handy medium-pacer and an excellent fielder, and could even slot in at No.6 if Steve Smith deems it necessary to occupy the No.3 spot himself.

Cartwright's maiden innings one to remember

Is Ashton Agar ready for a Test return?

Jon Holland's 50 wickets last Sheffield Shield season weren't enough to get him selected on the tour of Bangladesh, while his four wickets in 11 balls in Darwin was another reminder to selectors of what they're missing. By omitting left-arm orthodox options Holland and Steve O'Keefe and going instead for Ashton Agar, the national selection panel banked on youth, as well as the terrific batting and fielding package that the 23-year-old brings to the table. In Bangladesh, he will likely be called upon to bowl a significant number of overs, and the jury is out as to whether the gifted youngster is ready for a return to Baggy Green four years on from his debut as a wide-eyed teen. His four wickets on day three in Darwin was a promising sign however, and if the Agar experiment comes off, there is serious upside; the free-swinging left-hander has the potential to bat in the top six down the track.

Best bits from day three of Aussie intra-squad match

What happens if Steve Smith fails?

This question hasn't needed to be answered in the past four years, as Australia's captain has gone on a run the like of which has rarely been seen in Test history, hammering 20 hundreds and bumping his average up to a scarcely believable 61. Three of those centuries came in four Tests in India, as Smith showcased his brilliant footwork against the turning ball. There's every reason to think he'll carry on his merry way in Bangladesh, but if he doesn't, Australia could be in some trouble; they lost 2-1 in India despite Smith's huge contribution, with Glenn Maxwell the only other batsman to make a score in excess of 72 across the four Tests.

Best bits from day two of Aussie intra-squad match

Is Maxwell a long-term middle-order man?

Maxwell's hundred in Ranchi was, in many ways, a long time coming, given the right-hander's exploits in the shorter formats over the years. He had always maintained however, that a hectic limited-overs calendar had restricted his red-ball opportunities, and his argument was somewhat justifiable. Now he has his chance to build upon the excellent platform he laid in the final two Tests in India. Comfortable against the spinning ball, Maxwell will be relied upon to score key middle-order runs in Bangladesh, and the series looks likely to have a huge bearing on his selection for a home Ashes series this summer, and beyond.

Maxwell celebrates emotional Test century

Can Warner end his Asian famine?

It's closing in on three years since Warner made his one and only Test hundred in Asia, against Pakistan in Dubai. Since, he's batted on the continent 17 times for three half-centuries, with a best of 68 and an average of 27.17. It's a blot on his copybook that he'll be desperate to erase, and there's little doubt the left-hander is capable of doing exactly that; at 30 years of age and with 64 Tests behind him, Warner knows his game inside out, and if he settles into an innings in Bangladesh, he could really cash in with a big score.

Ashwin knocks over Warner ... again

Will the weather hold out?

We're smack bang in the middle of monsoon season in Bangladesh, an unavoidable factor given the hectic nature of the international calendar nowadays, but one that could threaten the whole series before it even gets underway. Two years ago, South Africa visited the subcontinental nation in late July and early August, and both matches were washouts. After a cancelled tour in 2015 and the security efforts that have gone into this tour, as well as the opportunity for Bangladesh to enjoy a rare Test series against Australia, it would be hugely disappointing if rain had the final say on the series.

Australia in Bangladesh 2017

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.

Bangladesh squad (preliminary): Tamim Iqbal, Imrul Kayes, Soumya Sarkar, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, Mahmudullah Riyad, Liton Kumar Das, Mominul Haque, Mehedi Hasan, Taijul Islam, Mustafizur Rahman, Taskin Ahmed, Subhashish Roy, Kamrul Islam Rabbi, Rubel Hossain, Nurul Hasan, Sanjamul Islam, Mosaddek Hossain Saikat, Mohammad Saifuddin, Anamul Haque, Abul Hasan Raju, Al Amin Hossain, Nasir Hossain, Muktar Ali, Tanbir Haider, Saqlain Sajib, Shafiul Islam.

11-17 August Australia pre-tour training camp, Darwin

18 August Australia arrive

22-23 August Tour match,Fatullah

27-31 August First Test, Dhaka

4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong

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