SYDNEY: Batsmen Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja have been included in Australia’s 12-man squad for the first Test against New Zealand, filling vacancies left by the retirements of captain Michael Clarke and opener Chris Rogers.
Uncapped West Australia opener Cameron Bancroft had been widely expected to be picked for the opening role but the Australian selectors instead have chosen to recall Khawaja and Burns.
Both players scored centuries for a Cricket Australia XI in a tour match against the New Zealanders last weekend.
Khawaja hasn’t played a Test since the 2013 Ashes series against England while Burns made his two previous Test appearances against India last summer.
All-rounder Mitch Marsh and veteran batsman Adam Voges have also been named in an Australia team given a new look by the additional retirements of all-rounder Shane Watson, wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and fast bowler Ryan Harris.
The selectors have retained the four fast bowlers used in this year’s Ashes series in England, naming Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle for a match which will be played on the fast and bouncy pitch at Brisbane’s Gabba Ground.
The first Test of the three-match series begins on Thursday.
David Warner has been named to open the Australian innings after proving his recovery from the broken thumb he suffered in a one-day international against England in September.
Peter Nevill retains the wicketkeeping berth. Steve Smith will lead Australia in his first Test series as Australia’s permanent captain and Clarke’s successor.
Queensland’s Burns will open the batting with Warner, having seen off challenges from Bancroft and Shaun Marsh. He scored 58 and 66 in his prior test appearance against India.
“Joe thoroughly deserves his chance and was unlucky to miss out on the West Indies and Ashes tours off the back of two decent performances in his last Test match for Australia in Sydney,” chairman of selectors Rod Marsh said.
“Usman is a very good player of fast bowling and is a fine technician. We feel he will make a really solid contribution to our batting this series.”
Voges rounds out the middle order, likely batting No. 5 with Mitchell Marsh at six.
“Adam is a calm player with a cool head and brings a lot of experience to the side,” Rod Marsh said.
“He has a solid Test and first-class average and will provide good support to our two young leaders in Steve Smith and David Warner. Mitchell provides good balance as the all-rounder and we believe he has a great future as a player for Australia.”
Marsh said he was happy with the form of Johnson who, he said, “looks ready to fire after a decent break”.
“Off the back of a great bowling performance in the last Ashes Test Peter Siddle earns his selection with spinner Nathan Lyon, a proven performer in the side rounding out our attack.”
Australia’s 12-man squad: David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (captain), Adam Voges, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle.