Allrounder Mitchell Marsh is also recalled but Lance Morris has been ruled out through injury
Matt Renshaw, Marcus Harris and Mitchell Marsh have earned places in Australia’s squad for the first two Ashes Tests and could also feature in the World Test Championship final against India.
The selectors named a 17-player group on Wednesday which will cover the WTC decider at The Oval from June 7 and the opening two matches of the Ashes although the squad to face India will need to be trimmed to 15 by May 28.
The Ashes party will then be reassessed after the Lord’s Test with changes possible for the last three matches at Headingley, Old Trafford and The Oval depending on how the series is poised.
Lance Morris, one of the fastest bowlers in Australia, has been ruled out through injury. He had been due to have a short spell with Northamptonshire next month. Michael Neser, whose skills would seem ideally suited to English conditions, has been overlooked although will be playing county cricket for Glamorgan.
From the players who toured India, Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Swepson and Matt Kuhnemann have not been included. The uncapped Josh Inglis will provide wicketkeeping back-up to Alex Carey.
“The UK is a very different assignment from our most recent tour of India and some of the changes are based upon the conditions we are anticipating,” chair of selectors George Bailey said. “Marcus, Josh and Mitch return to the squad and provide valuable depth and flexibility within their respective skillsets.
“We see value in revisiting the squad following the second Ashes Test given the short turnaround between the WTC final and the first Ashes Test, along with the length of the tour.”
Renshaw was part of the India tour having been recalled against South Africa in Sydney but managed just four runs in his three innings where he batted in the middle order. He missed out on a central contract earlier this month but scored two centuries for Australia A in New Zealand where he returned to opening the batting in a series played with the Dukes ball to replicate English conditions.
Along with Harris, who did earn a contract and is currently playing for Gloucestershire where he has started impressively, they give the selectors plenty of top-order candidates.
While David Warner is set to face India in the WTC final, either of them would be in line to take his spot should form persuade the selectors that a change was needed against England.
The future of Warner remains one of the focal points of this intense period of Test cricket for Australia as he returns to the scene of where he averaged just 9.50 in 2019. Both Bailey and head coach Andrew McDonald have previously stopped shortly of endorsing Warner for a full Ashes series.
Marsh’s recall provides as close to like-for-like cover that is available for Cameron Green. He was in fine form during last month’s ODI series against India and has since returned to bowling in the IPL after his ankle surgery. His last Test was against England at The Oval in the 2019 Ashes where he claimed a five-wicket haul. Offspinner Todd Murphy, who was outstanding in his debut series against India, will tour as the understudy to Nathan Lyon.
Without Neser and Morris in the squad (Jhye Richardson was also not in contention due to injury) it means there are four specialist quicks for the first part of the tour – captain Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Scott Boland. With six Tests in under two months it is expected that there will be some rotation among the pace attack.
Australia squad for WTC final* and first two Ashes Tests Pat Cummins (capt), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner * – Final WTC squad to be cut to 15
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
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