A reborn Usman Khawaja will hold his place in Australia’s Test side with captain Pat Cummins affirming the 35-year-old is set to open the batting close by David Warner in the final Ashes Test against England in Hobart.
Marcus Harris will be the man to clear a path after Khawaja’s two splendid centuries at the SCG demanded selection for the Queensland captain.
Khawaja has an imposing record as an opener, averaging 96.80 with two centuries in eight innings at the top of the order.
Harris has scored 179 runs at 29.83 in this series, including a promising 76 at the MCG, yet has failed to benefit as much as possible from a few in number beginnings.
Cummins recommended Harris knew this tap on the shoulder was coming.
“The message to Harry is we think he is going really well,” Cummins said.
“It’s really tough on him. It’s not too often that someone comes in and gets two hundreds in the same game.
“I think Marcus has been really good. He’s been growing each game.
“He was a huge part in how he won that MCG Test; it was a crucial innings, so he’s certainly part of the future.”
Travis Head will supplant Khawaja further down the order after the South Australian recuperated from COVID-19.
The specific makeup of the XI is still to be affirmed with breakout bowling sensation Scott Boland expecting to finish a fitness test to have his place at Bellerive Oval on Friday.
Boland will attempt to bowl at training on Thursday in the wake of failing to bowl on Wednesday, with Cummins quick to see the Victorian hold his place in the XI that drew the fourth Test.
“We’ll see how Scotty goes,” Cummins said.
“He’ll just have a bowl and judge it. It feels a little bit better than it did a few days ago.
“He bowled 30-40 overs (in Sydney) after he did the injury, which gives us a lot of confidence he can get through it.
“It’s an injury he is confident doesn’t get worse with heaps of bowling. Hopefully he can manage.”
Mitchell Starc is likewise in some uncertainty with the veteran fast a candidate to be rested for the final Test of the series.
Jhye Richardson is the man expected to supplant both of the frontline fast-bowlers would it be a good idea for them they be inaccessible.
Warner portrayed opening with Khawaja as a “childhood dream”.
“We started out throwing balls against the wall, playing classic catches while watching our brothers play cricket,” Warner said on SEN.
“We’ve grown a special bond. I understand Usman and his culture very well, growing up with him.
“He’s been a bit misunderstood with the way he goes about practising and playing.
“He’s always backed himself, always proved the critics wrong. I’m just so proud of how he’s held his head high.”