Michael Neser is the lone addition to Australia’s Test squad for the two-match series against New Zealand and will once again play back-up to the frontline bowling attack.
Despite having one of his barest Sheffield Shield season in some years, having taken just nine wickets at an average of 50, the Queenslander has been included after tearaway fast bowler Lance Morris was ruled out through injury.
Morris suffered a side strain in Australia’s ODI victory over the West Indies in Canberra, and selectors have turned to 33-year-old Neser who has been a perennial Test squad member but has only worn the baggy green twice.
Both those matches came at the Adelaide Oval when skipper Pat Cummins was absent through Covid-19 protocols (2021) and injury (2022).
But while Neser, last year’s Shield player of the year, has been down on his normal wickets return, he’s been he’s made 354 runs, including a century, and played a key role in the Brisbane Heat’s march to the BBL title.
He comes in as the fifth fast bowler, with Scott Boland also overcoming a niggling knee injury to earn selection, and may not play against the Black Caps in Wellington and ending in Christchurch.
But national selection chair George Bailey said Neser deserved the chance to be selected.
“Michael Neser returns to the squad which is mostly unchanged from recent squads,” Bailey said.
“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.
“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.”
Australian coach Andrew McDonald had declared in the wake of the shock Test loss to the West Indies that he saw no need to change the top-six batters, and Steve Smith will remain as opener with Usman Khawaja for the Kiwi series.
“We feel like as a collective that (batting) unit will be able to have success over multiple Test matches,” McDonald said in the wake of the eight-run loss to the Windies at the Gabba last month.
Matt Renshaw also holds his position as spare batter even after a poor Sheffield Shield outing against Tasmania during the week.
Australia Test squad
Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc
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