Marcus Labuschagne and Brendan Doggett have emerged as the great bolters named in a 15-man Australian Test squad which also includes Victorian Aaron Finch as new coach Justin Langer embarks on his greatest cricketing challenge.
Langer will take five uncapped Test players to Pakistan for the two match series, Australia’s first since the ball tampering scandal in South Africa, minus two of the greatest players in the modern era as the contentious suspension of Steve Smith and David Warner really starts to bite.
Aussie Test legend Ricky Ponting gave Finch his approval having worked closely with him as an assistant coach for the T20 and ODI sides.
“I’ve seen Finchy up close and personal over the last seven or eight months during the T20 tri-series last summer and then the ODIs in England. There’s no doubt he’s a different player than even he was 12 months ago,” Ponting told cricket.com.
Selectors opted not to name a vice-captain at this stage, with all-rounder Mitch Marsh, currently captain of the Australia A team in India, in the frame to take that role.
The series against Pakistan looms as a chance to re-build a fractured team, but could also prove a stop-gap measure until Smith and Warner are allowed to return in time for next year’s Ashes in England.
Incumbents Matt Renshaw and Usman Khawaja have held on to their spots after being sent to India with the Australia A squad for extra work.
Labuschagne, Travis Head and Finch will fight for the other batting spots after being named for their maiden Test tours, with Glenn Maxwell and Peter Handscomb dropped from the group that went to South Africa.
Veteran Peter Siddle and spinners Ashton Agar and Jon Holland are also in the squad for the Test series, which starts in Dubai on 7 October. The second Test will be played in Abu Dhabi from 16 October.
Pakistan have been installed as $1.90 TAB favourites to win the first Test in Dubai, with the Aussies $2.35 outsiders.
Australia were smashed by Pakistan in a 2-0 whitewash the last time they played Tests in the UAE in 2014.
Australia Test Squad:
- Tim Paine (c)
- Ashton Agar
- Brendan Dogget
- Aaron Finch
- Travis Head
- Jon Holland
- Usman Khawaja
- Marnus Labuschagne
- Nathan Lyon
- Mitch Marsh
- Shaun Marsh
- Michael Neser
- Matt Renshaw
- Peter Siddle
- Mitchell Starc