Australia have made five changes to the side that won the World Cup in March for their upcoming limited overs series against England, including debuts for Joe Burns, Marc Stoinis and Ashton Agar, who marks his return to international cricket for the first time since a memorable debut in the first Test of the 2013 Ashes series in Trent Bridge.
With Australia reeling at 117-9 in their first innings, trailing England by 98, Agar, picked as a left-arm spinner, came in to make the highest score in Test history by a Test match number 11, a 101-ball 98 as Australia put on a whopping 163 runs for the final wicket. He was partnered, poignantly, by Phil Hughes, who finished unbeaten on a stellar 81 as Australia completed the innings with a lead of 63.
Nathan Lyon’s typecasting as a Test match specialist has continued, the selectors opting for the youthful Agar instead. Marc Stoinis, in all likelihood, owes his inclusion to a four-match ban meted out to James Faulkner for a drink-driving offence, one which resulted in him crashing his car while team-mate and former Australian wicket-keeper Tim Paine was with him. This means the all-rounder, who was man-of-the-match in the World Cup final against New Zealand, will miss the ODI against Ireland as well as three games (a T20 and the first two ODIs) against England.
With Brad Haddin having retired, Mathew Wade will take up the duties behind the stumps once more, while Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson also make international returns.
“The squad we have selected has a few fresh faces in it as well as some experienced players that will provide us with the right balance,” said Rod Marsh, chairman of selectors.
“Ashton has performed very well with the ball since his return from shoulder surgery including taking five wickets in the recent Australia A game in India. He has played in these conditions over here before and the National Selection Panel believes he has a very bright future.
“Joe has impressed us immensely over in India with Australia A. He is a very capable young batsman who has experience opening, and we think he will grab his opportunity with the white ball during this series.
“Marcus has performed very well in India during the four-day series and we have always liked that option of the extra allrounder in our side, so with James Faulkner’s unavailability, this is a great opportunity for Marcus.”
Steve Smith will captain Australia in all three formats now, following Michael Clarke’s retirement at the conclusion of the fifth Ashes Test at The Oval. He takes up the reins in the limited overs format ahead of George Bailey, who was Australia’s ODI captain in the absence of Michael Clarke during the World Cup, leading the team in the opening game against England while Clarke nursed a back injury. Bailey does, however, make his way into the Australia squad, and will presumably slot into the middle-order, filling the gap in the line-up that Clarke’s departure creates.
Other notable absentees include pace bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood, with Cricket Australia opting to give them a rest, owing to their considerable workloads during the rigours of the Ashes series.
Australia begin their ODIs with a one-off game against Ireland in Belfast on August 27.