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Mitchell Marsh illness opens ODI door for Ashton Turner

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Mitchell Marsh has been ruled out of Australia’s first ODI against India at the SCG after spending two days in hospital with the stomach illness gastritis. Ashton Turner, the Western Australia and Perth Scorchers batsman, has been called up as cover after showing impressive form in the Big Bash League with Australia coach Justin Langer lauding his running between the wickets and finishing skills.

Turner, 25, has previously played three T20Is against Sri Lanka in 2017 and has hit a timely run in the BBL with scores of 60 not out, 47 and 43 not out in his last three innings.

“I remember when Mike Hussey came into Australian cricket, what almost got him a shot in the one-day team was his running between the wickets,” Langer said. “That might sound like the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard but his [Turner’s] running between the wickets is unbelievable, he’s such a great athlete and one of the hallmarks of great Australian teams – think of Dean Jones, Michael Bevan, Michael Hussey – is the running, it’s a basic but he does that.

“We’ve also talked about getting players who can finish off innings and he’s shown that particularly in what we can go off in the Big Bash. He’s in great form. He’s an elite athlete in the field and he’s also a captain. You see the way he finishes innings that he’s a good thinker and a really good leader.”

For Mitchell Marsh, who was left walking gentle laps of the SCG on Thursday, it is another blow after he was dropped from the Test squad for the Sri Lanka series. His brother Shaun was also left out, raising the prospect of it being the end of his Test career, with Langer admitting they were tough decisions involving a family he is very close to, but calls that had to be made.

“Of course these decisions are tough but that’s what leadership is about,” he said. “You’ve got to make tough calls. I’ve known them since they were kids, Geoff Marsh is one of my best friends and he’s also been a coach with me in WA. At the end of the day we all know, the boys know and Swampy [Geoff Marsh] knows, that this a tough business and if you aren’t performing you don’t get selected.”

Mitchell Marsh will be assessed later in the series to see if he can take any part in the subsequent matches in Adelaide and Melbourne, but in the short term his absence could impact the balance of the side Australia field. Adam Zampa and Nathan Lyon have both been included in the squad but without Marsh’s medium-pace it may now be tricky to fit both into the XI.

Australia are keen to try and get two frontline spinners into their ODI team – a formula that has worked well for other teams – as they attempt to arrest the slump that has left them ranked sixth as they prepare for defend their World Cup title in England. It could be that the twin-spin attack now has to wait for the series against India and Pakistan that begin next month.

“There might be opportunities for them to play together,” Langer said. “It perhaps changes it a bit with Mitch Marsh; we could have had maybe the two medium-pace options as the extra quick. That might change a bit now. A lot of the teams around the world are doing it [playing two spinners]. There’s no doubt India will do it against us. It’s something we’ll have a look at. It would be good to have a legspinner and an offspinner – Glenn Maxwell bowls offspin as well. We’ll have some good combinations there.”

As well as searching for the ideal balance of attack, Australia are also trying to formulate a top order that can set and chase imposing totals above 300. David Warner and Steven Smith are inked in to return for the World Cup, but Australia’s problems in ODIs started when they were still available. In the current squad Usman Khawaja and Peter Handscomb have a chance to stake their claim after a shift from the selectors to go for more traditional batsmen in place of hitters such as D’Arcy Short and Chris Lynn.

“We have to look for scores at 300 or 350,” Langer said. “We have to do that to compete and in England, we have to do that. We’ve got the talent and now we’ve got to get the experience and the composure and ability to do it under pressure and to do it consistently. These are what we’re all aspiring to and that is one of the great lessons in the game.”



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Eyes on the Ashes: Australia’s Test squad talking points

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There was another Australia squad with plenty to digest as the selectors brought in a new-look top order to try and overcome the batting woes for the Sri Lanka series. Shaun and Mitchell Marsh, Peter Handscomb and Aaron Finch have been dropped – their Ashes hope now hanging by a thread – with Joe Burns, Matt Renshaw and the uncapped Will Pucovski taking their place. National selector Trevor Hohns addressed the media to cover various issues, both in terms of the immediate selection and the bigger picture, and here’s how he reacted to the major talking points.

