Australia's Test cricket squad has been overhauled with a string of debutants in the wake of Sandpapergate which saw skipper Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and Cameron Bancroft suspended,
Without those key players, the selection panel has had to test the depths of the talent available for a 15-man squad now led by Tim Paine for the two Tests against Pakistan in the UAE next month.
It features five players yet to debut at Test level - Queensland trio Michael Neser, Brendan Doggett and Marnus Labuschagne, South Australia’s Travis Head and Victoria’s Aaron Finch.
"There has been significant change to our Test squad, due to the unavailability of a number of key players,” said National Selector Trevor Hohns.
“That said, we firmly believe the squad selected is up to the challenge ahead, and is capable of playing a brand of cricket that can perform well in this series against Pakistan.
“It’s a blend of experienced players who have a significant amount of either Test or first-class cricket, and a number of younger players who we are confident are ready for the Test arena.
“Looking at the conditions we may face in the UAE, we believe this squad covers all bases. We have selected four front-line fast bowlers and three spinners, with Mitchell Marsh ready to play as an all-rounder and a number of top-order batsmen who also offer part-time spin options.
“There are five potential debutants in the squad, all of whom have earned selection through their performances and deserve this opportunity.”
On the yet-to-debut players, Hohns added: “Aaron is in sensational form, and this is the right time to give him a chance to play Test cricket. He has performed well in the Sheffield Shield in recent seasons, and brings added experience and leadership to this group.
“Travis has improved his game immensely over the past 12 months, and is the type of player we want in this environment. He’s a hard worker who has performed well with the bat in his recent four-day opportunities for Australia A and South Australia.
“Michael is a strong all-round cricketer - he bowls and bats well, and is a mature player coming off a fantastic Sheffield Shield season for Queensland. He has impressed us with his performances for Australia A and in his white-ball opportunities for Australia.
“Marnus is a young player with plenty of potential and a great work ethic. He has performed well in the Sheffield Shield, has shown he’s a good player of spin for Australia A in India, and is an elite fielder who offers added variety with the ball as a leg-spin option.
“Brendan is an exciting prospect, a fast bowler with raw pace and wicket-taking ability. He provides an additional option to Mitchell Starc if extra pace is called for, and this is an ideal opportunity to get him involved in a national set-up for the first time after his recent showings for Queensland and Australia A.”
If selected to debut, Doggett would become just the second Indigenous cricketer to play Test cricket for the Australian Men’s Cricket Team, following Jason Gillespie.
On the return of 62 Test-veteran Peter Siddle, Hohns said: “Peter is a proven performer in the Test arena, who has been in outstanding form in his recent first-class outings over in England.
"His experience will be crucial for this bowling group, and we know that he is a warrior who can bowl the type of long, tight spells which may be required in the conditions we expect to face.”
Joe Burns, Peter Handscomb, Glenn Maxwell, and Jhye Richardson were among a number of other players considered, but not selected.
“Joe, Peter and Glenn were players we discussed when selecting the batting group, but we had to take into account the conditions and competition we are set to face in the upcoming series. All three remain on our radar for Test cricket, but we want them to perform for their States and continue to push their case ahead of what is going to be a big Australian summer,” Hohns said.
“Jhye is a player who has a bright future in all formats, and has been impressive in his international opportunities to date. He is one of a number of developing bowlers adding to the depth of our fast bowling group, and we see him potentially having an important role to play in the shorter formats of the game in the immediate future.”
The squad will assemble in Brisbane for a pre-tour camp on September 16.