Australia made wholesale changes to the Test team as they dropped Marsh brothers Shaun and Mitchell, while calling up young batting prodigy Will Pucovski for two Tests against Sri Lanka.
Australia lost the Border-Gavaskar Trophy to India 2-1 and the margin would have been 3-1 but for rain in the Sydney Test. Australia’s batting – without the banned Steve Smith and David Warner – wilted under the pressure created by India’s bowlers as not a single Aussie batsman reached three figures.
Other batsmen who were dropped were opener Aaron Finch and middle-order bat Peter Handscomb. Top order batsman Joe Burns was recalled and is likely to open the innings with rookie Marcus Harris, who looked good against India.
Talented left-handed batsman Matt Renshaw was also given another chance. All-rounder Marnus Labuschagne retained his spot, as did Travis Head.
National selectors decided not to tinker with the pace attack of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, which was off the boil against India.
Pucovski was the surprise selection. The 20-year-old scored a double century for Victoria last year – the first Australian under 21 to do so since Ricky Ponting. However, he has only played eight first-class matches because of mental health issues.
“Will Pucovski is an exciting young player who is making his mark in the Sheffield Shield. He is another player with a track record of making centuries,” said Hohns. The series begins with a day-nighter in Brisbane from January 24. The second Test starts from February 1 in Canberra.
Australia squad: Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Tim Paine (c, wk), Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle
Cricket Australia XI: Joe Burns (capt), Kurtis Patterson, Scott Boland, Jake Doran, Jon Holland, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, Will Pucovski, Jason Sangha, Matt Renshaw, Chris Tremain
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