Even before the Australian squad for declared for the first two Ashes Tests, too much of information was leaked that led to hullabaloo before the actual announcement. Two players who have received the maximum attention are Tim Paine, for his surprise recall after seven long years and 21-year-old opener Matt Renshaw for being axed from the side. Meanwhile, there has been an uncapped player, who has also found place in the 13-man squad for the Brisbane and Adelaide Tests – Chadd Sayers, South Australia’s medium pacer, who is known for his ability to threaten the batsmen, mostly right-handers, with his swing.
Sayers, who was picked up in the New Zealand, South Africa and Pakistan series too last year had only ended up doing the drinks duties in the series. He would expect to get responsibilities more than that this time around, maybe a game or two, won’t hurt? If Sayers has to be roped in for the Gabba Test, he will then have to be squeezed into an attack that will feature Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins against England at the Gabba. However, picking him will mean, Australia would have to drop one of the above named fast bowlers and the captain surely would not want to experiment in the very first Test of the Magellan Ashes.
Australia’s National Selectors Panel’s chairman, Trevor Hohns, has been quite busy explaining the selection done by them and he also had a good news for the 30-year-old Sayers.
“Chadd’s inclusion in the squad is with a view to the Adelaide Test and the conditions that we may see there. He swings the ball with good control and knows the conditions well at his home ground. He gives us this bowling option if required,” Hohns said indicating Sayers could get his Test debut at home in the second Test. The Test is going to be the first-ever day-night Ashes Test and will be played at Adelaide. The pink ball and day-night conditions would mean the pitch curator would put more grass and that would aid seam bowling. And the track in Adelaide already supports swing and spin bowling.
The Test will be nothing but a gift-wrapped opportunity for the English side to win an Ashes Test on this tour. The likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes, who also pitches the ball up and swings it, will get the luxury to play on home-like conditions and go berserk, especially against the left-handers.
That’s when to give back their taste of medicine, Australia would require a seam bowler. And, who would be better than Sayers, who not only moves the ball both ways but has numbers to prove his dominance in Adelaide. He has 243 wickets in 58 First-Class matches and out of those, 87 are in Adelaide Oval at flipping 20.3.
Sayers came close to making his international debut twice last year; during the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch and third Test against South Africa in Adelaide. However, both the times Jackson Bird was given a green signal ahead of him. The New Zealand series happened at the beginning of the year and Bird clinched a five-for when given a chance and that spell gave him an edge when Australia had to make a choice between him and Sayers.
Prior to the Ashes, Sayers has changed gears for himself and he has given a little preview to the Australian Captain Steven Smith of his skills in Adelaide. He beat Smith in a Shield match at the same venue last month. Not many to get go face-to-face with their eventual boss and even less end up making full use of that opportunity. Sayers belongs to the latter category.
The face-off happened in South Australia’s Sheffield Shield match against New South Wales last month, which was played under floodlights. On day one, Sayers bowled repeated deliveries that moved away from Smith’s bat. And then came the moment when Sayers went around the wicket on the middle stump and pinned Smith LBW. An angered Smith with his dismissal did not manage to hide his disappointment with the way he had batted against the excellent seam bowling. Although the wicket had annoyed the Australian captain, there was a hidden good stuff for the national side in the upcoming weeks. Smith had seen what Sayers was capable of doing in a day-night match in his home ground of Adelaide, which was also the venue for the second Ashes Test.
“It was nice to get a couple decent wickets, especially Steven Smith to show him the stuff I have to offer I guess. You’ve got to play hard against him and show him what you’ve got. To get him out like I did was good for my prospects of playing Test cricket. So, there was nothing personal; he’s a great bloke and I get along with him well,” Sayers said a few days back.
Since the track in Adelaide supports spin too, and Nathan Lyon being the sole spinner in the 13-man squad, there is no question of dropping him. That leaves the selectors to remove one of the three fast bowlers to bring Sayers in the picture.
[fve] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4JZaLjGic4 [/fve]
It goes without saying that the management would not want to disturb the stable pace attack, in order to fit Sayers in the XI, one fast bowler will have to sit out in the second Test. Out of three front-line pacers, Cummins, who would be playing Test cricket for the first time at home, looks to become the scapegoat. Although the experienced bowlers, Starc and Hazlewood have played two Tests each at Adelaide, there is no question of resting them. While Starc has nine wickets in two Tests at the venue, Hazlewood had 15.
In the current Sheffield Shield season, he is the highest wicket-taker for South Australia and over, seventh with 14 wickets at a brilliant economy of 2.90. He has bagged four wickets more than his competitor Jackson Bird. And going by Australia’s philosophy of picking players based on their form and not reputation, Sayers definitely deserves a debut in front of his home crowd in Adelaide on December 2.