Australian selectors today named a 14-man squad including Marcus Harris and his Victoria teammates Peter Handscomb, uncapped fast bowler Chris Tremain and veteran Peter Siddle.
Handscomb and SA captain Travis Head are vying for one middle-order batting spot in the Test team, given Usman Khawaja has overcome a a knee injury.
While Head has been retained in the squad, Queenslander Marnus Labuschagne has been dropped after playing two Tests in last month’s series against Pakistan.
Harris had been in the box seat to make his Test debut on December 6 in Adelaide since scoring an unbeaten 250 in Victoria’s Sheffield Shield match against NSW last month.
The 26-year-old has been a consistent Shield performer since shifting from Western Australia to Victoria in 2016, scoring 1951 runs at 47.58.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns says Harris has “forced his way into the squad”.
“Not only has he made plenty of runs, he’s displayed the mental application we believe is required to compete at Test cricket,” Hohn said in a statement.
“Chris Tremain has also been performing consistently with the ball for Victoria.
“His form in the Sheffield Shield has seen him become the second highest wicket-taker in the competition this season.
“He has also been a consistent wicket-taker over the past two seasons, and thoroughly deserves his place in the squad.”
Harris famously shunned the mentorship of then-WA coach and now Australia boss Justin Langer when he left Perth.
“His performances have been mediocre with flashes of brilliance … I respect the fact that our program is not for everyone,” Langer said at the time.
Khawaja will return from a knee injury in Queensland’s Shield clash with Victoria next week.
“We have been really impressed with the way Usman Khawaja has applied himself through his rehabilitation and he’s left no stone unturned in his bid to return in Adelaide,” Hohns said.
“Barring any setbacks, all the signs are indicating he will be available for the first Test.”
Australia squad: Tim Paine (capt),Marcus Harris, Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Chris Tremain, Peter Siddle, Peter Handscomb.
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