Ashes 2021-22 | Marcus Harris dropped, Usman Khawaja to open for Australia in Hobart
Usman Khawaja scored 137 and unbeaten 101 in the Sydney Testfirst and second innings of|
Marcus Harris has been dropped from the Australia squad for the final Test and Usman Khawaja has replaced him as a result of scoring two hundreds in previous fixture. Travis Head will return in the middle order while pace attack is yet to be decided with Scott Boland needing to pass a fitness test.
Ashes 2021- 22 has been completely dominated by Australia so far. They are leading the series by 3-0 and will look forward to finishing the series with a win. England, on the other hand, has a lot of problems to take care of. Usman Khawaja replaced Travis Head in the Sydney Test and he scored centuries in both the innings. His performance made a strong case to be retained in the squad.
Head will return to the squad for the final Test and so selectors have taken a decision to drop Marcus Harris. Khawaja will open innings along with David Warner. Australia captain Pat Cummins opined that the decision is tough on him but he is a part of the future plans and they will keep on investing in him.
"I think he knew was it was coming. The message to Harry is we think he is going really well. It's really tough on him. It's not too often someone comes in and hits two hundreds in the same game,” he explained.
“But I thought Marcus has been really good I think he's been growing with each game. He was a huge part in how we won that MCG Test with a crucial innings.”
"So he's certainly part of the future. We'll keep investing in him. I think he's been going really well."
It is the third instance when Harris has been dropped in his career of 14 Tests so far. He has passed 50 just three times in 26 Test innings and the ongoing Ashes has been a really tough battle for him. He has 179 runs in four matches but the twin centuries by Khawaja kept him on the sidelines. Cummins highlighted that Harris will not be cast aside as a Test player and he will play an important role in the future.
"No, absolutely not. I think Uzzy and Davey have really earned that spot to open the batting but the reality is they're both 35 years old. So whilst that doesn't mean anything in the short, short term there will be a day where we need to find some other openers. Marcus is still absolutely got a huge future with us. He'll be around the squad,” he opined.
“I think there might even be an Australia A tour go overseas in the off-season. Of course, there's heaps of Shield cricket and county cricket as well so for sure this is probably more a case of someone demanding a spot as opposed to Marcus losing his spot."
Khawaja’s number while opening the innings are impressive. He averages 96.80 and has scored two centuries in seven Test innings as an opener. Also, he averages 39.30 in first-class cricket while opening in 36 innings. He has batted No. 4 and below in his last 22 first-class innings scoring six hundreds and averages 65.94.
"Really confident with Uzzy opening. He's a class player. He can bat anywhere in the order. Even at the start of the summer when he was part of the squad, from the selectors' point of view and being his captain I felt like he could bat anywhere from one to six so he'll slot straight into one, everyone else stays where they are. Trav Head really owned that No. 5 spots the first few games,” he stated.
The pace attack for Australia is yet to be finalised with Scott Boland needing to pass a fitness test on his rib injury. Boland has been impressive for the team picking 14 wickets in two Test matches. Alos, he bowled a magical spell in the second innings at Melbourne taking six wickets. Cummins was hopeful that Boland will be able to play the final Test of the series.
"We think he should be right. I don't think he'll be getting injections down here. I think he'll just have a bowl and judge if he feels a bit better than he did a few days ago. He bowled 30-40 overs after he did the injury which gives us a lot of confidence he can get through it,” he concluded.
“Just speaking to him he says it's an injury that he's confident doesn't get worse with heaps of bowling. It's just a lot of pain. So hopefully he can manage that. He said he'll have a bowl. He's played enough. He'll be honest."
The fifth and final Test of the series will be played in Hobart from January 14.