PERTH: Uncapped paceman Joe Mennie was the surprise selection in a 12-man Australia squad named Friday for next week’s opening Test against South Africa in Perth, preferred to Jackson Bird.
The South Australian quick topped the domestic Sheffield Shield bowling list last season with 51 wickets and recently toured South Africa with the Australian one-day side.
“Joe bowls a great length at a lively pace and his form in first-class cricket has been terrific in the last 12 months,” chief selector Rod Marsh said.
“He also impressed us during the recent Australia A series in Queensland.”
Australia’s fast bowling depth is currently tested, with Pat Cummins and James Pattinson on the sidelines and spearhead Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle both underdone from injuries heading into the clash from Thursday at the WACA Ground.
Starc is on the comeback trail from suffering lacerations in his left leg after colliding with training equipment at a Sydney ground last month, while Siddle has had ankle and back issues.
Shaun Marsh was named as opener following his recovery from a hamstring strain, ahead of Joe Burns.
“Both Shaun and Joe played very well in the Sheffield Shield round but Shaun is coming off back-to-back hundreds in Test matches and has performed very well in Perth and Hobart so we have opted to go with him,” Marsh said.
Usman Khawaja returns to the national side at No.3 despite being dropped during their recent Test series in Sri Lanka, where Australia lost 3-0.
Adam Voges, at 37 years of old and with a Test average of 72.75, is one of five recognised batsmen in the squad, while veteran offspinner Nathan Lyon, who has taken 211 Test wickets, keeps his place.
Australia – David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, John Hazlewood, Joe Mennie, Nathan Lyon.