Joe Burns recently scored a century during the Test in Canberra against Sri Lanka played in February 2019. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Joe Burns and Travis Head have been included in the Australia 14-man squad for the two-Test series against Pakistan which will begin on November 21 at Brisbane. The squad sees the omission of Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja, who had a torrid time in the 2019 Ashes series in England that saw Australia and England end 2-2 with Tim Paine's side retaining the Urn. Apart from Head and Burns, Michael Neser and Cameron Bancroft have also retained their places after being part of the side in the Ashes. Harris managed just 58 runs in the three Tests which he opened in England while Khawaja was also in woeful form. Burns did not have a good outing for Australia A against Pakistan in Perth but he has been in good form in Tests, when he smashed 180 against Sri Lanka in Canberra in February. Head, on the other hand, scored a superb century against top-ranked New South Wales.
Head also was part of the Australia A side that collapsed disastrously against Pakistan in Perth but the selectors chose him owing to good Sheffield Shield form. Neser's inclusion also strengthens the Australia bowling line-up that has Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Nathan Lyon. The prospect of Hazlewood, Cummins, Starc and Pattinson playing together seems a probability but it depends on Australia's team combination. The inclusion of Neser is a back-up in case one of them breaks down.
Brisbane and Adelaide, where the Pink Ball Test will be played, is conducive to bowling and the inclusion of so many pacers outlines Australia's priority. Speaking about the selection, national selector Trevor Hohns said, "Travis scored a hundred against a very good New South Wales attack just a few weeks ago and also offers the option of part-time off-spin. Matthew Wade was superb as a specialist batsman through last summer, had a solid Ashes series with two hundreds and strong start to the current domestic season. We anticipate Matthew and Travis will give us a strong middle order in support of the top four. Cameron Bancroft is someone who has the ingredients of what we believe makes a good Test cricketer and rounds out our batting group in the squad."
The squad also sees the omission of Will Puckovski, the youngster who has shown plenty of promise in domestic cricket but has been asked to not be considered for Test selection as he tries to cope with mental health issues. Following Glenn Maxwell's break from Test cricket owing to mental health issues, Puckovski has also stepped aside to take break. This is not the first time Puckovski has taken a break from the sport, having done it twice last summer which forced him to miss the selection for the Sri Lanka series.
Australia Test squad
David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Cameron Bancroft, Tim Paine (capt & wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Michael Neser