Australia's first Test squad after Justin Langer's departure has been confirmed with 18 players selected for the team's first tour of Pakistan in nearly 25 years.

Spinner Ashton Agar is the only addition to the wider group that won the Ashes 4-0 over England, with fast bowler Jhye Richardson left out.

Agar comes into the squad to add another spin option for Australia alongside Nathan Lyon and Mitch Swepson given the likely favourable conditions on the subcontinent.

Opening batsman Marcus Harris has held his spot in the squad despite being dropped for the fifth Ashes Test, while Mitch Marsh and Josh Inglis are included as all-rounder and wicketkeeper cover after carrying the drinks in the Ashes.

“This squad covers for all scenarios including the conditions given it has been such a long time since Australia was last in Pakistan," National Selection Panel chair George Bailey said.

“With several subcontinent tours and a one-day World Cup in India on the near horizon this is a great first up challenge for the group after the successful home Ashes Series.

"It’s also a very historic tour given the length of time since an Australian side last toured Pakistan.”

Australia, who have not toured Pakistan since 1998 for security reasons, are also scheduled for an away series in Sri Lanka in June.

The three-Test match series against Pakistan begins in Rawalpindi on March 4, with further games in Karachi and Lahore.

The Pakistan tour will also include three One-Day Internationals and one T20 International, although that squad is yet to be announced.

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

Australia's first Test squad after Justin Langer's departure has been confirmed with 18 players selected for the team's first tour of Pakistan in nearly 25 years.

Spinner Ashton Agar is the only addition to the wider group that won the Ashes 4-0 over England, with fast bowler Jhye Richardson left out.

Agar comes into the squad to add another spin option for Australia alongside Nathan Lyon and Mitch Swepson given the likely favourable conditions on the subcontinent.

Opening batsman Marcus Harris has held his spot in the squad despite being dropped for the fifth Ashes Test, while Mitch Marsh and Josh Inglis are included as all-rounder and wicketkeeper cover after carrying the drinks in the Ashes.

“This squad covers for all scenarios including the conditions given it has been such a long time since Australia was last in Pakistan," National Selection Panel chair George Bailey said.

“With several subcontinent tours and a one-day World Cup in India on the near horizon this is a great first up challenge for the group after the successful home Ashes Series.

"It’s also a very historic tour given the length of time since an Australian side last toured Pakistan.”

Australia, who have not toured Pakistan since 1998 for security reasons, are also scheduled for an away series in Sri Lanka in June.

The three-Test match series against Pakistan begins in Rawalpindi on March 4, with further games in Karachi and Lahore.

The Pakistan tour will also include three One-Day Internationals and one T20 International, although that squad is yet to be announced.

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

Marcus Harris said "it's about trusting what I do" after going some way to silencing his doubters on day two of the third Ashes Test against England.

The opening batsman went into the contest at the MCG with a best effort of 23 from four innings, but top scored with 76 – the only Australian to make more than 40 in the first innings.

It proved a particularly good knock in the context of a day that saw Australia restricted to 267 having bowled England out for 185 on day one, before dominating the final hour to have the tourists 31-4 and still 51 runs in arrears.

Harris was thrilled to play his part on his home ground and prove a few people wrong in the process.

"It was good to spend a bit of time in the middle today. I had a bit of a battle in the first couple of Tests but it was good to be home and play on a familiar wicket," he told ABC Radio.

"There's a lot of media around but the support I've had from within and my close circle of people has been unbelievable. It's about trusting what I do."

James Anderson had starred with the ball for England, taking 4-33 to give the visitors an opportunity to get back into the game.

But Mitchell Starc (2-11) and Scott Boland (2-1) combined to have Zak Crawley (5), Dawid Malan (0), Haseeb Hameed (7) and nightwatchman Jack Leach (0) dismissed in a devastating final hour, much to the delight of the Melbourne crowd.

Harris added: "The way the wicket is, the amount of grass, there's always something in it for the bowlers.

"Jimmy Anderson bowled unbelievably, as did our bowlers in the end."

