Australia enter the three Test-series against South Africa with a wave of confidence behind them following a superb victory in the Ashes series at home. The top order clicked in the home Ashes, and the middle order responded well to the pressure situation and the bowling was fearsome. Every batsman has stepped up when needed and therefore Michael Clarke wouldn’t find problems in the first Test against South Africa at Centurion.
But there are few aspects which would bother the Australian team. Australia’s record in overseas has not been good thus far. The top three batsmen have been inconsistent outside Australia. David Warner, Shane Watson and Chris Rogers have failed against quality pacers.
Also following Shaun Marsh’s omission from the squad, Australia are yet to find a proper batsman at No.6. Philip Hughes has been named as Shaun Marsh’s replacement, but it will be interesting to see whether he will be a No.6 batsman.
Hughes has batted at various positions, but he has not been able to make impact. He has done well as an opener. The problem with him is he has not been able to adjust his game plan according to the situation when he is slotted in as a middle order batsman. He, however, can negotiate the new-ball well and could be used as a third opener.
Now the question arises who would be the No.5 batsmen? Shaun Marsh would have been helpful in South Africa. However he is not part of Australia’s Test squad. So, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have Alex Doolan at No.5. Steve Smith has been the No.5 batsman, but with the inclusion of Alex Doolan, Steve Smith could be pushed to No.6 spot.
Alex Doolan has batted at No.4 for Tasmania and also has a good record at No.4. Since Clarke’s position is at No.4, Alex Doolan could be fixed as the No.5 batsman. Initially, it was really difficult for Doolan to get a game. But now with the omission of Marsh, it would be an ideal platform for Alex Doolan to prove his worth in the squad.
Australia’s chief selector John Inverarity was pretty impressed with Doolan’s performance at the domestic level. 28-year old Doolan averages 37.92 from 53 first-class matches.
“Alex is a talented player who came under strong consideration for selection ahead of the Ashes series after a string of solid performances in four day cricket for Tasmania at the start of this season, but also after an excellent finish to last season and we feel those performances warrant his inclusion in the squad of 14 for Sydney.” said John Inverarity.
Doolan will face the biggest challenge in South Africa. It will be interesting to see how he responds to the pressure situations. Also it will be interesting to see how he tackles the strong Proteas pace attack. He has not played against this kind of pace attack, and therefore, it will be the biggest challenge for him.
He, however, has solid technique to bat in South Africa. He’s a good player off the backfoot and has the ability to adapt to the fast pitches in South Africa. But the surface is expected to be spectator friendly for the first Test at Centurion. The pacers will have their work cut out at Centurion. Therefore, Doolan will have to make use of the opportunity in the first Test.
For that, the top order has to make an impact in the first test. It will be really difficult for Doolan if he comes under pressure circumstances like 20/3 or 51/3. If the top order can make an impact on the flat surface at Centurion, it would an ideal platform for Doolan to carry the momentum. If Doolan can get some runs in the first Test, it would give him a lot of confidence to shine in the series.
It will be interesting to see the No.5 and No.6 spot. Will Alex Doolan debut at No.5? Will Steve Smith be a No.6 batsman? Or, will Hughes be used as a middle order batsman? Lots to look forward.