Australia have locked their playing XI for the Ashes 2021-22 opener to be played at the Gabba, Brisbane, beginning December 8. Travis Head has been preferred ahead of Usman Khawaja to bat at No.5, while Alex Carey is set to make his Test debut, replacing Tim Paine in the wicketkeeper's role.
Australia have decided to go in with Travis Head as the No.5 for the Ashes opener in Brisbane, beginning December 8. Head scored 394 runs at 49.25 this Sheffield Shield season, and has been preferred ahead of Khawaja, who scored 460 runs at 65.71. Marcus Harris will partner David Warner at the top, with Marnus Labuschagne and vice-captain Steve Smith to follow.
"It was a tight one," skipper Pat Cummins said. "The selectors make the call, both really good options, in really strong form. The experience from Uzzie is great and we are really lucky to have that but Trav has been playing a lot of us in the last couple of years and has churned out runs."
Cummins also confirmed the inclusion of fellow quick Mitchell Starc, with Josh Hazlewood to complete the fast-bowling trio, and Nathan Lyon included as the lone specialist spinner. Starc’s spot in the XI has been questioned by many in recent times, including Shane Warne, given the left-armer’s poor run in the 2020-21 home series against India.
"He's building up nicely, we had a really good centre-wicket yesterday, he was fast, he was swinging the ball big,” said Cummins on Starc.
“We weren't surprised but it was great to see. You've got some of the best batters in the world, Steve Smith, Marnus who looked like Starcy was a handful. So good signs."
Alex Carey is set to make his debut, replacing former captain Tim Paine in the wicketkeeper’s role. Young Cameron Green takes the all-rounder's spot at No.6.
Australia XI for Brisbane Test: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood