When Mr Cricket speaks, you listen © Getty Images (file photo)
When Mr Cricket speaks, you listen © Getty Images (file photo)

The bans on Steven Smith, David Warner, and Cameron Bancroft have created sizeable dents in the Australian top order. However, the middle order does not seem too solid either. Batting at five and six is no easy task, as Michael Hussey — one of the greatest batsmen at those particular positions — explained to Fox Sports: “They’re challenging because there’s so many different situations in games that you can come out to.

“You might come in and your team is in trouble and you have to resurrect the innings, you might come in and you’ve got to tee off and may throw your wicket away. You might come in when the ball is reverse swinging and you’ve got to bat with the tail so you have to think your way through it. It can be a really difficult position to bat.”

Hussey knows what he is talking about. Put a 3,000-run cut-off, and only three people in history — Michael Clarke (59.02), Shivnarine Chanderpaul (58.45), and AB de Villiers (57.86) — average more than his 56.49 at Nos. 5 and 6.

At least two spots in the middle order are still up for grabs, and that is not likely to change even after Smith, Warner, and Bancroft return. The contenders include the Marsh brothers (Mitchell holds an advantage over Shaun for his bowling), Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell (a spinner may come handy in UAE), and Travis Head, among others.

Whom to choose? “I’d be looking for the six best batsmen in Australia,” said Hussey. “My belief is those guys have had to have dominated Sheffield Shield cricket for a number of seasons — not just half a season, or one season — they’ve had to have dominated. Because if they’ve dominated for a number of seasons, they build up that experience, they understand their own game a bit better and they’ll be better adapting at going up and down the order.”