‘What a farce’: astonishing Ashes snubs
AUSTRALIAN selectors made some bombshell Ashes decisions in announcing the final 17-man squad for the upcoming series.
The biggest news was the recall of Matthew Wade as a specialist batsman and that Test incumbents Joe Burns and Kurtis Patterson, as well as World Cup gloveman Alex Carey, missed out on selection.
Wade has knocked down the door for a Test berth with sheer weight of runs, and Cameron Bancroft also returns from his exile after the ball-tampering scandal.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Wade could no longer be ignored and Bancroft too had made it tough to leave him out, due to his form since serving his suspension for his role in "Sandpapergate".
"He has made an irresistible case for inclusion through sheer weight of runs," Hohns said of Wade.
"Cameron has produced impressive numbers for county side Durham this season and his innings in the intra-squad match in Southampton on a tough pitch was outstanding."
Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Marsh were all picked and quick Michael Neser was also handed a shock call-up, while Marnus Labuschagne earned selection and would be hoping to cement a spot in the middle order.
'WHAT A FARCE': SNUBS GETS PUNDITS ANGRY
The return of Steve Smith and David Warner along with the inclusions of Wade, Bancroft, Labuschagne and Marsh meant there was no room for Kurtis Patterson or Joe Burns, who made 180 in his last Test innings - Australia's final Test before the Ashes, against Sri Lanka in February.
The decision to snub the Queensland star left many pundits baffled, especially when you consider his impressive Test record of four centuries and 1123 runs at an average of 40.10 in 16 outings in the baggy green.
It's not the first time this has happened to Burns either.
Earlier in his career he made a 50 in each innings of his second Test match, against India, and was then dropped for the next Test.
The right-hander also averaged over 70 against New Zealand in New Zealand in 2016 before getting dropped after a shocking series later that year in Sri Lanka.
Finally back in the team after the scandal in South Africa he made scores of four and 42 there before he went on to make 180 against Sri Lanka in Canberra, while Labuschagne made scores of six and four.
Brad Hodge, himself one of Australia's unluckiest talents, led the charge in defence of Burns.
Hodge was vocal in his critique, suggesting if Burns, like Smith and Labuschagne, bowled some decidedly pedestrian leg-spin he would get a crack.
Why pick joe burns to make 180 against Sri Lanka 3rd 11 and not make the squad. Craved 110’s and he delivered. Could have played will pukovski if that was the case— Brad Hodge (@bradhodge007) July 26, 2019
Can only be judged on your last performance. Burns 180? MuT have been an average 180 if there is one. As good a bat as smith is, his bowling..last delivery from memory went for a single, the one before that went from Birmingham to Coventry 🤣 #notasecondspinner— Brad Hodge (@bradhodge007) July 26, 2019
Patterson has played two Tests and scored 114 not out in his last international innings against Sri Lanka but, like Burns, he was squeezed out.
Some questioned how Marsh got another gig in national colours after he was dropped last year and suffered an injury-plagued summer where he struggled to find his best form.
Cannot fathom how Kurtis Patterson misses the Ashes squad but Mitch Marsh gets his 37th chance at test level. And in England too where technique is everything. What a farce.— Ben Cameron (@BenCameron4) July 26, 2019
Joe Burns top scored with 180 in Australia’s most recent Test, made 133 for Australia A in England a couple of weeks ago, averages 40 in Test cricket with four centuries from 16 Tests and can’t get into a 17-man Ashes squad? Please.— Brydon Coverdale (@brydoncoverdale) July 26, 2019
Maybe Joe Burns should work on his leg spin. Pretty stiff that he doesn’t make a 17-player squad. #Ashes— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) July 26, 2019
I get confused by Cricket selection... I don’t understand how last match someone scores a hundred and then misses out next. Having said that, awesome to see Wade absolutely bang the door down and get rewarded #Ashes— Marty Pask (@mpask) July 26, 2019
So, no Alex Carey.— Megan Hustwaite (@MeganHustwaite) July 26, 2019
Joe Burns ave 40, made 180 in Australia’s last Test and a ton for Australia A 16 days ago and can’t crack a 17-player squad #Ashes
CAREY CALL COMES IN FOR CRITICISM
Selectors finally bowed to vocal pressure on Wade who returns after being in Test exile since September 2017.
His recall over Carey, who was outstanding in the recent World Cup, left former Australia selector Mark Waugh flabbergasted.
"Got to be kidding," Waugh tweeted after a report of Carey being snubbed initially surfaced.
Wade has been amassing runs at domestic level ever since being dropped from the Australian side in September 2017 and could be picked in the starting XI for the first Test, playing as a specialist batsman, alongside captain Tim Paine, who will keep the gloves.
Wade made 10 off 29 balls and seven from 33 deliveries for the Hick XII in the squad's radical intra-club match in Southampton recently, but his form for Australia A and Tasmania across recent months has won him a recall.
Having not played Test cricket since September 2017, the 31-year-old made 117 and then 155 in his first two knocks on tour for Australia A.
Australia also opted for just one specialist spinner in Nathan Lyon, with Labuschagne and perhaps Steve Smith to provide some part-time tweakers.
"We have opted to select one frontline spinner in Nathan Lyon. We have faith in his ability, we know our strength lies in our pace attack," Hohns said.
"We have Marnus Labuschagne's leg spin as another spin option as he has bowled almost 200 overs for county side Glamorgan in first-class cricket this season.
"It has been a difficult task to reduce the 25-player squad here in Southampton down to 17 and those who have not made the final Ashes party are all desperately unlucky."
AUSTRALIA'S ASHES SQUAD:
David Warner, Marcus Harris, Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitch Marsh, Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Michael Neser, Nathan Lyon.
ASHES TOUR OF ENGLAND
First Test: Edgbaston, August 1-5
Second Test: Lord's, August 14-18
Third Test: Headingley, August 22-26
Fourth Test: Old Trafford, September 4-8
Fifth Test: The Oval, September 12-16