Australia name four spinners in Test squad to face India

Melbourne: Cricket Australia on Sunday picked four spinners in its 16-man Test squad for the rigorous four-match series against India away starting on February 23, determined to strike a combination that will deliver at the spin-heavy sub-continental conditions.

Apart from off-spinner Nathan Lyon and left-arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe, other slow bowlers featuring in the squad are uncapped Queensland leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson and recalled West Australia’s left-arm spinner Ashton Agar.

The squad includes six batsman, four spin bowlers, three pace bowlers, two all-rounders and a wicket-keeper.

Speaking on the make-up of the squad, Interim National Selector Trevor Hohns said in a CA release that the panel chose an additional spin bowler to allow as many options as possible.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

Talking about Swepson and Agar, he said: “Mitchell 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.”

“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.”

Victoria’s Glenn Maxwell and West Australia’s 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,” he said.

“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.”

Among the pace bowling options, Jackson Bird is the third choice behind Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.

With the inclusion of only three fast-bowlers in the squad, the selectors will reassess the fast bowling stocks after the second Test in Bengaluru, according to the release.

West Australia’s top-order batsman Shaun Marsh returns to the side following injury 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,” said Hohns.

Selected members of the squad will depart on January 29 for Dubai to train, before the remainder of the squad follow after the Chappell-Hadlee Series in New Zealand.

Squad: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain), Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Stephen O’Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.