Alex Doolan in action for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield.
Alex Doolan in action for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield.

Doolan shines as Test contenders fail

TASMANIAN veteran Alex Doolan has emerged as a shock candidate for the first Test squad to face India after standing out above the mediocrity of Australia's selection shootout.

Doolan played the last of his four Test matches for Australia more than four years ago but has opened this Sheffield Shield season with scores of 115, 76, 53, 90 and a timely 94 on Sunday against Victoria in Hobart.

Australia will name its squad for the four-Test series against India later this week and selectors have been largely underwhelmed so far by the weekend performances of the biggest name challengers.

Matt Renshaw was considered a favourite to return for the home summer, but he is now in limbo after failing twice against NSW's all-Australian attack in Canberra.

The Marsh brothers Shaun and Mitchell also failed to deliver, although both have already done enough to be picked.

Many had written Queenslander Marnus Labuschagne out of the equation, but his fighting first innings 50 against the likes of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will make him mighty hard to dump, even though he missed out in the second dig.

A disappointed Matt Renshaw after being dismissed.
A disappointed Matt Renshaw after being dismissed.

Another candidate Peter Handscomb failed in his first opportunity in Hobart against Tasmania, but the Victorian will get one more bat.

Doolan simply has to be in the conversation for the first Test given he is the most consistent run-getter of the season and the fact selectors will have to pick a cover batsman for Usman Khawaja, who is coming back from injury.

The 32-year-old made an 89 on Test debut against South Africa at Centurion, and the likes of Chris Rogers have proven that mature-aged players can return having learnt important lessons from past experiences.

Although the fact Doolan averages below 35 from 100 first-class matches doesn't represent an overly convincing overall body of work.

Shaun Marsh in action against South Australia in the Sheffield Shield.
Shaun Marsh in action against South Australia in the Sheffield Shield.

As it stands, selectors may have little impetus to change the top six that lost to Pakistan in the UAE in October, given Aaron Finch, Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Travis Head and Labuschagne have all done as much or - in some cases more - than anyone fighting to get in.

Another smoky might be NSW opener Daniel Hughes who made a classy ton against Queensland.

Hughes was backed early last season by then captain Steve Smith and averages nearly 40 in 31 first-class games.

News Corp Australia


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