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 addition to the squad after Australia’s Test series against Pakistan and West Indies this summer, with Lance Morris ruled out after picking up an injury in Tuesday’s ODI.
The 33-year-old Queenslander played the last of his two Tests in December 2022 but has been a regular around the red-ball setup for the last five years.
“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,” Australia’s chair of selectors, George Bailey said.
“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.”
Victoria quick Scott Boland will also fly with the 14-man Test squad despite suffering an injury scare during a Sheffield Shield match this week. Boland had scans on his knee but was able to bowl in the second innings and will continue to be managed.
The Trans-Tasman rivals will first contest three T20 internationals before locking horns in a two Test series to be played in Wellington and Christchurch.
Earlier this week Cricket Australia named a 15-player squad for the T20s with Travis Head, Steve Smith and Matt Short striving to partner David Warner at the top of the order for this year’s T20 World Cup in West Indies and the United States. Fast bowler Nathan Ellis was named despite a rib niggle with exciting Brisbane Heat quick Spencer Johnson on standby.
Test specialist veterans Neser and 34-year-old Boland are unlikely to feature against the Black Caps unless there are injuries to Australia’s star pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. The three played in all five Tests this summer but were rested during the recent ODI series against West Indies.
Anticipation for this long-awaited series has ratcheted up a notch since the Black Caps’ 281-run thumping of a below-strength South Africa at Mount Maunganui lifted them above Australia on the World Test Championship table, with a chance to extend that lead after the second Test against the Proteas at Hamilton next Tuesday.
New Zealand have not recorded a Test series win against Australia in New Zealand since the one-match campaign of 1990 and lost 2-0 in 2015-16.
That series went into the record books when New Zealand’s Ross Taylor hit the highest score in Trans-Tasman trophy history, with 290 in the second innings of the second Test to surpass the previous record of 253 set by Warner in the very same Test.
The Black Caps will be boosted by the return of fast bowler Kyle Jamieson and ex-skipper Kane Williamson who scored centuries in both innings against South Africa. Williamson has now scored six centuries in six Tests and is averaging 96 since 2020.
Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (captain), 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.