Australia named a full-strength squad on Tuesday for its first Pakistan tour in 24 years, with spinners Mitchell Swepson and Ashton Agar drafted to back up their formidable pace attack.
Pat Cummins’ side — which recently lost coach Justin Langer in acrimonious circumstances — are slated to play a three-Test series in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Lahore from March 4.
Bowler Josh Hazelwood will be back in action after missing most of Australia’s recent 4-0 demolition of England in the Ashes.
Scott Boland who thrilled fans with a stunning debut at the Melbourne Cricket Ground during that series — including a spell that saw him take six wickets for seven runs — has been retained.
But there will be more backup in the spin department for stalwart Nathan Lyon, who is joined by leg-spinner Swepson and left-hander Agar.
Batters Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith are also able to bowl spin, leaving the tourists with plenty of options if the subcontinental wickets start to turn.
Close to full strength Australia Test squad picked for Pakistan tour. Despite some player anxiety over safety, big names all in the 18-player squad. Jhye Richardson being managed – only one of 15 who played in Ashes not touring. M.Marsh, Agar, Inglis and Swepson all in. pic.twitter.com/JmCV33dulo
— Andrew Wu (@wutube) February 7, 2022
It is Australia’s first tour of Pakistan in almost a quarter-century.
Cricket-mad Pakistan has struggled to entice foreign sides back after home internationals were suspended following a deadly terror attack on the Sri Lanka Test side in 2009.
Pakistan was forced to play their home international matches abroad — mostly in the United Arab Emirates — until 2015, when normal service tentatively resumed.
For Australia, the tour will be a major test of Cricket Australia’s decision to push Langer out of the coaching role.
Andrew McDonald has been appointed interim coach.
The Australia squad:
Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner