New South Wales players make up a third of the Australian Men’s Test squad chosen for the 2019 Ashes starting Thursday at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Super star batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner join fast bowlers Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and off-spinner Nathan Lyon as the six Blues in the 17-man squad to take on England during the five-Test series.
Australia are the current holders of the Ashes after defeating England 4-nil at home in 2017/18, but have not won an Ashes series on English soil since 2001.
Smith, Warner, Cummins, Starc and Lyon have been in the United Kingdom since late May with the Australian World Cup team who were eliminated at the semi-final stage by champions England.
Hazlewood has likewise been in England for more than a month touring with the Australia A squad, in his first tour since recovering from a back injury. Blues batsman Kurtis Patterson was also on that tour but missed selection.
Cummins will play his first Ashes Test in England if chosen for the Test at Edgbaston.
All six, as well as Patterson, took part in the intra-squad practice match at the Rose Bowl, Southampton, this week involving the 24 players vying for selection. Former Blues batsman Usman Khawaja was the 25th member of that extended squad but did not play a part due to a hamstring injury.
On a green seaming wicket, where neither team passed 200 in either innings, Cummins showed why he is the current No. 1 Test bowler in the International Cricket Council rankings.
With a red ball back in hand, the fast bowler claimed 5-24 from 11.1 overs in the first innings for the Haddin XII who lost to the Hick XII by five wickets.
The two teams were named after former Blues captain and Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and English batsman Graeme Hick, who are fielding and batting coaches for the Australian Men’s team on this tour.
Warner, 32, also showed his class compiling 58 from 94 balls at the top of the order, in the Haddin XII second innings, which was the highest score of the match before Western Australian Cameron Bancroft produced a match-winning 93 not out to steer the Hick XII to victory.
Bancroft has also earned selection in the 17-man Ashes squad.
Warner and Starc enter this Ashes campaign on the back of prolific World Cup campaigns with bat and ball.
Starc, 29, set a new record for most wickets at a World Cup. The left-arm quick claimed 27 wickets at an average of 18.59 surpassing the 26 taken by Blues and Australian great paceman Glenn McGrath in 2007.
Warner finished the tournament one run shy of being equal leading run-scorer with 647 runs at 71.88 including three centuries.
During the last Ashes series in Australia, Smith was the leading run-scorer with 687 at the magnificent average of 137.4.
The Blues bowling quartet of Cummins, Starc, Hazlewood and Lyon all claimed 21 or more wickets. Cummins led the way with 23 at 24.65.
National Chairman of Selectors Trevor Hohns said it had been a difficult task to reduce the 25-player squad in Southampton down to 17 highlighting the depth to select from.
“We believe the squad is an excellent blend of high-quality batsmen and top-class fast bowlers, plus Nathan Lyon, who we regard as the world’s best off-spinner in all conditions. It is a good mix of all the talents,” Hohns said.
Qantas Men’s Australian 2019 Ashes squad
Tim Paine (c) (Tasmania)
Cameron Bancroft (Western Australia)
Patrick Cummins (New South Wales)
Marcus Harris (Victoria)
Josh Hazlewood (New South Wales)
Travis Head (South Australia)
Usman Khawaja (Queensland)
Marnus Labuschagne (Queensland)
Nathan Lyon (New South Wales)
Mitchell Marsh (Western Australia)
Michael Neser (Queensland)
James Pattinson (Victoria)
Peter Siddle (Victoria)
Steven Smith (New South Wales)
Mitchell Starc (New South Wales)
Matthew Wade (Tasmania)
David Warner (New South Wales)
1 – 5 August – First Test, Edgbaston, Birmingham
7 – 9 August – Tour match, Worcester v Worcestershire
14 – 18 August – Second Test, Lord’s, London
22 – 26 August – Third Test, Headingley, Leeds
29 – 31 August – Tour match, Derby v Derbyshire
4 – 8 September – Fourth Test, Old Trafford, Manchester
12 – 16 September – Fifth Test, The Oval, London