Australia has dropped two stars from its squad for the World Test Championship final against India.
Allrounder Mitchell Marsh and batter Matthew Renshaw are the casualties from the trimmed 15-man squad, with Renshaw losing his place after a shock return to the Test side in January following five years in the wilderness.
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Marsh, meanwhile, hasn’t added to his 32 Tests since he starred for Australia at The Oval during the 2019 Ashes, taking 5-86 in the first innings against the old enemy, but has been plagued with injury and in his only first-class outing of the summer, whacked a prodigious century against Tasmania at the WACA to reinforce his match-winning capabilities.
Trimming the squad down to the ICC’s mandated 15 players for the one-off Test, beginning June 7 at The Oval, has seen the inclusion of Josh Hazlewood, who is racing to be fit after leaving his IPL stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore early with side soreness.
Hazlewood has struggled with injury over the last three years, having missed the recent tour of India with an Achilles complaint, itself a comeback from a recurring side strain issue that dates back to the 2021-22 home Ashes series.
Hazlewood has played only four of a possible 19 Tests since then, and his extended stint on the sidelines has provided the likes of Scott Boland the opportunity to flourish at Test level.
Marcus Harris has seen reward for his recent form in the County Championship, scoring 148 to start the season for Gloucestershire, before another century against Durham.
Cameron Bancroft is yet to see the same reward, overlooked after a Shield season in which he scored 945 runs at an average of 59, although he remains in England as Somerset’s overseas player, and has not set the world alight averaging 19 from four matches.
Renshaw’s exclusion possibly marks the end of an interrupted Test career that began with him earmarked as Australia’s next old-school opener after debuting at the tender age of 20.
Renshaw was dropped in 2017 for an in-form Cameron Bancroft despite averaging 36 and having scored one hundred and three fifties, only to return for a solitary Test as reinforcement following the Sandpapergate scandal before spending another five years in exile ahead of a surprise return against South Africa earlier this year.
Renshaw’s ongoing presence in the Test side is one of contrasts – with a Test century to his name (more than Harris can boast), and having scored two magnificent centuries on the recent A Tour to New Zealand, he is evidently capable, but has struggled to put together strong performances at Test level of late.
Amid growing pressure on 36-year-old opener David Warner given his record in England, head coach Andrew McDonald was steadfast in his support earlier this week.
“We’re optimistic with what Dave’s got left, we picked him in the squad and we feel he’s going to play a really significant part in the Ashes and the World Test Championship final,” McDonald told SEN.
“That’s why he’s on the plane. We think he’s got some good games left in him.”
Renshaw and Marsh remain around the group as standby players.
India have made one change to their group, with uncapped prodigy Yashasvi Jaiswal earning a call-up as a standby player to replace Ruturaj Gaikwad, who is getting married.
Jaiswal’s story is straight out of a Hollywood movie, having belted 625 runs in 14 innings this season for Rajasthan in the IPL — having slept rough as a 10-year-old on sporting grounds in Mumbai.
The World Test Championship final will be played at The Oval from June 7-11.
Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Todd Murphy, Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David Warner.
Standby: Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Renshaw.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, KS Bharat (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Mohd. Shami, Mohd. Siraj, Umesh Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Ishan Kishan (wk).
Standby: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Mukesh Kumar, Suryakumar Yadav