Domain Test Series v New Zealand
Consistency key as Aussies name squad for NZ Tests
Australia's selectors have stuck with the core group that thrashed Pakistan for the Domain Test Series against the Black Caps
Martin Smith in Adelaide
3 December 2019, 09:06 AM AEST
The omission of spare batsman Cameron Bancroft is the only change to Australia's Test squad for the start of their Domain Test Series against New Zealand, although the Western Australian remains on standby for the series opener in Perth next week.
Australia have announced a 13-player squad for the three-match series, comprising of the 11 players who swept their two Tests against Pakistan plus reserve fast bowlers James Pattinson and Michael Neser.
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
Skipper Tim Paine and head selector Trevor Hohns have flagged there may be squad changes later in the summer, particularly if conditions in Melbourne or Sydney call for an allrounder or a second spinner.
Bancroft had been part of the squad for the Pakistan Tests but has been left out for the NZ series, with selectors showing faith in the six batsmen who dominated the 2-0 series win over Pakistan.
"We are backing the current batting line-up to continue their form across the next three Tests," Hohns said.
"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."
Bancroft has been caught down the leg side off a fast bowler – either by leg slip, leg gully or the wicketkeeper – in five of his past six innings in the Marsh Sheffield Shield and former Test skipper Ricky Ponting said this week the manner of the Western Australian's dismissals indicates he needs to work on his game away from the Test squad.
"I think Bancroft needs to have an extended run at some Shield cricket and try and work some deficiencies out," Ponting told cricket.com.au.
"There's obviously something technically wrong there that he's got to work on.
"I know he has been working hard on his game because I watched him up close and personal during the Ashes, but there's obviously some other things that are going wrong."
Ponting expects Australia will take an unchanged XI into the day-night Test in Perth, starting on December 12, but there may be new faces in the squad when the series heads to the east coast for the traditional Tests at the MCG and the SCG over the festive period.
"I think the SCG has looked like an old-style SCG so at times so you want to give yourself the option of playing two spinners," skipper Paine said on Monday night.
"If we were to play two spinners, the way you do that is have an allrounder.
"I'm sure that's something that will be looked at in the coming weeks if we feel that's the way we want to go."
Hohns, however, added incumbent allrounder Mitchell Marsh is "pretty doubtful" to be fit in time for the Boxing Day and New Year's Tests due to a broken hand, sharpening the focus on who could come into the side.
"(Allrounder options are) thin on the ground as well, without disrespecting anybody," Hohns said.
"Of course there's Mitchell Marsh and then there’s Marcus Stoinis and there's young Cameron Green, who is probably not ready yet either. He’s not able to bowl too much, but he is a very good up-and-coming young player.
"We'd have to have a look at that if we require an allrounder, and we would only require one if we were going to play two specialist spinners in Sydney."
Youngster Green was this week backed by Ponting to earn a Test spot purely on the back of his batting, but the 20-year-old is currently sidelined from bowling due to a back problem.
There are no spin bowlers inside the top 15 Shield wicket-takers so far this summer, with Ashton Agar, Jon Holland or even uncapped leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson a chance should a second spinner be needed in Sydney.
Neser, meanwhile, has been released to play in Queensland's Marsh Sheffield Shield game against NSW at the SCG, which starts on Sunday, just as Pattinson had been released to play for Victoria last weekend.
Domain Test Series v New Zealand
Second Test: December 26-30, MCG (Seven, Fox & Kayo)
Third Test: January 3-7, SCG (Seven, Fox & Kayo)