Australia shuffle pack for Sri Lanka after India batting failures
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Top-order batsmen Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns have been recalled, while the highly rated Will Pucovski appears set to win his first cap as the Australia selectors culled four underperforming players for the two-test home series against Sri Lanka.
Batsmen Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh were all dropped from the squad that lost a home test series against India for the first time.
Virat Kohli’s side took the four-match series 2-1 and would likely have won the final test in Sydney had rain not intervened over the last two days as the contest, in which Australia were made to follow-on, ended in a damp draw on Monday.
Australia’s top order failed to perform against India’s versatile attack and selection panel head Trevor Hohns admitted that the side needed to be shaken up for the Sri Lanka series, which start in Brisbane on Jan. 24.
“Ultimately Aaron, Peter, Shaun and Mitch have not produced the performances expected of them with the bat at the test level,” Hohns told reporters on Wednesday. “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.
“The challenge now is for them to make runs for Australia in the upcoming ODIs (one-dayers against India), and then to go back to the Sheffield Shield (domestic first-class cricket) and make more runs.”
Opener Renshaw last played a test on the tour of South Africa last March, when he was a late call-up after Cameron Bancroft and David Warner were stood down for their role in a ball-tampering scandal.
Burns was also called into the side for the final test in South Africa and had been scoring heavily for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield.
Pucovski has played just eight first-class matches but scored 243 for Victoria earlier this season before the 20-year-old opted to take a break from the game to receive treatment for a mental health-related illness.
“Will Pucovski is an exciting young player who is making his mark in the Sheffield Shield,” Hohns added. “He is another player with a track record of making centuries. We look forward to him joining the squad.”
Squad: Marcus Harris, Joe Burns, Matthew Renshaw, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Will Pucovksi, Marnus Labuschagne, Tim Paine (captain), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle.