Mark Taylor: The four batsmen I have locked in for Ashes

As I watched Mayank Agarwal blunt our Test attack on Boxing Day, the question that came into my mind was "have we got a player who can do what he can on debut?"

Here was a ready-made player who answered his country's call at a desperate hour; a man who had averaged 50 in his first-class career and had earned his position through weight of runs in India's first-class competition.

Debut summer: Marcus Harris has made a case for selectors to stick with him.Credit:AAP

To rub our noses in the dirt even more, Agarwal is their fourth opener in line, behind KL Rahul, Murali Vijay and Privthi Shaw. He had the technique which would produce Test runs.

That's what we have to get back to in Australian cricket.

This was never going to be an easy summer for the side but despite the general feeling around the country the situation is not dire.

In the space of a week or so, the optimism that was there after the win in Perth has been replaced by glumness.

My long experience in the game tells me it's never as good or as bad as it seems.

The second Test shows what Australian can achieve. It proves that a team missing its two best batsmen can not only compete with the No.1 side in the world but beat them. The issue is with consistency, which is understandable with the inexperience in the XI.

I have faith that the Australian system can still produce players who can succeed in the baggy green.

The talk about the Big Bash League hindering our progress is an easy throwaway line. The view that players cannot be picked because they're playing in the BBL does not stand up to scrutiny.

Our players have had six Sheffield Shield games from October to December to impress selectors. That's up to 12 innings for batsmen to build confidence, score centuries and show they are deserving of selection.

What difference will another round of matches make? If I'm a selector, I already have a considerable body of evidence to dissect.

The decisions they make in the next month must be with the Ashes in mind.

The central issue in discussions will be how they handle Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft.

Bancroft, and Smith to a lesser extent, did not do themselves any favours with their interviews last week. I heard the rehashing of a lot of old evidence which led to a new round of stories that revealed nothing but made life harder for everyone.

Can Bancroft and David Warner open the batting again? Those two will have to work through issues like reasonable adults in order to rebuild bridges, otherwise selectors cannot pick them both.

Warner has done absolutely the right thing by staying silent. I wrote a few weeks ago he still had work to do to repair relationships but judging by what Tim Paine said in Melbourne it appears they do want him back, which is fine by me.

He'd done the crime and by March 29 will have served the time. If the team is capable of respecting each other then it can work. History has shown you don't have to be best mates to play together.

As far as Ashes selection goes, there are three names who I have penned in: Smith, Warner and Usman Khawaja.

Marcus Harris is heavily pencilled in. He's having a few issues with the short ball but he defends well, has a sound technique and deserves to be backed in.

The other four tickets for batsmen on the plane to Heathrow are up for grabs.

I have problems with a middle order of Shaun Marsh, Travis Head and Mitchell Marsh.

Shaun Marsh has plenty of talent but does not make enough runs. Head gets bowled too often for a top-six player so he needs to tighten up his defence. On the flip side, I like his preparedness to attack the Indian bowling – a trait which has been missing this series.

More than most, I want Mitch Marsh to succeed – I've known him since he was little boy. If he is to become a Test all-rounder at No.6 he needs to be able to average in the 30s with the bat and ball, instead of 25 and 44.

Paine should be batting ahead of him at six, which would relieve the pressure on Mitch with the bat. Marcus Stoinis is an all-rounder with potential who deserves a look.

Whoever they pick for the Sri Lanka series should be in their Ashes plans. You would not want to be making a rod for your own back by letting the wrong player fill their boots.

Mark Taylor played 104 Tests for Australia, 50 of them as captain, and is a former Cricket Australia board member.

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