Forgotten winner in Aussie Ashes snub
AUSTRALIA'S search for an all-rounder appears on hold, boosting Chadd Sayers' hopes of a Test debut in hometown Adelaide.
Australian captain Steve Smith has backed the selection of six batsmen for the first two Ashes Tests starting in Brisbane on Thursday after incumbent all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Hilton Cartwright were dumped on Friday.
Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns admitted they would prefer an all-rounder at No.6 but claimed they had the pace attack to justify going with six batsmen.
And that augers well for Sayers ahead of next month's day-night second Test in Adelaide.
A question mark already hovered over whether speedsters Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins could be nursed through the five Test Ashes series.
Injury-plagued Cummins only played back-to-back Tests for the first time in September's tour of Bangladesh.
And Hazlewood is coming back from a side strain suffered on the same tour.
Now selectors have opted for six batsmen for at least the first two Tests and with no respite in sight from an all-rounder, it appears more likely that one of the trio will be rested in Adelaide opening the door for local Sayers.
"It's no secret that Chad's inclusion in the squad is with a view to the Adelaide Test match, he knows the conditions very, very well there," Hohns said of the December 2-6 clash.
"I am not suggesting for one moment that he would be automatically included - he just gives us that option in those conditions."
Hohns said Maxwell and Cartwright were considered for the Ashes squad but Shield form dictated that they went with the recalled veteran Shaun Marsh at No.6.
"We always consider the extra bowling option (at No.6) and Steve (Smith) would like that there is no doubt about that," he said.
"We believe this is the best line-up to give us every chance of winning the first Test match." Australia's all-rounder stocks took a hit when Mitch Marsh was sent home with a shoulder injury in the March tour of India while WA's Marcus Stoinis was not considered after a family loss.