Australia names 4 spin specialists for India test series
SYDNEY (AP) Uncapped legspinner Mitch Swepson was named among four specialist spinners in the Australia cricket squad for a four-test series in India from Feb. 23.
Swepson, from Queensland, was named in the 16-man squad on Sunday along with fellow spinners Ashton Agar, Nathan Lyon, and Stephen O'Keefe, and allrounder Glenn Maxwell, who provides a fifth spin option.
Brothers Shaun and Mitch Marsh have been recalled, while allrounder Mitchell Cartwright has been dropped after making his test debut against Pakistan.
Matthew Wade is the only specialist wicketkeeper.
Swepson has played 14 first-class matches, taking 41 wickets at an average of 32.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said the selection panel chose as many spin options as possible to give the squad flexibility.
''We don't know what pitch conditions we will come up against in each of the venues but wanted to have flexibility and options,'' Hohns said. ''We know India is an incredibly tough place to tour and have success in, with most international teams struggling to adapt to the conditions.
''But we have chosen a squad which we believe will work really hard in its endeavors to perform well and give a good account of itself in the subcontinent. We expect all of the young players chosen to benefit immensely from the experience.''
Hohns described Swepson as an exciting young player with considerable potential who had come through Cricket Australia's pathway system.
''We want to see him take his opportunity in conditions that should suit him should he get a chance,'' he said. ''He is an exciting young legspinner, gives the ball a very good rip. He's a wicket-taking legspinner.
''(Agar) is a good left-arm orthodox spinner who can be very exciting with the bat and also fields extremely well. He provides us with a great all-round package.''
Maxwell played his most-recent test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in October, 2014 but hadn't lost hope of a recall.
''I had a really good opportunity in Abu Dhabi to really nail down a spot and make that No. 6 position my own. I probably let a good opportunity slip,'' Maxwell said.
''I was hoping for a long time that it wasn't going to be my last test. I thought if I could play to the best of my ability, I thought I would get another opportunity.''
Australia will enter the series against top-ranked India with history against it. It last won a test series in India in 2004 which was then its first series success in India in 35 years.
Hohns conceded beating India in India would be a tough task, one that New Zealand and England most recently found beyond them.
''We have a squad here that can perform well enough in those conditions to give a good account of itself,'' he said. ''We know it's very difficult over there. No country in the last 10 years probably has performed all that well over there or succeeded.
''Somehow, some way, someone has to turn the tide. And we're hoping that we can do that.''
The first test begins at Pune on Feb. 23, the second at Bangalore on March 4, the third at Ranchi on March 16, and the fourth at Dharamsala on March 23.
Australia: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O'Keefe, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade.