The National Selection Committee of Cricket Australia made a tough decision of dropping Marcus Harris from the final ashes test & has included Usman Khawaja into the squad. Khawaja will open the batting along with David Warner while Travis Head will bat in the middle order.
Marcus Harris has been left out of the final test in Hobart
Khawaja’s stunning twin centuries in the fourth test helped him to be retained in the team for the fifth test. Meanwhile, Travis Head made a return to the squad after missing the SCG test due to COVID-19. On the other hand, national selectors made a tough call to leave Marcus Harris out of the final test in Hobart
“I think he knew was it was coming,” Cummins said on Thursday. “The message to Harry is we think he is going well. It’s tough on him. It’s not too often someone comes in and hits two hundred in the same game. But I thought Marcus has been really good I think he’s been growing with each game he was a huge part in how we won that MCG Test with crucial innings.
“So he’s certainly part of the future. We’ll keep investing in him. I think he’s been going well”, Pat Cummins added to his statement.
Harris wouldn’t be cast aside as a test player
It is the third time that Harris has been dropped in his 14 test career. Marcus got a spot in Australia’s last five test matches but he could surpass 50 runs mark just three times in 26 test innings & just once in his last five matches, including a match-winning 76 runs knock in the third Ashes Test at the MCG ground. Harris could reach 20 in just four consecutive innings & has a test average of 25.29. Harris’s inconsistent form & average performance has forced the selectors to keep him out of the fifth Ashes Test. However, Pat Cummins made it clear that Harris wouldn’t be cast aside as a test player.
“No, absolutely not,” Cummins said. “I think Uzzy and Davey have earned that spot to open the batting but the reality is they’re both 35 years old. So whilst that doesn’t mean anything in the short, short term there will be a day where we need to find some other openers. Marcus is still absolutely got a huge future with us. He’ll be around the squad. I think there might even be an Australia A tour go overseas in the off-season. Of course, there’s heaps of Shield cricket and county cricket as well so for sure this is probably more a case of someone demanding a spot as opposed to Marcus losing his spot.”
Usman hasn’t batted higher than No.4
Coming to Usman Khawaja’s career stats, the prolific batsman averages 96.80 & has scored two tons in seven test innings as an opener, including 145 in a pink-ball Test against South Africa in Adelaide in 2016. He averages 39.30 opening in first-class cricket across 36 innings with four centuries, although three have come on the subcontinent. But he hasn’t batted higher than No. 4 in his last 22 first-class innings, during which time he has compiled six first-class hundreds and has averaged 65.94.
“Confident with Uzzy opening,” Cummins said. “He’s a class player. He can bat anywhere in the order. Even at the start of the summer when he was part of the squad, from the selectors’ point of view and being his captain I felt like he could bat anywhere from one to six so he’ll slot straight into one, everyone else stays where they are. Trav Head owned that No. 5 spots the first few games”, Pat Cummins added.
Boland is recovering from his rib injury
Meanwhile, Australia’s bowling attack also lacks clarity as their star bowler Boland is recovering from his rib injury & Cummins has made it clear that the selectors would confirm his availability after assessing his fitness after the final training session. He took pain-killing injections during the SCG test to keep himself going after falling on his ribs in the first innings but still fought hard & scalped seven wickets in that particular test.
“We think he should be right,” Cummins said. “I don’t think he’ll be getting injections down here. I think he’ll just have a bowl and judge if he feels a bit better than he did a few days ago. He bowled 30-40 overs after he did the injury which gives us a lot of confidence he can get through it. Just speaking to him he says it’s an injury that he’s confident doesn’t get worse with heaps of bowling. It’s just a lot of pain. So hopefully he can manage that. He said he’ll have a bowl. He’s played enough. He’ll be honest”, Pat Cummins added.
Meanwhile, Jhye Richardson who scalped five wickets in the pink ball test in Adelaide missed the MCG and SCG Tests due to shin soreness. Richardson could return to the squad for the final Ashes Test. The five-match Ashes 2021-2022 series is in favour of Australia with a 3-0 score as the fourth test was drawn. The fifth & final test will begin on Friday in Hobart which will be a day & night contest.
Pat Cummins (C), Steve Smith (VC), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Michael Nesser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner