Nissanka rewarded for consistency, gets maiden Test call up for Sri Lanka
7 Mar 2021
New Test skipper Pat Cummins has announced the playing XI for his debut match as captain of the Australian Test team in the form of the first clash of the Ashes series against England. The selection calls are largely on expected lines with Mitchell Starc and Travis Head getting the nod from the management to secure the contentious spots.
Head has been preferred over Usman Khwaja and will return to bat at number five after a tough series against India that saw him dropped from the sid midway through the series. Both him and Khwaja have been in the superb run for form with the bat in the ongoing Sheffield Shield season but Cummins cited Head’s experience and past success against England while justifying the call to pick him over Khwaja.
"It was a tight one. Both really good options, really strong form," said Cummins. "Experience is great from Uzzie and we feel really lucky to have that in the squad, but Trav’s been playing a lot for us the last couple of years. He’s gone away and he’s churned out runs in England, here in Australia, and we feel like he’s really ready to go."
There was debate around the place for Mitchell Starc in the playing XI after mediocre series with the ball against India last summer. He was all over the place and struggled to swing the new ball as Australia suffered consecutive series defeats at home against India and first loss at the fortress Gabba in more than three decades.
There was a school of thought that was promoting Jhye Richardson over Starc for the consistency and swing he brings to the table but Cummins has thrown his weight behind his longtime bowling mate.
Marcus Harris was already confirmed to be the opening partner for David Warner in the first Test and Alex Carey was appointed the wicketkeeper-batsman in the playing XI.
Australia XI for 1st Ashes Test
Marcus Harris, David Warner, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (WK), Pat Cummins (c), Mitch Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.