MITCHELL JOHNSON: The Australian cricketers Jake Fraser-McGurk could replace in T20 World Cup squad

Mitchell Johnson
The Nightly
3 Min Read
There are several ways Australian selectors could have got Jake Fraser-McGurk in the T20 World Cup team.
There are several ways Australian selectors could have got Jake Fraser-McGurk in the T20 World Cup team. Credit: Getty Images

When the great cricketing mind of Ricky Ponting drops opener David Warner for young gun Jake Fraser-McGurk, you tend to look and listen.

The national selectors spoke about the 15-man squad for the T20 World Cup being difficult to select, with plenty of worthy players missing out including Fraser-McGurk, Spencer Johnson and Matt Short just to name a few.

It’s a real shame as 22-year-old Fraser-McGurk has lit up the Indian Premier League with Delhi Capitals, showing his Twenty20 formula — of watch ball, see ball, hit ball to and over the boundary — seems to be a simple and workable plan.

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Some say he’s never played a T20 international and his selection push came late, but the reality is there has been plenty of talk around Fraser-McGurk for a good 12 months now. And he’s already earned an opportunity in the one-day international format.

If the selectors were worried about his lack of experience in a World Cup, then I think playing in the IPL, in India, in front of fanatical crowds against the best players from around the world should have squashed those thoughts.

Or maybe they just felt they couldn’t fit him into the 15. Perhaps selectors already had a set plan weeks or months ago and weren’t willing to change the plan or look at a spare opening bat. Maybe the risk of an uncapped T20 player on the big stage was too much.

For me, I feel there was a spot there for an in-form Fraser-McGurk. He could have taken the place of either keeper-batsman Matthew Wade or batting all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.

With Warner being out of form, Fraser-McGurk would have been a great back-up option to open the batting if Warner’s lack of runs continued in the World Cup. The proof is in the pudding in the IPL and Ponting certainly didn’t hesitate.

There are strong similarities between Fraser-McGurk and Glenn Maxwell, a guy who wants to have the best strike rate from any batsman when playing the short form of the game.

Although Fraser-McGurk seems to play in a similar fashion, he opens the batting and wants to go after the hard new ball with the field restrictions in place. His thinking is clear and simple: get on top early and play to your strengths.

Former Aussie captain Aaron Finch recently mentioned he would like Fraser-McGurk to work on rotating the strike a little better, instead of the smash-it or over-the-boundary approach he seems to adopt. I do agree with that in one-day cricket but is it really a need in T20 cricket? Maybe, maybe not, I think he’ll learn that from the more experience he gets.

What I will say is Fraser-McGurk is doing everything right and giving himself every chance for selection.

The IPL has been a great opportunity for McGurk, who appears to have a huge white-ball future for Australia. With Mitch Marsh out injured and Warner battling form and injury issues, McGurk has had the opportunity to play with and against some of the best international players in arguably the best T20 competition in the world.

He also has a brilliant resource at his fingertips in his coach Ponting, one of Australia’s greatest batsmen, to learn off, bounce ideas around and see the game from one of the great minds.

Now the selectors have settled on their squad, Australia will need the big stars to stand up to win this World Cup. Some of our best players haven’t quite got it right in the IPL but we know Aussie sides tend to find their best when it comes to a World Cup.

We are about to begin a new era in Australian cricket, despite most of the older players hanging on in this squad. Selectors pulled the trigger on Steve Smith, while Warner, 37, will play international cricket for the final time.

Wade, 36, has retired at State level and Stoinis, 34, no longer holds a State contract, leaving plenty of opportunities around the corner.

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