Selectors have named five uncapped players and recalled fast bowler Peter Siddle for the upcoming series against Pakistan in United Arab Emirates, as Australia continues life without Steve Smith and David Warner in the Test arena.
Queensland trio Michael Neser, Brendan Doggett and Marnus Labuschagne, South Australia’s Travis Head and Victoria’s Aaron Finch will all be vying for their first Test cap, after being named as part of the 15-man squad which will face Pakistan in Dubai and Abu Dhabi next month.
Australia Test squad:
- Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matt Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
The 33-year-old Siddle has not played a Test in almost two years but could add to his 62 appearances with the Australian squad, missing regular quicks Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
Joe Burns, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell and Jhye Richardson were among a number of other players who were considered for selection but overlooked.
Tim Paine will captain Australia, having taken on the role during the South Africa tour earlier this year when Smith was stood down following his role in the ball-tampering scandal.
Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft all accepted Cricket Australia-imposed bans in the wake of the incident that rocked the sport.
National selector Trevor Hohns said Siddle, who has taken 211 wickets at an average of 29.92, would add a valuable dose of experience to the tour squad.
“Peter is a proven performer in the Test arena, who has been in outstanding form in his recent first-class outings over in England,” he said in a statement.
“His experience will be crucial for this bowling group, and we know that he is a warrior who can bowl the type of long, tight spells which may be required in the conditions we expect to face.”
Hohns said selectors were keen to blood as many players as possible.
“There has been significant change to our Test squad, due to the unavailability of a number of key players,” Hohns said.
“That said, we firmly believe the squad selected is up to the challenge ahead, and is capable of playing a brand of cricket that can perform well in this series against Pakistan.
“It’s a blend of experienced players who have a significant amount of either Test or first-class cricket, and a number of younger players who we are confident are ready for the Test arena.
“Looking at the conditions we may face in the UAE, we believe this squad covers all bases. We have selected four front-line fast bowlers and three spinners, with Mitchell Marsh ready to play as an all-rounder and a number of top-order batsmen who also offer part-time spin options.
“There are five potential debutants in the squad, all of whom have earned selection through their performances and deserve this opportunity.”
Finch a strong chance to play first Test
Hohns suggested Finch, who has made 93 one-day international appearances, was in line to make his Test debut at age 31.
“Aaron is in sensational form, and this is the right time to give him a chance to play Test cricket,” he said.
“He has performed well in the Sheffield Shield in recent seasons, and brings added experience and leadership to this group.”
Doggett will become just the second Indigenous Australian cricketer to play a Test, following Jason Gillespie, should he be selected.
“Brendan is an exciting prospect, a fast bowler with raw pace and wicket-taking ability,” Hohns said.
“He provides an additional option to Mitchell Starc if extra pace is called for, and this is an ideal opportunity to get him involved in a national set-up for the first time after his recent showings for Queensland and Australia A.”
The first Test (Dubai) begins on October 7 and the second (Abu Dhabi) on October 16.