Mennie in Test squad, Khawaja recalled

Joe Mennie is a surprise inclusion in Australia’s Test squad © Getty Images

Joe Mennie has beaten Jackson Bird to the “into the wind” spot for Australia’s squad to face South Africa in the first Test of the summer at the WACA Ground.

As expected, Shaun Marsh‘s return to fitness from a hamstring injury saw him retained in the batting order ahead of Joe Burns, while Peter Siddle returned to the team for the first time since he withdrew injured from the Test team during the tour of New Zealand in February.

However it was Mennie’s inclusion that will be a talking point, particularly after his underwhelming start to international cricket in South Africa on the recent ODI tour. Bird had been widely expected to take the spot after being a squad member in Sri Lanka and also bowling well in New Zealand earlier in the year.

The selection panel chaired by Rod Marsh has always favoured the inclusion of a bowler to deliver long spells into the breeze in Perth, and Mennie’s sterling efforts for South Australia last summer were enough to convince the panel he may be able to perform the same role in a Test match.

“Joe bowls a great length at a lively pace and his form in first-class cricket has been terrific in the last 12 months,” Marsh said. “He also impressed us during the recent Australia A Series in Queensland.

“He was the highest wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield last season and is very handy with the bat.”

Shaun Marsh was said to have edged his way past Burns by dint of hundreds in his past two Test matches, most recently the third Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo, and also a strong record in both Perth and Hobart.

“Both Shaun and Joe played very well in the Sheffield Shield round,” Rod Marsh said, “but Shaun is coming off back-to-back hundreds in Test matches and has performed very well in Perth and Hobart so we have opted to go with him.”

The selectors will now wait to see how the WACA pitch shapes up for the first Test before deliberating on whether or not to include the spin of Nathan Lyon, who struggled somewhat in Sri Lanka but has an exceptional record in Australian conditions.

Test squad David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill (wk), Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Joe Mennie, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon,

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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