The perennial whipping boys of international cricket have grown up.
This year, Bangladesh have finished higher than England in a World Cup, beaten Pakistan and India at home in ODI’s and were able to draw a two Test encounter against South Africa, albeit with the help of rain.
Much of this success is obviously attributable to the maturing of Bangladeshi cricket. However, there is an element that is also attributable to the lack of respect shown to the Tigers.
Australia lost the Ashes in part because they disrespected the quality of their opponent.
The selection merry go round in their middle order culminated in impatient batting and nervous players.
Unwilling to learn from these errors, it appears on face value that Australia have decided to play a game of selection lucky dip for its upcoming Test tour of Bangladesh.
Although we rejoiced in what appeared to be a return to Shield performance being the key selection criteria, we now discover that this was just a blip.
Adam Voges and Fawad Ahmed were both selected to tour the West Indies and England on the back of amazing First Class seasons.
Yet, the squad announced for Bangladesh is as random as a set of lotto numbers.
Did the selection panel have any choice but to take some risks? Are we entering a new phase of Australian Test cricket where Ashton Agar type selections will be the norm rather than the exception?
It is not as though First Class cricket in Australia is currently being dominated by another Phil Hughes.
Rogers and Warner are both missing from this latest squad due to retirement and injury.
Burns, Bancroft and Shaun Marsh will likely battle for the opening positions. None deserve a spot at 1 or 2 based on Shield form.
Shaun Marsh must be a cat, as this will be his proverbial 9th life.
Usman Khawaja makes his return at first drop. The Australia A captain has been paying quite strongly in recent times and it is hard to mount an objective argument against him being given another opportunity.
However, a failure in Bangladesh may see his papers stamped, given the Aussie love affair with Shaun Marsh.
Steve Smith will drop to 4 and acting vice captain Voges will take number 5.
To be named vice captain after only 7 Tests highlights the current drain on Australian leadership stocks.
Mitch Marsh looks set to retain the all rounders spot. However his Test bowling is far better than his batting, making the number 6 spot look rather weak.
Glenn Maxwell is also in the squad. His white ball form is extraordinary, but does that automatically give him claims on a Test spot? Australia tried that with George Bailey two years ago.
It didn’t work.
Nevill will keep wicket. No qualms there.
The Aussies claim they are resting Johnson and Hazlewood, despite them having limited ODI workloads since the Ashes Tests. This seems a little short sighted.
However, it has allowed them to pick the 30 year old Andrew Fekete.
The squad debutant had a fine Shield season in 14/15 taking 37 wickets at 24.10. But is he ahead of others who missed out such as Pattinson and Sandhu?
Cummins, Starc and Siddle all hold their places from England. Only two are likely to play given O’Keefe is back after his disastrous UAE campaign. He and Nathan Lyon will take positions 10 and 11.
So although it may appear that Australia are playing strange selection table games, a deeper examination shows a very real lack of batting depth bubbling under the surface.
How quickly the tide turns.
If this team is not at its best and the rain stays away, it should surprise no one if Bangladesh win this series.
But it won’t be due to a lack of respect for the opposition.
It will be because the Tigers are able to put a better team on the pitch than Australia.
AUSTRALIA SQUAD FOR THE TOUR OF BANGLADESH
Steve Smith (c), Adam Voges (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Patrick Cummins, Andrew Fekete, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Stephen O’Keefe, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
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