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Burns recalled for Australia, set to open against Pakistan

November 14, 2019 GMT

PERTH, Australia (AP) — Opener Joe Burns has been recalled to start on his home ground for Australia in the series-opening test against Pakistan next week.

Burns, Travis Head and Cameron Bancroft were included in a 14-man squad announced Thursday, a week before the first test against Pakistan at the Gabba in Brisbane.

Selection chairman Trevor Hohns announced the squad hours after it emerged 21-year-old batsman Will Pucovski had withdrawn from consideration because of mental health issues. Pucovksi, who is yet to make his test debut, had been in selection calculation and was playing in an Australia A game against Pakistan in Perth when he notified team management of his decision.

Pucovski’s withdrawal comes less than a month after veteran allrounder Glenn Maxwell and three-test batsman Nic Maddinson made themselves unavailable for national selection because of mental health issues.

“By Will bravely taking this position, he will undoubtedly inspire others facing similar challenges to speak up and take positive steps towards improving their mental wellbeing,” Cricket Australia’s national teams manager Ben Oliver said of Pucovski.

The recalls for Burns and Bancroft in the squad means there’s no room for Marcus Harris. Also out since the last Ashes test are allrounder Mitch Marsh and veteran seamer Peter Siddle.

Hohns said Burns will open with David Warner at the Gabba, where he plays first-class cricket for Queensland. Burns averages 40.1 in 16 tests, including four centuries. He scored a career-high 180 against Sri Lanka in February in his last test but still missed selection for the Ashes series.

“Obviously it’s his home ground and he generally performs pretty well there,” Hohns said. “He was desperately unlucky not to be included in the Ashes squad but we consider now is the right time for him to come back, try to form a good partnership at the top with David Warner.

“They know each other well, they’re good friends and left and right-handed (opening combination) is pretty useful in our view.”

Head is likely to return to the middle order after being dropped for the fifth Ashes test in England in September.

Australia will play Pakistan in tests in Brisbane, starting next Thursday, and Adelaide, a day-night match starting Nov. 29, before a three-test series against New Zealand.

Australia: Tim Paine (captain), David Warner, Joe Burns, Cameron Bancroft, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, Michael Neser.

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