The debate: Shaun Marsh has been dropped after making 183 runs in the series against India with one-half-century. He has been axed and brought back on many occasions during his career, but at 35 years old it feels like this could be it for a Test career that has occasionally promised so much.

Hohns: “Shaun hasn’t done what we’d like him to have done over the last period and I am sure he would say the same thing. As far as the Ashes go that’s a long way off, he now has the opportunity in one-day cricket to get some form back. But the door is certainly not closed

The debate: Burns and Renshaw were much-discussed since they were parachuted in following the ball-tampering scandal at Newlands. Renshaw looked set to play against Pakistan in the UAE before suffering concussion and has been on the sidelines since. He has endured a lean Shield season to date (199 runs at 19.90) while Burns has been solid, averaging 47.20, with a strong school of thought his three Test centuries should have seen him in long before now

Hohns: “Joe Burns has a good record in Test cricket and has been in good form leading up to when the Big Bash started. Matt Renshaw on the other hand is very, very highly regarded young player, he’s scored a lot of runs in England when he went over there and played county cricket. With the Ashes in mind it’s probably time now to get him back and around the group.”

The debate: Despite Australia’s batting being at an historical low, missing David Warner and Steven Smith, there has been a sense that the selectors have ignored strong Sheffield Shield numbers by some players – favouring potential over performance. Matthew Wade is the Shield’s top scorer with 571 runs at 63.44.

Hohns: “With Matthew Wade it’s fantastic to see him scoring a lot of runs. It wasn’t long ago that he was in our Test squad, he struggled and we dropped him. He was wicketkeeper at that stage, he’s playing as a wicketkeeper-batsman for Tasmania and it just so happens we have a wicketkeeper-batsman in our Test side who is the captain. If Matthew wants to be considered as a straight out batsman it would be nice to see him batting a little higher up for Tasmania and that conversation has been had.”

The debate: A continued omission from the Test side is Glenn Maxwell who last year was told not to take up a county deal, which we wanted to play more red-ball cricket, because he would be on the A tour to India with a chance to secure a place in the Tests against Pakistan. He has played two first-class games since then because of white-ball commitments.

Hohns: “We’ve had several conversations with Glenn about all this and right now he is just content to focus on one-day cricket and white-ball cricket. However, he makes it very clear he would like to play Test cricket, there is no doubt about that. Glenn has chosen to go and play country cricket again this year and a lot of that is one-day cricket leading up to the World Cup. He has also chosen not to put his name in for the IPL so that’s all credit to him for doing that.”

The debate: Australia have long been vexed over how to balance their Test side. Mitchell Marsh’s return against India was brief, dumped after a poor batting performance in Melbourne. There was a bit of talk about Marcus Stoinis (largely from Shane Warne) but in the current squad any extra overs from the top order will be mostly in the hands of Marnus Labuschagne‘s legspin.

Hohns: “There’s always talk about having an allrounder in your side. My only answer to that is if the allrounder isn’t performing and you don’t have a good allrounder, well maybe we shouldn’t have one and go back to the stock standard six batsmen, four bowlers. But if you have a match-winning allrounder, they’re like gold. If we can unearth one, that’d be fantastic.”

The debate: Going into the India series it was at least considered that Australia had a world-class bowling attack. They still do, but it now has a few questions hanging over it after being ground down by Cheteshwar Pujara. It has remained intact for Sri Lanka, as was to be expected, with Peter Siddle retained as the back-up.

Hohns: “They are definitely our best three fast bowlers, I don’t think anyone would argue that. Whether they are operating as the best unit, I’m sure there’s some improvement that can be had there. There are fringe bowlers there’s no doubt about that and three of those are in the CA XI squad. We also have Jhye Richardson who is seen as a very bright prospect. But we think it’s essential that we have Pete around. He’s such an experienced campaigner and he’s great around the group.”

The debate: So, inevitably, there is an eye on the Ashes. It may be that there are three batting spots up for grabs in the final squad while it seems as though there will be some jostling for the support bowling. But will things be any clearer after the two matches against Sri Lanka?

