Australia have named their large Test squad for the four-match India series and it includes five uncapped players. They have a very settled Test side, but there's still time to run before Adelaide on December 17. Here are some of the talking points that came from the announcement.
Easy squad, tough decision
Picking the 17 names in Australia's Test squad wasn't an overly tasking job. The five 'extra' players beyond the 12 from last season - Will Pucovski, Cameron Green, Michael Neser, Sean Abbott and Mitchell Swepson - have been outstanding in the Sheffield Shield. "Most of the selections or people included in this squad virtually spoke for itself," Trevor Hohns said. However, Hohns and his fellow selectors have one big call to make before the first Test in Adelaide: Joe Burns vs Will Pucovski. Looking purely at recent numbers, it may not seem like a big call - Burns' 57 runs in five innings verses Pucovski's 495 in three with two double hundreds. But Burns currently holds the Test spot and in a successful side that carries weight, as does his strong alliance with David Warner. Also, while Pucovski has been prolific - almost off the charts so - he is two matches into opening in his career. The mood favours the new man, but Burns might not be gone just yet.
Red (and pink) ball ready?
These are not normal times. Larger squads, hampered preparation, an IPL during an Australian season, and quarantines. Players from the IPL arrived in Australia on Thursday and will begin 14 days isolation during which they can train under heavily controlled guidelines. For Australia, that group will include four certainties for the Test side - David Warner, Steven Smith, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins - and that quartet will not feature in either Australia A game. Therefore, their preparation for the day-night pink-ball Test will be some limited-overs matches and then net sessions in Adelaide. Players are used to transitioning between formats these days, but that's a tough ask.
Carey still the No. 2, for now
Given the difficultly of bringing players into a squad and the rules around Covid-19 substitutes, Australia have frontline replacements for almost all their positions. There is a reserve wicketkeeper among the 17 names - current No. 6 Matthew Wade who has kept in 22 Tests - but he has done it sparingly over the last two years. Hohns confirmed that at short notice he would fill in for Tim Paine, but if there was a longer time frame between the captain having a problem and the game they would look to bring someone in. Alex Carey appears to have retained the next-in-line slot by being included in the Australia A squad, but while he was at the IPL, others have had a chance to shine in the Shield. Western Australia's Josh Inglis stood out with 354 runs at 118 including two centuries. Carey has played 36 first-class matches across a seven-year first-class career although in four Shield games last season averaged 55.14 with two centuries.
Will Neser get a Test cap?
Michael Neser is a fantastic cricketer and in the recent Shield matches has shown his full range of skills: a maiden first-class century, wickets with old and new ball and some fine work in the field. However, it feels like he might be an unlucky player when it comes to earning a Test debut. He has regularly been around squads the last two years, but in Australia at least, it is difficult to see how he gets past the big four into the XI. At a push he might be an option at No. 7 if Australia wanted five frontline bowlers, but it could be a place too high. And there is even a thought he may be leapfrogged by Sean Abbott whose all-round returns have been outstanding. Still, four Tests in a month will push the quick bowlers. Neser will be ready if needed.
No rush for Green
Cameron Green has added Test selection to his limited-overs honours, but it probably remains a long shot that he will make his debut this summer. In home Tests, at least, Australia's balance of six batsmen, the keeper, three quicks and a spinner has served them well. Every year there is talk of two spinners at the SCG but it rarely happens. Mitchell Swepson is making a good case, but it would be a leap from Green's current workload of four-over spells for him to be a third seamer in a Test. He's good enough to play as a batsman, but everyone apart from Burns is locked in. "Everyone wants to tread very carefully with Cameron because we see him having a fantastic future for Australian cricket," Hohns said. "His talent is there, we're very pleased he's bowling again but he'll be managed carefully."