Following the first test in Cardiff, Australia will have to reconsider their team; deciding whether or not they are happy with their current crop.
Normally, a single test usually wouldn’t have affected them and the same 11 would have crossed the boundary rope onto the turf tomorrow.
But shaky performances and other circumstances from those battling for their places could lead to a few changes to the line-up.
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Already under intense scrutiny following a poor 18 months, Watson scored 30 and 19 and bowled a total of 13 overs without taking a wicket in the first test, a fairly poor return.
There was plenty of speculation prior to the tour as to whether he or youngster Mitchell Marsh would get the chance to play the crucial all-rounder role for the baggy greens – and it would not be a surprise to see the 23-year-old selected to play in only his fifth test this week.
Although he looks an excellent batsman (with a test average of 37.42) there are still question marks around Marsh’s capability in the bowling department - he has only ever taken one test wicket - but he is economical at 2.68 runs per over.
Despite this he ran through England’s middle order in February at the World Cup taking 5/33 so you cannot count him out of becoming the third Mitchell in this Australian side.
Sadly, Brad Haddin has had to withdraw from selection for the second test due to family reasons, so the mantle will fall to débutante Peter Nevill, another New South Wales stumper who has a close relationship with Haddin.
The 29-year-old has an excellent first class average of 44.29 which eclipses his predecessor by 4.22 runs an innings. His work behind the stumps could help too; Haddin put down Joe Root on 0 before the Yorkshireman went on to score 134, so Nevill could try to improve on his fellow’s work if he wants to keep the cap when his countryman returns.
Staking a Claim
Other players whose positions were in doubt can be reassured by the events in Cardiff. Chris Rogers was in close competition with Shaun Marsh for the opener’s role with master blaster David Warner, but an outstanding knock of 95 in the first innings should assure his place in the side. Josh Hazlewood was also jostling for a position with Peter Siddle, but after five wickets in the two innings he too should feel secure.
Blessing in Disguise?
Although the Aussie selectors wouldn't have wanted to need to make any changes, the ones they could end up choosing may influence the side very positively, and they’ll undoubtedly be fired up for a passionate encounter at the home of cricket, leading to a tougher test for the England boys.
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