Jhye Richardson‘s rapid rise has been maintained by selection to tour South Africa with Australia’s Test squad, in which the selectors have retained both Cameron Bancroft and Peter Handscomb despite underwhelming displays during the Ashes series.
The panel chaired by Trevor Hohns could find no room for Glenn Maxwell – chosen as a standby batsman as recently as the Gabba Test against England in November – and also left out the Adelaide Test 12th man Chadd Sayers.
At the age of 21, Richardson has played only five first-class matches, but took 17 wickets in four Sheffield Shield games for Western Australia prior to the start of the Big Bash League. Richardson has stated he takes inspiration from South Africa’s Dale Steyn.
Those four appearances included some slippery spells against a full-strength New South Wales team at Hurstville Oval, where he impressed Australia’s captan Steven Smith with his pace and movement. “Jhye is a talented right-armer that bowls with very good pace through the air,” Hohns said. “He impressed in his first ODI and has bowled well in the Sheffield Shield this season. He is an exciting young prospect who will benefit immensely from his time with this squad.”
Rather than choosing Ashton Agar as a possible second spin bowler, the role he filled in Bangladesh last year, the selectors also recalled 30-year old Jon Holland as injury cover for Nathan Lyon and also as a net-bowling approximation of South Africa’s Keshav Maharaj. Hohns said that the unlikelihood of needing to play two spinners meant Holland was preferred as Lyon’s back-up.
“Jon was the second-leading wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield last season and has performed well in the games he has played for Victoria this season,” Hohns said. “We envisage the wickets we will see in South Africa will not warrant the need to play two spinners. Therefore, should Nathan not be able to play at any stage, we wanted to have the best specialist spinner available to us and based on current red-ball form Jon warrants that spot.
“The South African Series is a very important one and we have made no secret of our desire to improve our record away from home. As such, we wanted to ensure the players had the best possible preparation and that means playing the tour match prior to the first Test.”
Of the Test squad, only David Warner will take part in the Twenty20 tri-series against England and New Zealand that begins on February 7. He has been chosen as stand-in captain to allow Smith a break after the current ODI series and also the chance to have a full preparation for the South Africa series, which begins on March 5 and takes place across four Tests in Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and Johannesburg.
“Steve has had a very big summer and will benefit from a short break both physically and mentally, before he leaves for South Africa,” Hohns said. “David is a very capable leader and has captained in Steve’s absence before and done a fine job. We wanted to ensure the T20 side had key leadership throughout this Series and we know the team is in good hands with him at the helm.”
D’Arcy Short, the indigenous left-handed batsman, earned his place in the T20 squad through a series of outstanding BBL displays, while the left-arm swing bowling of the Sydney Sixers’ Ben Dwarshuis has also been recognised. Chris Lynn, who withdrew from the ODI squad due to a calf injury, was recalled, with a chance to prove his fitness by playing for the Brisbane Heat beforehand.