Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's

Maxwell out as Bulls bolt into Test squad

Five Bulls named in squad for Pakistan series; contrasting fortunes for Victorian players

Martin Smith

11 September 2018, 08:00 PM

Glenn Maxwell is a surprise omission from Australia's Test squad for their upcoming series against Pakistan, while veterans Aaron Finch and Peter Siddle have been picked alongside a trio of uncapped Queenslanders.

Bulls batsman Marnus Labuschagne and fast bowlers Michael Neser and Brendan Doggett have all been selected for the first time, as has South Australia captain Travis Head. If Doggett makes his debut in the UAE, he will become just the third Indigenous player after Faith Thomas and Jason Gillespie to win a Baggy Green cap.

But the biggest shock in the squad came in the form of the non-selection of Maxwell, who averaged more than 50 last JLT Sheffield Shield season and was part of a re-jigged squad for Australia's most recent Test, in Johannesburg in March.

Australia's Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc

Queenslander Joe Burns and Victorian Peter Handscomb, who were both in the XI for the Johannesburg Test, have also been dropped.

"Joe, Peter and Glenn were players we discussed when selecting the batting group, but we had to take into account the conditions and competition we are set to face in the upcoming series," selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement.

"All three remain on our radar for Test cricket, but we want them to perform for their states and continue to push their case ahead of what is going to be a big Australian summer."

Langer explains ins and outs of Test squad

Maxwell was left out of the current Australia A tour of India and while he was given no guarantees that he would be picked for the Pakistan series, he took that omission as a positive sign.

"I've been to India 16 or 17 times now, it's not a place where they (Australia's selectors) need to see me play," Maxwell said in July.

"They've seen me play over there enough. I had a bit of success in the Test series last year, it's not hugely foreign to me.

"I haven't been given any indication (of a guaranteed spot in the touring party) but there has been a lot of positive reinforcement that I didn't need to go on that Aussie A tour.

"Even though there weren’t any specific words, I did feel confident walking away that, alright they're giving me an opportunity to prepare for that Test tour." 

Finch, a mainstay of Australia's limited-overs sides, has been named in a Test squad for the first time while pace veteran Siddle returns having not played a Test in almost two years.

"Aaron is in sensational form, and this is the right time to give him a chance to play Test cricket," Hohns said.

"He has performed well in the Sheffield Shield in recent seasons, and brings added experience and leadership to this group.

"Peter is a proven performer in the Test arena, who has been in outstanding form in his recent first-class outings over in England. His experience will be crucial for this bowling group, and we know that he is a warrior who can bowl the type of long, tight spells which may be required in the conditions we expect to face."

Siddle is one of four quicks in the squad alongside spearhead Mitchell Starc and uncapped Bulls Neser and Doggett, who were a key part of Queensland's Shield triumph last summer.

Uncapped WA speedster Jhye Richardson, who was part of the Test squad in South Africa, has been overlooked.

"Michael is a strong all-round cricketer - he bowls and bats well, and is a mature player coming off a fantastic Sheffield Shield season for Queensland," Hohns said.

"He has impressed us with his performances for Australia A and in his white-ball opportunities for Australia.

"Brendan is an exciting prospect, a fast bowler with raw pace and wicket-taking ability. He provides an additional option to Mitchell Starc if extra pace is called for, and this is an ideal opportunity to get him involved in a national set-up for the first time after his recent showings for Queensland and Australia A.

"Jhye is a player who has a bright future in all formats, and has been impressive in his international opportunities to date. He is one of a number of developing bowlers adding to the depth of our fast bowling group, and we see him potentially having an important role to play in the shorter formats of the game in the immediate future."

The axing of Maxwell means there will be likely be at least two debutants in the top six for the first Test; Finch looms as a possible opening partner for Matthew Renshaw, while Head and Labuschagne will likely battle it out for a spot in the middle order.

"Travis has improved his game immensely over the past 12 months, and is the type of player we want in this environment," Hohns said.

"He’s a hard worker who has performed well with the bat in his recent four-day opportunities for Australia A and South Australia.

"Marnus is a young player with plenty of potential and a great work ethic. He has performed well in the Sheffield Shield, has shown he’s a good player of spin for Australia A in India, and is an elite fielder who offers added variety with the ball as a leg-spin option."

Tim Paine's new Test vice-captain will be announced ahead of the series.

The first of two Tests begins in Dubai on October 7 before the second Test in Abu Dhabi starts on October 16. 

Australia's Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc

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