Australia has included Bancroft and Burns, Travis Head, and Michael Neser in the 14-man squad for the upcoming two-match Test series against Pakistan. From the Ashes squad, Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, and Peter Siddle have all been left out.
“Travis Head scored a hundred against a very good New South Wales attack just a few weeks ago and also offers the option of part-time off-spin,” Trevor Hohns, the national selector, said. “Matthew Wade was superb as a specialist batsman through last summer, had a solid Ashes Series with two hundred and strong start to the current domestic season.
“We anticipate Matthew and Travis will give us a strong middle order in support of the top four. Bancroft and Burns is someone who has the ingredients of what we believe makes a good Test cricketer and rounds out our batting group in the squad,” Hohns added.
Will Pucovski, who was in the running for a middle-order place as well backed out on the grounds of mental health issues. Peter Handscomb hasn’t impressed enough with Victoria in first-class cricket while Mitchell Marsh continues to recover from his fractured hand.
Joe Burns had narrowly missed the Ashes berth earlier this year but is likely to partner David Warner at the top against Pakistan. He has hit two half-centuries in three innings this Shield season but failed with scores of 0 and 11 in the practice match against Pakistan in Perth.
“David Warner and Steven Smith are in magical touch. We also welcome Joe Burns into the squad who we feel was unlucky to miss the Ashes squad. Joe’s record speaks for itself, he has Test hundreds on the board and has combined very well with David (Warner) in the past. We also like the feel of a right-hand, left-hand combination at the top of the order. Marnus’ performances in England and at the start of this season demanded his selection,” said Hohns.
Neser has been picked ahead of Siddle, with the fast bowling attack also featuring Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, and Mitchell Starc. Nathan Lyon is the lone specialist spinner whereas Tim Paine continues to lead the side.
“We are blessed to have four of the best fast bowlers in the world challenging each other for spots and most importantly playing as a group. Cummins, Starc, Hazelwood, and Pattinson are daunting pace prospects for any opposition, particularly at home. Michael Neser adds to that group with his ability to move the ball both ways, giving the team another bowling option depending on the conditions,” Hohns added.
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