Disappointment for fringe players as Bangladesh tour postponed

Tour cancelled due to security concerns, leaving the newcomers to wait a little longer for an opportunity.  

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It was being billed as the start of a new era in Australian cricket. The Ashes were gone, but not all was lost as new skipper Steven Smith was given an almost-blank canvas in which to begin his reign. However, in the end safety concerns put pay to the tour of Bangladesh, with the questions still far outweighing the answers.

The wait for a new beginning in the Australian Test setup will have to wait a little longer. Their next fixture isn’t until the start of November – when they host the first of three Tests against a strong-looking New Zealand outfit at the Gabba in Brisbane. Nevertheless a lot can happen in cricket in the space of a month – Could there be mass changes when the squad for that series is announced in a couple of weeks?

Other questions remain too. Where do people like Cameron Bancroft and Andrew Fekete now stand within the setup with the likes of David Warner, Josh Hazelwood and Mitchell Johnson due back into the side against the Kiwi’s?

Bancroft, it seemed, was vying for an opening berth alongside the more experienced pair of Shaun Marsh and Joe Burns. While Warner’s broken thumb was to rule him out of contention for the Bangladesh tour – meaning two new openers were to be found to fill the void left by Warner and the newly-retired Chris Rogers. Now when Warner, if as expected, regains full heath for the New Zealand series – only one other opening spot will be vacant.

While it’s hard to guess which of the three mentioned above is ahead in the selector’s mind, one suspects that Joe Burns could be given first refusal after he was chosen to open the batting in the recent ODI series in England. Burns performed admirably in his two Tests against India last summer and was unfortunate to be excluded from the winter tours to the Caribbean and the United Kingdom, and now could be his chance to solidify his place in the side. A lot could now also depend on how each batsman performs in the upcoming Matador Cup.

The selection of Melbourne-born Fekete for the Bangladesh series surprised many. The 30-year-old has only played two summers of first-class cricket in his short career with Tasmania and his subcontinental inclusion somewhat echoes that of the horses-for-courses selection of New South Wales’ seamer Trent Copeland for Michael Clarke’s first tour in charge in Sri Lanka four years ago. Copeland played three matches on that tour and was never seen in a Baggy Green again.

Will Andrew Fekete get another opportunity to make his Test debut?
Will Andrew Fekete get another opportunity to make his Test debut?

Fekete isn’t a bad bowler of course. He was the leading quick in last season’s Sheffield Shield campaign where he took 34 wickets at 24, and his versatility and ability to find reverse-swing on dry pitches impressed the selectors during the recent A tour of India enough to warrant his inclusion for Bangladesh. That all being said, it seems unlikely, with other younger and faster options available, that he will be in the squad for the first Test of the summer at the Gabba.

The postponement of the tour is also disappointing for the likes of batsman Adam Voges and wicketkeeper Peter Nevill. With Warner out injured, Voges was appointed vice-captain for the tour, and due to turn 36 in the next few days, he will know that his opportunities to lay stake to a regular berth in Australia’s middle order aren’t going to last forever.

Nevill’s case is different, unlike Voges he has more time on his side. The 29-year-old made a solid if not spectacular start to his international career after replacing Brad Haddin one match into the Ashes series and would therefore have looked at the Bangladesh series as one where he could really nail down his spot in the side with Matthew Wade hot upon his heels after an impressive showing in the ODI series that preceded the Ashes.

On a whole the series would have been a great opportunity for a young and regenerating Australian side to test themselves against a fast improving Bangladeshi outfit in difficult conditions, but in the end common sense had to prevail with the safety of players and support staff taking precedence.

The wait will have to continue a little longer.

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