The World Cup and the Australia A tours of England are edging closer, as planning steps up for Australia’s massive next five months. An enormous number of Australians are playing in overseas competitions in the lead up to those tours. Here is the latest on how they are faring.
Who’s in form and who’s not
Steven Smith has bounced back to form after a bizarre week with back-to-back half-centuries in the IPL. He was dropped by Rajasthan Royals last week for scoring too slowly before being recalled and made captain for the remainder of the season. Against Mumbai Indians on Saturday he was Player of the Match after crafting a classy 59 not out from 48 balls to guide his side home chasing 162. On Monday against Delhi Capitals he made 50 from 32 balls in a 130-run stand with Ajinkya Rahane, although it was in a losing cause.
The debate surrounding whether David Warner should open the batting in the World Cup has almost become redundant. He is tearing the IPL apart at the top of the order for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He made his fourth consecutive half-century on Sunday and he has passed 50 in seven of his nine IPL innings so far to be the tournament’s leading scorer by some margin, striking at 148.56.
Marcus Stoinis has done some good things for Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last two wins. He made 17 off 8 balls and took 1 for 32 against Kolkata Knight Riders. His late hitting was impressive but it was the three dots he bowled to the rampaging Andre Russell in the 19th over that were just as important in helping RCB to a vital win. He bowled well again against CSK on Sunday, conceding only 20 runs from three overs including just five runs in a crucial 15th over that left MS Dhoni with too much to do. Earlier he took an excellent catch at slip to remove Shane Watson. But he did face five dot balls in making 14 off 13 with the bat.
Glenn Maxwell‘s first three 50-over outings for Lancashire have yielded scores of 35, 21 and 22. He fell victim to Victoria team-mate James Pattinson trying to move around the crease and hit him over the off side in a cracking game against Nottinghamshire. Maxwell has bowled well in the last two high-scoring games, being used in the Powerplay and conceding only a run-and-a-ball and taking key wickets.
Jason Behrendorff has not played in Mumbai’s last two games as they have shuffled their line-up.
Chris Lynn, who is not in the World Cup or Australia A squads, made a third half-century for the tournament but it was his slowest, from 45 balls, as his Knight Riders were beaten into submission by Warner’s Sunrisers.
The County Championship season gave way to the Royal London One-Day Cup this week and although 50-over white-ball form may not carry as much weight towards Ashes selection there were some noteworthy performances for Australia’s selectors to ponder.
James Pattinson raised eyebrows in his first game of the season for Nottinghamshire. In a game where more than 800 runs were scored at Trent Bridge he took 5 for 61 in 10 overs with 30 dot balls, including the prized scalp of Maxwell. But he only bowled five overs in the win over Derbyshire two days later.
Cameron Bancroft made a statement with two brilliant unbeaten centuries for Durham to deliver two wins in three days. Batting in an unfamiliar position at No.4 he made 151 not out from 130 balls against Northamptonshire, taking the long handle to West Indies skipper Jason Holder, before adding 118 not out from 117 balls against Leicestershire to control a chase of 234.
Matt Renshaw made his first List A century on Sunday for Kent in a loss to Sussex, having missed out in his previous two innings last week. Batting at No.3 he struck four sixes and nine fours, two of which came off England international Chris Jordan, in scoring 109 from 111 balls.
Marnus Labuschagne struggled in the three 50-over matches for Glamorgan last week. He managed just 19 runs in three innings. But he took 3 for 46 against Somerset and 1 for 45 against Hampshire with the ball.
Peter Siddle took 2 for 27 for Essex in a win against Labuschagne’s Glamorgan. But he was expensive in his second game last week taking 3 for 71 in 10 overs as Middlesex racked up a winning total of 366 at Chelmsford.
Daniel Worrall made a successful start for Gloucestershire taking 2 for 22 from four overs in a huge win over Surrey and 2 for 30 in six overs in a loss to Middlesex.
Did you see?
Ashton Turner has had a disastrous start to his IPL career for Rajasthan Royals. He has become the first player in T20 history to register five ducks in a row after he was dismissed for three consecutive first-ball ducks in the IPL. He replaced Smith against Kings XI but came out to bat in a brutal situation needing 53 runs off 22 balls and understandably holed out first ball. In his second game against Mumbai, he walked out with 15 runs needed from 14 balls. That equation became 9 off 12 when by the time he faced his first ball but Jasprit Bumrah trapped him plumb in front. Against Delhi Capitals, he took strike with 21 balls remaining with a licence to go after a great platform had been set but he chipped his first ball to cover. Turner’s last five T20 innings read 0, 0, 0, 0 and 0 dating back to the end of the BBL season. However, he did make that stunning 84 not out from 43 balls in Australia’s ODI miracle at Mohali in the middle of that sequence.
Moises Henriques hadn’t played a game in this year’s IPL but was due to get his first against the Royals last week only to injure his ankle in the warm-up. His injury looks likely to have ended his tournament before it even started. However, there is good news on Smith’s elbow with the new Royals captain declaring he is only “two weeks away” from being able to throw properly again.
Performance of the week
There were lots of runs plundered by Australians in India and England, but it was hard to go past Pattinson’s performance. Nottinghamshire and Lancashire made 823 runs in 100 overs at Trent Bridge. Three players made centuries including former South Africa international Dane Vilas who made 166 from 100 balls in the chase for Lancashire. Not only was Pattinson incredibly economical in the run-feast, his five wickets included Maxwell and Vilas to help Nottinghamshire ice the game.
Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne
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