Dubai, Febuary 8: Australia will have a full-strength group to choose from in the upcoming Test series against Pakistan after selectors named their 18-player squad for the three-match series.
The series will be the first time in 24 years the two nations have played each other on Pakistan soil, with crucial ICC World Test Championship points up for grabs throughout the three-Test series.
Veteran seamer Josh Hazlewood returns to the squad after he missed the majority of the recent Ashes series with a side strain, while left-arm spinner Ashton Agar has been included as an extra slow bowling option to help support experienced off-spinner Nathan Lyon and uncapped leggie Mitchell Swepson.
Hazlewood’s inclusion adds even further depth to Australia’s already strong fast bowling stocks, with lumbering quick Scott Boland and workhorse Michael Neser impressing alongside left-armer Mitchell Starc and skipper Pat Cummins during the Ashes.
Alex Carey and Josh Inglis are the two wicketkeepers chosen in the squad, while left-handers Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja look set to battle it out to partner David Warner at the top of the batting order.
The only player to feature during the Ashes that won’t make the trip to the subcontinent is Jhye Richardson, with the paceman instead opting to stay in Australia.
George Bailey, former Australia batter and chair of the National Selection Panel (NSP) was ecstatic to be able to choose such a strong squad for the historic tour.
“This squad covers for all scenarios including the conditions given it has been such a long time since Australia was last in Pakistan,” Bailey said.
“With several subcontinent tours and a one-day World Cup in India on the near horizon this is a great first up challenge for the group after the successful home Ashes Series.
“It’s also a very historic tour given the length of time since an Australian side last toured Pakistan.”
Australia currently sits in second place on the ICC World Test Championship table with 52 points, while Pakistan are just one place behind them in third with 36 points.
Australia Test squad
Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner.
First Test: March 4-8 in Rawalpindi
Second Test: March 12-16 in Karachi
Third Test: March 21-25 in Lahore