• Home
  • Cricket
  • Australia Name Strong Test Squad For Tour Of New Zealand

Australia name strong Test squad for tour of New Zealand

The talismanic Pat Cummins will captain Australia for their two-Test tour of New Zealand later this month.

The recall of allrounder Michael Neser to Australia's Test squad indicates selectors are expecting seam-friendly pitches at Wellington and Christchurch for the upcoming tour.

Neser's inclusion in the 14-player squad is the only notable change to Test personnel from recent home series against Pakistan and West Indies, and comes with a couple of other pace-bowling options currently nursing injuries.

Lance Morris, who was part of Australia's Test set-up earlier in the summer, suffered a side injury during last Tuesday's Dettol ODI Series match against West Indies in Canberra while fellow Western Australian Jhye Richardson also has a side strain that will sideline him for up to six weeks.

Neser and Scott Boland – who was cleared to continue bowling after experiencing knee soreness during this week's Marsh Sheffield Shield match in Melbourne – will be auxiliary quicks for the Test tour behind incumbent trio Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

It ensures Australia boast significant seam-bowling options for the series starting February 29 with allrounders Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green expected to play both matches, while Nathan Lyon is the sole specialist spinner.

Matthew Renshaw retains his place as the additional batter, with Australia men's team coach Andrew McDonald noting he and his fellow selectors were "not in the mood" to change the batting line-up even though Green has returned 64 runs from three innings since being promoted to No.4.

"We feel like as a collective that (batting) unit will be able to have success over multiple Test matches," McDonald said in the wake of Australia's eight-run loss to West Indies at the Gabba last month.

Neser has played just two Tests – both at Adelaide Oval when skipper Cummins was absent through Covid-19 protocols (2021) and injury (2022) – but was a regular member of Australia's Test squad from 2019 to 2022.

The 33-year-old was overlooked for last year's Ashes touring party despite showing strong form for Glamorgan in the UK county competition, but was added to the squad for the preceding ICC World Test Championship Final against India at The Oval when Hazlewood was ruled out.

Neser has enhanced his claims as a genuine allrounder by scoring 140 for Queensland in the opening round of this season's Shield competition, taking his tally of first-class centuries to five.

But it is skill with the ball, most notably the stump-to-stump line that makes him a formidable proposition on seaming tracks, that has earned him a recall with selection panel chair George Bailey flagging the prospect of bowler-friendly pitches at Basin Reserve and Hagley Oval.

"It's great to see Michael Neser get another opportunity in the squad following his ever-consistent performances over a long period of time and the conditions we expect," Bailey said today.

"As we know every Test match provides vital opportunities to obtain valuable WTC points and we expect this tour will be a tough challenge against a very strong side who have been so consistent at home for a long period of time."

Australia Test squad:

Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc

Tour schedule:

First Test: February 29 - March 4, Wellington
Second Test: March 8-12, Christchurch

READ MORE: Virat Kohli set to to miss next two Test matches against England

More Articles