Australia has announced its squad for the much-anticipated Ashes series starting in Edgbaston on Thursday.
As widely expected Steve Smith and David Warner make their return to the Test squad, while Cameron Bancroft has also forced his way in, meaning all three of those suspended out of the sandpaper scandal are a chance to play in the opening Test.
Bancroft had starred in the Australians’ recent intra-squad match with an unbeaten 93 in the final innings on a difficult Southampton pitch to guide the Graeme Hick XII to a five-wicket victory over the Brad Haddin XII.
He will likely battle incumbent Marcus Harris for the chance to partner Warner at the top of the order.
Matthew Wade has also been named off the back of a stunning run of form over the last 12 months, which saw the left-hander finish the Sheffield Shield season as the competition’s second-leading run-scorer.
A further three centuries from Wade across the Australia A tour made his case for a Test berth undeniable.
Though he is unlikely to take the gloves from captain Tim Paine, Wade is considered a strong chance to appear as a specialist batsman.
Among the other notable inclusions are James Pattinson, who after a series of injuries will be looking to feature in his first Test since 2016, and Queensland paceman Michael Neser.
A five-wicket haul in the intra-squad hitout and the lack of all-round options in Australian cricket appears to have also helped Mitchell Marsh’s hopes of resurrecting his Test career.
Despite the extended squad, there are still some hard luck stories however, with Joe Burns and Kurtis Patterson overlooked, even after both notched up centuries in Australia’s most recent Test against Sri Lanka in February.
Though there were calls for him to be included, World Cup hero Alex Carey has also been left out.
Tim Paine (c) (Tasmania)
Cameron Bancroft (Western Australia)
Patrick Cummins (New South Wales)
Marcus Harris (Victoria)
Josh Hazlewood (New South Wales)
Travis Head (South Australia)
Usman Khawaja (Queensland)
Marnus Labuschagne (Queensland)
Nathan Lyon (New South Wales)
Mitchell Marsh (Western Australia)
Michael Neser (Queensland)
James Pattinson (Victoria)
Peter Siddle (Victoria)
Steven Smith (New South Wales)
Mitchell Starc (New South Wales)
Matthew Wade (Tasmania)
David Warner (New South Wales)