Australia have added Steve Smith to their squad for the first two Ashes Tests as batting cover, as they continue to struggle with their preparations to take on England.
With David Warner suspended for the warm-up matches against Somerset and Worcestershire and Michael Clarke likely to miss both with his back injury, the selectors have chosen to call for Smith.
The New South Welshman has played seven Tests, scoring 420 runs with a highest score of 92, emerging out of a problematic tour of India earlier this year as one of the few batsmen to have impressed.
"The NSP (National Selection Panel) advises that Steve Smith has been added to the Australian Ashes squad until the beginning of the Second Test when it will be reviewed," NSP chairman John Inverarity said.
"Given David Warner is unavailable for the upcoming tour games against Somerset and Worcestershire and while Michael Clarke continues to make good progress from a back injury, we feel further batting cover is required.
He added that spinner Ashton Agar, currently with the 'A' squad, will also join up with the squad as a development player.
"Ashton Agar is to accompany the Ashes Squad until the beginning of the Second Test as a development player. This will be similar to the situation when Mitchell Starc accompanied the ODI, T20 and Test Squads on the tour to West Indies in 2012 as a development player.
"Fawad Ahmed will return to Australia tomorrow (Monday) while he goes through the processes required of him to become an Australian citizen and remains a player of interest to the National Selection Panel."
The opening Ashes Test begins on 10th July at Trent Bridge in Nottingham.
© Cricket World 2013