Australia brace for turn, pick four specialist spinners in squad for India tour
Australia are taking no chances during their Test Tour of India which begins next month. Cricket Australia announced on Sunday a 16-man squad for the four-match Test tour, with four specialist spinners and players with Indian Premier League (IPL) experience in it.
Glenn Maxwell, who plays for Kings XI Punjab in the IPL, is back in the Test squad, which has uncapped leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson in it. The squad, to be led by Steve Smith, includes six specialist batsmen, four spinners, three pace bowlers, two all-rounders and a wicket-keeper.
Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh make up the all-rounders in the side.
“We know Glenn plays very well against spin and has a lot of experience playing in India. We think his ability with the bat, coupled with his handy off-spin will complement the bowling unit if required,” said interim national selector Trevor Hohns while announcing the squad. “We consider Mitchell as a bowling all-rounder and should we decide to play a two pace and two spin bowling attack it is important to have that third seam bowling option if conditions suit.”
Queenslander Swepson, 23, joins lead spinner Nathan Lyon and left-arm orthodox Ashton Agar and Steve O’Keefe. Swepson, whose cause has been championed by legendary Shane Warne, is the only member of the squad yet to play Test cricket.
“Mitchell (Swepson)is an exciting young leg-spinner that has come through the pathway system. We feel he has a lot of potential and want to see him take his opportunity in conditions that should suit him should he get a chance,” added Hohns.“Ashton is a good left-arm orthodox spinner who can be very exciting with the bat and also fields extremely well. He provides us with a great all-round package.”
Australia have not won a Test match in India since 2004, and the four-Test series is expected to be a stern test for skipper Steve Smith. Perhaps the reason why they have picked players who have previously done well in the sub-continent, including Shaun Marsh, who returns to the side after recovering from an injury he suffered earlier in the summer.
“Shaun is proven in sub-continent conditions and is coming off a hundred in his last Test match in Sri Lanka. He is a very versatile batsman who can slot in at the top or the middle of the order, explained Hohns.
“We don’t know what pitch conditions we will come up against in each of the venues but wanted to have flexibility and options available to us,” added Hohns. “We know India is an incredibly tough place to tour and have success in, with most International teams struggling to adapt to the conditions, but we have chosen a squad which we believe will work really hard in its endeavours to perform well and give a good account of itself in the sub-continent.
“We expect all of the young players chosen to benefit immensely from the experience.”
The Test series against India, the No 1 side in the world, begins on February 23 in Pune, followed by matches in Bangalore (March 4-8), Ranchi (March 16-20) and Dharamsala (March 25-29).
Steve Smith (capt), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O’Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.
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