Australian Test team ‘window shopping’, Gavin Robertson, cricket

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Former Test spinner Gavin Robertson said none of the Australian batsmen have demanded selection in the side to face India in the first Test starting on Thursday in Adelaide.

The uncertainty over the first Test batting lineup has continued with the Australian side seemingly no closer to being finalised.

26-year-old Victorian opening batsman Marcus Harris appears certain to be receiving his Baggy Green and partner Aaron Finch at the top of the batting order.

But reports are Harris has been locked in a selection showdown with Peter Handscomb since the 14-man squad was named.

He appears likely to make his debut after working on his bat-pad catching technique — a position generally filled by the least experienced player in the side.

While former players have added their two cents as to the makeup of the team, Robertson, speaking on Fox Sports’ Bill & Boz on Tuesday night, said he was unconvinced by the potential batting lineups for Australia.

“Can we just put it down that we don’t have the players who are just ticking the box on everything that we have to pick them?” Robertson said.

“We are not sure, we’ve lost three players due to a situation, so what we’re doing is window shopping.

“With Khawaja and Shaun Marsh we’re not window shopping but we’re still not totally convinced with Shaun, we go up and down constantly. We’ve been doing that with Usman Khawaja over the last three or four years and then you go Handscomb, Head, Finch and Harris, look, we’re window shopping.

“We’re hoping those boys do well and all that we want is for hard-fought Test match cricket. This is their opportunity to build their legacy in the game.”

The “window shopping” has been a trend in recent seasons with several players coming in and out of the team.

For Australian players who debuted in Test cricket between 2012 and 2016, 22 players debuted with 10 playing less than five Test matches while four played just one match.

Robertson said the window shopping was what happened when players weren’t performing at the highest level.

“If you start looking through the last three to five years and the names that we’ve window shopped, you go back to Doolan and Quiney and players that have gone in and out with Maxwell,” he said.

“We’ve got a list of players that we’ve window shopped to see if they can do it. The thing is there are six or seven players we’ve given four, five, six, eight chances but then you go back to the argument when we’re talking about the all-rounder, we’ve given the all-rounder 30 chances.

“There’s a bunch of players there we thought ‘let’s hope he can make it, no he didn’t’.”

Robertson was confident in one selection — Mitchell Marsh — although he didn’t agree with the selectors.

“When you look at all-rounders and you start to think about Imran Khan and (Richard) Hadlee and (Ian) Botham and the list goes on, they are definitive with the bat and the ball,” he said.

“I’m not being harsh with Mitchell. We need the numbers to shore up, if we’re going to play an all-rounder, we need him to average 33 with the bat and 28 with the ball — he’s a long way from that.

“This is the time to have opportunity, it’s the right time for opportunity but I would not play an all-rounder unless he’s a definitive all-rounder.

“What if it takes him another 10 Test matches, so it could be 40 Test matches before he gets going. Is it worth it? That’s the selectors’ call.”

If the selections were up to Robertson, he would play Handscomb with Glenn Maxwell at six.

He said the only place Maxwell could bat is number six because “either he’s going really well and he knows that or we’re not and he’ll also know that”.

In terms of Handscomb, Robertson said he brings the fight Australia sorely need.

“Every time I talk to people about Handscomb, they say he’s got this stuff inside him, he’ll fight, he reads the game well and I think that’s what the public want,” he said.

“If you want to win in Australia, if you’re a team that’s not that great, if you go back to World Series cricket and the Rebel tour, the only way our players got out of trouble and won the support of our nation was fighting. Great fighting innings and great fighting Test matches.”

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