Uncapped paceman Chadd Sayers is the bolter for the Test tour of New Zealand as Australia digs deep into their dwindling fast bowling stocks in their bid to reclaim the No.1 ranking.
Sayers has been named in a 14-man touring party, his first selection in an Australian squad, while there was also a recall for Tasmanian seamer Jackson Bird.
Victorian Scott Boland can consider himself unlucky to miss out after being named in the squad for the Melbourne and Sydney Tests without playing.
Sayers’ inclusion is the major surprise in a squad which otherwise picks itself.
The South Australian did not feature in the Big Bash and has not played at domestic level in six weeks due to the break in the Shield season.
Sayers is not express pace but his swing bowling is expected to be well suited to conditions in New Zealand.
Sayers, 28, has been one of the better performing quicks in state cricket, with 145 first-class wickets at 24.82 from 38 games.
“We are delighted to welcome Chadd Sayers into the squad for the first time and his inclusion is thoroughly deserved,” chairman of selectors Rod Marsh said.
“Both he and Jackson Bird can swing the ball and operate at a lively pace and we believe both will be well suited to the conditions we are likely to encounter in New Zealand.”
Bird has been rewarded for strong form in the Shield, where he is second on the wicket-takers list with 22 at 24.
Bird and Sayers, who join Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle in the squad, are the beneficiaries of the drain in Australia’s fast bowling stocks in the past eight months.
Senior pair Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris have retired while Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Nathan Coulter-Nile are all injured.
Selectors are “hopeful” Pattinson can overcome shin soreness to take his place on tour, Marsh said, while Siddle is on the verge of returning from an ankle injury.
“Our fast bowling depth is certainly being tested because of injury and retirement but the positive part of that is it means there are opportunities for other players to stand up in domestic cricket and stake their claims,” Marsh said.
“On that basis it is an exciting time for Australian cricket.”
The top six who played in the Sydney Test pick themselves while Shaun Marsh will travel as the reserve batsman.
Australia defeated the Black Caps 2-0 at home but are set to face a much sterner test in New Zealand.
At stake is the No.1 Test ranking, which Australia can regain by winning the series, though the Kiwis will also have plenty to play for in captain Brendon McCullum’s international swansong.
“We know that New Zealand is going to come hard at us, that their players will want some form of pay-back for the Test series loss suffered in the series we played in this country late last year and that they will want to give captain Brendon McCullum a send-off into international retirement with a series win against their near-neighbours,” Marsh said.
“The fact that we can move back to the top of the ICC Rankings if we win the series is an added incentive for us but the players will be hungry to do well and we are anticipating a tough but also, hopefully, a successful series.”
Australian Test squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jackson Bird, Shaun Marsh, Chadd Sayers