SYDNEY: Australia sprang a surprise on Monday when they called up uncapped paceman Andrew Fekete, 30, for next month’s Test tour of Bangladesh as part of a major shake-up following a number of retirements.
Debutant top-order batsman Cameron Bancroft, 22, also gets the nod in a 15-man squad captained by Steve Smith as Australia grapple with wholesale changes.
Ex-skipper Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson have all retired as Australia lost the Ashes Test tour but won the one-day series against England 3-2.
Quicks Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood are both rested after a heavy recent workload, while opening batsman David Warner and leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed are injured.
Joe Burns, Patrick Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell and Stephen O’Keefe are all recalled for the two Tests in Chittagong and Dhaka.
“The retirements … as well as issues of injury, form and conditions have brought about a major change in the profile of the touring party from the one that toured the British Isles,” said national selector Rodney Marsh.
“But with that change comes a fantastic opportunity for all the players going to Bangladesh.
“They are going as a young group with seven of the players aged 26 or less, and all 15 have the opportunity to kick on and, in the case of Cameron Bancroft and Andrew Fekete, kick off their Test careers and establish themselves as the core of the side for years to come.”
West Australian Bancroft scored 896 first-class runs last season while Fekete took 37 wickets — more than any other fast bowler in domestic cricket.
“Cameron is a player who impressed everyone on the recent A tour of India,” Marsh said. “He’s young, hungry and he could become a very good player for us over a long period of time.
“With Stephen O’Keefe, Nathan Lyon and Glenn Maxwell we believe we have the right number and the right type of spinners for the conditions we expect to encounter.”
He added that Burns, Bancroft, Marsh and Khawaja could “form the nucleus of our top-order, alongside Steve Smith and David Warner, for the forseeable future.”
Johnson and Hazlewood were expected to return to the side for the first home Test of the season, against New Zealand in November.
Australia are due to depart September 28 to arrive for a tour match in Fatullah from October 3-5.
The two Tests will take place in Chittagong (October 9-13) and the capital (October 17-21).
Australia: Steve Smith (c), Adam Voges, Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Patrick Cummins, Andrew Fekete, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Stephen O’Keefe, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc.