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Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft in action against South Africa at Newlands, Cape Town, earlier. Bancroft is set to be back against England in the first Ashes Test starting on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

London: Cameron Bancroft, along with Steve Smith and David Warner, is in line to play his first Test since a nine-month suspension for ball-tampering after being named in a 17-man Australian squad for the Ashes series against England starting on Thursday. Smith and Warner had received 12-month suspensions. All three were named in the Ashes squad on Friday, marking the full trio’s return to an Australian side for the first time since the March 2018 sandpaper scandal during the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Uncapped Queenslander Michael Neser was the surprise selection in the squad that is aiming to retain the urn and win in England for the first time since 2001. Neser, a right-arm seam bowling all-rounder, is one of seven fast-bowling options in the squad led by No 1 Test bowler Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle and recalled all-rounder Mitchell Marsh.

Matthew Wade and Marnus Labuschagne also earned selection after a series of high-scoring run totals at the domestic level and on an Australia A tour of England.

The announcement was made in Southampton, where the squad has been training ahead of the first Test against England beginning on August 1 at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

“We have chosen 17 players as this gives us the cover and flexibility we believe we will need to ensure we are in good shape throughout a demanding schedule of five Test matches in just over six weeks,” said Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors.

Australia squad: Tim Paine (captain), Cameron Bancroft, Patrick Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner

Time to rekindle oldest cricketing rivalry

England and Australia are once again set to heat up the cricketing world when they face each other in the five-match Ashes series beginning at Edgbaston on Thursday.

The world’s oldest cricketing rivalry has witnessed many heated arguments and controversies over 330 Test matches that have been played between the two giants.

Ahead of the first Test at Edgbaston, here is a look at the top five controversies to have sparked off over the last 10 years:

1. Time-wasting tactics of Andrew Strauss:

With England tail-enders Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar at the crease and needing to cling on in the opening Test of the 2009 Ashes, England were accused of deliberate time-wasting by Australian captain Ricky Ponting when opposite number Andrew Strauss twice sent 12th man Bilal Shafayat out into the middle.

Anderson and Panesar had held out for the final 40 minutes to salvage an unlikely draw, but twice during the 10th-wicket pair’s 69-ball stand, Shafayat and physio Steve McCaig were sent with three overs to play for what appeared to be no other reason than to waste time.

However, Strauss had defended his decision.

2. When Stuart Broad stood his ground:

In the first Test of the 2013 Ashes, England fast bowler Stuart Broad refused to walk despite edging spinner Ashton Agar’s delivery to first slip on the third day. Australian skipper Michael Clarke, who was standing at slip, took the catch after the ball rebounded off the thigh pad of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.

Australia could have easily overturned umpire Aleem Dar’s verdict with the use of technology. However, they had no reviews left.

At the time of the incident, Broad was batting on 37. He went on to add another 28 runs as England secured a controversial 14-run victory. Then Australia coach Darren Lehmann had labelled Broad a “blatant cheat”.

3. Moeen Ali claims Australian player called him ‘Osama’:

In 2018, England all-rounder Moeen Ali revealed that an Australian player called him “Osama” during the 2015 Ashes. In his autobiography, Ali claimed he was abused during the first Ashes Test at Cardiff in 2015, in which he made 77 in the first innings and took five wickets for the match in England’s 169-run win.

4. Johnson almost ‘punched’ KP:

Former Australian bowler Mitchell Johnson in his autobiography revealed how he wanted to hit former England batsman Kevin Pietersen right before the start of the first Test in Cardiff in 2009.

The incident happened when both teams were warming up on the field and Pietersen was intentionally hitting balls in the Australians’ direction in an effort to disrupt their preparation.

Johnson in his autobiography titled Resilient revealed that at the time, he was dealing with personal matters off the field, which may have played a role in him being driven to the edge by KP. He said he had had enough of Pietersen’s antics and confronted the former England captain face to face.

5. The Bairstow-Bancroft ‘headbutt’ incident:

In the 2017-2018 Ashes series, England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow was under investigation following a late-night incident with new Australian Test opener Cameron Bancroft.

The alleged incident, which took place during a night-out in Perth in October 2017, came to light during Australia’s ten-wicket win in Brisbane.

While nobody was said to be hurt in the incident, it sparked heated confrontations on the field between Australian players and Bairstow, while he was batting in the second innings of the Brisbane Test and one of the funniest cricket press conferences you would ever find on YouTube.


August 1-5: First Test, Edgbaston

August 7-9: Worcestershire v Australians, Worcester

August 14-18: Second Test, Lord’s

August 22-26: Third Test, Headingley

August 29-31: Derbyshire v Australians, Derby

September 4-8: Fourth Test, Old Trafford

September 12-16: Fifth Test, Oval