The South African-born Michael Neser and Marnus Labuschagne have been named in Australia’s squad for the Ashes series, which will start with the first Test at Edgbatson in Birmingham on Thursday.
Neser and Labuschagne were born in Pretoria and Klerksdorp, respectively, before moving to Australia as 10-year-olds. Batsman Labuschagne and seamer Neser have since played six Tests and two ODIs, respectively, for their adopted country.
Batsmen Cameron Bancroft, Steven Smith and David Warner, who were all involved in last year’s ball-tampering scandal that rocked Australia’s Test tour of South Africa, have been included in the 17-man squad.
‘We have chosen 17 players as this gives us the cover and flexibility we believe we will need to ensure we are in good shape throughout a demanding schedule of five Test matches in just over six weeks,’ said national selector Trevor Hohns.
‘Warner, Smith and Bancroft have forced their way back in to the Test squad through the excellence of their recent performances. David and Steve also have the advantage of being proven players at Test level while Cameron has produced impressive numbers for county side Durham this season and his innings in the intra-squad match in Southampton on a tough pitch was outstanding and showed his quality.
The in-form Matthew Wade was preferred to fellow wicketkeeper-batsman Alex Carey, who was unable to graduate to the Test fold on the back of a superb stretch of form at the recent World Cup in the United Kingdom.
‘Matthew fully deserves his recall as he has made an irresistible case for inclusion through sheer weight of runs with 1021 first-class runs at home last summer followed by three hundreds on the Australia A tour, including an excellent 114 against the England Lions at Canterbury last week,’ added Hohns.
Labuschagne is also a part-time leg-spinner – and his secondary role will feature heavily in a squad minus the services of a second specialist slow bowler.
‘We have opted to select one front-line spinner in Nathan Lyon. We have faith in his ability, we know our strength lies in our pace attack and we have Marnus’ leg-spin as another spin option as he has bowled almost 200 overs for county side Glamorgan in first-class cricket this season,’ concluded Hohns.
Ashes squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, James Pattinson, Michael Neser, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
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