It has been widely reported that the National Selection Panel are set to announce a raft of changes to the Australian Cricket Team when they announce the first Ashes test team on Friday. If these reports are to be believed, incumbents Matthew Renshaw, Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell, will all make for Cameron Bancroft, Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh.
Renshaw, less than a year after being selected as a potential 10-year opener for Australia, seemingly a victim of Bancroft’s strong start to the Sheffield Shield season. Bancroft has been on fire this year, and the selectors have been suitably swayed by a three week run of form to shoe horn him into the Test team at the expense of the 21-year-old Renshaw. This reliance on less than a month of form at odds with their ignoring of Ed Cowan’s claims to a position despite being the leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield for the last two years.
It has been widely suggested that Cowan’s claims were ignored due to the fact that he was considered too old to be brought into the team. Yet somehow the NSP do not have similar problems with the injury prone Shaun Marsh, despite him being just a year a younger than Cowan.
Dropped from the Australian team in March, having averaged under 19 in his last four Tests, and just a year younger than a player considered too old to play for Australia, Marsh must be in some rare form to have forced his way back in? Only If you consider 236 at 39.33 rare form. Given that is not the kind of form usually associated with knocking the door down, he must have out performed the incumbent to have taken his spot? Again no, Maxwell has scored 200 at 40.
Given the bewildering nature of Marsh’s selection, it should come as no surprise that the Selectors have selected a Tasmania’s second string keeper. Unable to dislodge Matthew Wade from the Tigers’ Sheffield Shield team, Tim Paine has taken his spot in the Test team. The 32-year-old only kept for his state three times, but they must have been some pretty special efforts because it can only be on these performances that he has been picked for the national team. Despite having scored a half-century for a Cricket Australia XI against the tourists this week, it’s not his batting that has earned him another baggy green given the fact that Coach Darren Lehman has a more recent Sheffield hundred than the Tasmanian gloveman.
While there is no question the role of a selector requires more than just perusing statistic sheets and picking players on the basis of the numbers. It is of vital importance that there is a degree of logic and consistency in the selection process. As is a value on incumbency. Beyond being blessed with an array of quality players, it was these selection philosophies that played a large part in Australia’s stint as the dominant force in world cricket.
When in the history of Australian Cricket has a three week run of form earned you a spot in the team at the expense of incumbent whose last Test knock in Australia was 182? Since when has an average of 39 at Shield level been enough to dislodge an incumbent? Let alone when it isn’t better than the incumbent’s record over the same course of matches and when did we start picking keepers that can’t get a game for their state?
As a supporter, I hope that all three players grab their opportunities with both hands and play vital roles in Australia regaining the Ashes. Unfortunately, such a result will only embolden a Selection Panel who, rather than acting like custodians of Australian sports most important team, resemble lunatics running an asylum.