Warne’s shock Aussie Ashes snub
THE Ashes are just around the corner and the speculation of who will be named in the Test squad has been building.
After being bundled out in the semi-final stage of the World Cup by England, the Aussies will be looking to get one back over their rivals.
Steve Smith and David Warner will face increasing scrutiny from the Barmy Army throughout the five Test series after making their return to the Australian line-up following their 12-month bans stemming from the sandpaper scandal in South Africa.
Their return along with Cameron Bancroft and the stunning recent form of Matthew Wade and Alex Carey means selectors have a tough task on their hands.
But trying to pick just who will be stepping on to the field for the opening Test in Edgbaston is no easy feat and spin king Shane Warne has weighed in with a predicted 17-man squad.
And here’s my Aussie Ashes team/squad for the 1st test.— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) July 22, 2019
Starc / Hazlewood
Plus in Squad. A Carey, J Richardson, C Bancroft, M Marsh & W Pucovski
Australia's most recent Test against Sri Lanka in February saw several players put their hand up in Joe Burns, Travis Head and Kurtis Patterson.
Patterson scored a not out 114 in the Test, but Warne couldn't find a place for him at all in his squad.
Wade on the other hand has been knocking down selectors' doors and Warne has rewarded the Tasmanian for his efforts with the willow, thoughts backed up by coach Justin Langer.
"He just keeps doing it," Langer said of the Tasmanian's run-making exploits.
"He's got three hundreds on this (Australia A) tour already and I think he's batted six or seven times.
"He's doing everything that we've asked of Australian cricketers - he's making runs, he's making big runs, he's knocking that hard and he's got that look in his eye.
"Coming into a tough series like this, you like to see those sort of fighting instincts so he's certainly banging very hard for selection."
Spots in the Test side are quickly filling up and with an Australia vs Australia four-day clash in Southampton, it could be the final launching spot for hopefuls to stake their claim.
Langer didn't want to label the contest a "shootout", but did admit some players could be left delighted or desolate.
"I think there is a couple of bowling positions up for grabs, probably a couple of batting positions," Langer told reporters.
"There will be a lot of discussion about whether we have an extra spinner, a lot of discussion about whether we have an extra wicketkeeper.
"It won't necessarily be a straight shootout, but there will certainly be good opportunities for guys."
Head and Patterson both notched centuries in the Aussies' final Test, but they're not guaranteed a spot in the squad.
"If someone was to miss out after scoring a Test hundred, it's not a bad thing to have someone just outside who's already scored a recent Test hundred," Langer said.
"We've always prided ourselves on that in Australian cricket, and let's just hope it keeps happening."
Further clouding the thoughts for selectors is the fitness of number three batsmen Usman Khawaja who is in a race against the clock to recover from a hamstring injury.
"I don't think he's in serious doubt (for the Ashes)," skipper Tim Paine told reporters.
"He won't play (this week) at this stage. There is a possibility, maybe, if something were to happen to someone else he might be right for the back end of the game.
"But we expect him to be fully fit and available for selection for the first Test."
2019 QANTAS ASHES TOUR OF ENGLAND
First Test: Edgbaston, August 1-5
Second Test: Lord's, August 14-18
Third Test: Headingley, August 22-26
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: Old Trafford, September 4-8
Fifth Test: The Oval, September 12-16