Head coach Justin Langer has confirmed that Usman Khawaja will bat at No3 for Australia in the first Ashes Test against England at Edgbaston after the left-hander passed a fitness test.
Khawaja had been recovering from a hamstring strain and the top-order batsman proved his fitness for the first Test by passing a series of tests on Monday.
“Usman Khawaja will definitely be in, he’s fit, ready to go, he’s playing well,” Langer told the media.
“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.”
While Khawaja has been locked in for the No3 spot, fast bowler James Pattinson is also a near certainty to make the playing XI for Thursday. The 29-year-old pacer is now set to make his first Test appearance since February, 2016 after battling a spate of back injuries over the course of his career.
“Just a very, very good bowler,” Langer said about the pacer.
“I’m sure Painey (Tim Paine) 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.”
With Pattinson set to partner Pat Cummins for the Edgbaston Test, Justin Langer has revealed that Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle could all be vying for the third pacer’s slot.
“Like in all these selections, there’s literally a case for 17 blokes to play,” Langer said.
“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, Starcy, Peter Siddle and Josh Hazlewood, for one spot.”
The first Ashes Test between hosts England and Australia at Edgbaston gets underway on August 1.
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