Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Ashton Agar has been named as Australia's third spinner in an 18-man Test squad for their upcoming three-match tour of Pakistan.
Despite the fear of one or two players opting out of the tour there were very few surprises in the squad with Josh Hazlewood returning from the side strain that kept him out of the final four Tests of the Ashes while Marcus Harris has been retained as the spare opening batter. Mitchell Marsh has been included as a second allrounder and Josh Inglis will travel as the reserve wicketkeeper while Michael Neser remains in the squad as the fifth fast bowling option alongside skipper Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Scott Boland and Hazlewood.
Jhye Richardson had already been ruled out of selection for Pakistan for workload management reasons.
Agar, a left-arm orthodox, joins offspinner Nathan Lyon and legspinner Mitchell Swepson as the trio of spinners. Swepson has yet to debut but has been Lyon's understudy for the past three years. Agar has played four Test matches but has not played Test cricket since September 2017 when Australia toured Bangladesh. He was part of a three-man spin attack alongside Lyon and Steve O'Keefe in the last Test he played in Chattogram but took just two wickets in a match where Lyon bagged 13.
Agar has also played just one first-class match since October 2020 due to his limited-overs commitments with Australia. He averages 41.28 with the ball in first-class cricket and strikes at 80.70.
Interim coach Andrew McDonald will take charge of the squad after Justin Langer resigned last Saturday.
National selector George Bailey believes the squad covers all bases as Australia are not quite sure what conditions they will get in Pakistan given the side has not toured there since 1998.
"This squad covers for all scenarios including the conditions given it has been such a long time since Australia was last in Pakistan," Bailey said.
"With several subcontinent tours and a one-day World Cup in India on the near horizon this is a great first-up challenge for the group after the successful home Ashes Series.
"It's also a very historic tour given the length of time since an Australian side last toured Pakistan."
Some of Australia's batters have limited experience in Asia with Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head having played just one Test series in the UAE in 2018. Marcus Harris and Cameron Green have never played a first-class match in Asia and this will be Green's first overseas Test tour. Alex Carey has played one first-class match for Australia A in India and has international white-ball experience on the subcontinent.
Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, Steven Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner,