Uncapped spinner Todd Murphy has bolted into Australia’s Test squad for the tour of India, as selectors confirmed an 18-player squad for the four-Test Border-Gavaskar series.
He joins Ashton Agar and Mitchell Swepson as options to partner frontline spinner Nathan Lyon on a tour that is expected to feature low, slow, turning wickets.
Swepson has been retained after struggling on Australia’s tour of Pakistan last year — kept in favour of what would be a shock call up for white-ball specialist Adam Zampa.
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Victorian Sheffield Shield captain Peter Handscomb has also joined the touring party alongside Matthew Renshaw, despite retiring hurt after a hit to the hip playing for St Kilda in a grade fixture on Tuesday night.
Murphy had only played one first-class fixture prior to 2022, but has rocketed into contention after strong performances for Victoria, Australia A and the Prime Minister’s XI.
At 22, he is viewed as a potential long-term successor to the ageing Nathan Lyon, who to date has not found a sustainable second spinner to partner him.
Murphy currently has 14 wickets to his name at an average of 17.71 over just three Sheffield Shield matches, and bowled Victoria to a final-day win over New South Wales in the last match before the Big Bash.
“Todd has emerged as a strong spin option, having impressed in domestic cricket and recently with Australia A”, said chief selector George Bailey.
“Selection in this squad also provides another opportunity to spend time alongside Nathan Lyon and assistant coach Daniel Vettori in India which will be invaluable to his development.”
Opener Marcus Harris, released from the Test squad after the recall of Matthew Renshaw for the New Year’s Test, has been omitted, while uncapped WA quick Lance Morris retains his place in the squad.
The tour is shaping as a potential debut opportunity for Morris, with Mitchell Starc confirmed to not be joining the squad until after the first Test in Nagpur with an injured finger.
Allrounder Cameron Green is also racing the clock to be fit with a fractured finger sustained in the Boxing Day Test against South Africa.
As foreshadowed by captain Pat Cummins in Sydney, left arm spinner Ashton Agar has been included despite going wicketless in the final Test against South Africa.
Queensland bowler Michael Neser has also been snubbed in favour of Victorian Scott Boland, while West Australian wicketkeeper Josh Inglis misses out as well.
In the event of injury to wicketkeeper Alex Carey, Peter Handscomb will likely take the gloves.
Australia and India will play four Tests in less than two months in Nagpur, Delhi, Dharamsala and Ahmedabad.
Australia has not won in India since their famous 2004 series victory under Steve Waugh.
AUSTRALIAN SQUAD FOR BORDER-GAVASKAR SERIES IN INDIA
Pat Cummins (captain), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Matt Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitch Swepson, David Warner
AUSTRALIAN TOUR OF INDIA DATES (All starting 3pm AEDT)
First Test: Nagpur, February 9 to 13
Second Test: Delhi, February 17 to 21
Third Test: Dharamsala, March 1 to 5
Fourth Test: Ahmedabad, March 9 to 13