Ashes 2021-22: Marcus Harris dropped, Usman Khawaja to open for Australia in Hobart Test

Ashes 2021-22: Marcus Harris dropped, Usman Khawaja to open for Australia in Hobart Test

A final call on Scott Boland is awaited as he yet to recover from the rib injury he picked in Sydney.

Usman Khawaja
Usman Khawaja. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Marcus Harris has been left out from the Australian lineup for the fifth and final Ashes Test in Hobart’s Bellerive Oval, a day-night affair scheduled to get underway from January 14.

Usman Khawaja, who struck twin centuries in Sydney last week after being drafted in as Travis Head’s replacement, will open alongside David Warner, while a final call on Scott Boland is expected to be made before the fixture after his fitness is assessed completely. Boland is currently recovering from a rib injury he picked in the previous game and should he fail to regain match fitness, Jhye Richardson will most likely walk in to fill for him.

“We think he [Boland] should be right,” Australia skipper Pat Cummins told reporters on Thursday. “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. 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.”

Harris going well but can’t keep Khawaja out: Pat Cummins

As for Harris, who endured a forgettable run at the top of the order with scores of 3, 9 not out, 3 and 23 in the first two Tests before a solid, match-winning 76 in the third, he has not enough to keep out Khawaja, who averages 96.80 in seven innings as opener, including two centuries. Harris returned with 38 and 27 in Sydney but Khawaja’s consecutive centuries couple with Head’s return into the side meant he had to face the axe.

“I think he knew was it was coming,” Cummins said. “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. 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.”

“Really confident with Uzzy opening,” Cummins said of Khawaja coming in at the top after he had previously hinted about his inclusion following the Sydney show. “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. Travis Head really owned that No. 5 spots the first few games.”

Australia lead the series 3-0 after victories in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne, while the two teams drew Sydney.