Bowling all-rounder Michael Neser has been recalled to Australia’s Test squad as Pat Cummins’ team embarks on a red-ball tour of New Zealand for the first time in eight years.
Neser is the only inclusion after Australia’s Test series against Pakistan and West Indies this summer.
The Queenslander played the last of his two Tests in December 2022 but has been a regular around the red-ball set-up for the last five years.
His selection has raised eyebrows given he has been down on form for Queensland this summer while young guns Xavier Bartlett, who took 8-38 in the ODI series against the West Indies in his debut international outings, and Spencer Johnson are seen as Test quicks of the future.
Neser, who turns 34 next month, has taken just nine wickets in six Sheffield Shield matches this summer ag 50.33.
With 34-year-old Scott Boland the other seamer in the squad as back-up to Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc, neither player is likely to get a run unless there’s an injury, which means at least one of the two reserves spots could have gone to a younger option like Johnson or Bartlett.
Western Australian speedsters Lance Morris and Jhye Richardson were out of the selection equation due to recent side strains.
The Big Three of Cummins, Starc and Hazlewood played in all five of Australia’s Tests this summer but were rested during the recent ODI series against West Indies.
“Nes has been ultra consistent, there’s a skill set there that we really like in certain conditions and hopefully New Zealand provides those conditions, Bailey said.
“It’s great to see Michael Neser get another opportunity in the squad following his ever-consistent performances over a long period of time and the conditions we expect.
“As we know every Test match provides vital opportunities to obtain valuable WTC (World Test Championship) points and we expect this tour will be a tough challenge against a very strong side who have been so consistent at home for a long period of time.”
Boland is right to fly across the Tasman despite suffering an injury scare during a Sheffield Shield match this week. He had scans on his knee but was able to bowl in the second innings and will continue to be managed.
Bailey also poured cold water on young blaster Jake Fraser-McGurk getting a Test call-up anytime soon, saying he needed strong Sheffield Shield performances to be considered for Australia’s red-ball squad.
Two days after Australian legend Ricky Ponting earmarked Fraser-McGurk as a three-format star, the chairman of selectors tempered expectations around the 21-year-old.
“His ability to learn about how to best utilise that (talent) across the formats will be really interesting over the next coming years,” Bailey said.
“His opportunity to go back and get some really good, consistent performances in Shield cricket is really important.”
The Victorian, who crossed to South Australia ahead of the current domestic season, delivered eye-catching performances in his first two ODIs.
Fraser-McGurk belted 41 off 18 balls in Australia’s record win – achieved with 43 overs left – against West Indies in Canberra on Tuesday.
It came after he smashed a towering six in Sydney on Sunday on ODI debut before being dismissed on the fifth ball of the match.
“Thrilled with what he did when he came in and great to see him get an opportunity through those one-dayers,” Bailey said.
“There’s clearly a high, high degree of talent with Jake.”
AUSTRALIA: Pat Cummins (capt), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc.