Steve Smith will open the batting alongside Usman Khawaja for next week’s first Test against the West Indies after edging out specialists Cameron Bancroft, Marcus Harris and Matt Renshaw.
Australia’s selectors on Wednesday confirmed the 13-man squad for the two-Test series starting on January 17.
The announcement ended weeks of speculation surrounding who of the leading Sheffield Shield openers would be included in the squad to potentially replace the now retired David Warner, with only Renshaw getting the nod as a reserve.
Watch, Stream & Catch Up with Australia’s Home of Cricket on 7plus >>
Bancroft had been expected to at least make the squad, having scored more runs than anyone in the past two and a half Shield seasons with an average over 50 in that time.
Renshaw, 27, makes his return to the squad after touring England for the Ashes last year, though he didn’t play a game, and India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, where he played only the first Test.
Australian selectors zero in on David Warner replacement
Smith will move up the order from No.4 to allow allrounder Cameron Green to return to the XI after being supplanted as the No.6 batter by Mitch Marsh.
While it will be unfamiliar territory for Green at Test level, No.4 is his regular spot for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield, where he averages 54.
“We have selected a team we believe contains the best six batters in the country,” chief selector George Bailey confirmed on Wednesday.
Cameron Green has been recalled by Australia for the two-Test series against West Indies. Credit: AAP
That desire to pick the half-dozen leading batters and get allrounder Green back into the team led selectors to decide against a specialist opener.
When Warner announced his retirement plans back in June, it was expected the race to replace him was between Renshaw, Harris and Bancroft.
Bancroft has since piled on the most runs in the Sheffield Shield, backing up last summer’s big season for Western Australia when he also topped the charts.
But in Green, Australia’s selectors see a generational talent, who also provides a genuine fifth fast-bowling option alongside Marsh and the three quicks.
Green’s return comes after he was squeezed out of the team during last year’s Ashes when Marsh scored a century while filling in for him at Headingley.
Matt Renshaw, Marcus Harris and Cameron Bancroft were expected to vie to replace David Warner. Credit: AAP
Australia’s captain Pat Cummins has warned against moving Smith up to opener to allow Green to bat at No.4, concerned the switch would cause too much disruption to the order.
But it appears increasingly likely Smith will be the man to move up, although Green is also an option to open.
Neither of the pair have previously opened in Test cricket, but Smith has put his hand up for the challenge late in his career.
Green’s addition to the team is likely to be the only change to the XI that beat Pakistan 3-0 to start the Test summer.
Scott Boland has also retained his spot in the squad, but will only be called upon if one of Australia’s three premier fast bowlers is injured.
Full squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Matt Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc.
– With AAP