Bancroft, Burns, Khawaja included in PM's XI
Youth will mingle with experience as Test hopefuls Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja join Adam Voges and Peter Siddle in a strong Prime Minister's XI to face the New Zealanders in Canberra on Friday.
Bancroft, Burns and Khawaja are all in strong contention to be chosen for the Gabba Test, while Voges will be looking for a score to shore up his place in the selectors' plans after an underwhelming Matador Cup campaign in which he has made just 50 runs in five innings for Western Australia. Voges had been named Steven Smith's vice-captain for the postponed Bangladesh series.
Other players of promise to be included in the squad are Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff and Ryan Carters, while David Hussey will join his brother Michael, already named as captain of the team. While the selectors were effectively cornered into choosing Siddle due to his lack of cricket, they will be eager to get further sights of the batsmen vying to join Smith and David Warner in the top six for Brisbane.
"This is one of the strongest Prime Minister's XI sides we have selected in recent years," the selection chairman Rod Marsh said. "The Prime Minister's XI match is a very important occasion on the Australian cricket calendar and this year it takes on added significance as it marks the very start of our international summer.
"Unfortunately due to the postponed Bangladesh tour, players such as Joe Burns, Cameron Bancroft, and Usman Khawaja all missed opportunities to perform on the international stage. This match is a great opportunity to build on their Matador Cup performances and the strong form they displayed on the recent Australia A tour of India. We're keeping a close eye on these players ahead as we prepare to select the Test squad.
"Given we are only a few weeks away from the first Test at the Gabba, it is an ideal opportunity for us to watch a group of highly-rated players and see how they perform against a quality New Zealand side. We know New Zealand will be looking for immediate success in their first match on Australian soil since the ICC Cricket World Cup final.
"We have chosen a very strong line-up which will benefit from the experience of players such as the Hussey brothers, Adam Voges and Peter Siddle. It's pleasing too that three players that were products of ACT Cricket feature in the side, allowing them to showcase their talents in front of a home crowd. Jason Behrendorff, Ryan Carters and Ben Taylor all deserve this opportunity and we're delighted for them."
The match will be played under lights using the experimental pink ball to be tried in the inaugural day-night Test match in Adelaide next month, and will be followed by a two-day tour match between Brendon McCullum's side and a Cricket Australia invitational team.
Prime Minister's XI squad: Michael Hussey (capt), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, David Hussey, Ryan Carters (wk), Ashton Agar, Peter Siddle, Jason Behrendorff, Mark Steketee, Ben Taylor (12th man)
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig