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Neser recalled for New Zealand tour, Renshaw retains reserve batting spot

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Michael Neser has been recalled to Australia’s Test squad for the tour of New Zealand with the selectors taking a horses-for-courses approach based on conditions they expect across the Tasman in what is otherwise a very settled group for the two-match series.

Neser has often been around the Australia set-up in recent years and was part of the World Test Championship final squad last year. His two Tests have both come in Adelaide – against England in 2021-22 and West Indies the following season. His Sheffield Shield numbers are significantly down this season with nine wickets at 50.33 but he is viewed as an ideal bowler for New Zealand while his ever-improving batting adds another element.

“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,” national selector George Bailey said.

Lance Morris picked up a side strain during the third ODI against West Indies in Canberra, but Bailey indicated he would not have made the trip as back up to Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. The expectation is that those three will play both Tests against New Zealand – along with Nathan Lyon making it seven Tests in a row for the frontline bowlers – but Neser and Scott Boland will provide the support.

“We’d be looking at a different type of fast bowler,” Bailey said. “The luxury of this tour only being in New Zealand, it’s not a massive trip, so a number of players in specific roles that if we do need to get them across that it’s not too much of a challenge, so Lance would have been in that boat.”

The new-look batting order that came together against West Indies, with Steven Smith opening and Cameron Green at No. 4, will be given at least two more matches to settle in. After the New Zealand tour Australia have a long gap in Test cricket before the arrival of India for next summer’s five-match home series.
Matt Renshaw has retained his spot as the reserve batter having been earmarked as the next in line amid the reshuffle that followed David Warner’s retirement.

The overall squad is relatively small at 14 names with the short flight between the two countries meaning replacements could come in reasonably easily. However, it could leave Australia a little exposed if an injury occurred shortly before a match or in the event of a concussion during a game especially around the wicketkeeper or spin bowler with no direct cover for Alex Carey or Nathan Lyon.

New Zealand are currently top of the World Test Championship following their opening victory over South Africa and will expect to consolidate that in Hamilton. The upcoming tour has grown in significance for Australia have they lost to West Indies at the Gabba.

“As we know every Test match provides vital opportunities to obtain valuable WTC 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,” Bailey said.

The first Test begins in Wellington on February 29 followed by the second in Christchurch on March 8.

Australia Test squad vs New Zealand

Pat Cummins (capt), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc

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