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Joe Burns

Bancroft, Burns, Head in Australia squad for Pakistan Tests

Australia news

Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns and Travis Head have all earned recalls to the Australia squad for the two-Test home series against Pakistan, starting next week.

Batsmen Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris, and fast bowler Peter Siddle were left out from the squad that travelled to England for the Ashes series earlier this year.

Among other inclusions and absentees, uncapped fast bowler Michael Neser was named in the squad, while Mitchell Marsh, who suffered a broken hand after punching a wall, missed out.

Bancroft and Burns will round out the opening slots, alongside David Warner, who recently found red-ball form with a Sheffield Shield century.

Bancroft's recall hasn't exactly been a consequence of big runs in the domestic circuit. After being dropped midway through the Ashes series, his red-ball form has continued to taper off. He blitzed a pair of rapid half-centuries for Western Australia in the Domestic One-Day Competition, but in the Sheffield Shield, six outings have fetched meagre returns of 57 runs.

Nevertheless, he received a late call-up to the Australia A side to engage the visiting Pakistanis in a three-day warm-up game at the Perth Stadium, where he resisted with 49 off 155 balls, even as his side collapsed to 122 all out in response to the visitors’ 428. Bancroft is likely to be used as a floater, with Burns set to occupy the opening slot, alongside Warner.

Marnus Labuschagne is likely to be rewarded for his Ashes consistency with a spot at No.3
Marnus Labuschagne is likely to be rewarded for his Ashes consistency with a spot at No.3

The 30-year-old Burns has been in solid form in the Sheffield Shield, where he is Queensland’s second-highest scorer, after Ashes hero Manus Labuschagne, with 202 runs at 40.40.

Head, who also gave up his position in the middle order during the Ashes, seems to be the beneficiary of the absence of Victoria batsman Will Pucokski, who made himself unavailable for Test selection on mental health grounds. Head has also been in strong form for South Australia, scoring 201 runs at 40.20, including a century and a fifty in five innings. He will be one of the two vice-captains in the 14-man contingent, alongside fast bowler Pat Cummins.

As for Cummins, he, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will reprise their roles as the main trio of fast bowlers, alongside James Pattinson and Neser. The comeback for Siddle, who stunningly returned to the Test fold after nearly a year during the Ashes, will end at three Tests, in which he picked up seven wickets for 295 runs at an average of 42.14.

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