Hohns: “Of course a lot will depend on the availability of Smith, Warner and Bancroft for that matter as well. Our players right now and through the Indian series had a great opportunity – we saw it like that and we hoped that they would see it like that – to make it difficult for us if and when these players come back and are available. There are still positions available of course, particularly given the revamp of the squad for now. So these guys now have the opportunity to cement a place or at least make it difficult for us to leave them out going forward.”



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Taskin’s four-for helps Sylhet defend 168

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Sylhet Sixers 168 for 5 (Warner 59, Pooran 52*, Frylinck 3-26) beat Chittagong Vikings 163 for 7 (Frylinck 44*, Delport 38, Taskin 4-28) by five runs

How the game played out

The 2018-19 Bangladesh Premier League has been replete with low-scoring matches. The high-scoring ones have usually been one-sided. In that regard, Sylhet Sixers v Chittagong Vikings was an anomaly.

The Sixers made 168. Vikings responded with 163. Neither team looked like they’d get as many. Sixers suffered a top-order collapse, Vikings a middle-order collapse. But such is the power teams pack their batting line-ups with these days. The batting muscle runs deep. Their lower orders are filled with burly power-hitters who love to swing.

David Warner, the Sixers captain, held up his end even as Robbie Frylinck ripped through his top order after he had elected to bat. It enabled Afif Hossain to counterattack after the early losses. It also gave enough security for Nicholas Pooran to blaze away to a half-century at the fag end. And it gave Warner enough time to notch up his own fifty.

Vikings were on course in the chase, but dug themselves into a hole with a middle-overs meltdown. Taskin Ahmed chipped away with 4 for 28 as Vikings’ chase got progressively harder. Sikandar Raza first, and then Frylinck took them close, but it was too much left for too late.

Turning points

  • The Warner-Afif partnership. Sixers were reeling at 6 for 3 in the third over when the two came together. They put on 71 off 47 balls to seamlessly repair the damage.

  • Vikings were 63 for 1 in the eighth over of the chase, well on course, when Cameron Delport was felled by a direct hit from Sandeep Lamichhane at point. Not only did it end a dominant innings from Delport, but it also triggered a collapse through the middle overs that ended up costing them the game.

  • Though the required rate had jumped well over 13 at that point, Raza had left Vikings with a fighting chance when Taskin snuffed it out by inducing an inside edge that clattered into the stumps. With Nayeem Hasan cutting Taskin’s next ball straight to point, Taskin had four, and Vikings were left with 38 to get off the last two, which proved too many.

Star of the day

Frylinck had as good a day as anyone has this season. He made an early impact with the ball, snaring two wickets in his first two overs to cut through Sixers early. Later, he returned to nip out the dangerous Warner, who was set on 59 and looking to break free. Having done all that, he was also required to do a job with the bat, top-scoring for Vikings with 44 not out off 24 balls – that included four big sixes – to take them to the brink.

The big miss

As well as Frylinck did, he failed to capitalise on the last major opportunity that came his way. With Vikings needing seven off the last ball, Al-Amin Hossain offered a low full toss outside Frylinck’s off-stump. Frylinck couldn’t quite get underneath it, and only managed to drill it straight back towards the bowler, who stuck his hand out and kept it to a single.

Where the teams stand

Sixers’ first win of the competition took them one spot up to fourth. Vikings remained unchanged on third place with a superior net run rate.



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Andrew Tye and Cameron Bancroft review Perth Scorchers’ campaign | Cricket

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Perth Scorchers 4 for 147 (Bancroft 59, Turner 43*, Bravo 2-18) beat Melbourne Stars 6 for 146 (Dunk 62, Gulbis 37, Tye 4-18) by six wickets

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Ashton Turner launches one into the crowd


The Perth Scorchers breathed much-needed life back into their stuttering BBL campaign with a comfortable win over the Melbourne Stars at the MCG.

After winning the flip, the visitors charged themselves with the task of restricting the Stars on what looked a wonderful batting pitch. A sterling return of 4 for 18 from Andrew Tye and some clever legspin bowling from Usman Qadir helped the Scorchers achieve this, before Cameron Bancroft and Ashton Turner led Perth’s reply to deliver their second win of the tournament.

Despite the Scorchers missing four of their regulars, it was the Stars who appeared rather depleted, starting the game without Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Peter Handscomb and Adam Zampa. All four men are part of the Australia ODI squad to face India from January 12. Legspinning revelation Sandeep Lamichhane had made his exit as well, to play the Bangladesh Premier League.

While Stars openers, Ben Dunk and Evan Gulbis, were able to lay a strong platform, their dismissals triggered a slide that, in keeper Seb Gotch’s words, left them “about ten to fifteen runs short”. It proved true, as Bancroft’s 59 off 42 and Turner’s 43* off 22 secured the win for the West Australian franchise.




Cameron Bancroft goes for a big one © Getty Images


Stars Take One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

They were a study in contrasts: consolidating wickets but not capitalising with runs. Gulbis and Dunk struggled to find momentum from the outset, making only 31 runs from the first five overs, before launching into Ashton Agar’s left-arm spin, taking him for 14 runs to leave them well set at 0 for 45 at the end of the Powerplay.

From there, barring the occasional Dunk spurt and comically poor Scorchers fielding, the home side failed to build momentum. Neither boundaries nor singles were forged with any regularity, as Qadir registered his best performance in the tournament. He made the initial breakthrough with the score on 65, accounting for Gulbis who departed for 37 after miscueing a slog-sweep to David Willey – the Englishman taking a tumbling catch three-quarters of the way to the cow corner boundary. Qadir’s sharp wrong’un was a particular feature, rendering him extremely difficult to manipulate around the field. He finished with 1 for 25 from his four overs.

ALSO READ: Usman Qadir, lost in Pakistan, found in Australia

As with most of the innings, there were brief glimpses of light. One Agar over yielded 16 runs for the Stars with Dunk unleashing a trio of low-trajectory, forehanded swipes over the bowler’s head and into the boundary. His innings of 62 was a rare positive in an otherwise middling performance.




Ben Dunk takes a wild one © Getty Images


Tye Too Good

While ODI cricket meant the fixture was shorn of talent, Tye’s class shone through. Even on a flat pitch, the short-form specialist had the batsmen in knots with his cool mix of off quick deliveries and knuckle balls. For his first wicket, Tye delivered an absolute brute of a short ball to Stars captain Nic Maddinson, which had him hopping, bopping, and gloving the ball through to Cameron Bancroft behind the stumps. The next saw him set up experienced campaigner Dwayne Bravo with a slower ball clocking in at 112 kph, before the next was speared in some 28 kph quicker: a bullet that cannoned into leg stump and sent the West Indian packing. As further reward for ripping the heart out of the Stars’ depleted line-up, Tye claimed the wickets of both Seb Gotch and Jono Merlo in the 19th over, both holing out in the deep, to leave the T20 veteran with his second four-wicket haul at BBL level and the first for any player in the competition this year.

Bancroft Impresses, Ashton Turns The Screws

An opening partnership of 75 laid the foundation for the Scorchers’ chase, though they were never too far ahead of the asking rate. Cameron Bancroft, who has steadily grown in both confidence and output since his return to professional cricket, recorded his biggest contribution here with a well-timed half-century.

Despite the strong start, a slight middle-over lull from Bancroft and Michael Klinger meant that nine overs in, the Stars were ahead in comparison. And while Bancroft began to accelerate with reverse sweeps and lofted drives, Klinger was labouring at just under a run-a-ball. He eventually departed for 29 off 30, bringing Turner to the crease.

This ultimately worked in the Scorchers favour. Even though Bancroft fell soon after, leaving Agar and Turner at the crease as two new batsmen, the Scorchers captain was up to the task. Turner went 6, 4, 6 during one particular Michael Beer over, confirming the Scorchers’ ascendancy and ensuring they remain alive in the competition for a little longer yet.

Sam Perry is a Melbourne-based sportswriter. @sjjperry


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