Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell and Travis Head were some of the big names included in the Australia A squads, which were named on Friday (May 19) for the upcoming tour of South Africa.
Australia A will play two four-day ‘Tests’ against South Africa A, with the first game from July 12 to July 15 at Tukkies in Pretoria and the second from July 19 to July 22 at Senwes Park in Potchefstroom. These will be followed by a 50-over tri-series also involving India A, between July 26 and August 8.
Khawaja and Head have been assigned captaincy duties for the four-day and one-day games respectively. Maxwell, who scored his maiden Test century on the tour of India earlier this year, will be Khawaja’s deputy in the four-day games.
The 14-man long-format squad includes five players with Test-match experience, namely Khawaja, Maxwell, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird and Hilton Cartwright.
“We have opted for a well-balanced squad featuring some experience blended with younger players, with an emphasis on building our depth for the future,” said Trevor Hohns, the national selector. “This is a great chance for these players to experience foreign conditions against quality international sides and really test their skills.
“With an upcoming Test series in South Africa early next year it is also an opportunity to impress with their performances and put their names forward for consideration.”
The first four-day match will be Khawaja’s first competitive match since the fourth One-Day International against Pakistan in January, after which he has been on the bench – first during the Test series in India and then with Rising Pune Supergiant in the Indian Premier League 2017.
Maxwell, on the other hand, has no shortage of match practice since he played the final two Tests of the India tour and then led Kings XI Punjab in the IPL.
“Khawaja is a proven leader and has captained Australia A before, he will gel nicely with Glenn, who recently had some captaincy experience in the IPL and we believe will respond well to this extra responsibility,” said Hohns.
The 50-over side features nine players who have represented Australia, of which only Head and Marcus Stoinis are part of Australia’s Champions Trophy squad. The other seven players with international experience are Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Scott Boland, Cartwright, Kane Richardson, Sam Heazlett and Chris Tremain.
“Travis is a capable young leader and he will benefit from the opportunity at this level,” said Hohns. “There were some senior players that missed out on an opportunity this time round but this will certainly not detract from their chances of representing Australia in the future.”
Having been selected for this tour, Head had to withdraw from the Yorkshire squad for the domestic Twenty20 championship in England.
In a cricket.com.au report, Pat Howard, the Cricket Australia high-performance chief, was quoted as saying that the full-strength squads were chosen in full confidence that the MOU negotiations between Cricket Australia and Australia Cricketers’ Association will be finalised by June 30.
“Selectors have chosen this squad irrespective and independent of the status of the MOU,” said Howard, adding, “We are confident that there will be a resolution in place by 30 June and look forward to continuing to support these players to perform at their very best on the global stage.”
Australia A four-day squad: Usman Khawaja (capt), Glenn Maxwell (vice-capt), Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Jason Behrendorff, Jackson Bird, Alex Carey (wk), Hilton Cartwright, Travis Head, Kurtis Patterson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Swepson, Chris Tremain, Jack Wildermuth.
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (capt), Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Hilton Cartwright, Sam Heazlett, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Kane Richardson, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Chris Tremain, Jack Wildermuth.