Bancroft expected to make Ashes Test debut

Rob Forsaith
WA's Cameron Bancroft is expected to make the Ashes squad for the opening Test against England

Australia's selection speculation will be put to bed on Friday, with the Ashes squad expected to feature debutant Cameron Bancroft.

Wednesday's selection meeting in Brisbane was far from straightforward, with a series of contrasting views swapped before Trevor Hohns' panel thrashed out their XI for the Gabba opening Test.

Peter Nevill was widely tipped to regain the gloves, having been dumped a year ago in favour of Matthew Wade, but Fairfax Media reported he was snubbed and Tim Paine would earn a shock recall.

Under-pressure opener Matthew Renshaw could yet be axed, despite acquitting himself well in a net session on Wednesday against Australia's Test pacemen, while the No.6 spot is understood to have proven the most divisive and convoluted debate.

West Australians Bancroft, Shaun Marsh and Hilton Cartwright were among the frontrunners for the position that had caused selectors so much angst since Mike Hussey's 2013 retirement. Allrounder Marcus Stoinis is grieving the death of his father.

Insiders spoke of at least one major surprise in the finalised squad, although candidates had been discussed so thoroughly, publicly and intensely it would arguably be a misnomer to refer to anybody as a genuine bolter.

Picking Marsh, a much-maligned figure whose career highlights had come on foreign soil, would prove incredibly polarising but it was an option given due consideration by a panel wanting to beef up the batting depth.

The 34-year-old's recent form, described as career-best by state coach Justin Langer, includes a knock of 91 against the Test attack in Sydney.

Cartwright recorded a pair in the same Sheffield Shield match but dismissed national skipper Steve Smith with his medium-pacers.

Coach Darren Lehmann last month flagged the opening three Shield rounds as a virtual selection trial.

Bancroft answered that call better than anyone, carrying his bat against the Test attack during arguably the most meaningful Shield game of the season to date.

The opener scored a total of 162 runs against NSW, then backed it up with an unbeaten 228 against South Australia, all but demanding selection.

Bancroft, who had been poised to make his Test debut in 2015 only for a Bangladesh tour to be cancelled for safety reasons, is set to receive his baggy green on Thursday.

One school of thought was the resolute right-hander could slot in at No.6, leaving out-of-sorts Renshaw to prove himself in a squad for the first and second Tests.

The international career of Wade, who has averaged 20 since being recalled last year to the Test XI, will be at the crossroads if he is dropped.

Paine, who played the most recent of his four Tests in 2010 and was close to walking away from the sport earlier this year, didn't keep wickets this week for Tasmania.

Nevill has failed to bust down the door with a mountain of runs but key figures have been impressed with his glove work and energy for NSW. The panel also regarded Alex Carey as a genuine contender to be behind the stumps.

Wade reached double figures just once in his five recent Shield digs.