Pakistan's Tour of Australia - Men's
Strong 'A' squad named for Test selection battle
Alex Carey will captain a star-studded Australia A side for a three-day clash with Pakistan under lights in Perth that will go a long way towards filling spots in the Test team
29 October 2019, 11:01 AM AEST
Australia selectors have named a strong line-up for a three-day tour match against Pakistan in Perth creating a high-stakes bat-off among leading contenders ahead of the Domain Test Series.
Wicketkeeper Alex Carey will captain the side for the day-night first-class fixture featuring five batsmen with Test experience, as well as rising star Will Pucovski who is expected to figure strongly in discussions for the opening match at the Gabba from November 21.
Marcus Harris and Joe Burns will essentially be in a bat-off for an opening berth, with Usman Khawaja, Pucovski, Travis Head and Nic Maddinson named to make up the top six.
Behind Carey are the bowlers led by Michael Neser, an uncapped member of Australia's Ashes tour and the current leading Marsh Sheffield Shield wicket-taker.
Jhye Richardson, the Western Australian paceman who has made his comeback from a shoulder injury that derailed his World Cup and Ashes campaigns, has been named alongside NSW Blues paceman Sean Abbott and highly-rated Tasmanian pace sensation Riley Meredith.
Australia A squad: Alex Carey (c), Marcus Harris, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Will Pucovski, Travis Head, Nic Maddinson, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Sean Abbott, Riley Meredith.
The match against Pakistan will be played at the new Perth Stadium from November 11, which coincides with the start of round four of the Sheffield Shield, meaning the players named will be absent from their state sides.
Queensland will lose three of their leading players while South Australia and Victoria will have two representatives each in the Australia A team.
No spinner has been selected for the three-day match with national selector Trevor Hohns indicating the three-day, day-night nature of the contest meant a spinner would likely receive limited opportunities to bowl.
"We are pleased to pick a strong XI for the three-day tour match against Pakistan, several of whom were part of our successful Ashes campaign in the UK during the winter," Hohns said in a statement.
"We will closely monitor performances in this match as well as the coming rounds of the Sheffield Shield before deciding upon our squad for the two-Test series against Pakistan.
"Alex Carey has proven himself to be an exceptional leader in his role as vice-captain of the Australian men's one-day international and Twenty20 international teams.
"This fixture represents an opportunity to provide Alex with more leadership experience and he will be supported by two experienced vice-captains in Usman Khawaja and Travis Head.
"In terms of the batting line-up, we were eager to give Khawaja, Head and Marcus Harris another opportunity to push their respective cases for Test selection this summer given all three were part of our winter Ashes campaign.
"Joe Burns was an unlucky omission for that tour to the UK and deserves a chance to push his case for Test selection in this tour match.
"Additionally, Will Pucovski and Nic Maddinson have started the season strongly for Victoria and we're looking forward to giving them an opportunity to perform against a quality international team. Both are exciting batsmen whom we've had our eye on for some time."
NSW Blues batsman Kurtis Patterson is a notable omission from the side after an injury-affected start to the Shield season. Patterson forced his way into Australia's Test XI against Sri Lanka last summer on the back of twin centuries in an Australia A clash against the touring Sri Lankans in Hobart.
While several batting berths remain open, the personnel that will make up Australia's pace attack is more clear cut, with the likes of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson not required to prove their credentials in a tour match, however selectors have plumped for a rapid line-up on the Perth surface that promises to be a handful for the Pakistanis.
"The pace attack is similarly strong. Sean Abbott has been a very good performer for NSW for the last couple of seasons and has improved with both ball and bat," Hohns said.
"Riley Meredith is an exciting young prospect and a wicket-taking option, while Jhye Richardson continues to improve in his return from shoulder surgery. And Michael Neser has started this season in excellent form after touring with the Ashes squad through the winter.
"We've taken into account local conditions as well as individual requirements when selecting this Australia A XI.
"We have not selected a spinner because we felt they would receive limited opportunities in a three-day day-night fixture in Perth compared to a four-day Sheffield Shield match."
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: TBC
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
Warm-up match: v Australia A, November 11-13, Perth Stadium (d/n)
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)