Former Australia batter and chair of the National Selection Panel (NSP) George Bailey has put four cricketers on “standby” in case any player is down with illness or injury ahead of the month-long away series against Pakistan, beginning with the first Test at Rawalpindi on March 4.
Bailey, who had announced an 18-member squad for the Pakistan tour on Tuesday, said on Wednesday that Queensland’s Matt Renshaw and Victoria’s Nic Maddinson in batting and Sean Abbott and Mark Steketee in bowling had been kept as standbys.
Australia have retained 14 of the 15 players, who recently won the Ashes series, for the three Tests against Pakistan, with pace bowler Jhye Richardson being the only exception. Besides, Ashton Agar, Josh Inglis, Mitchell Marsh and Mitchell Swepson have also been included.
“We’ve got four guys on standby,” Bailey said on SEN 1170 The Run Home on Wednesday. “That’s because of the risk of COVID and injury risk with some domestic cricket, plus these five internationals (T20s against Sri Lanka) over the next couple of weeks as well.
“Matt Renshaw and Nic Maddinson on the batting front I think are two guys that we’re really happy with how they’re going at the moment. We’re looking forward to them continuing their form over the next little period,” said Bailey.
Renshaw and Maddinson have already donned the baggy greens, while the bowlers, Sean Abbott and Mark Steketee, are yet to play Test cricket.
“Sean Abbott and Mark Steketee on the bowling front,” Bailey said. “They’ve both been around the Australian group at different times. Any of those four, when they do get their opportunity, I’m really confident they’ll do a great job.”
This will be the first series on Pakistani soil between the two cricketing powerhouses in 24 years, with the crucial ICC World Test Championship points up for grabs.