Aussie ball-tampering trio included in Ashes squad

Cameron Bancroft (AP)
Cameron Bancroft (AP)

London - Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was on Friday included in Australia's 17-man squad for the five-Test Ashes series against England alongside Steve Smith and David Warner.

All three batsmen served lengthy bans for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

Former captain Smith and his then deputy Warner were both given 12-month suspensions by Cricket Australia, with Bancroft - who actually applied sandpaper to the ball while in the field during a Test in Cape Town - banned for nine months.

Both Smith, also given a two-year ban from captaining Australia, and Warner, hit with a lifetime prohibition from leading his country, were expected to be in the Ashes squad after doing well in the recent World Cup, when the defending champions reached the semi-finals.

Bancroft, who has been captaining English county side Durham, appears to have wowed the selectors with an unbeaten 93 in the tourists' intra-squad match at Southampton this week.

"David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft have forced their way back into the Test squad through the excellence of their recent performances," said Australia national selector Trevor Hohns.

"David and Steve also have the advantage of being proven players at Test level while Cameron has produced impressive numbers for county side Durham this season.

"His innings in the intra-squad match in Southampton on a tough pitch was outstanding and showed his quality."

Fast bowlers Peter Siddle and James Pattinson were recalled to the squad, with their fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood returning following a recent back injury.

But uncapped Queensland seamer Michael Neser was a surprise selection.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade was also included, having not played a Test for nearly two years. 

Wade edged out Alex Carey, who impressed during the World Cup, as the back-up wicketkeeper to Test captain Tim Paine.

Top-order batsman Usman Khawaja is in the squad despite continuing to recover from a hamstring injury suffered during the World Cup but there is no place for all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.

Australia hold the Ashes but have not won a Test series away to England for 18 years.

And with the Ashes taking place in the same season as a World Cup for the first time since 1975, next week's first Test at Edgbaston will be Australia's opening first-class match of their tour.

But Hohns said: "We have had excellent preparations for this series, with eight players from this squad forming part of the Australia A tour that has been in the UK for more than a month, six who took part in the ICC Cricket World Cup, and three who have been playing county cricket." 

"It means the players are acclimatised and ready for the first Test," the former Australia leg-spinner added.

England are set to announce their squad after the end of their ongoing Test against Ireland at Lord's.  

Australia's 17-man squad for a five-Test Ashes series against England announced on Friday:

Tim Paine (captain), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner

Fixtures

August 1-5: First Test, Edgbaston

August 14-18: Second Test, Lord's

August 22-26: Third Test, Headingley

September 4-8: Fourth Test, Old Trafford

September 12-16: Fifth Test, Oval

Additional fixtures:

August 7-9: Worcestershire v Australians, Worcester

August 29-31: Derbyshire v Australians, Derby

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