London: Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was yesterday included in Australia’s 17-man squad for the five-Test Ashes series against England alongside Steve Smith and David Warner.
All three batsmen served lengthy bans for their roles in a ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.
Former captain Smith and his then deputy Warner were both given 12-month suspensions by Cricket Australia, with Bancroft – who actually applied sandpaper to the ball while in the field during a Test in Cape Town – banned for nine months.
Both Smith, also given a two-year ban from captaining Australia, and Warner, hit with a lifetime prohibition from leading his country, were expected to be in the Ashes squad after doing well in the recent World Cup, when the defending champions reached the semi-finals.
Bancroft, who has been captaining English county side Durham, appears to have wowed the selectors with an unbeaten 93 in the tourists’ intra-squad match at Southampton this week.
“David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft have forced their way back into the Test squad through the excellence of their recent performances,” said Australia national selector Trevor Hohns.
“David and Steve also have the advantage of being proven players at Test level while Cameron has produced impressive numbers for county side Durham this season.
“His innings in the intra-squad match in Southampton on a tough pitch was outstanding and showed his quality.”
Fast bowlers Peter Siddle and James Pattinson were recalled to the squad, with their fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood returning following a recent back injury.
But uncapped Queensland seamer Michael Neser was a surprise selection.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Matthew Wade was also included, having not played a Test for nearly two years.
Wade edged out Alex Carey, who impressed during the World Cup, as the back-up wicketkeeper to Test captain Tim Paine.
Top-order batsman Usman Khawaja is in the squad despite continuing to recover from a hamstring injury suffered during the World Cup but there i no place for all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
Australia hold the Ashes but have not won a Test series away to England for 18 years.