Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc will miss the upcoming tour of Bangladesh after Cricket Australia today confirmed the two-Test series and for August and announced a 13-man squad, according to Austrlia cricket board's official website CricketAustralia.
Starc was ruled out of the second half of the Qantas Tour of India with a fractured foot, and despite playing in Australia's failed Champions Trophy campaign, the left-armer's injury has not fully healed and he has subsequently been ordered rest with an Ashes campaign on the horizon.
Victoria speedster James Pattinson returns to the Test squad for the first time since February 2016 having completed a successful comeback from injury, and is joined by Hilton Cartwright, one of three allrounders alongside incumbent No.6 Glenn Maxwell and left-arm spinner Ashton Agar. Agar is set to play a prominent role as Nathan Lyon's spin twin after Stephen O'Keefe was dropped from the squad that valiantly lost to India 2-1 in the subcontinent. Although O'Keefe claimed 19 wickets for the series – the same number as Lyon – National Selector Trevor Hohns pointed out that the tweaker's performance dipped in the final three Tests, with only seven wickets captured after his record 12-70 in the first Test in Pune.
"Whilst Steve O'Keefe bowled well in Pune, he did not maintain this level in the remaining matches of the series and we believe the timing is right for Ashton to enter the set-up and test his all-rounder ability," Hohns said. "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."
Despite not playing a Test on the India tour, Usman Khawaja has been retained in the squad but there is no room for veteran Western Australia batsman Shaun Marsh.
Marsh averaged 18.81 in eight innings during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, and while he battled injury in the final Test in Dharamsala, the 33-year-old played nine matches for Kings XI Punjab in the preceding Indian Premier League. Queensland's Mitchell Swepson, seamer Jackson Bird, injured Western Australian Mitch Marsh and allrounder Marcus Stoinis are the other members from the India tour not to get a ticket to Bangladesh, with Cartwright leapfrogging the Victorian to be the squad's only seam-bowling allrounder. "Hilton averages nearly 60 runs in first-class cricket and was the second highest run scorer in the Sheffield Shield last season with 861 runs," Hohns said.
"He is a quality player who we believe has a big future for Australia and we are very keen to see him carry on his good form into subcontinent."
Run-machine Steve Smith will lead the side and be deputised by David Warner, with young pair Matthew Renshaw and Peter Handscomb set to continue the impressive starts to their Test careers. Josh Hazlewood will lead the pace attack, along with Pattinson and Patrick Cummins, who made a successful comeback to the five-day game in India after spending half a decade in Test wilderness.
The squad of 13 is likely to increase by one, with the National Selection Panel expected to name a replacement for Starc following Australia A's tour of South Africa next month. Chadd Sayers, Chris Tremain, Jason Behrendorff and Bird are the fast bowlers in Australia A's four-day playing group vying to take the injured left-armer's spot in the touring party.
"Mitchell was due to go for follow up scans after the Champions Trophy, as part of his recovery plan," said Bupa Support Team Physiotherapist David Beakely. "These scans have indicated his previous stress fracture has still not fully healed to the extent we would like. "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."
After arriving in Bangladesh on August 18, Australia's first hit out of the tour will be a two-day warm-up match four days later in Fatullah before the first Test in Dhaka on August 27 and the second Test in Chittagong on September 4. The tour comes after a previously planned visit in October 2015 was postponed at the last minute by security concerns.
Executive General Manager of Team Performance, Pat Howard, said CA was happy with the current security arrangements, which have been promised to be at levels akin to a presidential or royal visit. "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," said Howard.
"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. Our number one priority will always be the safety and security of our players and support staff when travelling to any country. "Players selected for this tour will continue to receive regular security status updates prior to travelling. "Selectors have also chosen this Bangladesh squad irrespective and independent of the status of the (Memorandum of Understanding). We are working towards a resolution being in place by 30 June and look forward to continuing to support these players to perform at their very best on the global stage."
Australia Squad for Tour of Bangladesh: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Matthew Renshaw, Matthew Wade
18 August Australia arrive
22-23 August Tour match, Fatullah
27-31 August First Test, Dhaka
4-8 September Second Test, Chittagong