Australia news – Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw, Cameron Bancroft named in PM’s XI to face Pakistan

Cameron Green will get a chance to push for a Test return while a three-way audition for Australia’s soon-to-be-available Test opening spot is set to take place between Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Cameron Bancroft after they were named in an strong Prime Minister’s XI to take on Pakistan in a four-day tour match in Canberra ahead of next month’s Test series.
The selectors have effectively named an Australia A XI with significant Test experience for the match which starts at Manuka Oval on December 6. Nathan Lyon’s understudy Todd Murphy and fringe Test seamer Michael Neser have also been named in a side to be captained by South Australia’s Nathan McSweeney, who has led Australia A twice already this year against New Zealand A.
Jimmy Peirson has been named as the wicketkeeper having kept regularly for Australia A in the last two years. Josh Inglis, who usurped Alex Carey as the ODI keeper in the World Cup but remains the Test understudy, is being rested after staying in India for the five-match T20I series after the World Cup.
Nathan McAndrew has been rewarded for his outstanding form with the ball this season while Mark Steketee has been a regular in Australia A squads in recent years.
Tasmania allrounder Beau Webster has been rewarded for his phenomenal start to the Sheffield Shield season with bat and ball earning his first call-up to a representative side since playing two games for Australia A in 2016. Webster has made scores of 62, 64, 32*, 59, 70, 97* and 103 in the first five Shield matches and has taken wickets in every game including 4 for 32 against South Australia.
Webster has been called in after Western Australia allrounder Aaron Hardie, who had been set to be included, was called up to Australia’s T20I squad for the five-match series against India that starts on Thursday.

Green had flagged his inclusion during the World Cup having not played any red-ball cricket since he lost his place in Australia’s side for the final Test of the Ashes series. He remains behind Mitchell Marsh as Australia’s first-choice Test allrounder but is eager to win back his place and is every chance to feature during the Test summer. Marsh experienced some soreness due to the increased bowling loads during the three Ashes Tests he played, having not bowled in first-class cricket in two years prior to the Ashes and having not played back-to-back first-class games full stop in four years.

There will be plenty of intrigue around the three openers that have been selected in Harris, Renshaw and Bancroft. It will be interesting to see who will bat at No. 3 as the trio have been opening for their states and are all vying for David Warner’s Test spot once Warner steps away after the Pakistan series. The Prime Minister’s XI match will be the last first-class game any of them will get to play before Australia’s first Test against the West Indies in mid-January when a new opener is set to be selected.

Some BBL clubs will bear the brunt of such a strong squad being named. There had been discussions held over a number of months between various clubs and the selectors about how this fixture would impact BBL teams. Brisbane Heat are set to be the worst affected with Peirson, Neser, Renshaw and McSweeney all unavailable for their first two matches on December 7 and 9. But they will be hoping to have Test opener and skipper Usman Khawaja available to play prior to the first Test against Pakistan on December 14 in Perth although the Test squad is due to assemble on December 9.

Melbourne Stars will be without Webster and Steketee for their clash with Heat on the opening night while Sydney Sixers will be missing Murphy for their meeting with Melbourne Renegades on December 8. Lyon has already declared he is keen to play for Renegades that night at the SCG while the Sixers are hopeful Steven Smith will be available.

There have only been eleven players named to face Pakistan in order to avoid further withdrawals from the BBL to run the drinks. Local ACT premier cricketers will be involved with the squad during the four days to train and provide support to the team. Former Sri Lanka batter Thilan Samaraweera will coach the side having been part of the Australia A and Australia underage teams as an assistant coach over the past two years.

Prime Minister’s XI: Nathan McSweeney (capt), Cameron Bancroft, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Nathan McAndrew, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Jimmy Peirson, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Beau Webster

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