Australia will lean on veteran opener David Warner once again after selecting him for the first Test against Pakistan in Perth next week.
The 37-year-old appears destined to have his farewell wishes recognised after he was named in the 14-man squad despite recent calls for him to retire and questions over his Test form.
See the full Australian squad below
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Australian selectors have also recalled West Australian tearaway quick Lance Morris, while spin king Nathan Lyon returns to the team after missing the final three Tests of the Ashes series due to a calf injury.
Allrounders Mitchell Marsh and Cameron Green have both been included but only one, most likely Marsh, is expected to play in Perth.
The Australian selection panel consists of George Bailey, coach Andrew McDonald and Tony Dodemaide and Bailey said Warner deserved another chance.
The selectors are again backing Warner in. Credit: Getty Images
But that is at odds with Australian legend Mitchell Johnson who wrote an explosive column for The West Australian on Saturday and questioned whether his former teammate “warranted a hero’s send off”.
Johnson also said Warner had not owned the ball-tampering scandal and had no right to be making demands about how he should be farewelled.
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“Does this really warrant a swan song, a last hurrah against Pakistan that was forecast a year in advance as if he was bigger than the game and the Australian cricket team?” Johnson wrote.
“It’s been five years and Warner has still never really owned the ball-tampering scandal.
“Now the way he is going out is underpinned by more of the same arrogance and disrespect to our country.”
Warner is now set to get his desired farewell Test at the SCG in January.
He will start the summer opening with Usman Khawaja despite having scored just one Test century since January 2020, a memorable 200 against South Africa in last year’s Boxing Day match.
Even if Warner’s form is shaky in Perth and Melbourne, selectors will not make a change unless Australia face an unlikely challenge from a Pakistan team who head down under amid ongoing dysfunction at board level and within their administration.
Bailey said captain Pat Cummins and the group — including Warner — had built a strong resume over an extended period and should be backed in.
“We believe they have earned the opportunity to start in our first home Test match at the beginning of the new World Test Championship cycle,” he said.
“Thirteen members of the squad were part of the victorious World Test Championship and successful Ashes tours over the winter and Lance Morris has been recalled after recovering from his back injury over the same period,” Bailey said..
“As ever, there will be opportunities in the short to medium term to break into this squad.
“We look forward to seeing the continued strong performances from players who have been performing domestically, many of whom will get a tremendous opportunity in the PM’s XI fixture against Pakistan later this week.”
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland, Cameron Green, Lance Morris.
– With AAP