Australia's Shaun Marsh (left) with brother Mitchell in the first Test against South Africa in November.
Australia's Shaun Marsh (left) with brother Mitchell in the first Test against South Africa in November. DAVE HUNT

Winners and losers from the squad to tour India

CRICKET: Australia has named the 16 men it hopes can defeat the mighty India on the subcontinent in a four-Test series beginning on February 23.

Interim chief selector Trevor Hohns announced the touring squad at a press conference in Melbourne on Sunday morning.

And, as there always is, there were plenty of questions to follow.

These are the winners and losers.

WINNERS

Mitchell Swepson

Swepson is without doubt the biggest surprise of the Australian squad announcement. The 23-year-old Queenslander had been mentioned but perhaps not seriously considered as a possible touring player.

Shane Warne's endorsement of the young leggie put Swepson's name out there and Cricket Australia obviously holds the spin king's opinion in high regard.

Swepson has just 14 first-class matches under his belt but a bowling average of 32.82 with 41 wickets isn't bad for a tweaker of his limited experience.

Shaun Marsh

The 33-year-old will be recalled to the Australian Test team for the eighth time - yes, eighth - in six years if he can crack the final XI in India.

He's been in and out of the side more times than any other player in recent memory, and his latest exit was forced by a broken finger suffered in Perth against South Africa.

Test great Ian Chappell called for selectors to end Marsh's Test career two months ago but the veteran lefty will get another shot to cement his place.

Hohns pointed to Marsh's experience on the subcontinent as the reason behind his call-up.

Ashton Agar

A swashbuckling 98 on Test debut against England in 2013 had the Australian public raving about this young left-arm orthodox spinner from the west.

But Agar's two Tests would be followed by more than three years of exile - and that will only be broken if he can secure a starting spot in India.

His ability with the bat makes him an enticing option next to the frontline spinners Nathan Lyon and Steve O'Keefe, and 114 first-class wickets mean he's no rookie with the ball.

But it's hard to see him edging either of the aforementioned bowlers out of the team, especially given O'Keefe has a better first-class batting average of 29.12.

Glenn Maxwell

Maxwell hasn't played a Test since November 2014, and he seemed a long shot to make the Indian tour after coach Darren Lehmann said barely a month ago only Sheffield Shield centuries would get him back in the fold.

Maxwell was left out of Victoria's Shield side earlier in the season, then was punished for questioning state captain Matthew Wade's motivation for batting him down the order. Respected cricket commentator Kerry O'Keeffe more recently said Maxwell's bowling action was "not even handy, it's dross”.

But, despite all that, the Big Show has a shot at redemption. From three Tests he's scored just 80 runs but his first-class average of 39.92 is decent for an all-rounder, while he also has 56 first-class wickets with his part-time off-spin.

Mitchell Marsh

It was only four Tests ago that selectors lost patience and dumped Marsh from the national squad. But the need for a reliable seam-bowling all-rounder has earned him a recall over incumbent Hilton Cartwright.

"You could play one quick and then play Mitchell Marsh as the opening bowler and slide someone in,” selector Mark Waugh said during commentary in the Big Bash League on Saturday.

Marsh has also been exposed to Indian conditions in the Twenty20 format, both with the national team and in the Indian Premier League.

LOSERS

Jon Holland

Holland is the leading wicket-taker among spin bowlers in first-class cricket this summer (27 wickets at 18.48) and played in two of Australia's three Tests in Sri Lanka last year.

Holland claimed five wickets across those two Tests, only two fewer than Josh Hazlewood managed in three matches. He has been battling an ankle injury that has sidelined him for the Big Bash League, however it was anticipated he would recover in time for the tour of India, if required.

Adam Zampa and Fawad Ahmed were among the other spinners linked with a call-up for the forthcoming Indian tour, however none had the recent red-ball form to support such a move.

Hilton Cartwright

Cartwright was a surprising selection in Australia's Boxing Day squad, and an even more surprising Test debutant at the Sydney Cricket Ground a week later.

He scored 37 in the first innings against Pakistan and bowled four tidy overs, but that was not enough to retain his place in the Test squad for Australia's tour of India.

Mitchell Marsh's superior bowling ultimately won him the selectors' approval. Australia will likely field more than one spinner in India, meaning strong seam bowling support for Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will be vital.

Travis Head

Ricky Ponting was among those who tipped Head for a Test call-up given that "at different times we're going to need some batsmen in our side who can bowl quality spin”.

Head seemed to have a compelling case with 362 runs at 60.33 and seven wickets at 35 in first-class cricket for South Australia this summer.

Ultimately, though, the likes of Ashton Agar and Mitchell Swepson were deemed better options in Indian conditions, leaving the 23-year-old to concentrate on his one-day international form for Australia.

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