The Australian cricket team is undergoing tough times. Tim Paine’s side lost the Test series 1-2 against Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team, making them the first side to ever lose a Test series to an Asian nation. The team has been undergoing plenty of problems with results on the field due to the absence of their star batsmen in Steve Smith and David Warner. Looking at the performance of the batsmen in the series against India, Cricket Australia has decided to bring in some fresh faces as Australia aims to enter a transition phase in the New Year and show the door to some of the other veterans in the side.
Aaron Finch, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh have all been shown the door for the two-Test series against Sri Lanka which will begin on January 24 with a Day Night Test at the Gabba followed by the inaugural Test in Canberra. In their place, the selectors have included Will Pucovski and have recalled Joe Burns and Matt Renshaw for the series.
Speaking about the selection, chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns spoke about the criteria behind the selection of the three players. “Joe Burns has had strong performances in first-class cricket this season, and we believe he can contribute strongly if given the chance in the series. Renshaw is a player with the ability to make big scores, and at 22 years old has 10 first-class centuries. He also performed extremely well in England during the County season. We see him as a long-term prospect as a Test player. Pucovski is an exciting young player who is making his mark in the Sheffield Shield. He is another player with a track record of making centuries. We look forward to him joining the squad and congratulate him on his first national call-up,” Hohns said to Cricket Australia’s official website.
Hohns also said the senior batsmen in the India series had failed to live up to expectations. “Aaron, Peter, Shaun and Mitch have not produced the performances expected of them with the bat at the Test level. They have been given good opportunity, but have not produced the scores we need. All four are very good players, and the door is by no means closed for them to return to play Test cricket for Australia. They will all feature in the ODI Series against India, and each of them forms an integral part of our white-ball strategy and set-up at the moment as we also focus on our journey to the 2019 Cricket World Cup,” Hohns said.
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, who were all part of the India series and bowled plenty of overs, make it to the side despite questions about whether they should be rested ahead of the 2019 World Cup and the Ashes.
Sri Lanka will play one warm-up game with the Pink Ball which will be against Cricket Australia XI in Hobart. It will be the game where all three players picked in the Australia squad will also feature. The first Test will be in Brisbane from January 24 to January 28 while the second Test will be from February 1 to 5 in Canberra, which will become the newest venue for Tests in Australia.
Sri Lanka, who has never won a Test in Australia, will be aiming to break the jinx but they face an uphill task, having lost four out of five Tests against England and New Zealand recently.
Australia: Tim Paine (c/wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle
Sri Lanka: Dinesh Chandimal (c), Dimuth Karunaratne, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Sadeera Samarawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, Roshen Silva, Niroshan Dickwella (wk), Kusal Perera, Dilruwan Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Pradeep, Lahiru Kumara, Dushmantha Chameera, Kasun Rajitha