Cameron Bancroft has been left out of Australia’s 13-man squad for the Test series against New Zealand, which starts in Perth next week, in an otherwise unchanged group from the one which swept Pakistan 2-0 with a brace of innings victories.
James Pattinson, who was ruled out of the opening Test against Pakistan after his code of conduct suspension, and the uncapped Michael Neser remain the support pace-bowling options.
Rotation was a theme among Australia’s pace attack in the Ashes but barring any injuries it would be a surprise if they changed the current trio for the opening Test against New Zealand. Mitchell Starc, who took 14 wickets at 17 in the two Tests, grimaced at times in Pakistan’s second innings in Adelaide, but Tim Paine was confident there was no significant concern.
“We’re lucky not only because of how good [the quick bowlers] are but they’re great athletes as well,” he said. “Starcy has a bit of a cut on his big toe, he did land awkwardly at one stage yesterday but that was fine. Most of his grimacing today…I think he’s waiting the nail to come off the big toe which happens to a lot of fast bowlers and until it actually happens it can be quite painful. He’s battling a little bit with that but nothing he hasn’t gone through before.”
Bancroft was the spare batsman for the Brisbane and Adelaide Tests and will remain a standby player, but has not been officially included this time. The selection chairman, Trevor Hohns, has left it open to add a player to the squad if conditions dictate which could be the case in Sydney where two spinners may be an option.
Bancroft was released ahead of the Adelaide Test to play in the Sheffield Shield match against South Australia where he made 12 and 23 to continue a lean first-class season, his first-innings dismissal seeing him caught at leg gully for the fifth time this summer.
Given the dominance of Australia’s top order against Pakistan – and the two innings wins – some of the batsmen have had limited time in the middle with Travis Head and Tim Paine batting just one in the series.
“As we said prior to the Pakistan series we are striving to maintain a core group of players,” Hohns said. “The performance of the team against Pakistan was very impressive across all areas, while there is always some room to improve
“We are backing the current batting line-up to continue their form across the next three Tests. Whilst not a part of this squad, Cameron Bancroft remains one of the standby players. Similarly, depending on conditions, we reserve the right to add a player to the squad at any time during the Series.
“Michael [Neser] will play for Queensland against New South Wales in the Marsh Sheffield Shield game at the SCG, as James [Pattinson] did last week for Victoria.”
The round of Sheffield Shield matches which begins on Saturday is the final one before the competition breaks for the BBL.
Squad David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Matthew Wade, Travis Head, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Michael Neser