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The Age / Life - Entertain

The results are in: yes, yes and ... maybe

At first blush, this is the anti same-sex marriage survey Test selection. It is an outcome no-one would or could have picked

At first blush, this is the anti same-sex marriage survey Test selection. It is an outcome no-one would or could have picked.

Cameron Bancroft hasn't played a Test match. Shaun Marsh has played 23 of a possible 72 since debut. Tim Paine has played four, but none of Australia's past 79. These are not fashionable cricketers or causes.

Hohns: Paine 'the best gloveman in the country'

Selection chairman Trevor Hohns says other wicketkeepers did not perform well enough to warrant selection in the Australian Ashes squad. Vision courtesy: ABC News.

Bancroft, at least, is an idea whose time has come. His form demanded that he be given a chance. Now it is up to him. Equally, Matt Renshaw's form had deserted him. But he is 21, and has time to come again, the temperament, too. But does he ultimately have the technique to bear up to the game's most exacting examinations? That is the question now.

Marsh is a puzzle. His form this season has been sound, if not dazzling. But in Test cricket, every time he looks like establishing himself, he either drives at something he should not have, or pulls something he'd rather not, like a hamstring. At 34, you would think that would put him beyond redress. If you're still promising at 34, it probably means you did not have quite so much to offer in the first instance as everyone thought.

The pressure will be greater on Marsh than any other player in the Test match.

Paine is either inspiration or desperation. Two days ago, he was at the MCG, standing next to the Australian wicketkeeper. Now he is the Australian wicketkeeper. Go figure. Here's how: In 2010, Paine was everyone's idea of Australia's next keeper after Brad Haddin. He was the most natural of the coming glovemen, and an adequate bat. Then injury cruelled him. By the end of last summer, he looked to be in semi-retirement, playing T20s and exhibitions. Suddenly, he is the Australian wicketkeeper, a prized occupation.

Now he is 32. Either Australia has the right wicketkeeper seven years out of date, or the right wicketkeeper seven years overdue. I can't tell you. It takes a keeper to know a keeper.

Cameron Bancroft. Photo: AAP

Of those who missed, none had made an absolutely compelling case. The most hard-done-by is Peter Nevill. Since he was dropped a year ago, he has quietly gone about taking catches and making runs. That may still be his problem: quietly.

At least the selectors cannot be accused of failing for the want of trying. The probable XI is six different from Australia's last Test, two months ago, and four different from the last Test last summer.

Shaun Marsh. Photo: AP

It fits a recent selection pattern, counter-intuitive in the game's history: when change comes, it comes severally and from left field. Fluidity is not a bad thing, as long as it does not wash away babies in bathwater. Of more than two dozen players who have been cycled through the Test team in the past year or so, only Callum Ferguson and Jon Holland have cause to complain.

So to Brisbane. The selectors will hope, along with the rest of Australia, that just like the gay marriage debate, in a month or two we will be tying ribbons to the rafters and wondering what the fuss was all about.


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