Australia head coach Justin Langer backed Mitchell Starc to be fit for the Boxing Day Test, though it remains unclear whether Josh Hazlewood will feature.

Langer's side boast a 2-0 series lead after a nine-wicket demolition of Joe Root's tourists in the opening Test in Brisbane, in which Starc bowled opener Rory Burns with the first delivery of the Ashes, and a 275-run victory in Adelaide.

Starc managed match figures of 6-80 at the Adelaide Oval as Australia made it nine wins in day-night Test matches, the only side with a perfect 100 per cent winning record, in the absence of Pat Cummins and Hazlewood, who injured himself at the Gabba.

Cummins is expected to return in Melbourne after coming into close contact with a positive COVID-19 case last Wednesday, but Langer remained unsure on Hazlewood's fitness as he praised the work of left-armer Starc.

On Starc, Langer told reporters: "He should be fine. He's tough. If he's not right, then we'll look at it. But at this stage, there's no indication suggesting he won't be playing the next Test.

"I'd be very surprised if he doesn't get up for Boxing Day. We will wait and see how Hazlewood pulls up.

"I honestly thought Starc was almost the man of the match last game. He became the leader of the group.

"There's been a lot of talk about Mitch Starc for the last few years but he just keeps turning up. He's an unbelievable athlete and he's incredibly fit.

"His resilience to just keep coming up over and over and over again is remarkable really, and his consistency of length and the way he controlled the tempo of the game last game was a great credit to him, particularly with Patty (Cummins) and Hazlewood not playing."

Indeed, Starc has been the pick of fast bowlers in the series thus far, picking up nine wickets at an average of 21.33, with off-spinner Nathan Lyon the only other player to record as many dismissals (nine wickets at an average of 25). 

The hosts initially named an unchanged 15-man squad for the remainder of the Tests in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart but have added bowler Scott Boland to the group while the medical team continue to assess the fast-bowling group.

Langer has also confirmed Marcus Harris will open in the third Test, despite the left-handed batter managing just 38 runs across four innings, knowing Australia will retain the Ashes if they avoid defeat at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Australia coach Justin Langer has confirmed Marcus Harris will play the Ashes Boxing Day Test at the MCG against England despite his poor run of form.

Harris has only managed 38 runs from four innings during the series and averages 22.19 during a 12-game Test career with only two half-centuries from 23 innings leading to pressure on his spot as David Warner's opening partner.

Australia's 2-0 Ashes lead has helped ease some pressure on Harris but Langer publicly threw his support behind him in a further boost for the embattled Victorian.

"He'll play in the Test, no worries about that," Langer told reporters on Thursday. "This is his home ground. He's played a lot at the MCG.

"He hasn't made the runs he'd like to so far, but he dominates domestic cricket so he knows that he knows how to play.

"He's a fantastic bloke around the squad ... And we know he's a very good player. For him and for us we're hoping he plays well and gets a good partnership with Davey Warner in this Boxing Day Test match."

Australia's opening partnerships in the four innings this Ashes have equated to an average of 17.75, with stands of 10, 16, four and 41.

Langer added: "We're really confident Marcus has got what it takes to be a successful Australian opening batsman and what we see in the nets, what we see in domestic cricket all adds up to what is potentially a very good Test career.

"One of the building blocks of a great team is the opening partnership and top three. We're determined to get that right."

Former Australia left-handed opener Langer endured similar struggles during his playing career but was backed by ex-captain Steve Waugh.

The 51-year-old coach, who worked with Harris during their time in WA, said it was important Harris felt "important to the team" to bring out the best in him.

"That's absolutely one of the most important things in life, knowing people have got your back," Langer said.

"My experience, when Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Mark Taylor or Allan Border said 'you're in the team', you feel like Superman. You feel like you're important to the team and Marcus Harris is important to the team."

Australia have named an unchanged 15-man squad for the remainder of the Ashes ahead of Test matches in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart.

Pace pair Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood will re-join the squad after both missed the second Test in Adelaide.

Cummins was ruled out after being a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case, while Hazlewood missed due to a side injury.

