David Warner is on track to get the Test farewell he desires while Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green have both been named in Australia's 14-man Test squad alongside Western Australia speedster Lance Morris for the first Test against Pakistan.
Australia's selectors pulled no surprises naming 10 of the 11 that played in the last Ashes Test back in July, with Nathan Lyon replacing Todd Murphy after recovering from his calf injury. Green has been selected as the extra batter/allrounder and two extra fast bowlers in Morris and Scott Boland have also been named in the squad for the first Test against Pakistan at Perth Stadium starting on December 14.
As was expected, Alex Carey has retained his place as the first-choice Test wicketkeeper despite losing his ODI place to Josh Inglis at the start of the World Cup. But the selectors still see him as the clear-cut Test wicketkeeper and he tuned up for the series with a classy 81 for South Australia in their tight loss to Victoria last week.
Morris is the only player who was not part of the Ashes squad having been rested over the winter after concerns over his back and his workload coming back from the tour of India. His addition to the squad was long expected though as Cricket Australia's medical team has carefully managed his domestic summer so far in conjunction with the WA selectors.
He has played just two Marsh Cup matches and three of the six Sheffield Shield games, with no back-to-back fixtures. He was rested from WA's last Shield game against Queensland and instead played club cricket for Scarborough in Perth where his overs were carefully managed across two weekends. He is being groomed as Mitchell Starc's understudy as the strike weapon in Australia's Test attack. Morris' careful management was designed to have him fit for the start of the Test summer as the fitness of Starc was set to be an unknown coming out of the long World Cup campaign. Starc suffered lingering groin soreness after the Ashes series, where he was named Australia's player of the series, but he managed to play 10 of Australia's 11 World Cup matches.
Warner had long forecast the series against Pakistan, and specifically the third Test in Sydney as his desired farewell from Test cricket. His Test form over the last two years, even with a lone double century against South Africa last year, has raised questions as to whether he deserved to go out on his own terms. But Australia's selectors believe he is one of the best two openers in the country and has been named for the first Test, having made a half-century in his last Test innings at the Oval and come off a stunning World Cup in India.
Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Cameron Bancroft are the three main candidates to replace Warner either before Sydney or for the two-Test series against West Indies in mid-January. The selectors opted not to promote any of them ahead of time. All three will instead play for the Prime Minister's XI against Pakistan in Canberra starting on Wednesday.
Chairman of selectors George Bailey suggested there was scope for any players performing in that game to be added to the Test squad at any stage.
"As ever, there will be opportunities in the short to medium term to break into this squad and 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," Bailey said.
Green is the only player in the 14-man Test squad who will also play for the PM's XI. He is coming off 96 for WA against Queensland in his first red-ball innings since he was dropped for the final Test of the Ashes series. Australia's coach Andrew McDonald suggested last week that there was a way Green and incumbent allrounder Marsh could play in the same side later in the summer if they were to shuffle the batting order post-Warner's exit but it seems likely that Green will have to bide his time.
Australia's first Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Lance Morris, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner