Veteran opener David Warner was retained in Australia’s squad named on Sunday for the opening Test against Pakistan later this month in what is anticipated to be his final series.
Warner was in fantastic form with the white ball at the current World Cup, but he has only struck one Test century since early 2020 and averages only 28 during the 2019-2020 summer.
With the likes of Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris, and Matt Renshaw knocking on the door, it has raised doubts about whether he should keep his place at the top of the order alongside Usman Khawaja.
This trio will all play for the Prime Minister’s XI against Pakistan in a four-day red ball warm-up in Canberra this week, which is largely seen as an audition for Warner’s position.
“This group, led by Pat Cummins, has built a strong resume over an extended period,” selectors chairman George Bailey said of the squad, which was named exclusively for the Perth Test.
“We believe they have earned the opportunity to start in our first home Test match at the beginning of the new World Test Championship cycle.”
Australia begins the three-Test series in Perth on December 14, followed by the famous Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, and finally in Sydney on January 3.
Warner, 37, has stated that he will retire from five-day cricket after the Test at his home ground of Sydney Cricket Ground, but will continue to play white ball cricket.
Australia will also play Tests against the West Indies in Adelaide and Brisbane later in January.
“As ever, there will be opportunities in the short- to medium-term to break into this squad,” Bailey added.
“We look forward to seeing the continued strong performances from players who have been performing domestically, many of whom will get a tremendous opportunity in the PM’s XI fixture against Pakistan later this week.”
Perth’s only change from the lineup that began Australia’s last Test against England at the Oval in July is the return of fit-again spinner Nathan Lyon in place of Todd Murphy, who did not make the squad.
Lyon has 496 Test wickets and is on his way to being one of only seven Test bowlers to achieve 500, including fellow spin giants Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne, and Anil Kumble.
Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood are likely to lead the pace assault once more, with Scott Boland and firebrand Lance Morris awaiting his return from a back stress issue.
Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green were both named to the 14-man squad, but Marsh has risen to the top of the queue.
David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Cameron Green, Lance Morris are the Australia team for the first Test against Pakistan, which begins on December 14 in Perth.