Ashes 2019: James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja Set As Leads In First Ashes Test

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Ashes 2019: James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja Set As Openers In First Ashes Test
Ashes 2019: James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja Set As Openers In First Ashes Test
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Australia’s coach Justin Langer has declared James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja to be the openers of the first Ashes against England on August 1 at Edgbaston.

Khawaja hasn’t played a game since his hamstring on July 6 during Australia’s World Cup loss to South Africa. After his recovery from the hamstring strain, he has undergone some fitness tests. He has gone through a series of running drills and spent quality of time in the nets against Pattinson and cleared all the tests.

“Usman Khawaja will definitely be in, he’s fit, ready to go, he’s playing well. He’s a seasoned pro for us, he averages 40-odd in Test cricket, his hammy’s good, he’s running well, he’s passed all the fitness tests so he’s ready to go. He’ll bat No. 3.” – Langer said.

The selection of the openers went on through a debate with the Cameron Bancroft, alongside with the top order batsman David Warner followed by Khawaja, Steven Smith, Travis Head, and Matthew Wade. Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle are the three-way duel probably assigned for the final pace bowling.

“Like in all these selections, there’s literally a case for 17 blokes to play. The opening partnership’s going to be really tough, between Cameron and Marcus Harris, really hard. They’ve both got a really strong case, and then the fast bowling spots. There’s probably three to be fair, Starc, Peter Siddle and Josh Hazlewood, for one spot.” – Langer told.

“It was very similar to the World Cup semi-final as well, we got here, it was the same, the grass, but it wasn’t green grass. But we still saw some life in it in that we came unstuck in the semi-final. The wicket doesn’t surprise me, that’s more what I was expecting here. Because the grass is so brown, there’s no green grass on it, and it’s rock hard and quite dry underneath, I don’t think [wet weather] will make much difference. I’m not a horticulturalists, but I don’t see how that’s going to get green. It might just be a bit of sweating and stuff, but I don’t think it’ll make a difference because of the color of the grass. Probably the groundsman would give you a better answer than me.” – Langer added.

Pattinson hasn’t represented Australia in three and a half years because of multiple injuries, most notably a recurring back problem that prompted him to undergo major spinal surgery in 2017. With his outstanding performance in recent form, in last week’s intra-squad match and Australia A tour, is set to be selected into the squad.

“Just a very, very good bowler. I’m sure Painey will work out ways of using him, it’s just nice to see him back, it’s a great story isn’t it, coming back from where he was as a young bowler, the back surgeries, to more than likely being selected for this Test match, it’s a great story.” – Langer said.

“They won’t be rotated as such as in the World Cup we’ll pick the best three or four for every game we play. Lord’s is very different to here, Old Trafford’s going to be different. We won’t rotate them per se, but we’ll just pick the best three, probably not four, but three for every game. It won’t be for different opposition, certainly different conditions.” – Langer added.

Bancroft, whose work at short leg was admired by Steve Waugh and the qualities he had put forward to gain his place back in the squad, are of the sort Langer wanted to see in every one of the squad.

“Whichever ones we pick, that’s what you want from everyone, so it’s not just him,” he said. “I think Matthew Wade’s fought his way back into selection because of that tenacity to keep getting better and he’s knocked so hard on the door. You see it, if Steve Smith averages 60 it shows a bit of tenacity, David Warner’s the same. You want it from all of the players, not just him.” – Langer said.

Australia 17-Man Squad:

  1. Tim Paine (c)
  2. Cameron Bancroft
  3. Pat Cummins
  4. Marcus Harris
  5. Josh Hazlewood
  6. Travis Head
  7. Usman Khawaja
  8. Marnus Labuschagne
  9. Nathan Lyon
  10. Mitchell Marsh
  11. Michael Neser
  12. James Pattinson
  13. Peter Siddle
  14. Steven Smith
  15. Mitchell Starc
  16. Matthew Wade
  17. David Warner
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