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Three young cricketers I'd like to watch in the 2020-21 Australia v India series

Two batsmen and an allrounder who have the potential to evolve into really good players

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
Will Pucovski made a double-century in a record-breaking Shield stand of 486 with Marcus Harris  •  Getty Images

Will Pucovski made a double-century in a record-breaking Shield stand of 486 with Marcus Harris  •  Getty Images

There was a time when Australia led the way in blooding young cricketers at international level. Their peak period was between 1928 and 1930 when they selected Don Bradman aged 20 and then two 19-year-olds in Archie Jackson and Stan McCabe. This incredibly talented trio were part of one of Australia's best ever batting line-ups on the 1930 tour of England.
Australia reached their pinnacle when Ian Craig was selected for the 1953 tour of England at the tender age of 17. I remember my grandfather Vic Richardson berating the selectors when recalling his experience as Australia's captain in 1935-36.
"What if Craig experiences a bad trot," lamented Vic. "Will the captain take him out and buy him an ice cream?"
Vic's attitude was understandable, considering his reputation as a captain who also led the off-field socialising. However, the concept of an ice cream improving your batting seemed like a very good proposition to a nine-year old me.
More recently Australia have often resorted to what used to be a very English solution of picking mature cricketers with loads of first-class experience to make their international debut. Michael Hussey is a prime example, having played his first Test in 2005 at age 30.
In recent times it's more likely Pakistan, Bangladesh or India will choose a teenager to make a Test debut.
Australia now have an opportunity to buck their recent trend with youngsters Will Pucovski and Cameron Green pushing their case for selection against India in the upcoming Test series.
Both Pucovski, a 22-year-old batsman, and Green, a 21-year-old allrounder, have more than just heavy run-scoring to back their cause. Pucovski started the Shield season with his second double-century, in his first innings as an opener. Given the ongoing search for a suitable partner for the ebullient David Warner, this was a timely move to the top of the order.
In Green's case, he followed a 197 against a strong New South Wales attack by taking a wicket in each innings of the clash with Tasmania. While a wicket per innings might not sound like much of an achievement, it signalled Green's first bowling stint since suffering back stress fractures. Although the selectors will be loath to burden Green with too much bowling, Mitchell Marsh's recurring injury history and his failure to cement the allrounder's spot in the Test side, makes Green's return to bowling welcome news.
While he's no teenager, Queensland's Mitchell Swepson is the other player close to an Australian debut. At 27, Swepson is at an age where wristspinners - other than Shane Warne - tend to mature. His ten-wicket haul against NSW is a sign that he's ready, and a debut, in tandem with Nathan Lyon at the spin friendly Sydney Cricket Ground, could be in order.
Swepson's selection is more likely to occur if Australia have an allrounder capable of batting at six and acting as a third seamer in that Test.
On the subject of being ready, former Australian selector Greg Chappell came out very strongly in Green's favour. "When I hear people say he [Green] isn't ready," an exasperated Chappell explained, "I ask them if they were ready. No one is ready until they play ten, 15, 20 Tests, but then you work it out if you are good enough."
India's Prithvi Shaw burst onto the scene with a Test century on debut as an 18 year-old, but has since exuded signs he's yet to "work it out". Having missed out on valuable experience on the last tour of Australia because of an untimely ankle injury, he then displayed signs in New Zealand that he's now closer to working it out and this Australian tour could well further that progression.
One of the more exciting aspects of a Test series is witnessing young players evolve into really good cricketers. If the Australian and Indian selectors react positively then the upcoming series could be a rewarding one for those who like to closely follow the impact of good young cricketers.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist