Australia vs Pakistan: Hosts announce Test squad; Khawaja, Harris, Siddle axed

Australia vs Pakistan: Hosts announce Test squad; Khawaja, Harris, Siddle axed

Pat Cummins and Travis Head will act as Paine's deputy.

Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Australia, on Thursday, included Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Travis Head and Michael Neser in their 14-man Test squad for the upcoming two-match Test series against Pakistan. The players who were a part of the Ashes squad but have lost their spots in the latest team are Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja and Peter Siddle.

Bancroft, who was dropped from Australia’s playing eleven after the second Ashes Test, was a late addition to Australia A’s warm-up game against Pakistan. He was included in the team after Nic Maddinson pulled out citing mental health issues.

Bancroft instead batted at number six and made a gutsy 49 off 155 balls. Australia A were reeling at 57 for 9 before Bancroft helped them post a respectable 122. He, however, is unlikely to open the innings with David Warner and Burns in the squad. Warner and Burns are likely to be followed by Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith at number three and four respectively.

Head, who recently scored a century for South Australia against a strong New South Wales bowling attack, and Matthew Wade will bat at number five and six spots respectively. Will Pucovski was in contention for the fifth spot but he made himself unavailable for selection due to mental health issues.

“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 hundreds 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. Cameron Bancroft 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.

Strong bowling lineup

Australia have named a strong bowling lineup for the first series of the summer. They have named a total of five pacers in the squad – Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Neser. Cummins is likely to lead the attack after a stunning outing in the Ashes. Nathan Lyon is the lone specialist spinner in the side.

Australia Test squad:

Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head (vc), Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner