Picking through the bones after an Ashes series is usually the most enjoyable part of the whole exercise, and that has never been more true after a series in which the pickings have been more fruitful than usual. So farewell Mr Clarke, adieu Monsieur Harris, auf wiedersehen Herr Rogers and thanks for nothing Watson, you utter prick. Plus many warm regards besides to all those others who have fallen by the wayside.
So as many doors have closed, new ones have opened too, and it is our duty here at 51allout to offer our opinion of who will now come through them. Or perhaps trip over the threshold and pull a hamstring. Either way, it’s sure to be fun. The number in brackets shows their position in our last ladder, just so you can gauge how spectacularly wrong our predictions usually are.
1 (4) – Stephen Peter Devereux Smith: At long last, your hero and ours has risen to his rightful place atop this most revered of rankings. Even those who think we might sometimes get a bit carried away with our adulation of all things Devereux (perish the thought) cannot deny he is now, by far, the most important person in Australian cricket. It brings a tear to our eyes to see it in writing like that to be honest. God bless you Devereux.
2 (2) – David Warner: Warner came through the Ashes with his reputation very much enhanced. Not just because of the runs he scored, or the fact he didn’t punch anyone, but because he also finally shaved off that god awful mustache. Very much a coming man, and one of whom much is expected in the near future. We think he’ll be fine. Probably.
3 (3) – Mitchell Johnson: The end is getting nearer for Johnson, and his best days are undoubtedly behind him. This coming summer may well prove his last, but when he bowls well, Australia win, so they would like to keep him around for a little while longer yet.
4 (8) – Nathan Lyon: Not only is Lyon now Australia’s greatest ever off-spinner, he is also emerging as one the greatest wicket taking off-spinners of all time. Test cricket is weird these days.
5 (-) – Adam Voges: Yeah, this is one we didn’t see coming, and truth be told up till that last Test there was a chance Voges wouldn’t have featured in this list either. But now it is almost certain that he continue on as a senior statesmen within the team, providing some lower order stability whilst new batsmen are finding their way.
6 (19) – Mitchell Starc: Finally seems to be coming into his own in Test cricket. Still nowhere near the bowler he is with the white ball, Starc had a solid Ashes series, and will take over as Australia’s spearhead when Johnson finally disappears from the scene.
7 (13) – Glenn Maxwell: His reputation has been enhanced massively through his absence from the middle order annihilations that cost Australia the Ashes. A man we described as “worse than Ebola” last time round now has the opportunity to establish himself as a firm fixture within the Australian middle order for the next decade. Like we said, Test cricket is weird.
8 (10) – Peter Siddle: And suddenly a wild Peter Siddle appeared. He used experienced line and length. It was super effective! In one spell Siddle has gone from having his career being written off to the most likely candidate to reprise the Ryan Harris role within the Australian attack. Again, we did not see that coming.
9 (11) – Mitchell Marsh: Hmm. Nobody is much convinced by Marsh the younger, and unless he is picked as an out and out quick its likely he’ll lose his spot in the starting XI for the Bangladesh series to Maxwell. But Lehmann obviously rates him, so he will be given time to learn how to block, and other such relatively unimportant nuances of the Test game.
10 (-) – Peter Nevill: Another bolt from the blue, Nevill has hardly secured his spot within the team, and whilst he’ll likely retain the gloves for the near future, Australia are still yet to decide on their next long term ‘keeper.
11 (27) – Joe Burns: Two half centuries in his two Tests so far is not exactly an amazing return, but regardless it is certain he’ll now slot into this Australian lineup, either at three or four. Honestly we have our doubts as to his ability, but the chance is now his to take.
12 (-) – Cameron Bancroft: A young opener who has become a firm favorite to take the Rogers position, not so much through the 150 he scored for Australia A against India recently, but more the 267 deliveries he took to do it. Likely to be given the gig for the Bangladesh series, and the selectors will see where he goes from there.