The duo will come back into contention to replace Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser who stepped up in their respective absences in Adelaide.

Opening batsman Marcus Harris has been retained in the squad despite managing only 38 runs in four innings during the series. Usman Khawaja remains the back-up batsman in the squad and could still displace Harris.

The Australians will have rest days on Tuesday and Wednesday before assembling in Melbourne on Thursday ahead of the Boxing Day Test from Sunday at the MCG.

Australia leads the series 1-0 and is in a strong position to claim victory on the final day in the second Test in Adelaide on Monday.

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner

Marcus Harris insists Tim Paine has the full backing of his Australia team-mates after the wicketkeeper stepped down as Test captain.

Paine resigned as Australia's skipper in the longest format last week due to the emergence of a lewd text exchange with a former Cricket Tasmania colleague back in 2017.

At the time, Paine was found not to have breached Cricket Australia's code of conduct and remained as Test captain, having taken up the position in 2018 following Steve Smith's demotion in light of the sandpaper ball-tampering scandal.

Paine will remain involved with the Australia squad, having been named in the selection to face England, though a new captain is yet to be announced.

Tasmania chairman Andrew Gaggin hit out at CA's treatment of Paine and while Harris revealed the Australia squad were shocked, he says there is full belief that Paine will play a key role in their attempts to retain the Ashes.

"People were obviously a bit shocked but we've got a lot of good leaders around our group," Harris told reporters.

"It's not ideal but someone's going to have to step up and lead from the front.

"Painey will still be around and can still show leadership in many different ways but we're looking forward to getting into camp and getting on with it.

"I think you'd probably still argue that he's still the best gloveman in the country.

"I know he's got all the support of the players and like I said, all that other stuff is up to people above me."

Australia's chief selector George Bailey has confirmed Marcus Harris will open in the first Ashes Test against England at the Gabba.

Harris only averages 23.77 from 19 Test innings, with the second of his two half-centuries coming against India in January 2019 after scoring his first in the same series.

The 29-year-old staked a strong claim by making a 19th first-class hundred for Victoria against New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield last month.

Bailey says Harris deserves his chance to open along with David Warner in the opening Test against England in Brisbane, which starts on December 8.

"It gives you great confidence as a selector when you know your opening batters are locked away as far as a Test series go," Bailey told RSN radio.

"It's a hard spot to bat and to get those places settle, it's really important. Harry's only had a limited opportunity in the past, and he's been in and out a bit, so we'd love nothing more than for him to hopefully to get an opportunity to get an extended run at it.

"What we have liked is his consistency. He's obviously been a prolific run-scorer at domestic level here, but also love the fact he went overseas and had a great year for Leicester as well."

Will Pucovski would have been a rival for Harris at the top of the order, but suffered another concussion setback.

Will Pucovski has been ruled out of the fourth Test against India, with Marcus Harris to open for Australia.

Pucovski injured his shoulder during the drawn third Test in Sydney and the opener will miss the final game of the series, which is locked at 1-1.

Australia captain Tim Paine confirmed on Thursday that Harris would replace his Victoria team-mate for the Test in Brisbane, beginning on Friday.

"He tried to train this morning and didn't quite come up," Paine told a news conference.

"He'll have a bit of work to do with our medicos to see where he goes from here, but he's obviously missing this Test match and Marcus Harris will replace him."

Harris returns for his first Test since the 2019 Ashes and the left-hander has averaged 24.06 in his previous 17 innings at the level.

The 28-year-old scored 355 runs at an average of 118.33 to begin the Sheffield Shield season for Victoria, while he made scores of 35, 25 not out, 26 and five for Australia A against India last month.

Paine is looking forward to seeing what Harris can deliver as Australia aim for a series win.

"[He's] been working his backside off in our hub. He deserves his opportunity," he said.

"He's a really relaxed type of character, so he's one we certainly enjoy having in and around our group."

Australia are unbeaten in their past 31 Tests at the Gabba, winning 24 and drawing seven.

The Gabba is the only venue in Australia where India have played more than once without winning – drawing once and losing five times.

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