Ashes D-day arrives for Test hopefuls

‘s selectors met on Wednesday night with no further insight gleaned into their Ashes squad from the final day of Test auditions.
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Western opener Cameron Bancroft was the raging hot favourite to make his Test debut but it was unclear where he would slot into the XI.

There was more intrigue over youngster Matt Renshaw’s position after he was called into the nets to face the pace quartet of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird in Brisbane. The out-of-form batsman reportedly acquitted himself well against the country’s best quicks.

Renshaw is in trouble if selectors believe asking a youngster to rediscover his form in a high pressure series like the Ashes is too much though he is highly regarded for having maturity beyond his years.

‘s batting woes could play into Renshaw’s favour if selectors decide to bolster their middle order with a specialist batsman over an all-rounder.

In that scenario, Renshaw would retain his position with Bancroft slotting in at number six.

Although he has played almost all his state cricket as an opener, the West n has shown he has the starch required to rescue the innings should Steve Smith’s side continue its costly habit of dramatic collapses.

While some openers struggle against spin, Bancroft is considered a strong player of slow bowling after an impressive tour of the subcontinent had him on the verge of a baggy green for the cancelled tour of Bangladesh in 2015.

The lack of a standout batting all-rounder would also add weight to the argument of playing Renshaw and Bancroft in the same top six.

Marcus Stoinis is considered the best bowler of the candidates in that position though uncertainty surrounds his immediate playing future after the death of his father on Tuesday morning.

Stoinis is on compassionate leave from the WACA and did not bowl in South ‘s first innings or bat on the third day.

Hilton Cartwright appears the next in line but question marks remain over his bowling. He was given only two overs in SA’s first innings, conceding 20 runs without taking a wicket. His runs have also dried up since starting the Shield season with 61.

Moises Henriques claimed a wicket for NSW in their win over Queensland but he too is lacking the runs to mount a compelling case to bat at number six.

Glenn Maxwell, who has played in ‘s last four Tests, needs selectors to wait another day before finalising their squad to stake a final claim to retain his berth.

He was unbeaten on 20 on Wednesday night and has the opportunity to bat all day on Thursday to save Victoria from outright defeat against Tasmania.

Maxwell, who has made a 60 and 64 but no century this season, said he would be ready to play if picked.

“I’d like a crack. I would have liked to have turned one of those into a big hundred,” Maxwell said.

“They were just strange dismissals. A ball getting caught in your jumper, and trickles back on to your stumps, and an LBW that for all the replays we saw could have been missing leg.

“I’m not overly disappointed in the way I got out, but I am disappointed they were not big hundreds.”

Matthew Wade missed out on a golden chance to get back among the runs due to the dominance of Alex Doolan, who made a career-best 247 not out.

Wade is set to lose out to the man he replaced 12 months ago, Peter Nevill, who appears to have done enough despite not passing 50 with the bat.

Alex Carey hit an unbeaten 46 for the Redbacks but has not produced a breakthrough performance.

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