Five uncapped players were named in Australia's squad for the Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
The team announced on Tuesday, 11 September, wore a new look all around. Reinforcements were vital in the batting department in particular, with Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft serving bans. Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschange were the batsmen who made the cut, apart from all-rounder Michael Neser, and Brendan Doggett, the seam bowler.
Of these, Finch and Head have played a substantial number of international games in the shorter formats and Neser has played two one-day internationals, while the other two have never worn an Australia shirt. We take a quick look at the five new entrants.
Aaron Finch is an international veteran, even captaining Australia in the shortest formats. He first appeared for Australia – in a Twenty20 International – in 2011, and has since played 134 more games for Australia.
He has scored consistently in the longer format for Victoria in the Sheffield Shield. In all the opener has accrued 4338 runs in red-ball cricket from 76 matches at an average of 36.15. In the 2017-18 Australian domestic season, he scored 494 runs from eight games at 35.28.
"Aaron is in sensational form, and this is the right time to give him a chance to play Test cricket," Trevor Hohns, the national selector, said. "He has performed well in the Sheffield Shield in recent seasons, and brings added experience and leadership to this group."
A top-order batsman, Travis Head has featured in 39 ODIs and 16 T20Is with decent success. The South Australian has also enjoyed some success in the red-ball format, having accumulated 4476 runs at an average of 36.09.
In recent times, he has improved his performances against the red ball and furthered his case for Test selection with a resilient 87 for Australia A in India to secure victory against India A. In the 2017-18 Sheffield Shield, he amassed 738 runs from eight matches at 46.12. His bowls part-time off-spin, which might come in handy on the dry pitches of UAE.
"Travis has improved his game immensely over the past 12 months, and is the type of player we want in this environment," Hohns said.
Marnus Labuschange was the second-highest run-getter in the 2017-18 Sheffield Shield, scoring 795 runs from 11 games for Queensland at 39.75. In the recent match against India A, he scored 60 and 37 on a difficult pitch. The 24-year-old also bowls leg-spin, which improved his chances.
"Marnus is a young player with plenty of potential and a great work ethic," Hohns said. "He has performed well in the Sheffield Shield, has shown he’s a good player of spin for Australia A in India, and is an elite fielder who offers added variety with the ball as a leg-spin option."
Michael Neser, the Queenslander, was the second-highest wicket-taker in the previous Sheffield Shield, taking 39 from 10 games at 21.84. He is reputed for being able to bowl a nagging line and length, which earned him 4/61 in the first four-day game against India A.
His bowling capabilities coupled with his penchant for lower order runs makes him a valuable asset to the side.
"Michael is a strong all-round cricketer – he bowls and bats well, and is a mature player coming off a fantastic Sheffield Shield season for Queensland," Hohns said.
Brendan Doggett is just eight first-class games old, but in his short career has displayed enough potential with the ball to convince the selectors that he warrants a place in the national side. In the last Sheffield Shield season, he picked up 28 wickets from seven games for Queensland.
If selected for any of the Tests, Doggett will become only the third player of indigenous decent after Faith Thomas and Jason Gillespie to have played Test cricket for Australia.
"Brendan is an exciting prospect, a fast bowler with raw pace and wicket-taking ability," Hohns said. "He provides an additional option to Mitchell Starc if extra pace is called for, and this is an ideal opportunity to get him involved in a national set-up for the first time after his recent showings for Queensland and Australia A."
Stats mentioned don't include numbers from ongoing second first-class game between India A and Australia A.
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