• Labuschagne in Australia Test squad

    The South African-born Marnus Labuschagne and Michael Neser have been named in Australia’s Test squad for the series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates next month.

    Seamer Brendan Doggett and batsmen Travis Head and Aaron Finch are the other players in the squad not yet capped at Test level. Head and Finch have played T20I and ODI cricket.

    ‘Aaron is in sensational form, and this is the right time to give him a chance to play Test cricket. He has performed well in the Sheffield Shield in recent seasons, and brings added experience and leadership to this group,’ said national selector Trevor Hohns.

    ‘Travis has improved his game immensely over the past 12 months, and is the type of player we want in this environment. He’s a hard worker who has performed well with the bat in his recent four-day opportunities for Australia A and South Australia.

    ‘Michael is a strong all-round cricketer – he bowls and bats well, and is a mature player coming off a fantastic Sheffield Shield season for Queensland. He has impressed us with his performances for Australia A and in his white ball opportunities for Australia.

    ‘Marnus is a young player with plenty of potential and a great work ethic. He has performed well in the Sheffield Shield, has shown he’s a good player of spin for Australia A in India, and is an elite fielder who offers added variety with the ball as a leg-spin option.

    ‘Brendan is an exciting prospect, a fast bowler with raw pace and wicket-taking ability. He provides an additional option to Mitchell Starc if extra pace is called for, and this is an ideal opportunity to get him involved in a national set-up for the first time after his recent showings for Queensland and Australia A.’

    Wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine has been retained as captain in the absence of the banned Steve Smith, while a successor to vice-captain David Warner is yet to be named.

    Warner, Smith and opening batsman Cameron Bancroft are serving bans after being involved in ball-tampering during the tour of South Africa earlier this year.

    ‘There has been significant change to our Test squad, due to the unavailability of a number of key players,’ added Hohns.

    ‘That said, we firmly believe the squad selected is up to the challenge ahead, and is capable of playing a brand of cricket that can perform well in this series against Pakistan.

    ‘It’s a blend of experienced players who have a significant amount of either Test or first-class cricket, and a number of younger players who we are confident are ready for the Test arena.

    ‘Looking at the conditions we may face in the UAE, we believe this squad covers all bases. We have selected four frontline fast bowlers and three spinners, with Mitchell Marsh ready to play as an all-rounder and a number of top-order batsmen who also offer part-time spin options.’

    Batsmen Joe Burns and Peter Handscomb, all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, and seamer Jhye Richardson were overlooked, while the veteran Peter Siddle has been recalled.

    The first Test will start at the Dubai International Stadium on 7 October and the second nine days later at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

    Australia squad: Tim Paine, Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc.

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    Jonhenry Wilson