Crafty former Australian opening batsman Michael Slater is of the view that the national cricket team relies heavily on the Test captain Steve Smith and David Warner. With the Ashes just two months away, the inability of the middle order to score runs at a consistent pace and the knack of throwing away wickets without any efforts is a serious cause of concern. The players responsible for this middle-order setback are mainly Glenn Maxwell, Peter Handscomb and wicket-keeper Matthew Wade. Newly-entered debutant against India, Matt Renshaw, has shown potential, but has a long way to go and dominate the opposition out.
In his last 10 Tests, Matthew Wade has scored a measly 263 runs at a poor average of 20.23. This Tests have spanned well over two years. Such a dismal record, and that too for an Aussie wicket-keeper doesn’t do even a bit of justice to the role.
“I’m worried about our side – it still relies on Warner, Smith,” Slater was quoted as saying to Channel Nine. “(Peter) Handscomb is at five, (Glenn) Maxwell’s got to shine. There’s a lot of interest there. (Matthew) Wade as ‘keeper, he’s got to start scoring runs.”
Maxwell hasn’t exactly been able to translate his limited overs subcontinent success in the Test arena as yet. He did show his potential against India with a Test century in Ranchi earlier this year, but that was it. His wayward form has often seen him in and out of the Test side over the last year and a half.
It seems unlikely whether the attacking right-hander will retain his spot for the Australian home season. However, it is for the selector to find out if he deserves a longer rope or not for the time being.
“They’ve got to stick with (Maxwell) because it takes some time,” he said. “Not every player comes in and performs first Test. He’s played a handful (of Tests) now, (the selectors) have got to go with him and certainly for the first Test in the Ashes.”
Aussies have so far, been heavily dependent on the form of Smith and Warner which has paid dividends at times in the last couple of years, but the players have to fire as a unit when they gegt ready for their toughest assignment this season – the Ashes. With the Australian pitches expected to behave quick and fast as they usually do, the selecting think-tank will have their task cut to chose the best batsmen for the series.
Handscomb has undoubtedly done quite well for himself with an average of 53.07 but he has very little time to get complacent with a string of deserving cricketers waiting behind the closed doors to lap up the opportunity. “The moment you start feeling comfortable and safe in your spot is when your performances start to decline,” Handscomb told cricket.com.au. “You get into that comfortable headspace and you’re not really pushing yourself.
“The beauty about Australian cricket is that it is so strong and there are 10, 15, 20 batters waiting in the wings for anyone to make a mistake in the Australian team and take their spot. I feel happy with what I’ve been doing and I feel like I belong in the team at the moment but it’s a fickle game and can change pretty quickly.”