Australia name 18-member squad for India Test tour, Todd Murphy earns maiden call-up

Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc has been ruled out of the opening Nagpur Test.

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Australian Cricket Team
Australian Cricket Team. (Photo Source: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Uncapped spinner Todd Murphy earned his maiden Test call-up as Australia named a strong 18-member squad for their forthcoming tour of India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. The series, which is set to commence on February 9 includes four Test matches, and Australia have included four lead spinners in their squad for their final outing of the WTC cycle.

Senior pacer Mitchell Starc, despite being named to the roster, will not be a part of the first Test in Nagpur. He has been ruled out of the series opener, but will hopefully be back in action for the second game after recovering from his injury that he sustained during the Boxing Day Test against South Africa last month.

The team features spinners in the experienced Nathan Lyon, who will be joined by Ashton Agar, Mitchell Swepson, and Murphy, taking into account the subcontinental conditions. In anticipation of his recovery, all-arounder Cameron Green has also been added to the squad alongside pace sensation Starc. Lance Morris too was retained in the squad as a backup.

“Ashton Agar continues to impress following his comeback in Sydney and we believe left-arm finger spin will play an important role in Indian conditions. Mitchell Swepson has recent Test experience in the sub-continent and offers a leg-spinning variety. Todd Murphy has progressed quickly having impressed in domestic cricket and recently with Australia A. With those performances Todd has emerged as a strong spin option,” said Cricket Australia chairman of selectors George Bailey.

With Starc being out of the first Test, Morris has a high chance of getting to play the Nagpur Test to give that extra speed. Marcus Harris was not chosen for the tour, but Matthew Renshaw and Peter Handscomb have been added as the backup hitters. Since no backup wicketkeeper has been included in the roster, Handscomb will be the sole choice if Alex Carey sustains an unforeseen injury.

As a replacement for Harris, who returned to the BBL following the Sydney Test, Handscomb was called up to Australia's team. On Australia's most recent tour of India in 2017, Handscomb and Renshaw each participated in all four Test matches. In Ranchi, Renshaw scored two half-centuries, while Handscomb scored a game-saving unbeaten 72 from 200 balls. In addition, during the past two seasons, he has scored the most runs in Sheffield Shield cricket.

“Selection in this squad also provides another opportunity to spend time alongside Nathan Lyon and assistant coach Daniel Vettori in India which will be invaluable to his development. Peter Handscomb deserves his place back in the squad. His domestic form has been strong recently and Pete has proven he can perform at Test level. His experience against spin on the subcontinent is valuable and he is also an exceptionally good close to the wicket catcher,” Bailey added.

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