13 (17) – Usman Khawaja: Still somewhat on the outside, Khawaja is paying the price for missing the entire last Shield season through injury. And also being really, really, shit in his last run in the Test team. Will probably get his chance before the year is out though.
14 (14) – Josh Hazlewood: A funny one this – the best performing quick on paper in the Ashes, Hazlewood is paying the price for some perceived inconsistency, and his lack of experience with the red ball. Likely to exist on the fringes for a little while, before working his way back into the team through First Class form.
15 (28) – Pat Cummins: Nearly got the nod for the fifth Test but, again, a lack of red ball experience cost him. Still hasn’t played a Shield game for New South Wales in four years. He might want to do something about that one of these days.
16 (15) – Matt Wade: By leading Victoria to the Sheffield Shield title Wade has lost some of the dickhead tag that has dogged his career thus far, and he still has two Test centuries to his name, so will come heavily into consideration. Pity he is still such a crap ‘keeper though.
17 (24) – James Faulkner: Whilst Mitchell Marsh has talked of going to England to further learn his trade in county cricket, Faulkner has already accomplished that. And quite successful he was too, aside from the criminal conviction. Far too good a player not to come into the reckoning somewhere.
18 (-) – Michael Klinger: We could have put any number of young batsmen in here, but if Klinger continues to score runs in the manner he has for the past twelve months, the selectors won’t be able to ignore him forever. Well, actually they could, and probably will, but they’d look silly doing it. So there.
19 (-) – Ashton Agar: After going missing for a bit after his initial burst onto the scene, Agar has come back in a big way, and narrowly missed out on selection against India at the SCG earlier in the year. It’s hard to see where he would fit in, but given that he is still only 14 years old (we’re pretty sure anyway), time is definitely on his side.
20 (23) – James Pattinson: Rumour had him as a surprise last minute inclusion into the XI for the fifth Ashes Test. Needs to get back to playing First Class cricket without breaking down every five minutes, but will probably be given another run at some point over the next six months.
21 (-) – Fawad Ahmed: Bowled utter crap in every First Class game he played on this Ashes tour. We get the feeling he may well have blown his last chance. Hard to see him being picked for Bangladesh.
22 (16) – Shaun Marsh: Lol. To be fair, Marsh had enjoyed his longest unbroken run in the team (six Tests) coming into the Ashes. His abysmal failures at Nottinghman have likely killed his career though.
23 (-) – Chris Lynn: A ridiculously talented limited overs player, Lynn hasn’t yet quite translated that into consistent red ball form. Suspect the selectors would like to see him perform strongly in the Shield this season before taking a punt on him.
24 (18) – Stephen O’Keefe: Has slipped down the pecking order after missing most of the last Shield season through injury. Performed well for Australia A, but its hard to see where a spot for him could open up.
25 (7) – Shane Watson: Just retire Shane. Trust us, it’ll be better for everyone that way.
26 (-) – Peter Handscomb: Didn’t exactly set the world on fire in a short stint in county cricket, but, then again, neither did Joe Burns. Not likely to come into the reckoning just yet.
27 (-) – Aaron Finch: Whilst Finch has never given up on the dream of playing Test cricket, his First Class form, and in particular for Yorkshire so far this year, has been bloody awful. Still has a chance of making a late charge though if he strings a solid six months of performances together.
28 (25) – Nathan Coulter-Nile: Perhaps a little low in our list, to be fair, Coulter-Nile is a more than decent bowler, who just hasn’t had the pieces fall in place for him yet, you feel. Although the fact Warne picked him in all three national squads in his Warnifesto has probably swayed the selectors opinions against him.
29 (30) – Ed Cowan: We’ll never stop believing Ed. In truth, a move back home to New South Wales could prove to have been a master stroke. All runs for the blues count double don’t ya know.
30 (-) Jake Doran: The newest Wunderkind of Australian cricket, Doran is yet to play to a First Class fixture, but a off-season move to Tasmania should soon see that rectified. Scoring runs for fun with the U/19’s, a big season or two could propel him into the spotlight.