Hobart, Feb 9 (IANS) With seam-bowling all-rounder Michael Neser recalled to Australia’s squad for the two-match Test series against New Zealand, chief selector George Bailey believes his inclusion has been made possible due to his putting in ultra-consistent performances for a long time.
Neser’s inclusion in Australia’s 14-player squad for the New Zealand series, starting on February 29, is the only change to the team which played matches against Pakistan and West Indies in its’ home summer.
Side strains to fast bowlers, Jhye Richardson and Lance Morris have also played a part in Neser’s return to the Test team. Neser has played just two Tests -– both of them coming at Adelaide Oval when skipper Pat Cummins was absent due to Covid-19 protocols and injury in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
“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. Nes’ has been ultra-consistent, there’s a skill set there that we really like in certain conditions and hopefully New Zealand provides those conditions,” said Bailey to reporters.
Neser and Scott Boland will be the backup bowlers to the in-form trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins in New Zealand, which meant even if Morris had been fit, it would have been hard for him to enter the squad.
“We’d be looking at a different type of fast bowler. The luxury of this tour only being in New Zealand, it’s not a massive trip, so a number of players in specific roles that if we do need to get them across that it’s not too much of a challenge, so Lance would have been in that boat,” added Bailey.
Top-order batter Marnus Labuschagne had a horrid time in Australia’s drawn 1-1 Test series against the West Indies, making just 19 runs in four innings. His average in the Australia Test summer was at 28.25, after amassing 226 runs overall. Bailey expressed confidence over Labuschagne returning to form in the series against New Zealand.
“I don’t think he’s on his lonesome of guys who’ll be looking to step up their game and redeem themselves. New Zealand at home, or New Zealand anywhere, are incredibly challenging to play, they’re ultra-consistent, so our batting group and the whole team will have to absolutely be at their best, but I’m really confident ‘Marn’ will bounce back.”
New Zealand are currently at the top of the World Test Championship standings, and Bailey was aware of the expectations attached to the Australian team in the two Tests against the Blackcaps at Wellington and Christchurch. “I think one of the things that’s really impressive with them is when new players come in, how quickly they settle and play their role – that’s something I really admire. Looking at that team, (they have) really good experience and are world-class so it’s going to be a great Test series and a great challenge for our group.”
“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,” he concluded.