Langer’s ‘The Last Dance’ method picking Aussie side
A potential squad for an unscheduled cricket tour has been informed by some curious new selection data courtesy of Justin Langer, Michael Jordan and the pandemic.
Australia put out a list of 26 names on Thursday for a potential white ball tour of England which might happen sometime in September.
While it might be harder to be included than excluded in a list that long - and it will reduce to 18 or 20 - should the three ODI and three T20 series go ahead as expected there's some names of note on and off it.
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Shaun Marsh's exile is confirmed, but not surprising given he turned 37 on July 9. Usman Khawaja and Marcus Stoinis aren't exactly in from the cold after being ignored for recent series, but have at least been allowed to wait on the porch with the potential playing group.
Coach Justin Langer explained that the final squad was large because of the unique circumstances.
"The reason we will take so many is we have to be ready for any situation that might come up in England, we can't bring guys in, we can't send guys home, we haven't had any practice matches," he told News Corp.
"There's nothing like match practice to be battle hardened and ready to go, what we haven't got is any match practice and we are going to take a few more so we can play some practice games and be up and running when the time comes."
Langer acknowledged the uncertainty by adding it was up in the air "if we go".
One inclusion signals a different approach to selection. While runs or wickets are still critical, the coach says he saw something else when it came to selecting Josh Philippe, an exciting 23-year-old batsman-wicketkeeper who opened for last year's BBL winners, the Sixers.
"I did some stats a few weeks ago and the interesting thing about Josh is, he is obviously a talented young player and a terrific athlete, but two things stand out for me; in his 54 games that he has played above A grade he has the second highest winning average. Mitchell Starc's got number one.
"What that means is that in his short career he's got a habit of winning games and I find that fascinating, he's a guy that's used to winning, he's obviously in good teams, but he's used to winning.
"The other thing about him is he has got a high man of the match ratio. He is working on getting more consistent, but that stat is interesting. He's talented and he has played in a Sixers winning final last year. He is a really good player for the future."
Langer said he got the idea about match winners as a guide from watching the Jordan documentary Last Dance.
Selectors crunched the data on 30 players and while David Warner has the most man of the match awards for Australia across three formats, Glenn Maxwell came out on top when measured in the domestic formats. Another Sixers 'winner' to be given a chance for a berth on the boat is NSW bowler and member of the Sixers, 27-year-old Daniel Sams.
"He is a left arm option, but he is also a really good finisher and we're looking at two areas of our game: finishers and taking wickets in the middle overs," Langer said.
"He's got great change ups so he is an interesting one. He's a left armer as well and with Jason Behrendorff on the sidelines … I always love having a left armer in our team. That was Jason Behrendorff in the World Cup last year."
Preliminary squad: Ashton Agar (WA), Alex Carey (SA), Pat Cummins (NSW), Aaron Finch (Vic), Josh Hazlewood (NSW), Travis Head (SA), Usman Khawaja (Qld), Marnus Labuschagne (Qld), Nathan Lyon (NSW), Mitchell Marsh (WA), Glenn Maxwell (Vic), Ben McDermott (Tas), Riley Meredith (Tas), Michael Neser (Qld), Josh Philippe (WA), Daniel Sams (NSW), D'Arcy Short (WA), Kane Richardson (SA), Steven Smith (NSW), Mitchell Starc (NSW), Marcus Stoinis (WA), Andrew Tye (WA), Matthew Wade (Tas), David Warner (NSW), Adam Zampa (NSW)
Originally published as Langer's 'The Last Dance' method picking Aussie side