Settling on Australia’s next ODI spinner looms as selectors’ toughest ask when they name a squad for the series that follows the Ashes.
The vast majority of the Test squad will be rested from the upcoming five-match series against England, which is preceded by a clash with Ireland in Belfast.
Chairman of selectors Rod Marsh will name the ODI squad on Wednesday (AEST) with few surprises expected.
The major question mark is whether Ashton Agar, Adam Zampa or Cameron Boyce will be making their ODI debut.
Glenn Maxwell was used as the side’s tweaker for all but one game during their victorious World Cup campaign.
That’s a ploy likely to be less successful in 2019, when the tournament is held in England and there will be more spin-friendly decks.
Coupled with rejigged ODI rules, which allow five fielders on the rope in the final 10 overs, it’s easy to understand why spin will be in next month.
Agar, Zampa and Boyce all have claims and are highly rated by selectors.
All three are currently in India with Australia A.
“We always talk to each other in the nets. We’ve all got a pretty good relationship with each other,” Agar said after a five-wicket haul in Chennai on Monday.
“We get along quite well and talk spin bowling all the time.”
Agar, who made a memorable Test debut during the 2013 Ashes, was added to the national squad prior to this year’s SCG Test.
The 21-year-old wasn’t picked, but has impressed in India after returning from shoulder surgery.
Zampa has been regularly used as a net bowler in the Ashes, while fellow legspinner Boyce made his Twenty20 debut in 2014.
The squad will be full of fresh faces, with the game against Ireland on August 27 to signal the start of Steve Smith’s reign as captain.
Usman Khawaja and James Pattinson, who both returned from injury in the ongoing Australia A series, headline some of the proven talent expected to return.
The white-ball action will double as a chance for Khawaja and Pattinson to press their case for Test recalls on the tour of Bangladesh in October.
Aaron Finch, who has suffered a torn hamstring, bruised lung and broken foot in an unlucky run since the World Cup, has started running and batting in the nets.
Pat Cummins, who has been with the Ashes squad since Ryan Harris’ retirement, will be itching to play after spending so much time in the nets.
Nathan Coulter-Nile and Gurinder Sandhu are also likely to form part of the pace battery, with Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood all rested.