Test Cricket: Picking Australia’s Best Possible Starting XI for the 1st Test v Pakistan on October 7-11

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Cricket Australia has announced their 15-man squad for their upcoming tour v Pakistan in UAE.

The players who are selected to play will initially train in Brisbane on Sunday.

A week or two later, they will fly out to UAE for a Warm Up Match v Pakistan A on September 20-October 2.

Then it’s time for the main event facing Pakistan for two test matches throughout the three weeks of October.

Which players are selected to go on the plane to UAE?

  • Tim Paine, Tasmania (Captain)
  • Ashton Agar, Western Australia
  • Brendan Doggett, Queensland
  • Aaron Finch, Victoria
  • Travis Head, South Australia
  • Jon Holland, Victoria
  • Usman Khawaja, Queensland
  • Marnus Labuschagne, Queensland
  • Nathan Lyon, New South Wales
  • Mitchell Marsh, Western Australia
  • Shaun Marsh, Western Australia
  • Michael Neser, Queensland
  • Matthew Renshaw, Queensland
  • Peter Siddle, Victoria
  • Mitchell Starc, New South Wales

Which players I think should play during the first test v Pakistan?

Opening Batsmen

Matt Renshaw will open the batting alongside Aaron Finch, seeing left and right-hand combination.

It’s a perfect time and long overdue for Finch to get his chance at red-ball cricket.

Plus his form in the Sheffield Shield for many years has fulfilled Finch’s breakthrough as to why he’s the leading man to fill in the quality that Steve Smith and David Warner is missing right now.

He’s such a late bloomer after his exploits in the ODIs & T20s for both Domestic and Internationally.

So we’ll how Finch will go on his first test match if selected in the starting XI.

The same will go to Renshaw after working very hard to get his place back following a rough start towards the end of 2017.

Top Order Batsmen

Usman Khawaja will get his opportunity once again on the overseas soil as their first drop.

He has plenty to prove in the subcontinent after having scored 127 in the first innings during the first four-day Tour v India A last week.

To complement Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne will come in at Four.

Remember his stunning catch four years ago as the sub fielder, short leg at the Gabba?

If not, he’s back as the improved batsman.

At Shield level, Labuschagne usually bats at four which saw him clinch four centuries & 13 50s out of 34 matches.

With a similar batting style of Steve Smith’s, it may be the reason why Chief Selector Trevor Hohns gave Labuschagne a chance.

Labuschagne’s 24 years old from Krugersdorp, South Africa has moved to Brisbane, Australia at the age of ten due to his father’s work.

And since then, he’s well settled into the country as an Australian citizen despite having to learn English from scratch through his native Afrikaans language.

Having backed up sufficient evidence for many years as an established batsman in Shield Cricket, it’s the perfect time to nurture young blood like Labuschagne.

Middle Order Batsmen

Shaun Marsh will continue to lead the middle-order engine room at Five.

His fantastic performances over the past summer have conveyed that he still has plenty to offer within their Test & ODI set-up.

His recent overcome of being injury prone is the main reason why Australians have forgiven him after some years of inconsistency.

The same goes for his brother Mitchell Marsh who shown well with both bat and ball.

Mitchell will back brother Shaun up at Number Six plus offer himself as an extra seamer.

He can still make an impact having scored 113 not out during the 2nd four-day match v India A.

At No.7 Tim Paine will captain the side.

He’s one of the most experienced players that this country has to offer by managing the hefty workload in all three activities:

  • Keeping
  • Batting
  • Captaining

After scoring two 50s plus some sublime catches v England last summer, there’s plenty of reasons why Paine will be Australia’s Main Wicket Keeper for many years to come.

He bats normal and calm with patience by hitting the shots that belong the basics of batting in the book.

Expect that to see Paine continue in UAE and throughout the Australian Summer.

Numbers Eight and Nine

Mitchell Starc will be Australia’s frontline fast bowler as well as batting at Eight.

Joining Starc will be the returning Peter Siddle who hasn’t played a Test since November 2016 at home v South Africa.

It may sound like it’s a long time coming.

But with the injuries of Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, someone has to fill-in.

And thanks to his recent performances with Essex at County Cricket, Siddle has still got a lot to offer even at 36.

Until Hazelwood and Cummins can return match fit; experience is the key when you recall a player with 62 test caps.

Numbers 10 & 11

Nathan Lyon will lead the line as their frontline spinner with the help of Jon Holland as his deputy.

Holland performed outstanding last week during the 1st four-day tour with six wickets for 81 in the 2nd innings v India A.

Rather than sticking with all-rounder like Ashton Agar, bringing the 2nd spinner will help especially in the subcontinent.

My final predicted XI for the first test v Pakistan

  1. Matt Renshaw
  2. Aaron Finch
  3. Usman Khawaja (Vice-Captain)
  4. Marnus Labuschagne
  5. Shaun Marsh
  6. Mitchell Marsh
  7. Tim Paine (Captain)
  8. Mitchell Starc
  9. Peter Siddle
  10. Nathan Lyon
  11. Jon Holland

Conclusion

The predicted Starting XI I want to see Australia play during the 1st Test strengthens experience.

Most of the players picked tried and tested primarily with the recalls of three players back into the team:

  • Matt Renshaw
  • Peter Siddle
  • Jon Holland

Plus two batsmen will have a chance to see how they go for the first time in Aaron Finch and Marnus Labuschagne.

Finch has this right-hand version of David Warner style shots that sail into the boundary on a regular basis.

On the other hand, Labuschagne has a similar technique and approach that Steve Smith usually bats at Four.

As Smith’s unavailable for now, Labuschagne gets his opportunity to shine on his footsteps.

Based on his years at Shield level, it will be a test to see if he can transfer his first-class into test runs against the Pakistanis.

Here you go if you’re crying to get David Warner & Steve Smith back ASAP.

It may not happen anytime soon until April.

But with the likes of Finch and Labuschagne into the side, it’s well worth it because both players fit their respective style of play.

Hence, the added strength of experience plus both new players fit the quality of the absence of Warner & Smith should be enough to win a Test Match or Two v Pakistan next month.

My Message to Head Coach Justin Langer.

Here’s the squad that I predicted that you should use them wisely in the coming weeks.

Schedule in the UAE

  • September 29-October 2, Warm-Up Match v Pakistan A at the ICC Academy in Dubai.
  • October 7-October 11, 1st Test v Pakistan at the Dubai International Stadium.
  • October 16-October 20, 2nd Test v Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

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