Australia’s selectors have added spinners Ashton Agar and Stephen O’Keefe Friday in the 13-man squad for the final Test against Pakistan in Sydney starting from January 3.
While Australia have already clinched the series following Friday’s innings and 18-run victory over Pakistan in the second Test in Melbourne, there was no room in the squad for batsman Nic Maddinson and fast bowler Chadd Sayers.
The Sydney Cricket Ground pitch traditionally takes spin and selectors have boosted their spin stocks to complement off-spinner Nathan Lyon, keeping bowling all-rounder Hilton Cartwright.
“We have chosen a 13-man squad, including three spinners and an all-rounder to give ourselves maximum options once we see the pitch and determine what our final eleven will be,” interim chief selector Trevor Hohns said.
- Ashton Agar last played a Test against England in Lord’s in 2013
- Steve O’Keefe played in the Sri Lanka series before withdrawing from injury
- Australia have secured an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-Test series against Pakistan
“Both Ashton Agar and Stephen O’Keefe have performed well in first-class cricket this summer and both have bowled well at the SCG this season too so they deserve their selections here.
“And having them in Sydney along with Nathan Lyon means that we can have the three spinners working together in the lead-up to the Test.”
Hohns said while Sayers was unfortunate to miss out on the squad and not make his Test debut this season, the expectation of a spin-friendly SCG pitch meant the balance of this squad was appropriate for the likely conditions.
“Nic Maddinson has been omitted after having a taste of Test cricket, something that will definitely benefit him,” Hohns said.
“We now want him to go back to domestic cricket and dominate to demand a return to the line-up, something we are confident he will do.”
Agar said he was excited to be back in the Australia Test squad after taking 10 wickets for his West Australian state side in a Shield match at the SCG last month.
“I have happy recent memories of bowling at the SCG this season, but I know it will be up to the selectors to decide whether or not I make the final eleven,” Agar said.
NSW spinner O’Keefe said he was delighted to be back in the Test squad after a frustrating tour to Sri Lanka earlier in the year.
“But I’m not getting ahead of myself. It’s up to me to impress at practice over the next few days, hopefully earn a spot in the final eleven and then bowl well if given the opportunity,” he said.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Hilton Cartwright, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Stephen O’Keefe, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade.