Usman Khawaja (12/1 – Top Australia Series runscorer) is in line to make his first appearance for Australia since August 2019 after he was named in his country’s 15-man squad for the first two Ashes Tests against England.
Khawaja last played Test cricket for Australia over two years ago when they retained the Ashes with a 2-2 draw in England, but he is now back in the national team’s plans and aiming to stake his claim for a starting spot.
The 34-year-old has a strong Test record, averaging 40.66 and hitting eight centuries in 44 matches, and he will be vying with Travis Head for a spot in the middle order for the first Test in Brisbane on December 8.
Khawaja played the first three Tests in that 2019 series before being dropped for the final two matches after the memorable defeat at Headingley in which Ben Stokes took the game away from the tourists.
Australia have played a limited amount of Test cricket since retaining the Ashes, with series victories over Pakistan and New Zealand followed by a 2-1 defeat to India, all of which were played Down Under.
Fast bowler Jhye Richardson, who has also taken six wickets from two Test appearances has been included in the 15-man squad, while leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson and seamer Michael Neser, who are yet to make their debuts in the longest format of the game, are also included.
However, there is no place for all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who made a match-winning innings in the T20 World Cup final, while wicketkeeper-batter Matthew Wade and opener Will Pucovski also miss out.
Speaking about the 15-man squad, George Bailey, national selection panel chair, said: “After an extended break between Test matches we are looking to build a strong squad mentality across what is an incredibly exciting summer of cricket.
“This group is well balanced to ensure we are prepared for the many challenges of an Ashes series. It has a mix of experienced, proven performers and emerging, developing talent.
“We will take this 15-player squad into the opening Test in Brisbane and the pink ball match in Adelaide, after which we can reassess for the remaining matches.”
Australia squad for the first two Tests:
Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Steve Smith, David Warner.