sport

Smith back in Aussie Test squad

Steve Smith and Moises Henriques were the surprise selections in Australia's 17-man Test squad to tour India next month.

New South Wales all-rounders Smith and Henriques have been chosen to add bowling depth for the gruelling subcontinent tour, with the first Test to start in Chennai on February 22.

Injury-plagued top-order batsman Shane Watson also won a recall as he continues another long recovery from a calf strain while stylish left-hander Usman Khawaja was named as the middle-order replacement following Mike Hussey's retirement.

Victorian fast bowler James Pattinson was also included as his recovery from a serious side strain suffered way back in November continues.

Veteran swing bowler Ben Hilfenhaus, who has not played since breaking down during the Hobart Test in December, was not selected, and nor was Steve O'Keefe, the leading spinner in the Sheffield Shield this summer, with Xavier Doherty preferred.

"This squad has the flexibility that will be required for the varying conditions expected in India and it will provide valuable experience to a number of young players," chief selector John Inverarity said.

"The squad includes a spin bowling all-rounder in [Glenn] Maxwell and a medium-fast all-rounder in Henriques.

"In aiming for more depth in a bowling attack, the squad would allow for three pace bowlers, a leading spinner and Maxwell or two pace bowlers, the two spinners and Henriques. These are two of the options."

Doherty's re-emergence to be in the frame as a spin-bowling partner to Nathan Lyon comes on the back of strong form at domestic level and for Australia in the one-day series against Sri Lanka.

"We certainly feel he is much improved in the longer format of the game since he made his Test debut in 2010-11 against England. He adds further flexibility to the squad, depending on the conditions," Inverarity said.

Inverarity also explained how the players would prepare for the Indian tour.

"We have a good opportunity for members of the squad to get well acclimatised to the conditions with two warm-up fixtures.

"In the next 48 hours the NSP (National Selection Panel) will finalise which players will go to India early, once we have all available information and have finalised the squad for the final three Commonwealth Bank Series matches.

"It is a long tour and a very important one as we look to continue our improvement in Test cricket and our quest to return to the top of the ICC Test cricket rankings. We are also building towards back-to-back Ashes series."

The Australia one-day squad for games three, four and five of the Commonwealth Bank Series against West Indies will be announced on Saturday.

Australia 17-man Test squad to tour India: Michael Clarke (c), Shane Watson (vice-captain), Dave Warner, Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Matthew Wade, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Xavier Doherty, Jackson Bird, James Pattinson, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Steve Smith.