Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Uncapped Victoria opener Marcus Harris has been included in Australia’s squad for the upcoming Test series against India, while Matt Renshaw was dropped.
Harris’ inclusion in the squad comes on the back of consistent performances on the domestic circuit over several seasons.
During the 2017/18 Sheffield Shield season, Harris scored 706 runs in 10 matches, which included two centuries and four fifties, at an average of 41.52.
Fast forward to the ongoing season of the tournament and Harris has amassed 437 runs in four games, which includes a career-best knock of 250 not out against New South Wales, at an average of 87.40.
“Marcus Harris has forced his way into the squad after an impressive start to the Sheffield Shield campaign for Victoria, and in recent times has performed in high-pressure matches, including Sheffield Shield finals,” national selector Trevor Hohns was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo. “Not only has he made plenty of runs, he’s displayed the mental application we believe is required to compete at Test cricket.”
However, it remains to be seen whether Harris will open the batting if he is part of the playing XI against India as head coach Justin Langer has hinted that Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja could be retained at the top of the order.
“I really like the synergy of Finch and Khawaja in the UAE. Like a lot of opening partners a bit of an odd couple about them, and often really good partnerships are like that,” he said. “You think about [Chris] Rogers and [David] Warner, [Gordon] Greenidge and [Desmond] Haynes… they’re very different and I just like that synergy and a good relationship. Uzzy’s very chilled out, Finchy is a bit more combative, they have a nice feel about that partnership.
“There’s a lot of talk about Finch can’t open in Australia and all that sort of stuff, I’m not sure about that. He’s opened all through [with the] white ball, did a really good job in the UAE, conditions might be a bit different, we’re not playing at the Gabba or the WACA either. That’s one of the things we’re mulling over at the moment, the perfect combination, we also respect that the Indians have got really good spin bowlers, we’ve got five left-handers in that seven at the moment potentially. All those things we’re going to play around with and make sure we get the best combination we can.”
Meanwhile, Peter Handscomb was recalled to the side, but Marnus Labuschagne failed to make the cut after making making his Test debut against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
“Marnus Labuschagne played the last two Tests and looked really good at times, and there was talk about his legspin bowling as well. They’re all unlucky, but you can only fit 14 into the squad,” Langer said. “But you’ve got to reward performance and they’d be the first to say… Matthew Renshaw I think has got huge potential, but he hasn’t got the runs on the board at the moment.
“Marnus, the same, he’s come back and his numbers aren’t great for the first four Shield games, so he’ll be disappointed because no one works harder than he does. And Matthew Wade, we all know he’s a fantastic competitor, a really good competitor, doing well, but you can’t fit them all in.”
All-rounder Mitchell Marsh kept hold of his place in the side, even though he struggled to have a major impact in the Test series against Pakistan.
“Mitch Marsh is an incredibly talented player, I don’t get some of the criticism of him and his brother,” Langer said. “Test cricket’s a very tough school, and I think sometimes people forget how tough Test cricket is.”
With Khawaja currently recovering from a knee injury, there were initially doubts as to whether he would be fit for the Test series against India.
However, Hohns has revealed that Khawaja is set to be ready for the first Test, which begins on December 6 in Adelaide.
“We’ve been really impressed with the way Usman Khawaja has applied himself through his rehabilitation and he’s left no stone unturned in his bid to return in Adelaide,” Hohns said. “Barring any setbacks, all the signs are indicating he will be available for the first Test. We saw how well he performed against Pakistan in the UAE, and we hope he can recapture that form over the summer.”
Hohns revealed that the squad of 14 will be trimmed to 12 for the first two Tests against India. He added that the next round of the Sheffield Shield will be key to determining which two players are left out.
“We will select a final team of 12 prior to each Test, and the two remaining squad members will be released to get important match time in the Sheffield Shield. We believe all players chosen deserve their selection in the squad, and we’re confident given the opportunity all will apply themselves well against India,” he said.
“With another round of Sheffield Shield matches to play, players have the chance to strengthen their cases for selection before we finalise the 12 in the lead up to the first Test.”
Australia’s Test Squad: Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Chris Tremain, Peter Siddle, Peter Handscomb