AFP/ Adelaide, Australia
Australia heavily hinted yesterday they will field the same XI for their opening Test against New Zealand to the one that beat Pakistan, with selectors keen to build a core group of players.
Tim Paine’s men have proven to far more consistent in recent months, having retained the Ashes in England before a 2-0 series sweep against Pakistan, culminating in their thumping innings and 48-run win in Adelaide on Monday.
Tough opposition awaits with the arrival this month of New Zealand for three Tests — in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney — and selectors named an unchanged 13-man squad.
“As we said prior to the Pakistan series we are striving to maintain a core group of players,” said national selector Trevor Hohns.
“The performance of the team against Pakistan was very impressive across all areas.”
The only omission from the squad was spare batsman Cameron Bancroft, who was on standby but did not play against Pakistan.
That means the same batting line-up will start against New Zealand in Perth on December 12, spearheaded by David Warner who made a monumental 335 not out in Adelaide, ably supported by Marnus Labuschagne who hit a second successive century.
“David Warner has been in exceptional form with the bat. The support he received from Joe Burns in Brisbane and Marnus Labuschagne in Adelaide was exactly what we had been asking for from the top order,” said Hohns.
“They delivered, setting up both matches in what was an outstanding all-round performance. We are backing the current batting line-up to continue their form across the next three Tests.”
A fiery six-wicket haul from Mitchell Starc in Adelaide all but ensured he will start in Perth alongside Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon with Hohns saying squad members Michael Neser and James Pattinson “will continue as cover”.
Australia reserved the right to add another player to the squad, particularly if conditions in Melbourne or Sydney call for an allrounder or second spinner.
Australia Squad: Tim Paine (capt), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazelwood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
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