Melbourne, Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc and left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe were the two notable omissions from the 13-member Australia side that will tour Bangladesh for a two-Test cricket rubber in August, Cricket Australia (CA) announced on Friday.
Starc, who was ruled out of the second half of the India tour with a fractured foot, returned for Australia’s failed ICC Champions Trophy campaign.
But the left-armer’s injury has not fully healed and he was subsequently ordered rest to be fit for the crucial Ashes campaign, starting November 23.
“Scans have indicated his previous stress fracture has still not fully healed to the extent we would like. He will now undertake a period of rest from bowling with the aim to have him return for the one-day series in India in late September as he begins his build up to the Ashes,” Australia’s physiotherapist David Beakely said.
CA also named Hilton Cartwright in the squad as one of three all-rounders alongside incumbent No.6 Glenn Maxwell and left-arm spinner Ashton Agar.
Agar is set to play a prominent role as Nathan Lyon’s spin twin after O’Keefe was dropped from the squad that valiantly lost to India 1-2 in the subcontinent.
O’Keefe starred in the first Test against India, grabbing a record 12/70 in Pune but Australia’s national selector Trevor Hohns felt that his performance dipped in the subsequent three Tests.
“Whilst Steve O’Keefe bowled well in Pune, he did not maintain this level in the remaining matches of the series and we believe the timing is right for Ashton to enter the set-up and test his all-rounder ability,” Hohns said.
“Ashton has continued to impress us with his form and we believe his bowling is at a level where he deserves to be playing on the highest stage. He will work nicely in tandem with Nathan Lyon and also brings a great all-round package to the team,” he added.
Despite not playing a Test on the India tour, opener Usman Khawaja was retained in the squad, but Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Swepson, Jackson Bird and Marcus Stoinis failed to keep their places.
The pace department will be led by Josh Hazlewood with comeback man James Pattinson and Pat Cummins while a replacement for Starc is expected to be named soon.
Australia will start their tour with a two-day warm-up match at Fatullah on August 22-23 before playing the first Test from August 27 to 31 in Dhaka. The second and final game will be played from September 4 to 8 at Chittagong.
Squad: Steven Smith (Captain), David Warner (vice-capt), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade (WK), Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Matt Renshaw.