Australia have announced their 15-man squad for the First and Second Tests for the Ashes to be played at Adelaide and Brisbane. How will this impact the series as a whole? Not to mention the impact on the BBL and any live cricket satta rates for the two of them.
Before we dive into that, here are the 15 who have been called up:
Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Steve Smith, David Warner.
Are there any surprise inclusions?
The biggest is probably left-handed middle-order batsman Usman Khawaja. Firstly because at 34, he’s not exactly the future of Australian cricket.
And secondly, because he hasn’t played a Test match in over two years, last featuring for Australia in the Third Test of the 2019 Ashes.
That was the famous match at Headingley where Ben Stokes single-handedly won the game for England. Khawaja was dropped for the last two Tests of that Series.
But his inclusion comes off the back of some excellent performances in the Sheffield Shield, where he scored 174, 119, 70 and 8 in his last three matches. Some of those big scores were in tough conditions.
He’ll be in direct competition for the number 5 spot with fellow left-hander Travis Head.
But Chairman of selectors George Bailey wasn’t giving anything away regarding who was in pole position to get the job when asked by journalists.
“You’d have nothing to write about tomorrow then. I want to see where you guys lean.”
On the one hand, the inclusion of Jhye Richardson is an interesting one.
He’s been having a strong season in domestic cricket and joins spinner Mitch Swepson and seamer Michael Neser as one of three uncapped players at Test level.
On the other hand, his inclusion may prove something of an irrelevance. That’s because barring injury, Australia will surely play their favoured tried and tested fast-bowling trio of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.
Those are the three the Australian selectors always look to go with, in all three formats. Just as an example, they were the three who played (and won) the recent T20 World Cup.
But Cummins hinted there was a good chance that due to fatigue and possible injury, not all three of them would be able to feature in all five Tests.
Are there any surprise exclusions?
Wade was also part of that T20 winning team but in a very different role to the one he has in Test matches.
At the World Cup, he was a wicket-keeper batsman playing the ‘finisher’ role at number seven, as evidenced by his 41 off 17 in a man-of-the-match performance against Pakistan in the semi-final.
In Tests, he’s played just as a number five or six batsman, with skipper Tim Paine wearing the gloves.
Since the start of 2020, he has played in five Tests, one against New Zealand and four against India.
There was a 40 and a 45 in there but no bigger score than those and the Selectors have decided they have better options for the time being.
But that doesn’t mean his Test career is over.
With Tim Paine hinting this might be his last Series both as player and skipper, he may take over as wicket-keeper for the Test team when Paine calls it a day.
Another T20 World Cup hero who saved his best for last, hitting 77 not out in the final against New Zealand and picking up the man-of-the-match award in the process.
But just like Wade, the all-rounder will have been reminded that T20 performances are one thing and Test match ones are quite another.
And like Khawaja, he last played for Australia in that 2019 Series.
His Test record after 32 matches is pretty decent but there’s always been a feeling he’s a little inconsistent at this level. He seems to have good days with either bat or ball, but rarely both.
Australia clearly prefer fellow all-rounder Cameroon Green at the moment.
The giant 22-year old’s Test career hasn’t started particularly well with just the one fifty from seven innings and no wickets taken.
But the selectors have obviously seen something special in him and want to give him a proper chance.
Impact on the Big Bash
There’s no denying that the Ashes are clearly the biggest event in Australian cricket for what is their summer. But it’s not the only one.
And as ever, the Ashes squad has a big impact on the Big Bash League. The eight BBL sides will all have secretly been hoping that their best players won’t have been called up. But which teams will have been happy and which will have been frustrated at today’s news?
Hobart Hurricanes – Delighted to have Wade on board
They’ll be over the moon that Wade will be available to them.
He has an excellent record in the Bash as an opener, especially when batting alongside D’Arcy Short.
He’ll probably also keep wicket and is likely to captain the side, as well. They’re currently one of the outsiders at 8.5 but when the news of Wade’s availability sinks in, that price on the Hurricanes could shorten.
Perth Scorchers – Mixed feelings
The Scorchers will be delighted that Marsh wasn’t called up. Fresh from a very impressive T20 World Cup even beyond that performance in the final, he’s very much their main man as a class act in the middle-order who can also bowl.
A former captain, he stepped aside to let Ashton Turner lead the team last year and is likely to remain in the side just as a player, albeit as a vital one.
But they won’t be too happy about losing Jhye Richardson.
He was the BBL’s top wicket-taker last season with 29 and a major factor in them reaching the final. There is however a chance that assuming Richardson doesn’t play in the First Test, he may be released by Australia to play in the Bash.
The Scorchers are 5.0 second-favourites with Betway to win this year, only behind the Sydney Sixers, who are 4.5.
The Thunder’s plans to pair last year’s top run scorer Alex Hales with Usman Khawja at the top of the order may have been spoilt by Khawaja’s surprise inclusion in the Ashes squad.
Khawaja had a somewhat inconsistent Big Bash season last year but what he did do was score his runs very quickly, getting his team off to fast starts.
We at Bet India think he’ll get the nod over Travis Head and miss most of the BBL season. If it’s Head that’s picked there’s an outside chance Khawaja may be allowed to play some Bash matches; we’ll have to see.
The other problem it creates for the Thunder was that Khawaja was meant to take over as captain from Callum Ferguson.
If Khawaja is out, the most obvious man to take over would be Chris Green, who has captained in the CPL.
The Thunder are 8.0 with Betway to win what would be either second BBL title.