Usman Khawaja has been recalled to Australia’s squad to start next week’s three-Test series against South Africa, days after describing himself as a scapegoat and selectors as fickle for dropping him during Australia’s recent series loss in Sri Lanka.
Left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc recovered from injury and will lead a pace attack that could also include uncapped Joe Mennie, who was named to the 12-man squad despite his modest showing in Australia’s 5-0 drubbing to South Africa in a limited-overs international series this month.
Veteran Peter Siddle also returned and Josh Hazlewood was retained in the pace attack.
Mennie took three wickets for 131 runs in two ODIs in South Africa, but chief selector Rod Marsh said the 27-year-old right-arm fast bowler earned a spot for his form in domestic cricket, where he was the leading wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield last season.
“Joe bowls a great length at a lively pace and his form in first-class cricket has been terrific in the last 12 months,” Marsh said.
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Shaun Marsh held his spot in the batting lineup after overcoming a hamstring strain, meaning there was only room in the squad for one more player, either Khawaja or Joe Burn. Both were both dropped after failing with the bat in Australia’s heavy defeat in the second Test in Sri Lanka in August.
Khawaja, who has scored four centuries in 17 Test matches, earned his way back into the squad with a century in the opening round of the Sheffield Shield competition.
In announcing the squad, Rod Marsh said he wasn’t too concerned about Khawaja’s comments, “but I wouldn’t say it’s the smartest thing he’s ever said.”
The series starts in Perth next Thursday, with the second Test in Hobart. The series will conclude with a day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval starting Nov. 24.
Australia squad: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain), Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Joe Mennie, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.