Canberra, Feb 9 (IANS) Bowling all-rounder Michael Neser has been recalled to the Test team as Australia named a 14-player squad for the two-match series against New Zealand that commences from February 29.
The reigning ICC World Test Championship winners will travel to New Zealand with a similar squad from recent home series against Pakistan and West Indies, with Neser being the only notable change.
Neser has been included as selectors are expecting seam-friendly pitches at Wellington and Christchurch. His chances of getting picked received a boost after Lance Morris was injured during the ODI series against West Indies and Jhye Richardson was sidelined for six weeks with a side strain.
Chair of Selectors George Bailey said: “Michael Neser returns to the squad which is mostly unchanged from recent squads. 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.
“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.”
Fast bowler Pat Cummins will once again lead the side during the series and will lead a formidable bowling line-up that includes Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon, while vice-captain Steve Smith is expected to continue in his new role as opener alongside veteran Usman Khawaja.
Australia currently sit in second place on the World Test Championship standings, with New Zealand outright leaders on the table following their 285-run thumping of South Africa at home earlier this month.
The first Test runs from February 29 to March 4 in Wellington, with the series then concluding in Christchurch from March 8.
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
1st Test: February 29 – March 4, Wellington
2nd Test: March 8-12, Christchurch