Highly-regarded young prospects Will Pucovski and Cameron Green were included in an expanded 17-man test squad on Thursday to meet India as Australia looks to the future. Opener Pucovski, 22, and all-rounder Green, 21, have hammered the door this season and made an impression in the domestic Sheffield Shield with a host of former Australian greats pushing for their inclusion. The selectors – coach Justin Langer, Trevor Hohns and George Bailey – answered the call, but not at the expense of out-of-form Joe Burns, who retains his spot alongside regular opener David Warner.
Rookie spinner Mitchell Swepson and seamer Sean Abbott, along with fast bowler Michael Neser, who has long played on the fringes, also made it to the rank and lined up for debuts.
“It is such a positive sign for Australian cricket that there are so many good young players in the fray,” said Hohns. “Two of those many notable players were of course Cameron Green and Will Pucovski.”
“Their unmistakable form demanded selection and we are very happy to have these young men on the squad for what will be a great Test Series against an unusually formidable opponent.”
World’s number one Australia, led by Tim Paine, will play four Tests against Virat Kohli’s second-placed India, starting with a day-night game in Adelaide on December 17.
Then they’ll go to the traditional Boxing Day Test in Melbourne before heading to Sydney and Brisbane, with Kohli missing the last three games to return home for the birth of his first child.
India will have to be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival in Australia due to concerns about the coronavirus, and Kohli would have to repeat the exercise if he wanted to return, making it highly unlikely that he will.
The two sides will meet in three one-day and three Twenty20’s from Nov. 27 leading up. Those games will be followed by two Australian A-matches against Indian games in Sydney in preparation for the Tests.
– Fine shape –
Pucovski, who was in the Test lineup last summer but struggled with mental health issues, has plundered twice in a row in his last two games as an opener for Victoria to make his call up anything but inevitable.
He recently said he was in a good head room and ready to challenge for a Test berth again, contrary to incumbent Burns, who has had a meager spell.
Allrounder Green, described by Greg Chappell as the best he’s seen since Ricky Ponting, also shot last month with a stylish 197 for Western Australia.
He is believed to be slower to start, at least in the opening test, with Travis Head and Matthew Wade currently filling the middle order, and Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith at three and four.
The tempo attack practically took itself off, with Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson all regulars, and Neser and Abbott breathing on their necks.
Swepson put his case under pressure with three consecutive five-wicket hauls in the Sheffield Shield, preferring Adam Zampa as a substitute for Nathan Lyon.
“Mitch Swepson is another who excels and is in good form for Queensland. He gives the squad a strong second spin option to Nathan Lyon and we feel he is ready and deserves the opportunity,” said Hohns.
“Sean Abbott was also excellent at the start of the summer, coming into his first test team as a very strong option for fast bowling.”
Australian team: Sean Abbott, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Tim Paine (capt), James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade , David Warner
Australia A-Squad: Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Jackson Bird, Alex Carey, Harry Conway, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Nic Maddinson, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Mark Steketee , Will Sutherland, Mitchell Swepson
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