Australia have given speedster Mitchell Starc some time off after the ICC Champions Trophy and dropped left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe for the two Test series against Bangladesh, Cricket Australia said on Friday. Starc returned to action following a foot fracture that ruled him out of a significant part of the tour to India earlier in the year. During that series, O’Keefe had come into limelight by leaving the Indian batsmen in tatters in the opening Test. The spinner had picked up the most wickets for Australia in the series that they lost 1-2.
Scans were performed on Starc but it was revealed that he has yet to fully recover from the foot fracture. “Mitchell was due to go for follow-up scans after the Champions Trophy, as part of his recovery plan,” physiotherapist David Beakely said after CA named a 13-member squad. “He will now undertake a period of rest from bowling with the aim to have him return for the one-day series in India in late September as he begins his build-up to the Ashes.”
Australia have been bolstered by the presence of James Pattinson who will join fellow pacers, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins, to create significant impact in the sub-continent. The selectors have said that a fourth seamer will be revealed at a later date.
O’Keefe is a notable absentee in the squad despite making a good name for himself and his abilities in India. “Whilst Steve O’Keefe bowled well in Pune, he did not maintain this level in the remaining matches of the series…” national selector Trevor Hohns said.Ashton Agar has instead come in as a replacement and will partner veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon for the Tests in Dhaka (from Aug. 27) and Chittagong (from Sept. 4).
Ashton Agar has instead come in as a replacement and will partner veteran off-spinner Nathan Lyon for the Tests in Dhaka (from Aug. 27) and Chittagong (from Sept. 4). “Ashton has continued to impress us with his form and we believe his bowling is at a level where he deserves to be playing on the highest stage. He will work nicely in tandem with Nathan Lyon and also brings a great all-round package to the team.”
Steve Smith will lead the side to Bangladesh and will have the services of all-rounder Hilton Cartwright available to him.
The tour was originally scheduled for September 2015 but was called off then due to security concerns despite the assurances from Bangladesh Cricket Board and the government. This time though, CA executive general manager Pat Howard was satisfied with the assurance from their hosts. “The Bangladesh Cricket Board and the Bangladesh Government have provided satisfactory levels of assurance and security for this tour to proceed at this stage, and we’re very grateful to them for this,” Howard said. “We will continue to work with them to finalise plans but also monitor advice from Government agencies and our own security advisors about the security risk,” he added.
Steve Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Matt Renshaw, Matthew Wade (wicketkeeper).