Australia have named their 15-man squad for the upcoming four-match Test series against South Africa that will be played in March. Western Australian pacer Jhye Richardson and Victorian spinner Jon Holland are surprised picks in the squad. The selectors also announced the T20 squad for the Gillette T20 Tri-series which see David Warner lead the side as Steven Smith has been rested.
Jon Holland last played for Australia in 2016 against Sri Lanka and has managed to get the green signal ahead of fellow spinner Ashton Agar to become the second spin option for the side. The left-arm spinner has done exceedingly well in Sheffield Shield games by taking 50 wickets with the best figures of 11 for 205 in a game. However, selectors feel that surfaces in South Africa might favor spin too much as Nathan Lyon might be a sole option in the playing XI.
Trevor Hohns clearly stated that Jon Holland has been selected clearly based on current form in the domestic circuit rather than anything else. The selectors have picked uncapped pacer Jhye Richardson for the four-match series. The 21-year old will be keen to make an impression with the red-ball for Australia. He has already made his one-day debut against England this summer.
The squad contains a lot of players that have considerable experience of playing in South Africa. David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Steven Smith, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins have played games in South Africa. The speedster Pat Cummins has fond memories of South Africa as he picked up six wickets in his debut game to see Australia level the two-match Test series in 2011.
Cameron Bancroft has been another chance by selectors to prove himself at the international level despite a torrid run in the Ashes series. Peter Handscomb also has managed to retain his place in the squad despite being dropped during the Ashes series. One thing in favor of Australia is that they have never lost a Test series in South Africa since 1970. The visitors have five out of seven series played since 1994 including a close 2-1 win in 2014.
The first game of the four-match Test series will be played at Kingsmead, Durban on 1st March. The next three games will be played at Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, and Johannesburg. The Test squad will travel to South Africa on 15th February and play a three-day warm-up game in Benoni on 22nd February.
Test Squad for Test series against South Africa: Steven Smith (c), David Warner , Cameron Bancroft, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood,Usman Khuwaja, Peter Handscomb, Jackson Bird, Jon Holland, Jhye Richardson, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), , Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon.