MELBOURNE: Australia has named a 15-player squad for the first two Tests of the Ashes series against England this summer.
The squad also includes an extended player list from which an Australia A team will be selected for a tour match against the English Lions. Usman Khawaja and Jhye Richardson both return to the fold in Australia’s first Test series since last summer’s Border-Gavaskar campaign.
Khawaja, last in the playing XI during Australia’s 2019 tour of England, looks likely to vie for selection in the middle-order against Travis Head, with incumbents Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith and Cameron Green all looking likely starters.
Chair of selectors George Bailey indicated Marcus Harris would open the batting with David Warner, retaining his spot as the incumbent. “Marcus has been a consistent run scorer domestically and had a strong winter further developing his game with Leicestershire,” Bailey said. “He is a good player who will be looking to build a strong partnership with David Warner at the top of the order.
“Travis finished last summer strongly, second only to Cameron Green for runs scored, and has again started the season well. He drives the game forward and can put the opposition under pressure with his ability to score quickly.
“Similarly, Usman Khawaja has been in great touch. He brings a calm, consistent and experienced component to the batting line up and is a proven run scorer at Test level. He also has the ability to bat across a range of positions in the batting order.”
Both Khawaja and Richardson have been in impressive form in Australia’s Sheffield Shield competition this year. Khawaja leads the run-scoring in the tournament with 404 runs at 67.33, while Richardson has taken 16 wickets at 12.50.
“Jhye is seeing the rewards of concentrating on his red ball cricket in the build-up to this series. We know he has an exceptional skill set and are excited about what he brings to the team now his body is back on track,” Bailey said.
Australia: Tim Paine (c), Pat Cummins (vc), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
Additional Australia A players: Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Nic Maddinson, Mitchell Marsh, Matt Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Bryce Street
Men’s Ashes fixtures
First Test: 8-12 December – The Gabba, Brisbane
Second Test: 16-20 December – Adelaide Oval
Third Test: 26-30 December – Melbourne Cricket Ground
Fourth Test: 5-9 January– Sydney Cricket Ground
Fifth Test: 14-18 January– Perth Stadium