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November 15, 2019

Bancroft, Burns back as Ashes flops axed for Pakistan Tests


November 15, 2019

SYDNEY: Cameron Bancroft and Joe Burns got the nod on Thursday for Australia’s Test squad to face Pakistan, with Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris axed after flopping during the Ashes series against England.

Bowling allrounder Michael Neser was also included as a back-up to the formidable pace attack of Josh Hazelwood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson. Bancroft was only rushed into the Australia A team at the last minute this week when Nic Maddinson pulled out to deal with mental health issues.

But he made the most of his opportunity, top-scoring with 49 in their first innings total of 122 all out to put himself in the reckoning after failing to make an impact in the Ashes on his return to Test cricket after a ball-tampering ban.

He is one of three specialist openers, along with Burns and Warner, but is more likely to play down the order if selected for the two Tests starting in Brisbane next week, followed by a day-night clash in Adelaide.

Burns was unlucky to be overlooked for the Ashes having scored a century in the last Test he played against Sri Lanka in February. National selector Trevor Hohns suggested he would open with Warner, pointing out that “he has Test hundreds on the board and has combined very well with David in the past”.

Harris and Khawaja miss out after failing to impress in England or in the Australia A match, which was seen as a “bat-off” for the Test slots up for grabs. “As always there were players who were unlucky to miss the squad. Those players remain firmly in the national selection frame and will continue to be monitored closely,” added Hohns.

Middle-order batsman Travis Head, who was dropped for the last Ashes Test, was given another chance after young prodigy Will Pucovski, widely tipped to be included, pulled out of contention earlier Thursday citing his “mental wellbeing”.

Pucovski is the third Australian Test aspirant in recent weeks to take time away from cricket to tackle mental health issues, with Maddinson and Glenn Maxwell also both currently out of action.

Asutralia Test squad: Tim Paine (capt), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade and David Warner.

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