Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Handscomb, Finch axed from SL series

Melbourne: Aaron Finch, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb have been dropped from the Australian squad for the Test series against Sri Lanka, starting from January 24.

The omission of all four players come after Australia’s first-ever home Test series loss to India.

“Ultimately Aaron, Peter, Shaun and Mitch have not produced the performances expected of them with the bat at the Test level. They have been given good opportunity, but have not produced the scores we need,” Cricket Australia quoted national selection panel chair Trevor Hohns, as saying on Wednesday.

“All four are very good players, and the door is by no means closed for them to return to play Test cricket for Australia. They will all feature in the ODI series against India, and each of them forms an integral part of our white-ball strategy and set-up at the moment as we also focus on our journey to the 2019 Cricket World Cup,” Hohns added.

Australia have, however, opted for the same pace attack of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, with Peter Siddle drafted as the back-up.

In a stunning surprise, the selectors have called up Victorian batsman Will Pucovski and recalled Queensland pair Matt Renshaw and Joe Burns in the 13-man squad.

Pucovski had smashed a remarkable 243 against Western Australia in the JLT Sheffield Shield last October. His average sits at 49.00, which is the highest of any active Australian in first-class cricket. The left-hander Renshaw has had a lean run this summer, scoring 199 at 19.90 with one fifty to his name. Meanwhile, Burns sits at the fifth place on the season’s Shield run-scorers list with 472 at 47.20 with four fifties.

All three batsmen along with Marnus Labuschagne are slated to play the pink-ball warm-up match against Sri Lanka from January 17 in order to prepare themselves for a possible Test call-up.

“Joe Burns has had strong performances in first-class cricket this season, and we believe he can contribute strongly if given the chance in the series. Will Pucovski is an exciting young player who is making his mark in the Sheffield Shield. He is another player with a track record of making centuries,” Hohns said.

“Matt Renshaw is a player with the ability to make big scores, and at 22 years old has 10 first-class centuries. He also performed extremely well in England during the County season. We see him as a long-term prospect as a Test player and have confidence in his ability to bounce back following a string of low scores early in the Shield season,” he added.

Following is the squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka:

Tim Paine (c/wk), Josh Hazlewood (vc), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Will Pucovski, Matt Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle
Australia will play their first Test against Sri Lanka from January 24 to 28, followed by the second which will be played from February 1 to 5.