Injured Starc out of Bangladesh Tests, O'Keefe dropped
Mitchell Starc will miss Australia's Test tour of Bangladesh in August due to injury, while left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe has been axed despite bowling Australia to victory with a 12-wicket haul against India in Pune earlier this year. Ashton Agar has been included as the second spinner alongside Nathan Lyon, with Jon Holland overlooked after piling up 50 Sheffield Shield wickets at 20.78 last summer.
Allrounder Hilton Cartwright has been named in the 13-man squad and has the chance to add to the one Test cap he earned during Australia's home summer, while Usman Khawaja has been included after being overlooked for all four Tests in India. In the absence of Starc, Australia's pace attack will be made up of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, although a fourth fast bowler is set to be added after Australia A's tour of South Africa.
"Mitchell was due to go for follow up scans after the Champions Trophy, as part of his recovery plan," David Beakley, Australia's team physio, said. "These scans have indicated his previous stress fracture has still not fully healed to the extent we would like.
"He will now undertake a period of rest from bowling with the aim to have him return for the one-day series in India in late September as he begins his build up to the Ashes."
The omission of O'Keefe is a rapid fall for the left-arm spinner, who claimed 6 for 35 in each innings in Pune in February, and finished the series as Australia's equal leading wicket-taker despite his impact diminishing as the tour wore on. Then in April, O'Keefe was fined and suspended by New South Wales for what were described as "highly inappropriate comments" at a Cricket NSW function.
"Whilst Steve O'Keefe bowled well in Pune," national selector Trevor Hohns said, "he did not maintain this level in the remaining matches of the series and we believe the timing is right for Ashton to enter the set-up and test his allrounder ability.
"Ashton has continued to impress us with his form and we believe his bowling is at a level where he deserves to be playing on the highest stage. He will work nicely in tandem with Nathan Lyon and also brings a great all-round package to the team.
"Hilton averages nearly 60 [52.07] runs in first-class cricket and was the second highest run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield last season with 861 runs. He is a quality player who we believe has a big future for Australia and we are very keen to see him carry on his good form in the sub-continent."
Although the tour schedule had not been officially announced, Cricket Australia said in releasing the squad details that the team would arrive in Bangladesh on August 18 and play a two-day tour game in Fatullah from August 22. The two Tests are set for August 27 in Dhaka and September 4 in Chittagong.
Australia were supposed to tour Bangladesh in 2015 but after advice from the Federal Government, Cricket Australia announced the tour had been postponed due to security concerns. Pat Howard, Cricket Australia's executive general manager of team performance, said CA was currently satisfied with the security arrangements for the trip.
"The Bangladesh Cricket Board and the Bangladesh Government have provided satisfactory levels of assurance and security for this tour to proceed at this stage, and we're very grateful to them for this," Howard said. "We will continue to work with them to finalise plans but also monitor advice from government agencies and our own security advisors about the security risk.
"Our number one priority will always be the safety and security of our players and support staff when travelling to any country. Players selected for this tour will continue to receive regular security status updates prior to travelling."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale