Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's
Bulls reap rewards of Shield success
Queensland boasts more representatives than any other state in Australia's new-look Test squad for next month's tour of the UAE
12 September 2018, 08:15 AM AEST
Sheffield Shield champions Queensland have had their 2017-18 title success spectacularly reflected in Australia's Test squad, with five selections – including uncapped trio Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser and Brendan Doggett – for next month's two-match series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
The 15-man Test squad, which is the first of a new era under head coach Justin Langer, was announced on Tuesday afternoon, with top-order pair Usman Khawaja and Matthew Renshaw rounding out the Bulls quintet.
Queensland is the best represented state, with the selections of Neser, Doggett and Labuschagne likely a result of not only their domestic form for Queensland, but their strong performances over the past month with Australia A in India.
"It's awesome," said Khawaja. "In the Aussie A series that just went by, I can't remember having that many Queenslanders in a national squad, and obviously on this Test tour we've got five of them, so it's a really good day for Queensland and there's some nice rewards for guys who deserve them."
South-African born Labuschagne, who was not originally set to play the first-class fixtures in India, took his opportunity when Renshaw succumbed to a hamstring injury, making 60 and 37 in the opening first-class match against India A.
The 24-year-old was the second-highest run-scorer in last summer's Shield, scoring 795 runs at 39.75.
"I've batted with Marnus a lot … he's just a really good player," said Khawaja. "He does the basics really well, he's a good learner of the game, he's opinionated in his own game which I like – which means he takes ownership of his batting.
"He knows what works for him and what doesn't, and he's his own best coach.
"He's obviously very young, he's going to have a lot of improving, but he's already a very good player."
Paceman Doggett, who turned heads with his selection for the 'A' series after taking 28 Shield wickets at 27.71 in the Bulls' title-winning campaign, impressed in India with explosive pace and endurance. If selected to debut against Pakistan, he would become just the second Indigenous player to represent Australia in men's Test cricket, after Jason Gillespie.
Neser meanwhile, collected 38 Shield wickets last season and debuted for Australia in the ODI format in England in June. Another to have been born in South Africa, the 28-year-old took 4-61 in the first innings of the opening first-class match against India A, and has made scores of 25 and 44 in the series.
"Neser's been great for Queensland over the last two or three years – he's won our best player two years in a row," Khawaja said. "He's knocked down the door by putting the numbers on, consistently played really well for Queensland and then gone over (to India) and took four-for in that first red-ball game over there.
"He's a really good guy to have around the team. He does a lot with the ball but he offers a lot with the bat, too.
"Doggett's just out-and-out pace – he's one of the fastest bowlers in Australia; we have a lot of fast bowlers but he's right up there.
"When he's going, it's good to watch, which is exciting for Australian cricket."
Khawaja has been in outstanding form in the past few months, making three hundreds on the trot in the County Championship in England before centuries against both the red and white ball in India across the past month.
The 31-year-old will be out to improve his record in Asia, where he has an average of 14.62 from nine innings.
"I hope 'Uzzie' (Khawaja) gets a really good run," former Test allrounder Shane Watson told cricket.com.au this week.
"He's one of our world-class batsmen, across all formats. He just needs to have the confidence instilled in him by the selectors and by the coaching staff, to let him play with the freedom he does when he's at his best.
"We don't have a lot of world-class batsmen at the moment around Australian cricket and he's absolutely one."
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