Australia’s selectors have opted against making any significant changes to their squad for the upcoming Tests against New Zealand following their rampant 2-0 series win over Pakistan.
The decision to drop back-up batsman Cameron Bancroft without bringing in a replacement is the only change to the playing group for the three-match series against the Black Caps.
Bancroft, a surprise inclusion in the squad in the first place, didn’t play in either match against Pakistan and could only muster scores of 12 and 23 in Western Australia’s latest Shield outing to continue his poor season.
That means Australia, barring any late injuries, will use an unchanged top six for the first Test against New Zealand: David Warner and Joe Burns opening, Marnus Labuschagne at number three, and Steve Smith, Matthew Wade and Travis Head in the middle order.
Despite retaining both Michael Neser and James Pattinson in the squad, chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns indicated there won’t be any changes to the bowling attack either, as long as the first-choice pace remain fit.
“Michael Neser and James Pattinson will continue as cover for Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood through the series,” Hohns said.
“Michael will play for Queensland against New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield game at the SCG, as James did last week for Victoria.”
Hohns said the selectors remain open to adding additional players to the squad throughout the series should it be required.
Australian squad for Tests vs New Zealand
Tim Paine (c)
Pat Cummins (vc)
Travis Head (vc)
New Zealand named their squad to tour Australia last month, deciding to use the same group of players for both their current home series against England as well as the trip across the Tasman. That means opening batsman Jeet Raval is set for a first ever Test outing in Australia despite a wretched run of scores against Joe Root’s side.
The Black Caps are currently sweating on injuries to two key players, with opening bowler Trent Boult and all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme missing the second Test against England.
While some of the squad have toured Australia in the past, none of Kane Williamson’s side have played Test cricket at any of the venues to be used this series – Optus Stadium in Perth, the MCG and SCG.
New Zealand squad to tour Australia
Kane Williamson (c)
Tom Blundell (wk)
Colin de Grandhomme
BJ Watling (wk)
The first fixture between Australia and New Zealand will begin next Thursday, December 12, in Perth, before moving to Melbourne and Sydney for the traditional Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests respectively.