Australia announces squad for Sri Lanka Tests

Cricket

After three years in the Test wilderness, all-rounder Moises Henriques has been named in Australia’s 15-man squad for their three-Test tour of Sri Lanka beginning in July.

Henriques played all three of his Tests in India three years ago but was surprisingly selected over spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell for a berth to Sri Lanka. The 29-year-old will be the back-up to incumbent all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, highlighting Australia’s mantra to revolve their bowling stocks around quicks rather than spin despite the series likely to be played on turning pitches.

Australia will rely on stalwart Nathan Lyon and Stephen O’Keefe for the spin duties. O’Keefe played against the West Indies in January at the SCG but the match was marred by rain and he was not selected in Australia’s subsequent tour of New Zealand.

Pacemen James Pattinson and Peter Siddle, who both played in Australia’s series win in New Zealand, have been ruled out of the Sri Lanka tour due to injuries. Pattinson, whose fledgling career has been dogged by a slew of injuries, has been diagnosed with a recurrence of stress fractures in his back.

“James experienced lower back pain during the second Test against New Zealand in Christchurch and was given some time to rest,” Australia physiotherapist David Beakey said on Tuesday (May 24). “Unfortunately his back pain continued during this time and after further investigation it confirmed that he has had a recurrence of a back stress fracture. James will continue to spend the winter recovering from this injury, at which point we hope to have a clearer view of timelines for his return to play.”

Uncapped Test player Nathan Coulter-Nile, a paceman from Western Australia, has inched closer to receiving a baggy green with selection in the squad and joins Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Jackson Bird as Australia’s specialist pace bowlers.

The batting line-up features the same top five used in New Zealand, with Shaun Marsh – who will miss the upcoming ODI tri-series in the Caribbean due to the imminent arrival of his first child – named as the extra batsman, while Peter Nevill is the sole wicketkeeper.

Rod Marsh, Australia chairman of selectors, said the conditions in Sri Lanka played a part in the makeup of the squad. “This squad has proven experience in subcontinental conditions,” Marsh said on Tuesday (May 24). “Henriques comes into the squad to give the flexibility of an additional all-rounder option, having already shown he plays and adapts well to spin-friendly conditions. He has been working hard with his fitness and we believe he is in prime condition to serve us well should he be selected to play. Jackson Bird and Nathan Coulter-Nile join the squad and will give us good control and pace.”

The First Test between Australia and Sri Lanka starts on July 26 at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium.

Australia Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (v-c), Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Moises Henriques, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Jackson Bird, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Nathan Lyon Steve O’Keefe.

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