Cricket 2022: Agar and Renshaw picked in Test squad

Australian selectors have “covered all bases” for the third Test against South Africa with Matt Renshaw and Ashton Agar joining the squad for next week’s match in Sydney, while speedster Lance Morris remains a chance to make his debut.

Changes were always going to happen with Mitchell Starc and Cam Green both ruled out with finger injuries sustained in the Boxing Day Test, giving officials a chance to bring in fresh blood now that the series is wrapped up.

Selectors can go a number of ways for the Sydney Test with the SCG pitch expected to be dry, bringing in the real possibility of Agar coming in to partner fellow spinner Nathan Lyon.

Agar last played a Test back in 2017 and hasn’t really excelled in first class cricket this year, although his white ball form for Australia remains top notch.

The added benefit of bringing in Agar is that he’s competent enough with the bat to allow Alex Carey to push up the order after his breakthrough century in Melbourne.

“Ashton offers a second spin option should the Sydney pitch be conducive to turn, as it has done in the past. He also brings a solid batting component,” selector Tony Dodemaide said.

Selectors could go the other way and pick a specialist batter for the upcoming Test, with Renshaw and Marcus Harris both in line for a recall.

Renshaw played the last of his 11 Tests in 2018 and impressed selectors with scores of 81 and 101 not out against the West Indies in a tour game last month, while he also hit a double century against NSW in October.

The Queenslander is seen as a long-term Test opener but would likely slide into the middle order if selected for Sydney.

“Matthew is included as a versatile batting option who is in good form, including an unbeaten century in the recent PM’s XI tour match against the West Indies,” Dodemaide said.

The SCG pitch will be a big talking point in the coming days and it could well decide who comes in to replace Starc, with Morris’ speed making him a like for like option in what would be his international debut.

But veteran quick Josh Hazlewood has recovered from the side strain that ruled him out of the first two Tests, and he’s indicated he wants to play at his home deck in Sydney after missing last year’s match due to injury.

“In terms of fast bowlers, it’s a blessing to have Josh returning while Lance offers a genuine point of difference with his raw pace and skill.

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

Australia squad: 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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