In this era of short, sharp entertainment, it’s easy to think of test cricket as a five-day battle that sometimes doesn’t even produce a result. Over the five-Test series, there is a few things worth making special note of before the series starts and a few more to assess at the end of the series.
What I’m looking forward to seeing
The All-rounder issue
Stokes, Woakes, Ali, v Maxwell, Marsh, Henriques, Cartwright, Stoinis.
With Stokes not in the country, and Maxwell a late call-up to the squad to cover for potential injuries (but not expected to play), I am keen to see if the Australian selectors pick one or more all-rounder during the series, how it effects the balance and composition of the side; and how much of an impact all-rounders on both sides have in the series.
Usman Khawaja cementing his place in the side with a massive home summer
Khawaja is no longer an up-and-coming prospect, his omission from the winter tour batting line-up would undoubtedly have shaken his confidence. It will be interesting to see how he does back in the XI and whether he can cement his place in both the home and touring XIs.
Pick & Stick?
We have already seen the Australian selectors cut Matt Renshaw from the XI and the squad, valuing form over potential. I will be keen to see how much faith the selectors place in the non-nailed-on batsmen; such as Bancroft, Handscomb and Marsh; Stoneman, Vince and Malan. Stoneman is the latest in a long line of opening partners for Alastair Cook; and given the England Lions are also touring Australia this summer, the English selectors may chop and change if they don’t do enough to cement their place.
Coverage & Ratings
The home broadcaster has already come under social media fire for selecting a team of white, male former Australian Test cricketers (with 2 quasi-Englishmen thrown in for a semblance of balance) for the umpteenth time. Discerning cricket watchers have long been muting their inane chatter and reminiscences of their own playing days while preferring to listen to radio commentary. This event they can now choose from either the ABC, Macquarie Radio or Triple M to provide a diverse variety of voices, opinions and insight from former players & journalists.
I will be keen to see who wins the ratings war between the radio networks and the viewing figures for Channel 9’s broadcast compared to the Optus Sport/ Cricket Australia streaming service which will have a large impact on the next television rights’ sale.
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