Australia’s new-look Test team have been fairly successful since being brought in after the humiliating home series loss to South Africa last year. Their sweep of Pakistan and an unlikely victory in the first Test in India brought Australian Test cricket back from the brink of crisis. However, there‘s still one position in the team that has divided the opinion of cricket fans and that selectors still appear uncertain of. The all-rounder.
With the inclusion of Marcus Stoinis, Australia has brought a total of four all-rounders to India after Mitchell Marsh was sent home after re-injuring his shoulder.
Australia’s choice of all-rounder has been largely based on batting ability, as Steve Smith has shown a reluctance to bowl his all-rounders in recent tests. Moises Henriques bowled two overs in his only Test in Sri Lanka, Hilton Cartwright bowled just four overs in Sydney, Mitchell Marsh didn’t bowl a single over in the first Test against India and Glenn Maxwell bowled just four out of the 210 overs in India’s lengthy first innings of the second Test.
So who’s putting their hand up to fill the void at number six?
Just three months ago, Maxwell’s inclusion in the Test squad for India would’ve come as a big surprise. He hadn’t scored runs Shield level, he engaged in a dispute with his Victorian captain over his place in the batting order and was left out of the playing XI for three ODI’s against New Zealand. However, the Big Show has put all the controversy behind him and proved he has what it takes to perform in the longest format, scoring 104 and putting on a pivotal 191 run partnership with captain Steve Smith in the third Test in India.
The Victorian’s first Test innings in over two years is likely to have cemented his spot at number six for the final Test in Dharamsala, and possibly beyond that. Although Maxwell has the talent to fill Australia’s much-needed all-rounder spot, he has struggled to maintain form and consistency throughout his career.
Shield Batting Average: 39.60
Shield Bowling Average: 40.98
The Western Australian made his Test debut in Sydney against Pakistan this year and made a decent contribution without having a major impact with bat or ball. Cartwright scored 37 with the bat and 0/15 from 4 overs with the ball. His performance wasn’t enough to earn him a spot in the squad to India.
Zimbabwean born Cartwright has been in the selectors' eyes for a while, having been selected for an Australia A match last September, in which he scored 117 against India A, and also having been selected in the squad for Australia’s three-match ODI series against New Zealand in December.
Cartwright has piled on the runs for WA this season, scoring four half-centuries and three centuries, including 170* off just 173 balls in the final round of the season. In the 2016/17 season, he made 861 runs at 53.81, which will definitely gain him attention from selectors.
Shield Batting Average: 52.07
Shield Bowling Average: 44.16
A capable batsman who has a lot of experience at domestic level, although hasn’t been able to make much of an impact when playing in Australian colours. His last opportunity playing Test cricket was in the third Test against Sri Lanka last year, however he failed to make an impact scoring just 4 in both innings.
The batting all-rounder has been a consistent run-scorer for the NSW Blues this Shield season, scoring 775 runs from 9 matches at an average of 64.58 and a high score of 265. The captain of the Blues has led from the front and could be in consideration for this year’s Ashes series.
Shield Batting Average: 34.78
Shield Bowling Average: 31.21
When Mitch Marsh departed India due to a shoulder injury, the selectors called up Marcus Stoinis as his replacement. Although he wasn’t selected in the playing XI for the Test, Stoinis’ inclusion in the squad was questioned, as he’s averaged just 15 with the bat in Shield Cricket this season. It’s likely that his selection was based off his heroic performance in New Zealand last month when he took three wickets and scored 146* to almost drag Australia to an unlikely victory.
Although his Shield figures aren’t great, the selectors obviously see him as a capable all-rounder and possibly next in line to receive the baggy green.
Shield Batting Average: 35.08
Shield Bowling Average: 45.27
The consistent selection of Mitchell Marsh as Australia’s all-rounder has left Australian fans confused after multiple lacklustre performances in the Test and ODI arena. The right-hander only averages 21.74 in Test cricket.
One cannot deny the raw hitting power of Mitchell Marsh. His brutal knock of 76 off 40 balls against New Zealand in December was a reminder of that. However, although he is a capable batsman, Marsh rarely capitalizes on his opportunities. It’s likely that Marsh will find it difficult to regain his spot at number six when he recovers from his shoulder injury, particularly after Glenn Maxwell’s maiden Test ton.
Shield Batting Average: 28.85
Shield Bowling Average: 28.58
Travis Head has been right in the eyes of the selectors this summer with his success in the ODI team. Thel left-hander has shown he has what it takes to perform at international level, scoring three ODI half-centuries and century.
Head has had another proficient Shield season and it would seem it’s only a matter of time before he’s handed the baggy green. He scored 508 runs at 36 and took 10 wickets at 45 this season.
While Head may be seen more as a specialist batsman rather than genuine all-rounder, he’s been able to take handy wickets with his right arm offbreaks at both state and national level and could be considered to fill the all-rounder role.
Shield Batting Average: 33.37
Shield Bowling Average: 58.41
Who do you believe is the best option for Australia as an allrounder? Let us know in the comments below.