AUSTRALIA’S Ashes puzzle is no closer to being solved after the opening Sheffield Shield round tossed up more questions than answers for Australia’s Test selectors.
The wicketkeeping berth remains a mystery after all three candidates failed to make meaningful runs.
And leading contenders for the disputed No. 6 batting berth also couldn’t present compelling cases for Ashes selection.
National selectors have two more Shield rounds to ponder before picking a side for the first Test against England starting November 23 in Brisbane.
While the top order appears settled after Usman Khawaja’s century for Queensland against Victoria, the No. 6 slot remains troublesome.
Test incumbent Glenn Maxwell posted scores of seven and 20 for Victoria. Challenger Travis Head made eight and a golden duck for South Australia; Shaun Marsh made 63 and 11 as an opening bat for Western Australia. Two Test all-rounder Hilton Cartwright banked decent totals, 61 and 38. He batted at six in Australia’s most recent Test against India last September, when Maxwell was No.5.
NSW’s Moises Henriques made 11 and four not out for NSW; another all-rounder Marcus Stoinis posted scores of nine and 32 for the Warriors against Tasmania.
The batting candidates found the going tough as did the three wicketkeepers vying to take the gloves for the first Test.
After being sent a message that runs were almost as important as glove work, incumbent Matthew Wade returned scores of one and four for Tasmania.
NSW ‘keeper Peter Nevill made 20 in his sole knock while emerging South Australian Alex Carey mustered 12 and four.
Carey was one of eight Mitchell Starc victims in SA’s second innings.
Starc’s career-best 8-73 haul — in his first long-form game in more than seven months — would have soothed selectors.
His Blues teammates Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon are also certain Ashes starters, barring injury.
Cummins only took two wickets for the match against the Redbacks though he was unlucky, according to Starc.
“I thought he bowled really well,” Starc said of Cummins.
“He probably deserved more than what he got, he bowled some really unplayable balls and some good fast balls as well.
“He bowled a lot better than his figures suggested and on another day probably would have got the rewards and I wouldn’t have got many.”
Online Source News.com.au.