Usman Khawaja dropped, James Pattinson rested for fourth Ashes Test

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Sep
3

Australia’s selectors have dropped their established No. 3 Usman Khawaja and also spelled James Pattinson for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford, signalling a change in approach following a narrow defeat at Headingley.

Khawaja’s omission meets the desire of selection chairman Trevor Hohns to address the abundance of left-handers at the top of the order, making it likely that Marnus Labuschagne will take over at first drop after Khawaja had occipied the position for most of the past four years.

Marcus Harris has been retained following his recall for the Leeds Test, meaning Australia’s openers for Manchester will both be left-handed strokemakers in contrast to England’s decision to promote the more conservative Joe Denly alongside Rory Burns while shuffling Jason Roy to the middle order.

Mitchell Marsh, meanwhile, has been left out of the squad following his effective double of wickets and runs in the tour match against Derbyshire, where Khawaja played as captain. Coach Justin Langer had indicated that Marsh likely needed to make a century at Derby to force his way in.

“The tough thing for Mitch and a few of them, is you have to bang so hard to get into the side like Matthew Wade, Marcus Harris did for example,” Langer said. “He’s craving some continuity of playing so he can get some performance on the board, I reckon. Obviously, he’s played about thirty-odd Test matches, or about that, because we see the value of having a guy who can bat, hopefully score hundreds in the top six and bowl pretty well.

“He’s swinging the ball at the moment. We saw that. His seam position with the ball is outstanding. He’s very, very fit at the moment, that’s a positive sign. He’s nice and fit, got beautiful seam position. It would have been nice from his point of view to turn his 74 into 120 not out. That’s about the banging so hard that you can’t [ignore]. That’s what we want to see from our players.

“I thought his footwork patterns were moving really well the last game. I think he plays fast bowling really well. He cuts and he pulls as good as anyone. With his height, the way he can pull the ball, and he’s not intimidated by short-pitched bowling. That makes him a really good player, that’s why he’s in the squad. Whether he plays on Wednesday time will tell but they’re the things they’re looking at. Ultimately for him and for all the players, performances to ensure you have to be selected is what we’re looking for and we’ve been consistent in saying that for the last 12 months.”

This makes it likely that Mitchell Starc will again miss out, with Peter Siddle likely to retake the third seam bowling spot behind Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Australia 12 for Manchester: Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.

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