Ashes spots up for grabs in India

Skipper says an opportunity exists for ODI squad members to follow the precedent set by Johnson and Bailey in 2013

Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell could do what Mitchell Johnson famously did four years ago and secure selection for the Ashes with a strong performance on this month's ODI Qantas Tour of India.

After coach Darren Lehmann gave a firm indication this week that Usman Khawaja will win back his Test spot to take on England this summer, the identity of Australia's No.6 and wicketkeeper appear the only major question marks surrounding Australia's XI 10 weeks out from the start of the first Test in Brisbane.

Gloveman Wade and allrounder Maxwell are not yet secure after middling performances on the recent tour of Bangladesh, while Hilton Cartwright could put his hand up for Maxwell's No.6 spot with an impressive showing over the coming weeks in what will be his first ODI tour. 

White-ball cricket in India is a significant deviation from red-ball cricket in Australia, but there is a notable precedent that ODI form in Asia matters when it comes to Test selection at home; Johnson and George Bailey both forced their way into Australia's Ashes XI on the corresponding ODI tour here four years ago before Johnson went on to claim the man-of-the-series award in a famous 5-0 whitewash.

Johnson's 37 Ashes wickets, 2013-14

And captain Steve Smith said runs and wickets against a strong Indian side would only help those on the fringe of the Test XI when Lehmann and fellow selectors Trevor Hohns and Greg Chappell meet to name the Test squad in November.

"I think playing for Australia in any format, you can continue to put your name up there," the skipper said in Chennai on Sunday.

"This is going to be a tough tour. India have been playing very good cricket for a while now ... so it's going to be a good challenge for this group."

Smith also shrugged off any concerns that playing white-ball cricket and spending another five weeks in Asia could hamper preparations for the Ashes, which England hold having won their 2015 series 3-2.

Having spent the past three weeks on turning wickets in Bangladesh, the Aussies are expecting the same batting-friendly conditions they faced here four years ago when the average team score across a seven-match ODI series was 325.

The Australians had a five-match ODI tour of South Africa this time last year and their 0-5 thumping there was followed by a Test series loss to the Proteas at home.

Australia coach looks ahead to Ashes

But with the upcoming Test summer to begin almost three weeks later than last season, and scope to play up to three Sheffield Shield matches before the first Test, Smith was unconcerned by the lead-in to what will be his fifth Ashes campaign and his first as skipper.

"I don't think there's a problem with it," he said.

"I know before the last Ashes series (at home) there was a one-day series here as well, much the same as this one. I don't see any issue with it.

"We've got plenty of time when we get back home to play a few of Shield games and get ready for the Ashes."

Australia will play a 50-over practice match against a President's XI at Chepauk Stadium in Chennai on Tuesday before the first of five ODIs at the same venue the following Sunday.


Australia's Qantas Tour of India

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa.

Australia T20 squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Jason Behrendorff, Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, Kane Richardson, Adam Zampa.

India squad (first three ODIs): Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.

ODI Fixtures

September 17: MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai

September 21: Eden Gardens, Kolkata

September 24: Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore

September 28: M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru

October 1: VCA Stadium, Nagpur

T20 Fixtures

October 1: JSCA International Stadium, Ranchi

October 10: Barsapara Stadium, Guwahati

October 13: Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad