Australia v Pakistan Tests - Men
Bancroft, Burns named in Australia Test squad
The national selectors name 14 for the two-Test series against Pakistan starting next week in Brisbane
14 November 2019, 02:01 PM AEST
Cameron Bancroft has won a recall to Test ranks despite his own reservations about his recent form, as Australia opts for flexibility in the upcoming two-match Domain Test Series against Pakistan.
Bancroft is one of three specialist openers in the 14-man squad unveiled today, alongside former Test vice-captain David Warner and Queensland's Joe Burns.
With young Victoria batter Will Pucovski advising of his unavailability for selection due to mental health concerns, Travis Head seems set to regain the middle-order batting berth he surrendered during the Ashes.
And while the starting XI for the first Test and batting order are yet to be finalised, it is expected Ashes revelation Marnus Labuschagne will remain at number three followed by Steve Smith at four.
Selectors also named a fleet of five fast bowlers for the Tests in Brisbane (starting next Thursday) and Adelaide (November 29), while Ashes tourists Usman Khawaja, Marcus Harris and Peter Siddle have been overlooked.
In addition to the four-pronged pace battery of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson who were rotated with great effect through this year's Ashes campaign, uncapped seamer Michael Neser has also been included.
Australia squad for Domain Test Series v Pakistan – Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins (vc), Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head (vc), Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
Bancroft was a late addition to the Australia A line-up for this week's tour game against Pakistan in Perth, earning a call-up when Victoria batter Nic Maddinson withdrew on mental health grounds.
The Western Australia opener had lost his Test place to Harris after the second Ashes Test at Lord's earlier this year, and had scored 57 runs at an average of 11.4 in his three first-class matches prior to the tour game.
However, the right-hander top-scored in an otherwise dismal batting effort by Australia A in the face of Pakistan's potent pace and spin bowling, posting 49 from 155 balls faced in the unfamiliar role of number six.
In the wake of that innings, Bancroft claimed he did not feel he had performed sufficiently well to gain a recall to the Test squad.
But the flexibility he affords, especially now that like-for-like concussion substitutes are permitted in Test cricket, through his capacity to adapt and bat anywhere in the top six adds to his value within the 14-man squad.
Left-handers Matthew Wade and Head seem set to fill the number five and six berths, with Wade posting a patient 89 in this week's Marsh Sheffield Shield match against South Australia in Adelaide.
Head has also been in strong first-class form, with his SA coach Jamie Siddons rating the Redbacks' captain's century against a Test-strength New South Wales attack earlier this month as "the best hundred I've seen for the year".
"Travis Head scored a hundred against a very good New South Wales attack just a few weeks ago and also offers the option of part-time off-spin," said national selector Trevor Hohns.
"Matthew Wade was superb as a specialist batsman through last summer, had a solid Ashes Series with two hundreds and strong start to the current domestic season. "We anticipate Matthew and Travis will give us a strong middle order in support of the top four. Cameron Bancroft is someone who has the ingredients of what we believe makes a good Test cricketer and rounds out our batting group in the squad."
Victoria pair Harris and Siddle, along with injured WA all-rounder Mitchell Marsh (broken hand) are the casualties from Australia's previous Test match, against England at The Oval last September.
Khawaja was part of the Ashes touring party, but has also been overlooked for the first two Tests of the Australia summer after scoring 59 runs at an average of 11.8 in his five Marsh Sheffield Shield innings of 2019-20.
Burns appears set to reunite with Warner at the top of the order, the first time the pair have opened together in Tests since the disastrous 2016 defeat to South Africa at Hobart that brought widespread upheaval to Australia's line-up.
Despite scores of 0 and 11 against Pakistan in Perth this week, Burns has averaged 40 in Shield cricket so far this summer and posted an imperious 180 in his most recent Test outing, against Sri Lanka at Canberra last February.
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
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: Australia A v Pakistan, match drawn
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)