Steve Smith (C) will return to spearhead Australia’s batting. Picture: Getty
Steve Smith (C) will return to spearhead Australia’s batting. Picture: Getty

Ashes: Chappelli’s touring locks and losers

If this Test summer was an 800 metre dash for Ashes recognition, then Marcus Harris went too hard early, Usman Khawaja missed his start and the winner, with a blinding sprint to the finish line, was Mitchell Starc.

In a season that ascended from a gloomy beginning to a joyful finish, it's worth looking at which player's Ashes hopes were boosted and those who regressed.

Marcus Harris: Looked composed and technically pretty sound against India without the big innings that would've secured a spot as David Warner's Ashes partner. Cracks appeared against Sri Lanka and he's now relying on a strong first-class finish to make the side to England as a reserve opener.

Joe Burns: Went from completely out of the picture to a certain opening spot on the basis of a large century that featured some blistering horizontal bat shots. His ability to score hundreds as an opener [4 in 24 innings] means he'll partner Warner in England.

Usman Khawaja: In a troubled season he regressed thanks to some leaden footwork and butterfingered fielding. Australia needs a strong catching cordon and Khawaja is not the answer; only a fifty/fifty Ashes bet.

Marnus Labuschagne: On batting alone he'd be out of the Ashes running but his fielding and part-time leg-spin keep him in the race. However the English batsmen's frailty against wrist-spin isn't enough, so he needs to produce some big scores in the remaining Shield matches.

 

 

 

(L-R) Marcus Harris, Pat Cummins and Travis Head could all to feature in Australia’s Ashes squad. Picture: Getty
(L-R) Marcus Harris, Pat Cummins and Travis Head could all to feature in Australia’s Ashes squad. Picture: Getty
 

 

Travis Head: The find of the season among the younger batsmen with an ability to unearth scoring opportunities and the determination to overcome deficiencies. His consistency took him past five hundred runs and booked a seat on the plane to the UK.

Kurtis Patterson: Made the most of an early let off with an elegant century but also helped his cause with some excellent catching. Good bowling attacks need a sure catching cordon and Patterson will enhance that aspect of Australia's fielding.

Tim Paine: Excelled with the gloves, was passable with the bat but did an admirable job as skipper in trying circumstances. Paine is the ideal captain to lead a side that will be reintegrating suspended players and trying to reverse some recent poor results in England.

Pat Cummins: What a star. He bowled his heart out in a variety of circumstances, showed improvement with the bat and gave everything in the field. He's an inspiring player who lifts a team when the going gets tough.

Mitchell Starc: Despite some virulent criticism, he took twenty five wickets for the summer. The sort of bowler whereby you accept the wayward periods in order to appreciate his best. If he's at his best often enough against England, Australia's chances will be greatly improved.

Nathan Lyon: A reliable player; you know what you're getting and he'll be invaluable in England. A quiet leader with his accurate, penetrating bowling and tireless work in the field.

Josh Hazlewood: His usual consistent self against India and an injury break will ensure he's fresh for England. He'll be well suited to English conditions.

Jhye Richardson: Displayed pace and swing, which suggests he'll be a handful in England. The ideal bowler to have in reserve if any of the 'Big Three' break down.

All-rounder: Marcus Stoinis assumed favouritism on the basis of good white-ball form and the complete implosion of Mitchell Marsh's batting. Stoinis still needs to prove he can bat at six in a Test side.

Major regressions: Along with Mitch Marsh the other big disappointments were his brother Shaun, Aaron Finch and Peter Handscomb. Of that group it now appears that only Mitch Marsh has a future at Test level but he needs to vastly improve his batting to return to the International arena.

Coming back: Banned duo Steve Smith and David Warner will return to the Test scene shortly. Picture. Phil Hillyard
Coming back: Banned duo Steve Smith and David Warner will return to the Test scene shortly. Picture. Phil Hillyard

Returnees: Steve Smith and David Warner [as long as they've recovered from injury], are certainties and they'll remain the best two batsmen in the side. Cameron Bancroft shouldn't be overlooked. If he finishes the Shield season strongly, his versatility makes him an ideal reserve batsman and he could also act as a back-up keeper.

Will Pucovski: Would've been an inspired choice to tour but his return to full health is now the priority.

Following England's abject capitulation in the Caribbean, the Ashes is now a wide open contest. If Australia overcomes their frailty against the swinging ball they'll win.

 

Ian Chappell's Ashes squad

David Warner, Joe Burns, Steve Smith, Kurtis Patterson, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Jhye Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja/Marcus Harris, James Pattinson**

 

**If Pattinson not fit, then Daniel Worrall

 

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