Cricket Australia reveals 18-player squad for Pakistan tour

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Marcus Harris has avoided facing the axe following an underwhelming Ashes series, with the Victorian opener named in Australia’s 18-player Test squad for the upcoming tour of Pakistan.

The Australian Test side will travel to Pakistan for the first time since 1998 next month for a three-match series, beginning on March 4.

Harris, who averages 25.29 with the bat after 14 Tests, has been included despite being dropped from the starting XI during Australia’s recent 4-0 Ashes triumph.

Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja has also been named following his unforgettable twin centuries against England during the New Year’s Test in Sydney.

West Australian all-rounder Ashton Agar has been named as a reserve spinner alongside Queenslander tweaker Mitchell Swepson.

Josh Inglis will accompany incumbent gloveman Alex Carey as the reserve wicketkeeper, while T20 World Cup champion Mitchell Marsh has also been selected.

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Ashes hero Scott Boland will accompany an undermanned pack attack to the subcontinent, where historically spin bowlers have dominated.

Injury-prone seamer Jhye Richardson, who claimed a five-wicket haul against England in the pink-ball Test at Adelaide Oval, has been rested for the Pakistan tour.

“This squad covers for all scenarios including the conditions given it has been such a long time since Australia was last in Pakistan,” selection chief George Bailey said.

“It’s also a very historic tour given the length of time since an Australian side last toured Pakistan.”

Australia has been reluctant to tour Pakistan since the 2009 terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore, but thorough security assessments were conducted to ensure the tour could proceed safely.

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Australian Test squad for Pakistan tour

Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

Australian Cricketers’ Association chief Todd Greenberg told SEN on Monday, “We may have one or two players who won’t be comfortable despite all of the advice and guidance that we provide. Along with Cricket Australia, we’ll need to respect those players and give them our full support if they decide not to make this tour”.