Australia vs Pakistan 2019 | Joe Burns and Cameron Bancroft recalled to Test squad; Will Pucovski opts out due to mental health issues
Cricket Australia (CA) have announced a 14-man squad to take on Pakistan in a two-Test series beginning November 21. 21-year-old right-hand batsman from Victoria, Will Pucovski wasn’t considered for selection on account of his request to CA citing mental health issues.
Pucovski consulted the team management on Tuesday while playing the first tour match for Australia A against Pakistan.
Pucovski scored five runs in 14 deliveries in the first innings and was one of Imran Khan’s five victims. Pucovski joined fellow Australian players Glenn Maxwell and Nic Maddinson to opt out due to mental health issues.
This is the second time the youngster has been excused for mental health reasons after having opted out of the Canberra Test against Sri Lanka due to a similar issue.
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Speaking about the issue, CA's EGM of National Teams, Ben Oliver said:
"We applaud Will for having the courage to discuss his situation with team management in Perth... Will's decision not to nominate for Test selection was the right one in the circumstances and one that everyone in the Australian cricket family supports."
Meanwhile, Travis Head and Joe Burns made it to the 14-man squad along with opener Cameron Bancroft, who had been dropped after disappointing performances in the first two Ashes Tests.
Bancroft was a late inclusion in Australia A’s squad against Pakistan after Maddinson had pulled out citing mental health issues. Talking to reporters, Australia’s national selector Trevor Hohns opened up about Burns and Head’s inclusion and explained why they deserved to play Test cricket again.
"We feel [Joe] was unlucky to miss the Ashes squad... Joe's record speaks for itself, he has Test hundreds on the board and has combined very well with David [Warner] in the past. We also like the feel of a right-hand, left-hand combination at the top of the order."
"Travis scored a hundred against a very good New South Wales attack just a few weeks ago and also offers the option of part-time off-spin. Matthew Wade was superb as a specialist batsman through last summer, had a solid Ashes series with two hundreds and strong start to the current domestic season."
Poor performances from Marcus Harris in the last three Ashes Tests and a string of low scores from Usman Khawaja in the domestic arena have seen them lose their respective Test spots.
Meanwhile, Michael Neser is expected to provide competition to Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson for the third pacer’s slot in the playing XI. Hohns acknowledged the competition in the pace-bowling department, saying:
"We are blessed to have four of the best fast bowlers in the world challenging each other for spots and most importantly playing as a group... Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Pattinson are daunting pace prospects for any opposition, particularly at home. Michael Neser adds to that group with his ability move the ball both ways, giving the team another bowling option depending on the conditions."
Australia Test squad
David Warner, Joe Burns, Marnus Labuschagne, Steven Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Cameron Bancroft, Tim Paine (capt & wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Michael Neser