MELBOURNE: Australia have named a full squad for their first overseas Test tour in almost three years, with Ashton Agar the only member of the extended group to win the Ashes.
Mitch Marsh, Josh Inglis and Mitchell Swepson have all been named to the 18-man squad for the historic Pakistan three-Test tour This is Australia’s first visit to this cricket-crazy country in nearly 25 years.
While the squad for the limited matches that will follow the Test has not been named, the fact that no Test players have withdrawn is a vote of confidence in the Tour, which was only given the go-ahead after an Australian Cricket Board meeting last week.
Thorough security assessments were conducted by officials for the first trip by an Australian team to Pakistan since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.
“Clearly there is some anxiety about touring which I think is perfectly natural given an Australian team hasn t toured Pakistan for almost 25 years,” Australian Cricketers Association chief Todd Greenberg told SEN on Monday.
“We may have one or two players who won t be comfortable despite all of the advice and guidance that we provide. Along with Cricket Australia, we ll need to respect those players and give them our full support if they decide not to make this tour.
“It s a very important tour. The players completely understand our contribution to the global game and we don t have an expectation that we can sit here and expect teams to tour our country and not contribute ourselves.”
Jhye Richardson is the only player of note to miss the trip as Australia manage the body of the 25-year-old fast bowler, who has struggled with injuries over his career.
Marcus Harris in the squad after Usman Khawaja’s twins were pushed out of the Hundreds by SCG in the opening game of the final game of the campaign occupy a place.
Harris won plaudits on the risky course with his Test-high 76 at the MCG, while Pat Cummins admitted that sending two 35-year-old openers (in Khawaja and David Warner) was not a reasonable long-term option strategy .
There were no surprises among the other bowlers selected, Ashes hero Scott Boland was named alongside Cummins’ Big Three, Mitchell Stark and Josh Hazewood, the latter returning from injury, while Michael Inner Se is also there.
Agar is one of three rotating options alongside Nathan Lyon and Swepson, who have been tapped for major roles over the next 18 months, touring Sri Lanka and India (and possibly Bangladesh, as there are The tour was postponed for 2020 and will still be rescheduled) on the horizon.
But Australia has been warned that Pakistan is not a slow bowler’s paradise.
“The general perception, which I think is wrong, is … there s going to be two spinners in the game and it s going to spin all the way through,” former Pakistan batter Bazid Khan told cricket.com.au last month.
“Pakistan is totally different to India. The ball is not going to spin straight away and mostly the wickets have been taken by the faster men rather than the spinners.”
Marsh and Inglis, both of whom rode the bench during the Ashes, provide cover in the seam-bowling allrounder and wicketkeeper positions currently occupied by incumbents Cameron Green and Alex Carey respectively.
The extended size of the squad reflects the difficulty of calling players up at short notice to an overseas tour should there be a last-minute injury, with Australia expected to be in some form of a bio-secure bubble for the tour.
“This squad covers for all scenarios including the conditions given it has been such a long time since Australia was last in Pakistan,” selection chief George Bailey said.
“With several subcontinent tours and a one-day World Cup in India on the near horizon this is a great first up challenge for the group after the successful home Ashes series.
“It s also a very historic tour given the length of time since an Australian side last toured Pakistan.”
Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.