Test hopeful Marcus Harris will get an early look at the touring West Indies after being picked in a strong Prime Minister’s XI side to play a four-day match in Canberra a day after being returned to the Australian squad.
His Victorian captain Peter Handscomb has also been picked and gets to push his claims on the on the back of a stunning start to the domestic season along with young spinner Todd Murphy in a signal of who national selectors see as next in line for the Australian team .
Josh Inglis, who was forced out of Australia’s T20 World Cup campaign after badly cutting his hand playing golf, will captain the team which includes five players who have already played Test cricket.
But South Australian opener Henry Hunt, and Queensland fast bowler Mark Steketee, who took six wickets in an innings against WA in a Sheffield Shield game last week, get another chance to impress selectors having played for Australia A in Sri Lanka in June and July.
Former Test opener Matthew Renshaw, fresh off a double-century for Queensland having returned to the top of the order, also gets to play the Windies with opportunities potentially this summer and then on a tour of India early next year up for grabs.
“It’s a very strong squad for this match consisting of our leading first class performers and, for many of the players, offers further exposure to an international side after touring Sri Lanka earlier this year,” national selection chief George Bailey said. .
“It’s an exciting game for them to continue the traditions of the Prime Minister’s XI which is a great honor for any cricketer. It will be a historic contest also considering the very first Prime Minister’s XI match was against the West Indies 70 years ago.
“We thank Albanian Prime Minister for his input into the squad which he agrees is in line with the traditions of the match with some of the country’s most exciting young cricketers mixed with some highly experienced players.”
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the Prime Minister’s XI has “a rich history” and was enthused by the squad which “mixes the country’s most exciting young cricketers with some highly experienced players”.
“I want to thank Josh Inglis for taking on the role of captain and look forward to watching him lead a side which will compete strongly while remaining true to the traditions and values of the Prime Minister’s XI,” he said.
Handscomb (518) and Harris (287) are the top two run scorers in the Sheffield Shield this season, with 518 and 287 runs respectively. Handscomb made back-to-back hundreds to start the season, including an epic unbeaten 281 not out, and was on his way to a third when he was bowled in bad light in Hobart for 95 last weekend.
Queensland quicks Steketee and Michael Neser, who has played one Tests, have taken a combined 32 wickets for the Bulls in three games.
Young off-spinner Murphy rocketed in to Test contention in Sri Lanka, where he also played with Australia A, and looms, with Ashton Agar, as next-in-line to replace Nathan Lyon, who was the lone spinner picked in the Test squad for the two matches against the West Indies.
The four-day, day/night fixture against the West Indies begins on Wednesday, November 23 at Manuka Oval.
The Prime Minister’s XI squad to play the West Indies:
Prime Minister’s XI squad: Josh Inglis (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Peter Handscomb, Aaron Hardie, Marcus Harris, Henry Hunt, Todd Murphy, Michael Neser, Matt Renshaw, Mark Steketee