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What will Australia’s Test squad look like in three years’ time?

Cameron Green, Todd Murphy and Nathan McSweeney could be part of Australia's Test future
by Wisden Staff 4 minute read

Australia are the reigning World Test Champions and are currently sitting in second position in the 2023-25 table. However, looking ahead to the following cycle of the WTC, they could be facing a significant player turnover.

Of the 12 players who represented Australia across their 2023/24 home summer, only two (Marnus Labuschagne and Travis Head) are yet to turn 30. Excluding David Warner, who is now retired from Test cricket, from that group, five of the other 11 are 33 or above. The likelihood of those players continuing to play Test cricket after the end of the next WTC cycle in 2027 is slim, if they decide to carry on that far.

In terms of the players who we can say with the most certainty will not be part of Australia’s squad after 2027, Usman Khawaja (37), Steve Smith (34) and Mitchell Starc (34) are the most likely candidates. All three will be significant losses for Australia, opening up holes to fill throughout the side.

As for who could still carry on after 2027 but is not certain to, despite having already celebrated his 36th birthday, Nathan Lyon falls into this category. Ahead of taking his fifth ten-wicket haul against New Zealand last week, Lyon stressed that his goals include playing another Ashes series in England, and that he hasn’t ruled out playing into his early forties.

Josh Hazlewood is another in the touch-and-go category. At 33 and with a significant history of injury, while he could in theory extend his career into his late thirties, that can’t be thought of with any certainty. Equally, Mitchell Marsh and Alex Carey are both approaching their mid-thirties, and both with second disciplines that put an enhanced strain on their bodies.

A worst-case scenario could therefore see seven of the players who played in Australia’s most recent Test match win out of the side by the middle of 2027.

As for those who will probably remain, Cam Green is by far the youngest player in the side at 24, and could be well on his way to fulfilling the potential he’s been earmarked for in three years’ time. Travis Head still has plenty of years ahead of him in his career, and could be part of the senior playing group alongside Marnus Labuschagne by 2027.

As for Australia’s all-conquering captain, Pat Cummins is still yet to turn 31 and has managed to fill the roles of captaincy, bowler, and even lower-order batter fluently – something not many have managed. While his white-ball commitments might have to scale back, there’s no reason to suggest he won’t still be leading the Test side and steaming in for a significant period of time to come.

With this considered, Australia could be looking for an entirely new opening partnership, wicketkeeper, supporting seamers and spinner in three years time. Let’s take a look at the contenders.

While the all-round and middle-order options are strong, there’s a definite shortage of top order options going forward. Although still only 31, Cameron Bancroft‘s time in Australia Test colours seems to be up after he was overlooked this summer despite an enormous weight of Sheffield Shield runs.

Matt Renshaw was preferred as the spare Test batter over most of this season and, after a sporadic Test career so far, could make a success of another crack at the level. Marcus Harris spent the 2023 Ashes as the de-facto spare batter, and at 31 also has the potential for an extended Test return. Among the uncapped top-order options, 25-year-old Nathan McSweeney has been tipped for higher honours by Australia chair of selectors, George Bailey. McSweeney has had a successful Sheffield Shield season for South Australia batting at three, with three centuries in ten appearances.

In the middle order, there are plenty of all-round options to fill Marsh’s boots. 23-year-old Jack Edwards has been making an impression for New South Wales over the last couple of years, enjoying an excellent season with the ball this year. Aaron Hardie is probably ahead of him in the queue, having already made his white-ball international debut.

There are also several middle-order power hitters making their case to be the next cabs off the rank. Jake Fraser-McGurk is probably the most exciting of these options, already a star on Australia’s white-ball domestic circuit he’s expressed his Test ambitions openly. Ollie Davies has made waves in the BBL for several years and is currently in the top five Sheffield Shield run-scorers this season. Incidentally, his younger brother Joel is also considered an exciting prospect as a spin-bowling all-rounder, although probably still some way off international honours.

As for the spin bowlers, last year’s tour of India showed the potential of Todd Murphy and Matt Kuhnemann for the future. A more left-field option is leg-spinner Tanveer Sangha, who made his ODI and T20I debuts this winter.

The biggest boots to fill will be in the fast-bowling attack, which has been settled at its core for the last five years. Names that could be seen coming through into the attack include Will Sutherland, another element of the Sutherland dynasty, whose 40 first-class matches have already brought 128 wickets at 24.42. Jordan Buckingham is another possibility. Although he’s only played 18 first-class matches to date, those have yielded 68 wickets and his debut five-for which came against Tasmania last week.

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