Green on track for Nagpur, Handscomb set for scans

Selection chair George Bailey has provided an update on the three Australian Test squad members under injury clouds, Cameron Green, Mitchell Starc and Peter Handscomb

Australia are optimistic allrounder Cameron Green will be fit for the first Test against India starting in under a month, but the prognosis is not as good for quick Mitchell Starc.  

Green was struck on the glove by a rising Anrich Nortje delivery in the Boxing Day Test, fracturing his right index finger. 

The blow forced Green to retire hurt (although he would later resume his innings) and required surgery to repair in the match's immediate aftermath. 

However, while Green's recovery is expected to marry up nicely with the first Test in Nagpur on February 9, Starc's return date is not as clear. 

Starc suffered tendon damage and a fracture to the middle finger on his bowling hand in Melbourne and the left-arm paceman will travel to India on a later date than the rest of the squad, ruling him out of the series opener. 

Speaking to the media following the announcement of Australia's touring party to face India, chair of selectors George Bailey provided some updates on squad's injuries.

"Greeny, we're hopeful that he should be right for the first Test," Bailey said.

"But if not that, that's okay. We feel like we've got the squad that can cover that. 

"Starcy's not expected to be available for the first Test, in fact he's going to come across to India a touch later."

The third concern of the squad is recalled batter Peter Handscomb, who was forced to retire hurt while batting for St Kilda in a T20 match on Tuesday evening.

Handscomb was struck on the hip but didn't leave the field until he collapsed to the ground after hitting a six in the following over.

"Pete's got a scan tomorrow morning to check on that. He's confident it's nothing too serious," Bailey told reporters.

"A bit of a mishap. He just copped a ball on the back hip, and then three balls later he dispatched one and just felt something give a little bit in there.

"There's still quite a bit of time between now and when we depart and even when the first test is, so we'll work through that as we get more information."

Handscomb sets career mark with huge double at Junction

Handscomb, who has forced his way back into Test calculations with 571 runs in five Sheffield Shield matches this season, is the reserve wicketkeeper to Alex Carey in the 18-player squad with Josh Inglis not selected for the tour.

As a result of being a part of Australian squads in all three formats for the best part of 24 months, Inglis has played only five first-class matches since the beginning of the 2021-22 summer.

Inglis is now freed up to finish the Marsh Sheffield Shield season with Western Australia, and Bailey explained that Inglis' omission is not a sign the WA 'keeper is slipping down the pecking order. 

"Josh is absolutely still our backup or number two wicketkeeper," Bailey said. 

"But we're also conscious that he has been on a number of tours and hasn't actually been able to play a great deal of cricket. 

"We know having Pete Handscomb on tour that if something really short term happens that he could jump in (as wicketkeeper) for a day, but given the ease that we could get Josh on a plane and over to India if he needs to take over from Kez (Alex Carey) for a Test match, we've prioritised that."

Australia have selected four spinners for the assignment to the subcontinent as they look to win in Indian conditions for the first time in almost two decades. 

115-Test veteran Nathan Lyon will lead the tweakers but who will partner him, if Australia choose to play two spinners, remains to be seen. 

Test incumbent Ashton Agar, 22-year-old off-spinner Todd Murphy and leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson have all been given a ticket to India. 

Murphy is a chance to become Australia's 465th men's Test player, but Bailey explained that the conditions and whether or not he can provide enough point of difference to Lyon will be determining factors.

"Absolutely, he's a chance to play," Bailey said. 

"It's certainly not a development tour, he's earned his spot through his performances. 

"Clearly whether he can play alongside Gaz (Nathan Lyon) is a question. 

"But they are different as far as off-spinners go, so I don't think you're necessarily looking at the same type of bowler."

Agar played his first Test in five years when he returned to the Australia XI for last week's Sydney Test, but went wicketless as the home side hunted day five wickets. 

Recalled Agar lauds 'underappreciated' Lyon

Swepson played four Tests during Australia's tours to Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2022 and while Agar was selected ahead of him for Sydney, Bailey says he's still held in high regard.

"Certainly in India we would like to have the availability of a left arm orthodox," Bailey said of Agar.

"(It was) great that we had the opportunity to get Ash a game (in Sydney). 

"He hasn't played a great deal of red-ball cricket and so in horse racing terms I think he will be better for the run.

"Swep's on the tour because if we feel like we need a leg-spinner, we think he's our best option."

Qantas Border-Gavaskar Tour of India 2023

February 9-13: First Test, Nagpur, 3pm AEDT

February 17-21: Second Test, Delhi, 3pm AEDT

March 1-5: Third Test, Dharamsala, 3pm AEDT

March 9-13: Fourth Test, Ahmedabad, 3pm AEDT

March 17: First ODI, Mumbai, 7pm AEDT

March 19: Second ODI, Vizag, 7pm AEDT

March 22: Third ODI, Chennai, 7pm AEDT