Cricket News | West Australians named to replace Cameron Green and Mitchell Starc for Sydney Cricket Ground Test against South Africa
With their injury toll rising, Cricket Australia could be forced to try their luck in the dark with their Third Test selections against South Africa.
After dislocating the top of his left middle finger, left arm pace setter Mitchel Starc appears to be out of the series final at the Sydney Cricket Ground, which begins next Wednesday.
A fractured index finger for Cameron Green has ruled him out of bowling duties at the Melbourne Cricket Ground and he will also miss the next match.
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While Josh Hazlewood should be an inclusion in Sydney, Australia must now find another bowler or all-around player to fill in the gaps.
There are already a few unknown names being offered as potential replacements, including two West Australians.
If Glenn Maxwell hadn’t erased his leg, you’d think he’d have been a shoo-in — if he wasn’t already on the team.
Instead, his summer was spent on the sidelines.
So where does that leave Australian selectors?
Obviously, it looks like there is a man who is already in the crosshairs.
Little-known Western Australian Aaron Hardie has been tipped by Ricky Ponting and Kerry O’Keeffe to take Green’s place in the squad.
By all accounts, Hardie is a close match for Green with batting and bowling ability to fulfill this versatile role.
“He’s behind Cameron Green as an all-around player – but I’ve been watching him for a while – I think he’s an exceptional talent,” Fox Sports commentator O’Keeffe said.
“He beats like Cameron Green, very strong on the ground. He makes quality swings. He’s in their sights, I’m pretty sure. I think he would be a similar good player.”
Hardie, who will celebrate his 24th birthday on the penultimate day of the SCG Test, is averaging 44.57 with the bat in first-class games.
The right-arm fast middleweight is a more than capable bowler with an average of around 30 in first class, list A and T20.
The SCG pitch could be the deciding factor in what selectors do in the end.
There have been talks that the field could offer some help for spinners, which could open the door for Todd Murphy to make his debut.
O’Keeffe thinks he’s the second-best option behind Nathan Lyon, and an inspired decision to field two spinners like Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill could be the way to go.
“Todd Murphy is the second-best spinner in the country,” O’Keeffe explained.
“Will Australia come in with two off-spinners? I would. They might not. I think you pick your top two spinners like Australia did with Warne and MacGill. “
Given his recent outing for Australia – playing the Adelaide Test while Hazlewood and Pat Cummins were out – you’d think Neser would be among the top picks.
However, a quartet of rhythm bowlers may not be the way to go.
His selection could depend on the pitch, which has been tipped to turn, and whether selectors consider him capable with the bat.
His top-class record spans two centuries and he has scored 50 on 13 occasions, so the 32-year-old is a capable bat.
Another Western Australian product, Morris, could get his first call-up to the Test squad.
Known as the “Wild Thing”, he has been part of the touring team for a few weeks, waiting in the wings for a potential first selection.
The right-arm fast bowler is touted as one of the fastest – if not the fastest – bowlers in the country.
Indeed, Morris pinned himself as a potential replacement for Starc if he was unavailable.
“They see me as an attacking pitcher and I’m probably a backup to someone like Mitchell Starc who plays fast and intimidates,” Morris told the Unplayable podcast.
“It sounds funny when I say it like that, because I can’t believe we’re in the same sentence to be honest.
“But that’s the role I would play, I guess.
“It’s been a bit weird training for a few weeks and staying as prepared as possible knowing it could happen at some point.”
The best of the rest
There are plenty of options waiting in the wings.
If Australia needs a spinner and doesn’t go for a new face in Todd Murphy, then Ashton Agar might be the next best bet.
He has just four Test matches to his name for Australia, but a wealth of experience at first-class level.
Then there is Adam Zampa. That the Melbourne Stars captain could be removed from the Big Bash League is probably not too much of a problem.
However, he is yet to play a Test for Australia, but like Agar he has plenty of first-class experience.
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