CA announces Joe Meanie as the surprise selection in the 12 man squad

CA announces Joe Meanie as the surprise selection in the 12 man squad

Joe Mennie
Joe Mennie. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

In a decision which has taken a few by surprise, Australia’s selectors have named uncapped fast bowler Joe Mennie in Australia’s 12-man squad for the opening two matches of the Commonwealth Bank Test series against South Africa. The tall right arm fast bowler was chosen ahead of Jackson Bird. Peter Siddle, who was sidelined due to after ankle and back issues, is also making a return. The duo is now a part of the strong four men pace attack alongside spearheads Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

The squad was announced by National Selection Panel chairman Rod Marsh at the WACA Ground, which will host next Thursday’s opening Test. Marsh said: “Joe bowls a great length at a lively pace and his form in first-class cricket has been terrific in the last 12 months. He also impressed us during the recent Australia A Series in Queensland. He was the highest wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield last season and is very handy with the bat.”

Western Australia batsman Shaun Marsh proved he had overcome a hamstring injury with scores of 73 and 110 against South Australia in their Sheffield Shield clash in Perth, and will open the batting alongside vice-captain David Warner.

Usman Khawaja returns to the starting XI after he was dropped for Australia’s final Test against Sri Lanka in August, but there was no room for fellow Queenslander Joe Burns who missed out despite scoring a Shield century against a NSW attack that featured Starc, Hazlewood and Test spinner Nathan Lyon this week.

“Both Shaun and Joe played very well in the Sheffield Shield round but Shaun is coming off back-to-back hundreds in Test matches and has performed very well in Perth and Hobart so we have opted to go with him,” Marsh said.

Captain Steve Smith is set to bat at his favoured No.4 ahead of local pair Adam Voges and Mitchell Marsh, with gloveman Peter Nevill rounding out the top seven. With NSW trio Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon certainties to play, the third seam-bowler’s spot looks set to be a showdown between rookie Mennie and veteran Siddle.

Mennie was the leading wicket-taker in last summer’s Sheffield Shield season, capturing 51 wickets in 11 matches for the tournament runners-up.

While the 27-year-old had a maiden international outing to forget (0-82 from 10 overs against the Proteas in Johannesburg – the worst by an Australian debutant), he bounced back with 3-49 in the final one-day international in Cape Town.

Mennie has also tasted first-class success against South Africa A when he collected consecutive five-wicket hauls in back-to-back four-day matches representing Australia A this winter in Brisbane and Townsville.

In those two matches in Queensland, Mennie claimed the wickets of Proteas squad members Dean Elgar, Stephen Cook, Temba Bavuma, Dane Vilas and Vernon Philander in the 2-0 series victory.

For Siddle, he dispelled any concerns about his form and fitness with a typically frugal display for Victoria this week, taking 2-22 from 17 overs with the pink Kookaburra ball against Tasmania at the MCG.

Recovered from back stress fractures in February, Siddle had said the second Test in Hobart or the day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval were his likely return dates, but the selectors were confident the 31-year-old was ready to resume his 61-Test career.

Bird will perhaps feel the unluckiest omission having taken 5-59 in his last Test against New Zealand in February before touring Sri Lanka with the Test side as they were getting whitewashed by the hosts.

Australia squad for the first two Commonwealth Bank Test matches: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Joe Mennie, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Mitch Starc, Adam Voges