Ashes batting candidates in Australia A squad
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Usman Khawaja and Shaun Marsh will get chances to press their claims for the vacant No. 6 spot in Australia’s test batting lineup after being included in the A squad for a tour match against England next week.
Khawaja, who has been in and out of the test lineup, improved his prospects for a recall for the Ashes series beginning Nov. 21 in Brisbane with a dominant 104 for Queensland in its five-wicket win over New South Wales in last weekend’s domestic limited-overs final.
Marsh played strongly for Western Australia in the limited-overs tournament while another contender, George Bailey, has been leading Australia’s one-day squad on a tour of India.
Alex Doolan and Callum Ferguson were among the other batsmen picked for the A team, which will be led by Moises Henriques for the Nov. 6-9 match against England at Hobart.
National selector John Inverarity said the Australia A and domestic first-class matches would be taken into consideration for selection for the first test against England. But he said selectors already have a good idea of who they want for the Gabba match, with one batting position and at least one bowling spot open.
“We have struck a balance in what we think is the appropriate Australia A team to face England, while ensuring individuals have a solid preparation and chance to impress,” Inverarity said.
Glenn Maxwell will return from India to be Henriques’ vice captain, while Tim Paine is the wicketkeeper.
Australia’s lineup has been missing a middle-order anchor since Mike Hussey retired at the end of the last Australian summer, not long after long-time No. 3 and former skipper Ricky Ponting quit. Khawaja, David Warner, Phillip Hughes and Shane Watson — who all prefer to play closer to the top of the order — and Steven Smith all batted at No. 6 during the last Ashes series as Australia’s selectors constantly shuffled the order in a desperate bid to find the best combination.
England beat Australia 3-0 for its third consecutive Ashes series victory, and the squad arrived in Perth on the weekend full of confidence that it can win the old urn four consecutive times for the first time in more than a century.
Australia A: Moises Henriques (captain), Glenn Maxwell, Trent Copeland, Ben Cutting, Alex Doolan, Callum Ferguson, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Michael Klinger, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine.