Waugh’s radical plan for Sydney Test
STEVE Waugh has called for a complete overhaul of the Australian batting order featuring surprise promotions for Tim Paine and Shaun Marsh.
The former Test captain has been perhaps Australian coach Justin Langer's most influential mentor and the rare public airing of his opinions and beliefs often carries significant weight.
Waugh took to Instagram to issue his favoured XI for the Sydney Test and axed opener Aaron Finch in favour of a funky batting order that adds Queensland all-rounder Marnus Labuschagne and retains Mitchell Marsh.
However, the real intrigue surrounds how Waugh would rejig the order.
The batting doyen says he would open with Shaun Marsh and move captain Paine up to No.5, with Labuschagne and Mitchell Marsh to fill the spots at 6 and 7.
Waugh's proposal would give Australia six bowling options in a Test match they must win to rob India's dream to win a series down under for the very first time.
Taking 20 wickets then becomes the overriding priority despite the equal need to bolster the misfiring batting order.
Opening with Shaun Marsh would allow Langer to keep Usman Khawaja - who many believe is the best batsman in the side - in the crucial anchor position of No.3.
Marsh's best Test batting position is No.5 where he has averaged 43 from 13 Tests, but outside of that he has also performed strongly in 10 matches as an opener.
In those games Marsh has averaged about 40 - and he has also excelled for Western Australia as an opener.
Paine hasn't made a first-class hundred in 12 years, but his promotion to No.5 is backed up by the fact he's averaged 35 in the past year to be Australia's second-best performed batsman behind Khawaja.
His technique appears more solid than others, but his responsibilities in the side would suddenly become enormous if he was keeper, skipper and top-order bat.
Coach Justin Langer remained top-lipped about Finch's fate.
"It's something we're talking about obviously, he's having a bit of a lean run of it," Langer said.
"Although he's got a couple of 50s and got a 100-run partnership one Test match ago (in Perth) and that set up the whole Test match for us.
"Finch is a really good player and we know that he's great in the team and he's working harder than he's probably ever worked."
STEVE WAUGH XI
Tim Paine (capt)