Australia on Sunday named a spin-heavy 16-man squad with four specialist slow bowlers in it for their four-match Test tour of India in February-March.
Uncapped leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson was named in the team to boost the spin contingent while all-rounder Glenn Maxwell made a Test comeback after more than two years. The squad, to be led by Steve Smith, includes six specialist batsmen, four spinners, three pace bowlers, two all-rounders and a wicket-keeper.
The Test series against top-ranked India begins on February 23 in Pune, followed by matches in Bangalore (March 4-8), Ranchi (March 16-20) and Dharamsala (March 25-29).
With the inclusion of only three fast-bowlers in the squad, the National Selection Panel will reassess the fast bowling stocks after the second Test in Bangalore, Cricket Australia said. Australia have not won a Test match in India since 2004, and the four-Test series is expected to be a stern test for skipper Smith and his team. Speaking on the make-up of the squad, interim national selector Trevor Hohns said the panel chose an additional spin bowler to allow as many options as possible. “We don’t know what pitch conditions we will come up against in each of the venues but wanted to have flexibility and options available to us,” Hohns said.
“We know India is an incredibly tough place to tour and have success in, with most International teams struggling to adapt to the conditions, but we have chosen a squad which we believe will work really hard in its endeavours to perform well and give a good account of itself in the sub-continent,” he said. “We expect all of the young players chosen to benefit immensely from the experience.” Selected members of the squad will depart on January 29 for Dubai to train, before the remainder of the squad follow after the Chappell-Hadlee Series in New Zealand.
Squad: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Stephen O’Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.