Steven Smith, David Warner & Cameron Bancroft. Please come back. All is forgiven. (Say Australian fans!)
For those of you that have been living in a cave for the past week, I feel obliged to inform you that batsmen Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft have all returned home from Australia’s tour of South Africa.
The good news for Australia fans is that Joe Burns & Matt Renshaw have joined the squad whilst Play Station Portable Handscomb has been promoted from 12th man duties. Unfortunately for Australia’s fans, the trio’s combined contribution to their team’s response to the home side’s first innings total of 488 is… 12-3. Renshaw made an epic 8, Burns a fluent half as many and Pistol Pete kept it simple… quack quack. Shaun Marsh is at the crease having failed to reach fifty in the series. He’s made starts but hasn’t backed up his Ashes tons.
There’s still hope for Australia. They’ve got their new captain Tim Paine to come, he of one century in 100 First Class matches (172 innings!). No Seriously, I like Paine and hope that he goes well.
It was great to see Temba Bavuma in the runs for South Africa though he rather unfortunately got left stranded on 95. This was in part due to Morne Morkel’s anti-climatic follow-up to receiving a guard of honour… quack quack first ball! It does seem a bit weird that the home side have mucked Bavuma about. They brought Theunis de Bruyn into the side again but don’t seem to understand what de Bruyn’s role is and have promptly mucked him around again by dropping him again.
Keep tabs on the fourth Test in Johannesburg by clicking on the link below…
Australia’s perennial twelfth man is no longer just that. South Australia’s Chadd Sayers is now a Test cricketer, number 452 at that.
For the record, England’s latest Test debutant, Somerset spinner Jack Leach, is cap number 684!
You can keep tabs on how both Sayers and The Bloodsucker, two men who have never played an official T20 match, get on by clicking on the following links…
Whilst Cameron Bancroft does okay opening the batting for Australia’s Test outfit, his predecessor Matt Renshaw is sniffing for a recall at the earliest opportunity. Since the turn of the year the nearly twentytwo-year-old has reeled off First Class scores of 56, 32, 170, 0, 112, 12, 3, 143* & 8. If the opposition get him early then fair enough but if they don’t then the Middlesbrough lad cashes in. Remember that he’s got a Test high of 184 and averages just shy of 37.
Back to Bancroft. He produced one good knock during the 2017-18 Ashes and under huge pressure for his place, has made starts and got one fifty in South Africa. It’s a good little battle for the Australian selectors to have being played out. Western Australia’s Bancroft has three or four years on Renshaw and experience of opening at county level in England for Gloucestershire that will serve him well. Queensland’s Renshaw is clearly made of tough stuff though, even if he recently rather naively conceded five penalty runs!
Don’t forget Renshaw’s domestic partner Joe Burns either. He had a bit of a stinker in his last Test but he’s still only 28 and has three Test tons to his name. South Australia’s Jake Weatherald is another one to keep an eye on, though he’s failed to convert starts this term. Travis Dean is another who despite not backing up the absurdly good start to his First Class career, has recently notched up a couple of hundreds. His average is a disappointing 34 exactly but six tons seven fifties is a good conversion rate. Remember that opening the batting isn’t easy. I should know because I’ve done it in Division Seven of the Nidderdale League and Division Five of the Harrogate and District Evening League!!!
Like Renshaw, another player from the north of England worth keeping tabs on is Charlie Hemphrey. Despite a duck on First Class debut, the Doncaster native registered a century early in his Australian domestic career and following a difficult time thereafter, has made hundreds in each of his last two outings. Twentyeight-year-old Hemphrey has produced these performances batting at four for Queensland. Burns, Renshaw and Hemphrey helping contribute to a strong batting order.
Current Test incumbent David Warner is only thirty-one so there’s life in the old dog yet and unlike some, he seems committed to the Test cause and not yet seeking a purely T20 franchise existence.
Competition for the opening slots for Australia’s Test side is scorching hot and the selectors will be chuffed at the tough decisions to be made.