Ashton’s fireworks put the heat on Smith
IN the spirit of Michael Bevan and James Faulkner, Australia has unearthed a new 'finisher' right on queue for their World Cup defence.
But the arrival of Ashton Turner comes with a catch.
How many one-armed warriors can Australia have in the one team?
Turner announced himself on the international scene with a scintillating match-winning knock against India - sending the one-day series into a decider in Delhi on Wednesday and making an overwhelming case that Australia can't do without his specialist skills in their 15-man World Cup squad.
However, Turner has a chronic shoulder injury which has limited his impact in the field in recent times, and that could put him on a potential collision course with former captain Steve Smith for a place in the final party.
Smith is back batting in the nets after elbow surgery and remains confident he can push his case for selection in the IPL. But there are severe doubts over whether Smith would be able to throw if picked for the World Cup.
Turner and Smith are completely different commodities in terms of what they bring to the table for Australia, but in the end, there may only be room for one of them due to the potential they will be physically restricted.
But which one will it be?
Australia has struggled to replace the likes of Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson since their World Cup triumph back in 2015. But have they missed anyone more than James Faulkner?
The Tasmanian 'finisher' is still playing domestic cricket of course, but hasn't been his best in recent years due to a chronic knee injury.
At his peak - Faulkner was player of the final at the MCG four years ago - he was the most accomplished ice man in world cricket, and Australia haven't had one since.
Turner can't contribute with the ball due to his shoulder which means he doesn't have the versatility of Faulkner, but the West Australian has proven at BBL and now ODI level that he has a rare gift for clinching games with the blade.
Like Faulkner, he can clear a fence with ease, and like the original 'Finisher' Bevan, Turner's game IQ and ability to turn ones into twos with his electric running between the wickets is decisive.
The squeeze is well and truly on for batting spots in Australia's World Cup squad.
Peter Handscomb was thought to be the other player potentially in the line-of fire when Smith and David Warner returned - but the Victoria has shown his class with a maiden century in the famous monster run-chase in Mohali.
Handscomb and Smith have a similar rhythm as batsmen - and again - there may not be room for both.
But wicketkeeper Alex Carey may now be getting a little nervous given Handscomb's ability to also wear the gloves.
Usman Khawaja will now be very difficult to leave out after making a century and 90 in his past two starts.