Warner in Ashes squad but Australia keep top order options open

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David Warner was included in Australia’s squad for the World Test Championship (WTC) final and first two Ashes tests but selectors kept their options at the top of the batting order open by also calling up Marcus Harris and Matt Renshaw.

Warner has been under pressure after a poor run of form with the bat but returned after injury to the 17-man squad for the June 7 WTC final against India at The Oval and the tests against England that follow at Edgbaston and Lord’s.

The 36-year-old, whose tour of India was cut short by an elbow injury, will need to work his way out of a form slump that has seen him post only one century, albeit a double, in more than three years.

“He’s invested and wants to make sure that we finish off what’s been a really consistent couple of years on the test front and help us win that World Test Championship, then shift that focus to the Ashes,” head selector George Bailey told reporters.

Bailey said the selectors would reassess the squad before the final three Ashes tests at Headingley, Old Trafford and The Oval in July.

Despite six tests in little more than eight weeks on the tour, Bailey said selecting only four quick bowlers in Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Boland and Mitchell Starc was not necessarily a gamble.

“The handy thing we have is that we have Sean Abbott and Michael Neser playing country cricket over there, so we can call them if we need them,” he said.

“Knowing that we’ve got some depth there and confidence in the guys that you can bring in means you’ve got the opportunity to make sure you’ve got cherry-ripe bowlers whenever you need them.”

Harris has not played a test since the last Ashes series in 2021-22 after his place as Warner’s opening partner was taken by Usman Khawaja, while Renshaw beat out the in-form Cameron Bancroft for the other batting spot covering the top order.

Injury-plagued all-rounder Mitchell Marsh returned to the test squad for the first time since the 2019 Ashes series as a backup to Cameron Green, while uncapped English-born wicketkeeper Josh Inglis was also included.

Batsman Peter Handscomb, all-rounder Ashton Agar, and spinners Mitchell Swepson and Matt Kuhnemann were the players dropped from the squad that toured India in February and March.

Despite the different conditions expected in England, off spinner Todd Murphy retained his spot in the squad as backup to Nathan Lyon after excelling in his first four tests in India.

Squad: Pat Cummins (captain), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.