Since bans were imposed on Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft following the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa, uncertainty around selection has engulfed Australia’s Test side.
Aaron Finch has been tried and discarded, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh and Peter Handscomb spurned chances to repay the selectors’ faith, and the jury is still out on a few others.
But hopes are high Will Pucovski, Kurtis Patterson and Jhye Richardson can establish themselves as bona fide international players against Sri Lanka. Here’s what each newcomer has to offer.
Role: Top-order batsman
Sheffield Shield record: 588 runs at 49.00, two centuries, one half-century, high score of 243
Pucovski has long been viewed as Australia’s great white hope by those who follow junior pathways closely. He’s poised and patient, technically sound, calculated in his approach and clever with his shot selection. The right-hander has also been open about his desire to forge a red ball career and turned down multiple BBL contract offers to play for club side Melbourne. Pucovski idolises Ricky Ponting, admires Cheteshwar Pujara and plays with the composure and grace of Damien Martyn. A rare talent worth persisting with.
State: New South Wales
Role: Middle-order batsman
Sheffield Shield record: 3813 runs at 41.00, six centuries, 26 half-centuries, high score of 157
Patterson was rewarded for his strong form with a late call-up to the Test squad, after posting back-to-back unbeaten centuries against Sri Lanka last week. Tall, compact and strong through the off-side, the left-hander has been one of the better-performed players in the Sheffield Shield for several seasons. In the last three years, Patterson has faced more balls than any other player (3792), hit the second-most runs (1768), averaged the third-most deliveries per dismissal (90.20) and has proven himself equally adept against pace and spin. A logical selection if ever there was one.
State: Western Australia
Role: Fast bowler
Sheffield Shield record: 49 wickets at 23.24, strike rate of 47.7, best bowling of 8-47
Richardson’s timing couldn’t have been much better. The skiddy right-arm quick was comfortably Australia’s best bowler in three ODIs against India; a series which wrapped up the night before it was announced Josh Hazlewood had injured his back. A player in the mould of South Africa’s Dale Steyn, Richardson is fast through the air and can swing the ball at pace. He’s also drastically improved his control this season and boasts a meagre first class economy rate of 2.92. The 22-year-old’s white ball form may well be strong enough to leapfrog veteran seamer Peter Siddle.
At risk of missing out:
Tour match versus Sri Lanka: 6, 2-27, 50, 0-26
Perennially guilty of making starts without going on, particularly at Shield level. Looked organised against India in Sydney with a well-made 38 and can bowl useful leg-spin when called upon. Was outperformed by his CA XI teammates and looks vulnerable.
Tour match versus Sri Lanka: 7, 10
Hard to make a case for Renshaw’s selection, given his modest performance against Sri Lanka followed a lean run for Queensland. Was possibly picked on the back of strong form in England, with an eye to the Ashes in June. Would be a shock if he found a place in Australia’s XI.
Was outgunned by Richardson in the ODIs against India and appears to be in the twilight of his career. A proven commodity who rarely strays in line or length and could be a handful under lights with pink ball in hand. A tough decision awaits the national selection panel