Aussie shock selection as long-exiled star back, spinner added for SCG Test

Aussie shock selection as long-exiled star back, spinner added for SCG Test

Matthew Renshaw and Ashton Agar have been recalled to Australia’s Test squad ahead of the third and final Test against South Africa in Sydney next week.

Mitchell Starc and Cameron Green suffered finger injuries during the recent Boxing Day Test against the Proteas, ruling the pair out of the New Year’s clash at the SCG.

On Friday morning, Cricket Australia unveiled a 14-man squad for the series finale in Sydney, with Renshaw and Agar the new additions.

Renshaw has not represented Australia since the 2018 Test tour of South Africa, while the last of Agar’s four Tests came in 2017.

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The West Australian all-rounder has never played Test cricket on home soil and could partner Nathan Lyon as the second spinner for the SCG match.

“Ashton offers the option of a second spin should the Sydney pitch allow for spin as it has in the past. He also brings a solid batting component,” national selector Tony Dodemaide said in a statement.

“Matthew is included as an all-rounder who is in good form, including an unbeaten century in the recent PM’s XI tour match against the West Indies.

“In terms of fast bowlers, it’s a blessing to have Josh (Hazlewood) back, while Lance (Morris) offers a real difference with his raw pace and skill.

“This team will cover all the bases when we get to Sydney and assess the conditions closer to the Test match.

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Renshaw made his Test debut in November 2016 as a 20-year-old, scoring a maiden century against Pakistan at the SCG that summer.

But after a disappointing Test tour of Bangladesh in 2017, he was axed in favor of Cameron Bancroft.

Renshaw took a break from cricket at the start of 2020 after being dropped from Queensland’s Sheffield Shield squad, but has been one of the Bulls’ most prolific scorers since his return.

The 26-year-old averages 51.66 in the Sheffield Shield this summer, scoring an unbeaten double-century against New South Wales in Sydney.

Renshaw then turned heads during the Prime Minister’s XI match against the West Indies in Canberra last month, scoring 81 and 101 not out against the pink Kookaburra.

“I’m ready,” Renshaw told AAP when asked about the possibility of calling the Test again earlier this month.

“For the last couple of years I have definitely thought about how I approach my cricket.

“The Aussie stuff is important but you can grab your mindset and try to play for that rather than just playing for my team and doing well for Queensland.”

“That’s the big learning I’ve had along with enjoying cricket. If (revocation of the test) comes, then it comes. It will take care of itself.”

Renshaw has not represented Australia since the 2018 Test tour of South Africa.Source: Getty Images

Meanwhile, Agar has seemingly leapfrogged existing back-up spinner Mitchell Swepson in the order to become the second tweaker behind Nathan Lyon.

The 29-year-old is a proven all-rounder – averaging 28.38 with the bat in first-class cricket with three centuries to his credit. Every Australian cricket fan remembers the 98 he scored while batting at number 11 on his Test debut at Trent Bridge in 2013.

Agar could comfortably bat at No. 7 if needed and plug the hole left by Green.

Secondly, Agar bowls the ball from right-handed batsmen, unlike Nathan Lyon who swings it from left to right. Having two tweakers in tandem means that the outside edge is constantly threatened, regardless of who is shooting.

Steve O’Keefe’s 12-wicket haul in Pune may be the only motivation the national selectors need to give Agar, another orthodox left-arm spinner, a ticket to India next month.

SQUAD AUSTRALIA: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith (vc), David Warner

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