Usman Khawaja is a step closer to a Test recall, after being named in Australia’s 15-man squad for the first two Ashes Test matches against England.
As expected, there was no room for either Matthew Wade or Mitchell Marsh in the middle-order, with Khawaja and Travis Head likely to battle it out for the number five spot.
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Marcus Harris has been named in the squad and is expected to open alongside David Warner at the Gabba.
“Usman Khawaja has been in great touch,” national selector George Bailey said.
“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.”
Harris has a poor Test record, averaging just 23 from 10 Tests, and made just 1 and 0 in his most recent Sheffield Shield match for Victoria, while Head, once earmarked as a future captain, has failed to nail down a spot in his 19 matches.
“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.”
Australia hasn’t played a Test match since last summer’s 2-1 series loss to India.
“After an extended break between Test matches we are looking to build a strong squad mentality across what is an incredibly exciting summer of cricket,” Bailed added.
“This group is well balanced to ensure we are prepared for the many challenges of an Ashes Series. It has a mix of experienced, proven performers and emerging, developing talent.
“We will take this 15-player squad into the opening Test in Brisbane and the pink ball match in Adelaide, after which we can reassess for the remaining matches.”
Australia has also named a further 11 players for a tour match against the England Lions, a list that includes former Test batters Matthew Renshaw and Nic Maddinson, along with rising stars Henry Hunt and Bryce Street.
Full Ashes squad:
Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, 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.
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