Australia have omitted all-rounder and vice-captain Mitchell Marsh for this week’s first Test against India.
Middle-order batsman Peter Handscomb, who hasn’t played Test cricket in two years, has been recalled. Opener Marcus Harris will debut.
‘Mitch probably hasn’t been as consistent as he would like and we would like. We know the talent Mitch has. We know most likely at some stage in this series we’ll need him, so we’re taking the opportunity at the moment to send him back to play a Shield game, get more cricket under his belt, knowing at some stage we’re probably going to need him,’ said captain Tim Paine.
‘We know he is good enough to be a genuine all-rounder at Test level, he probably just hasn’t put it together consistently enough. There’s the opportunity for him to go back and get a Shield game under his belt before the Big Bash League starts.
‘We’ve got full faith in him being a Test all-rounder and as this series wears on and we get to places where the wicket might be a bit flatter, conditions might be a little warmer and our bowlers a bit tired, then the all-rounder position becomes important.’
The hosts’ bowling attack will be spearheaded by seamers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins – and complemented by spinner Nathan Lyon. The series opener will start in Adelaide on Thursday.
‘The Adelaide wicket over the last few years here has given enough throughout the game to not need an all-rounder. We’ve obviously got a lot of confidence in Nathan bowling a lot of overs if we need to,’ added Paine.
‘And probably the fact all our three quicks go in really fresh, so we’ve got confidence in them – particularly at the start of the series. It’s probably unlikely that we’ll use the three quicks as much as we will in this game, [or]throughout the whole series as it wears on – but this being the first Test, we think they’ll do the job.’
Perth, Melbourne and Australia will host Tests two, three and four respectively.
Australian team vs India
Tim Paine (captain/wkt)
India have taken a gamble to name just four specialist bowlers in their squad for the first Test. Pacemen Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah will be complemented by the off-spinner Ravi Ashwin.
Virat Kohli (captain)
Rishabh Pant (wkt)