Australia include two new faces for Bangladesh Tests
With retirements and injuries piling up, Australia have selected two uncapped players into a new-look 15-man squad for two Tests in Bangladesh next month.
Andrew Fekete, a 30-year-old Tasmania fast bowler who has played 18 first-class matches, and 22-year-old West Australia opener Cameron Bancroft were drafted into the squad on Monday, while top-order batsmen Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, allrounder Glenn Maxwell and left-arm spinner Stephen O'Keefe were recalled.
Steve Smith is captain and Adam Voges will be vice-captain in the absence of the injured David Warner. The squad is relatively inexperienced with a combined tally of 242 Test caps.
The selection of Fekete continues his sudden rise to prominence. He was the second-highest wicket-taker in the domestic Sheffield Shield competition last year with 37 at an average of 24.10.
After a dismal 3-2 Ashes series loss that culminated in the retirement of captain Michael Clarke and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, opener Chris Rogers, allrounder Shane Watson and paceman Ryan Harris, and prompted widespread criticism of the selectors, Australia are looking to rejuvenate their lineup.
Rod Marsh, the selection committee chairman, admitted Australia's Test lineup was vulnerable, with two-thirds of the squad having 10 Test caps or fewer.
"Another chapter is about to begin," Marsh said. "That is the way we have got to look at it because we have had so many retirements, we have got injuries. It's not scary. I think it's exciting."
Fekete toured India with the Australia A team in July, playing in both four-day matches and taking five wickets. Australia captain Smith told reporters in Manchester, where Australia clinched a limited-overs international series against England on Sunday, he hadn't yet met Fekete.
"I haven't seen a great deal of him to be quite honest," Smith said. "I heard he bowled extremely well in India for the A stuff there and there's no doubt that the conditions are likely to be quite similar.
"I think he reverses the ball quite well and hopefully that will be one of our strengths that we'll be able to do well in Bangladesh and he certainly provides that option."
Bancroft also made the India tour with Australia A, building on an outstanding Sheffield Shield season. Marsh said Bancroft batted with maturity.
"He can bat for long periods of time and scored an outstanding 150 against India A in Chennai," Marsh said. "On that tour he played spin well, fielded brilliantly at bat-pad and his whole demeanor was that of a player who is determined to play Test cricket.
"He scored almost 900 first-class runs last season, he's young, hungry and he could become a very good player for us over a long period of time."
Khawaja returns to the Test squad for the first time since the 2013 Ashes series.
Head coach Darren Lehmann said Khawaja was on the brink of a return last year, after a second outstanding season for Queensland, but a knee injury sidelined him for nine months.
"He's been in and out of the side a little bit and only played a few games here and there - to give him a good run at it and see how he goes would be exciting for the coaching group but also exciting for him and the team," Lehmann said.
The first Test begins at Chittagong on Oct. 9 and the second at Dhaka on Oct. 17. -
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