Cameron White put down an easy catch off the bat of Moeen Ali.
Cameron White put down an easy catch off the bat of Moeen Ali.

Most baffling thing about Khawaja snubbing

THE Cameron White experiment has been a bizarre and spectacular failure, and should fast-track the recall of Test star Usman Khawaja.

After being overlooked for the first game of the series, having been a late call-up ahead of the likes of Khawaja and Glenn Maxwell when Chris Lynn was ruled out with a calf injury, White has played the next two.

At the Gabba he was given the role of late-order slogger - one favoured by the explosive types like Maxwell.

That resulted in a scratchy 15 in which he struggled to hit the ball off the square.

For the SCG he was promoted to No.3, ahead of Australian captain Steve Smith, and responded with a similarly unimpressive 17 from 25 - with three boundaries.

It was his chance to prove that he could build an innings, play the long game and run his own race.

In other words, it was the sort of situation Khawaja relishes.

White simply couldn't deliver.

Admittedly he looked better than in the game two defeat, and stroked two terrific drives through the covers that were a hark back to his big-hitting days.

But for the most part he simply struggled and it didn't seem to be a huge blow to Australia when he was removed, falling to a bit of extra bounce by Chris Woakes who had the veteran caught behind.

The primary reason why Khawaja has been overlooked in ODI cricket recently has been because Smith has been entrenched at first drop - and Khawaja didn't appear to fit anywhere else in the batting order.

But with Australia showing a willingness to shuffle Smith down to four, the question has to be asked: what does Cameron White bring to the team at No.3 that Usman Khawaja can't provide?

He has been in fine white-ball form since the Ashes, producing two match-winning knocks in three attempts for the Thunder.

And he's mounted a pretty compelling case to suggest he should be in the national team ahead of White.

It’s time Australia recalled Usman Khawaja.
It’s time Australia recalled Usman Khawaja.
 

WHAT AUSTRALIA WOULD DO FOR A PLAYER LIKE BUTTLER

JOS Buttler showed Australia exactly what it was missing on Sunday - a proven middle-order batsman capable of both playing a long innings and upping the ante.

On the slowest pitch of the series thus far, Buttler came in to bat at 4-107 and led England's fightback alongside captain Eoin Morgan. With a tricky deck making power hitting difficult and England in no position to lose another wicket, the keeper raced to 50 in 52 balls despite only hitting two fours and one six.

It was not enough to put momentum back in England's favour but it kept the Australians at bay. Like MS Dhoni in his pomp, Buttler chose to score at close to a run-a-ball in ones and twos until the situation either demanded or allowed him to do otherwise.

Going into the final five overs, Buttler was on 60 off 62 and England were 6-236. The situation both allowed and demanded that he free the arms and the 27-year-old did not fail to deliver. In the next 21 balls he faced, the right-hander helped himself to 40 runs, hitting three sixes and three fours to power England past 300. Make no mistake, he was the difference between the two teams.

Buttler was not alone however, and the role of Chris Woakes in England's innings cannot be understated. The all-rounder scored an unbeaten 53 off 36 and was scoring above a run-a-ball from the get go. His ability to score freely allowed Buttler to continue playing his own game - something Australia's Aaron Finch has not got to enjoy this series.

There is hope for Australia however - Marcus Stoinis looks a special talent.

 

Marcus Stoinis scored 56 off 43 at the SCG.
Marcus Stoinis scored 56 off 43 at the SCG.
 

AUSTRALIA HAS FOUND ITS FINISHER

Marcus Stoinis is here to stay. The big hitting all-rounder produced another innings of immense quality to keep Australia's hopes of victory alive until the final over.

Stoinis helped himself to 56 runs off 43 balls at the SCG, and kept the pressure on England's bowlers throughout the final 10 overs by picking up regular boundaries. He couldn't quite pull off the chase but his immense quality is now impossible to ignore.

Having played in New Zealand, Australia and India, the 28-year-old's ODI average sits at 66.42 with four scores above 50 in 11 innings. And he has regularly proven himself capable of a big finish. Last January he played 2017's finest ODI innings, nearly dragging Australia to victory on his own against New Zealand, and he started the current series with a blazing 60 off 40.

Australia has a special player on its hands.

 

WHITE'S SHOCKER

JOSH Hazlewood finally has a contender for worst drop of the summer after this horror effort from Cameron White on Sunday.

And Moeen Ali needs to buy a lottery ticket - because for the second time this summer he's been the beneficiary of an inexplicable dropped catch.

Mitchell Marsh had returned for his second spell and drew a false pull shot from Moeen first up. The ball went straight up and stayed in the air for an eternity, and the entire SCG crowd had chalked it up as a wicket.

Commentator Mark Nicholas thought as much, setting White up for even more embarrassment by saying "That will be caught. Surely. Surely ..." as the ball soared skyward.

Unfortunately for Nicholas - and White - the veteran Australian rarely looked comfortable under the high ball.

"No, it won't be caught!" Nicholas exclaimed as the ball bounced off White's chest and onto the SCG turf.

Much like with the Hazlewood drop of Moeen in the final Test of the summer, the 34-year-old didn't even lay a finger on the chance as it completely evaded his grasp.

 

SMITH'S ODI STRUGGLES CONTINUE

Steve Smith posted his highest score in five ODI innings but the Australian captain still looks off-kilter against the white ball.

Smith took 63 balls to pick up his first boundary on Sunday as he struggled to get to grips with a slow pitch. That would be okay if he was keeping things ticking over regularly with ones and twos but all innings he struggled to find gaps in the field. By the time he fell for 45 he had soaked up 66 deliveries.

It's too late for him to save the series, but Australia need Smith to rediscover his best if they're going to stand any chance at next year's World Cup.


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