Cameron Bancroft returns to international cricket as Tim Paine will lead a 17-member Australia squad that was announced for the highly-anticipated Ashes Test series against old foes England, starting on 1 August.
David Warner, Steve Smith and Bancroft have been selected for their first Test tour together since the ball-tampering saga that unfolded in Cape Town last year.
Uncapped Queensland pacer Michael Neser is the surprise selection in the squad.
Backed by runs at the domestic level and good performances on the Australia A tour of England, Matthew Wade and Queensland’s Marnus Labuschagne have earned selection ahead of the likes of Alex Carey and Peter Handscomb.
“It has been a difficult task to reduce the 25-player squad here in Southampton down to 17 and those who have not made the final Ashes party are all desperately unlucky,” said national selector Trevor Hohns according to cricket.com.au.
“However, that problem also highlights that we have a degree of depth to select from and that is a terrific positive.
“We have had excellent preparations for this series, with eight players from this squad forming part of the Australia A tour that has been in the UK for more than a month, six who took part in the ICC Cricket World Cup, and three who have been playing county cricket. It means the players are acclimatised and ready for the first Test.”
Former captain Smith and his then deputy Warner were both given 12-month suspensions by Cricket Australia, with Bancroft – who actually applied sandpaper to the ball while in the field during a Test in Cape Town – banned for nine months.
Both Smith and Warner were expected to be in the Ashes squad after doing well in the recent World Cup, when the defending champions reached the semi-finals.
Bancroft, who has been captaining English county side Durham, appears to have forced his way in after making an unbeaten 93 in the tourists’ intra-squad match at Southampton this week.
“David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft have forced their way back into the Test squad through the excellence of their recent performances,” said Hohns in a statement.
“David and Steve also have the advantage of being proven players at Test level while Cameron has produced impressive numbers for county side Durham this season.
“His innings in the intra-squad match in Southampton on a tough pitch was outstanding and showed his quality.”
Australia are aiming to retain the Ashes urn and win in England for the first time since 2001.
Australia’s squad: Tim Paine (c), David Warner, Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitch Starc, Matthew Wade
First Test: August 1-5, Edgbaston
Tour match: Australians v Worcestershire, August 7-9
Second Test: August 14-18, Lord’s
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval