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Mark Taylor: Smith, Warner ‘locked in’ for 2019 Ashes

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Former Australia captain Mark Taylor thinks the banned duo of Steve Smith and David Warner are “penned in” for Ashes selection.

“As far as Ashes selection goes, there are three names who I have penned in: Smith, Warner and Usman Khawaja,” Taylor wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Smith and Warner’s punishments, handed down by Cricket Australia for their roles in the ball-tampering scandal, are set to expire on March 29, and Taylor, a former CA board director, thinks they can be reintegrated immediately, citing Tim Paine’s comments as evidence that they would be welcomed back.

Taylor believes it may be tough for Bancroft (R) and Warner (C) to repair their relationship

“If you’ve got world-class players that aren’t in your team, are they going to add to our team?” said Paine after the MCG defeat. “I think they will.”

Taylor added: “I wrote a few weeks ago [Warner] still had work to do to repair relationships, but judging by what Tim Paine said in Melbourne it appears they do want him back, which is fine by me.”

Taylor was less certain that the third party implicated in the ball-tampering scandal, Cameron Bancroft, would be granted an immediate return to the side. The batsman’s ban has now ended and he has resumed playing professional cricket for Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League.

“Can Bancroft and David Warner open the batting again?” Taylor wrote. “Those two will have to work through issues like reasonable adults in order to rebuild bridges, otherwise selectors cannot pick them both.”

The absence of David Warner and Steve Smith renders the Australia batting a bit inexperienced

Smith and Warner could be key to whether Australia retain the Ashes

As for Australia’s other batting positions, Taylor suggested Marcus Harris, who made his debut this summer, has almost done enough to earn a spot in the touring party, while the incumbent trio of Shaun and Mitchell Marsh and Travis Head still have work to do.

“Marcus Harris is heavily pencilled in,” said Taylor. “He’s having a few issues with the short ball but he defends well, has a sound technique and deserves to be backed in. The other four tickets for batsmen on the plane to Heathrow are up for grabs.

“I have problems with a middle order of Shaun Marsh, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh. Shaun Marsh has plenty of talent but does not make enough runs. Head gets bowled too often for a top-six player so he needs to tighten up his defence. On the flip side, I like his preparedness to attack the Indian bowling – a trait which has been missing this series.

“More than most, I want Mitch Marsh to succeed – I’ve known him since he was little boy. If he is to become a Test all-rounder at No.6 he needs to be able to average in the 30s with the bat and ball, instead of 25 and 44.”

The fourth Test against India begins at 11:30pm GMT on January 2 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

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