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Takeaways from Australia A’s series win over Sri Lanka A

While the Aussie senior boys are battling in a dead rubber against Sri Lanka in Colombo, Australia A have just chased down 367 in the second unofficial Test in Hambantota against Sri Lanka A by five wickets.

Here are my takeaways from the two-match unofficial Test series.

Aaron Hardie’s progress will keep Cameron Green on his toes

Twelve matches into his first class career and West Australian all-rounder Aaron Hardie is slowly making his mark as a future Test cricketer for Australia. And it is not based on his potential, rather his performances for WA and Australia A.

Hardie caught my eye when he batted Victoria out of the 2022 Sheffield Shield final with an outstanding knock of 174* from 317 deliveries.

Coming in with WA 5-110 in the second innings, the all-rounder batted for over 100 overs to ensure a draw was the end result, leading to WA lifting the 2021-22 Sheffield Shield, having won more bonus points than runners up Victoria throughout the contest.

Hardie’s maiden call-up to the Australia A squad has been nothing short of outstanding. In the first unofficial Test against Sri Lanka A, Hardie walked in with Australia A 5-98. He scored a counter-attacking 62, helping the Aussie A side reach a first innings total of 379 as they won by 68 runs in the end.

Come the second unofficial Test, Hardie walked in with Australia A 5-220 in the second innings, 147 runs away from victory and time running out on the final day. After biding his time at first, Hardie took on the Sri Lanka A bowlers, finishing with 78* off 94 balls as his side won by five wickets with seven overs to spare.

Albeit skewed with a few not outs, Hardie averages over 50 with the bat in FC cricket after 12 matches, with two hundreds and two fifties to his name. And if you thought his numbers with the bat were solid, Hardie has 32 FC wickets to his name, averaging a shade over 25 with the ball.

While talks of a Baggy Green are heavily premature, Hardie’s performances so far in FC cricket provides healthy competition for Cameron Green. Should Hardie continue performing in FC cricket at state and Australia A level, there is no reason why he cannot debut for Australia in the next few years.

Tanveer Sangha providing a glimpse into the future of Australian spin stocks

Had Matthew Kuhnemann not been added to the Aussie ODI squad following Ashton Agar’s injury, Tanveer Sangha would most likely have been carrying the drinks during the unofficial Tests.

Tanveer Sangha

(Photo by Jason McCawley – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

Although Sangha went for a few more runs at times, he finished the series with impressive numbers – seven wickets in 47 overs at an average of 25.29. Sangha is only 20 years old, yet he has been impressing many big-name cricketers for his bravery in giving the ball a real rip.

It is important that Sangha continues to develop his red-ball skills, as Australia will need a spinner ready come the day Nathan Lyon calls it quits from Test cricket.

Can Cricket Australia continue playing more A series, please?

This series would have been a real eye-opener for those in the Australia A squad. Playing in foreign conditions and being tested against quality opposition will do many second-string Australian batters and bowlers good, especially if they succeed.

As Australia are likely to tour India in the next 12 months for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, they need the best preparation possible if they stand a chance. And an Australia A tour of India playing a two or three-unofficial Test series would be great.

It would give the likes of Hardie and Sangha the chance to continue developing their skills before they earmark themselves as Australian Test cricketers.

Plus, seeing the Aussie A boys getting tested against the likes of Saurabh Kumar, Mayank Markande and Shams Mulani (three future Indian Test prospects in my eyes) on turning wickets in Chennai and Bengaluru would be a great treat for cricket buffs.

Altogether, a great series for Australia A, as the future of Australian Test cricket looks bright. However, it is up to Cricket Australia to ensure the bench strength continues being tested with more A series.

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