Jhye Richardson and Jon Holland were the new faces in the Australian Test squad, named on Monday for the four-Test tour of South Africa in March-April.
The 13 men that did duty in the final Test of the Ashes series, which Australia won 4-0, have all been retained, and Richardson, the 21-year-old paceman who has played one One-Day International and two Twenty20 Internationals so far, has been added to bolster the pace attack comprising Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Jackson Bird and Mitchell Marsh, the pace-bowling all-rounder. Also included was Holland, the 30-year-old left-arm spinner who played two Tests in Sri Lanka in mid-2016, as the second frontline spinner after Nathan Lyon.
On Richardson, Trevor Hohns, the national selector, said, “Jhye is a talented right-armer who bowls with very good pace through the air. He impressed in his first One-Day International (against England in the ongoing series) and has bowled well in the Sheffield Shield season. He is an exciting young prospect who will benefit immensely from his time with this squad.”
Holland, who was picked ahead of Ashton Agar and Steve O’Keefe, was rewarded for his good performances in the Sheffield Shield. “Jon was the second leading wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield last season and has performed well in the games he has played for Victoria this season,” said Hohns.
“We envisage the wickets we will see in South Africa will not warrant the need to play two spinners. But should Nathan Lyon not be able to play at any stage, we wanted to have the best specialist spinner available to us and based on current red ball form Jon warrants that spot.”
The squad, to be led by Steven Smith, will leave for South Africa on February 15 and play a three-day tour game against a Cricket South Africa Invitation XI in Benoni before the first Test starts in Durban on March 1. David Warner, however, will not be travelling with the other members of the team. Warner, the vice-captain of the Test team, has been named to lead the Australian T20I squad for the triangular series against England and New Zealand in February and will join his team-mates at the completion of the engagements of the T20I team, which doesn’t include any other member of the Test squad.
“The South African series is a very important one and we have made no secret of our desire to improve our record away from home,” explained Hohns. “As such, we wanted to ensure the players had the best possible preparation and that means playing a tour match prior to the first Test.
“Steve has had a very big summer and will benefit from a short break both physically and mentally, before he leaves for South Africa. David is a very capable leader and has captained in Steve’s absence before and done a fine job. We wanted to ensure the T20 side had key leadership throughout this series and we know the team is in good hands with him at the helm.”
Apart from Warner, the T20I side has Aaron Finch, Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head, Chris Lynn and Marcus Stoinis, among others, to handle the run-scoring responsibilities, while Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa, Kane Richardson, Billy Stanlake and Andrew Tye are the familiar faces in the pace department. Selected for the first time are Alex Carey, the wicketkeeper-batsman, Ben Dwarshuis, the left-arm paceman, and D’Arcy Short, the batsman and left-arm spinner.
“Ben gives us good variety in the attack with his left-arm pace and has bowled particularly well with the new ball in the Big Bash League,’ said Mark Waugh, the national T20 selector. “Alex has impressed in every form he has played this year. He has been in great form in the BBL with both bat and gloves and stood up to the challenge when he had to take the gloves for an ill Tim Paine in the ODI team.
“D’Arcy’s selection speaks for itself, he is the leading run-scorer in the BBL and has also taken valuable wickets when handed the ball. He is in outstanding form and we look forward to seeing what he can bring to this T20 side.”
Squad for South Africa Tests: Steven Smith (capt), David Warner (vice-capt), Cameron Bancroft, Jackson Bird, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc.
Squad for T20I tri-series: David Warner (capt), Aaron Finch (vice-capt), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey (wk), Ben Dwarshuis, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, D’Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa.