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Selectors answer the big questions

Trevor Hohns and Mark Waugh face the media following the announcements of Australia's Test and T20 squads

As is the case with every squad announcement, there were plenty of questions raised today following the release of Australia's squads to travel to South Africa and compete in a T20 tri-series next month.


Victoria left-arm spinner Jon Holland was the bolter in the 15-man squad for the Qantas Test tour of South Africa, while uncapped speedster Jhye Richardson was picked for his first Test tour.

Below are five questions that were answered by national selectors Trevor Hohns and Mark Waugh when they fronted the media in Sydney.

Why was Jon Holland picked ahead of Ashton Agar?

Jon Holland has been picked purely as a replacement for Nathan Lyon should the ace off-spinner be unable to take the field against the Proteas.

Ashton Agar was the second spinner in Bangladesh, but as Hohns pointed out, he is viewed as a spinning allrounder whose bowling alone is not necessarily enough to play as a specialist.

Agar has instead been named in Australia’s T20 squad, so the talented left-armer will still be in Australian colours in the coming weeks before he returns to Shield cricket.

"He’s a wicket-taker, simple as that,” Hohns said when asked why Holland was selected.

"You have a look at his record, it speaks for itself over the past couple of seasons (50 wickets in last year’s JLT Sheffield Shield). He fits that specialist role very well."

Of Agar, Hohns added: "He is definitely still in the developmental stage of his spin-bowling career.

Holland finds form quickly in Shield return

"He’s a different type of package. He offers us the all-round type of package when the need is there to play two spinners in the one team, probably like in the subcontinent when we’ve played two or three as well.

"But in this instance going to South Africa, we don’t envisage the pitches that we will encounter will necessitate playing two spinners in the one side.

"What we thought we needed there was actually a specialist spinner as back-up to Nathan Lyon if anything were to happen to him and he couldn’t play and take his place in the side on any given day."

Is Cameron Bancroft locked in to open in South Africa?

After starting with a bang on Test debut in Brisbane, where he and David Warner guided Australia to a 10-wicket win in his maiden Test, Cameron Bancroft struggled to kick on in the rest of the Magellan Ashes.

A Test record of 179 runs at 25.57 is not ideal, but the selectors have backed the Western Australian to deliver in South Africa and have chosen to not include a reserve opening batsman to signal a "vote of confidence" by the panel.

Hussey wants selectors to stick with Bancroft

"He’s the type of player we love having there at the moment," Hohns said. "He’s the type of player that seems he could excel in Test cricket.

"We do have other options for openers if something needs to happen in that area."

Why did Jhye Richardson get the nod?

Selectors have showed faith in the pace quartet they used in the Ashes and have added explosive 21-year-old Jhye Richardson ahead of South Australian Chadd Sayers.

The youngster made his international debut last Friday and despite his inexperience at first-class level - he has only played five Sheffield Shield matches for Western Australia - Hohns said Richardson's raw pace was the factor that got him a ticket to South Africa.

Richardson grabs his maiden ODI wicket

"He’s bowled very well, he’s got good pace, pretty good control we think,” said Hohns. "He’s certainly a player of the future.

"He offers a pretty good package too; he’s a good fielder and he’s pretty handy with the bat.

"We do see a good future for him, particularly that he just seems to have that extra pace which may well be required in South Africa."

Hohns added that Sayers has again been impressive this season, but that fellow swing/seam bowler Jackson Bird was ahead of him in the pecking order.

"Chadd is performing well as he always does but with Jackson Bird there, he has the jump on Chadd at the moment, there’s no doubt about that," Hohns said.

"We have him, Josh Hazlewood is a well-renowned seam bowler then we have the good pace of Starc, Cummins and Jhye Richardson."

What’s expected of Glenn Maxwell?

Glenn Maxwell’s rollercoaster season continued today when he was named in Australia’s T20 international squad to face England and New Zealand but left out of the Test squad.

The Victorian is atop the run-getters list in the Sheffield Shield but was unable to squeeze into Australia’s Ashes squad and was also left out of the Gillette ODI Series due to recent poor form in the format.

He’s bounced back with some impressive knocks in the KFC BBL for Melbourne Stars and now Waugh says he wants to see Maxwell deliver under pressure in the national side.

"He’s been out of the one-day team and Test team but he’s done really well for Victoria," said Waugh. "He’s done what has been asked of him in that regard.

"We know he’s a fantastic T20 player so I would expect him to play a big part in our success.

Magnificent Maxwell on song in Adelaide

"We need some players like that to step up and win us some games and win those pressure moments in T20 games because we haven’t had that for quite a while. We’ve been missing that ability with the bat and ball under pressure to win a game.

"He’s the sort of player who can do that."

Can Nathan Lyon force his way into the struggling ODI team?

Off-spinner Nathan Lyon is in career-best form having excelled in the Ashes and more recently for Sydney Sixers in BBL|07. While leg-spinner Adam Zampa continues to do an admirable job in Australia’s 50-over XI, there have been calls for Lyon to return to a one-day line-up that has fallen off the pace in the past year.

Hohns said Australia’s ODI side and gameplay will come under review after the series against England and Lyon could feature in plans moving forward towards next year’s World Cup in the UK.

Lyon lifts the Sixers with three wickets

"There’s no reason why (Lyon) can’t (force his way back in)," Hohns said.

"He hasn’t been pigeon-holed at all going forward now.

"With what’s happened recently we are reviewing how we’re actually playing the game and type of player that’s required in the one-day format.

"We haven't played well in this series, we don’t seem to have been able to put it all together on the one day, there has been something lacking.

"We’ve got a bit of work to do there.

"With the World Cup in 2019 there is a lot of one-day cricket to be played between now and then. So we will be trying very soon to get together the main nucleus of our squad so they can play together for some time."

2017-18 International Fixtures

Gillette ODI Series v England

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Cameron White, Adam Zampa.

England ODI squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Alex Hales, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

First ODI England won by five wickets at the MCG

Second ODI England won by four wickets at the Gabba

Third ODI SCG, England won by 16 runs at the SCG

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Tickets

Fifth ODI Perth Stadium, January 28. Tickets

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Tickets

Gillette T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

Australia T20 squad: David Warner (c), Aaron Finch (vc), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.

England T20 squad: Eoin Morgan (c), Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Dawid Malan, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, David Willey, Mark Wood.

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Tickets

Second T20I Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Tickets

Third T20I Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Tickets

Fourth T20I NZ v England, Wellington, February 14

Fifth T20I NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final TBC, Eden Park, February 21

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