Alex Carey has won the battle to replace Tim Paine behind the stumps for the first Ashes Test.
Meanwhile, an England star has promised to be ‘fearless’ as he aims to back up a demolition job over Australia at the T20 World Cup.
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CAREY WINS KEEPER SELECTION BATTLE
Selectors have all-but-announced Alex Carey as the man to wear the gloves at the Gabba in the first Test of the Ashes.
30-year-old Carey has spent almost four years with the Australian white-ball team, but will make his Test debut in place of Tim Paine after beating Josh Inglis and bolter Jimmy Peirson to the role.
Carey made a half-century just once in the Sheffield Shield from eight innings this season with an average of 22, but a timely ton in the Marsh One-Day Cup was enough to convince selectors.
26-year-old Inglis dominated the Shield last season with 585 runs at 73, and backed it up with impressive efforts in England’s T20 league and The Hundred. But his call-up for the T20 World Cup – where he played only one warm-up game – denied him enough gametime to leapfrog Carey into the XI.
Australia’s intra-squad game in Brisbane which was set to start on Wednesday is all-but-set to be washed out, allowing selectors the luxury of making an early call on Carey’s inclusion.
BUTTLER READY TO BACK UP WC HEROICS
England star Jos Buttler has declared his intention to be “fearless” as he prepares for his first Ashes series in Australia, armed with the recent memory of destroying the opposition, albeit in a different format.
Butler took the Australian Test bowling attack apart less than a month ago at the T20 World Cup, smashing an epic 71 off just 32 balls in a batting blitzkrieg that delivered the eventual champions their only loss of the tournament.
But the dynamic batsman has never played a Test against Australia, in Australia, and is well aware it’s a different beast.
Stymied also by Queensland weather more like he’d experience at home, Buttler’s preparation for the series has been “disjointed”.
But now freed from quarantine, Buttler said he was ready to ride the Ashes rollercoaster knowing when he produced his best it was “going to be pretty good”.
“I feel like I have nothing to lose, to be honest,” he said on Tuesday.
”It’s sort of been disjointed, that (year) just gone; some good form and some bad form and in the year before as well. It’s the first time I’m experiencing an Ashes series [in Australia], so I’m fully determined to enjoy all the challenges that throws up. I’m excited to experience it, the good the bad, and I’m sure the highs and lows along the way.
“As a player at the minute I’m trying to bring a fearless approach and to truly try and embrace the opportunity. I know when I get to somewhere near my best that’s going to be pretty good.”
– NCA Newswire
HENRIQUES CONFUSED BY ‘HUGE FALL’ AFTER ASHES SNUB
Speaking of selection dilemmas, Moises Henriques has revealed he was left confused by his absence from the Ashes Test squad.
The all-rounder was left out of both Australia’s Ashes and A squads despite being selected for the previous Test tour of South Africa.
Henriques was the only available player from that 19-man group to miss out and described it as a “huge fall” on Monday.
“I have a different view to what the selectors do,” he told reporters, per cricket.com.au.
“To be picked on one Test tour and be told that I was there and thereabouts to be playing on that tour, then the next Test tour rolls around and you’re not in the best 25.
“It’s a huge fall, considering I hadn’t played any other four-day games or (Sheffield) Shield games in that break.
“I didn’t agree with the process of it all. I didn’t really understand the logic.
“I still believe if I score enough runs, keep banging the door down and keep doing what I know I can do well, then I’ll still play another Test match for Australia.”
While Henriques may have not quite understood his omission, the veteran added that he respected chief selector George Bailey’s approach in delivering the news.
“You don’t necessarily agree, but you both understand that is OK, we’ve got to move forward,” he said.
“Even when he’s delivering bad news … he’s been honest and told me his point of view.”
Speaking after he announced the Ashes and A squads earlier this month, Bailey said it was certainly not the end of Henrique’s Test career.
“We know he’s a quality player and he’s been particularly consistent, but I guess it’s a slight difference of our Ashes focus of trying to win the here and now versus the balance of the Australia A game,” he said.
“It’s just unfortunate we haven’t been able to see him play any cricket up until this point.”
WARNIE QUESTIONS WARNER BAN
Both David Warner and Steve Smith were given one-year suspensions and the latter was stripped of the captaincy for their roles in ‘Sandpapergate’.
But Smith’s selection as vice-captain signalled a second chance for the 32-year-old to prove his leadership credentials once more and earn back the trust of the general public.
Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, Warne was left asking why teammate Warner was not afforded the same chance given his leadership abilities.
“With Sandpapergate back in South Africa a few years ago, how can the captain be allowed to take up another leadership role where a player like David Warner, who’s probably got the best cricket brain in the team, isn’t allowed to?” Warne asked.
“If you’re going to ban a player but allow the captain to have another chance, it doesn’t make sense to me.
“I would’ve thought they’re either both available again, and we’ve all moved on, and we’ve put that in the past, and you can be captain or vice-captain again, or you can’t … I don’t think you can pick and choose one player or not.”
Warner has been banned permanently from having a team leadership role in Australian cricket, captaincy or coaching due to his involvement in the Cape Town scandal.
That ban does not look like being lifted for the time being, although that will not stop Warner from playing a crucial role on the field in easing the pressure on new skipper Pat Cummins.
As former Test quick Geoff Lawson wrote on Sunday, Warner and Smith will both play a key role in taking on extra responsibilities given Cummins’ demanding role as a fast bowler.
“David Warner will … be keeping an eye on the formations, ebbs and flows of the game. Warner and Smith will not be afraid to cajole Cummins to the bowling crease or away from it, often cited as the most taxing judgment for a bowler-captain,“ Lawson wrote in a Sydney Morning Herald column.
“I would endorse that version, but multi-tasking isn’t that complicated; you are not thinking about field placements or who’s bowling into the wind in 40 minutes time when you’re running in to bowl: the focus is sharp, sharp on the intent of the delivery, constructing the over, working to get the next wicket.”
THE MOVE CUMMINS SHOULD MAKE TO QUELL BOWLING CONCERNS
Meanwhile, Henriques has backed Cummins to field at fine leg during long spells, even if the move gets more airtime than usual.
Cummins was appointed as skipper of the Australian men’s Test team last week, prompting further debate over how he will juggle the role and his bowling duties.
Henriques suggested Cummins could field a few overs at fine leg in order to get a drink and a breather, even if such a move would open the new captain to increased scrutiny.
“The commentators will make a bigger deal of when he’s fielding at fine leg than what it actually is,” Henriques told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“In Test cricket if he drops down to fine leg to get an over, that is not an issue. If a team can’t run themselves for six balls, they shouldn’t be playing cricket for Australia. Spending two hours down there is a different story.
“It also gives him space to separate and become a bit detached from everything down there for a couple of minutes to get his mind back into the game. I’d be surprised if he didn’t use that tactic on purpose just to give himself a break as a bowler-captain. He will need that.”
Fortunately for Cummins, he can lean on vice-captain Smith to help him make such decisions, regardless of the outside noise.
“There’ll be times in the field where I’ll throw to Steve and you’ll see Steve moving fielders around, maybe doing bowling changes and taking a bit more of an elevated vice-captaincy role and that’s what I really want and I’m really glad Steve’s happy with that as well,” Cummins said last week.
“We’ll nut out how exactly that works, but it’s going to be a real collaborative approach.”
ROOT LAMENTS ENGLAND’S ‘UNUSUAL’ PREPARATIONS
Joe Root admits England’s Ashes preparation has been “unusual” with intensity the key to make the most of the time the team has.
England’s lead-up work for the Ashes, which start next week, have been badly hampered, with last week’s three-day practice match wrecked by bad weather.
The tourists have just one more game before the opening Test begins at Brisbane’s Gabba ground — a four-day, warm-up game scheduled to start on Tuesday.
Root said it was frustrating to lose time in the middle but that players from England’s Twenty20 World Cup squad were only now linking up with the rest of the Test players.
“We always knew that this next phase was going to be the most crucial part, in terms of doing everything we can collectively — getting tight, getting clear and using this as best as we can to ready ourselves, and that’s going to be the real test for us,” he said.
“We’ve done a lot of brilliant planning in the last couple of years, about mentally how we can be ready, and what’s going to work on different surfaces and different grounds and having a really good idea of how we’re going to break down their team.”
England have lost nine out of their past 10 Tests in Australia but Root said his side had a chance to do “something special” in the upcoming five-Test series, which starts in Brisbane on December 8.
“I know exactly what it’s like to be on the wrong side of these series out here and it’s the dream as an England player to play in Australia and win, that is the dream, that is the cherry on top if you like and we feel we’ve got a brilliant opportunity ahead of us.”