Rivals coaches ponder changes for third Test
Trevor Bayliss says Jason Roy is better suited down the order as Australia mull what to do with their fast-bowling attack
Sam Ferris at Headingley
21 August 2019, 07:31 AM AEST
The misfiring batting orders of both sides could be revamped for the third Ashes Test at Headingley.
Australia are certain to make one change to the XI that was named for the second Test, with Steve Smith officially ruled out of the Leeds clash as recovers from the concussion he sustained at Lord's after being struck by a Jofra Archer bouncer.
Smith's concussion replacement, Marnus Labuschagne. is expected to retain his place in the XI after scoring 59 in more than two hours to deny England a series-levelling draw last week.
While Labuschagne is in form, Australia's openers have endured a lean patch to start the series. Cameron Bancroft is averaging 11 while David Warner has managed just 18 runs in four innings at the top of the order.
Australia first-drop Usman Khawaja has scored 91 runs for the series, eight runs fewer than England counterpart Joe Root, who is averaging 24.75 since moving up one spot to No.3.
England left-hander Rory Burns has been a revelation with 226 runs at 56.50, but his opening partner Jason Roy is averaging 10 in his first Ashes campaign.
In an Ashes series featuring two powerful attacks, Australia coach Justin Langer said on match eve it is time for the senior batters in each team to stand up.
"We're all aware – and England will be the same – that the top orders haven't fired yet," Langer said.
"For either team to win this series against top attacks, our top orders are going to have to fire.
"The challenge is on for both teams and I'm sure we've got a couple of really senior players, as they've got their captain batting at No.3, to make a mark on this series."
With Smith out, Warner is now Australia's top-ranked batter but finds himself entering the third Test on the back of four consecutive single-figure scores for only the second time in his prolific career.
Langer said ahead of the second Test he likes it when great players, such as Warner, miss out because it means they are statistically due for a big score.
Warner would love for Leeds to be the Test where he turns the corner, but Langer is not putting any extra pressure or expectation on his veteran opener.
"I expect (a lot) out of him every time he plays, whether Steve Smith is playing or not playing," Langer said.
"We expect it of all our senior players. He looked really sharp in the nets today.
"He'll be hungry. Don't write off David Warner."
England have their own out-of-form opener in Roy, who has been thrust into a top-order role in the Test team despite playing most of his first-class career in the middle order.
England coach Trevor Bayliss said on Tuesday he is confident he has the best seven batters available but will discuss the prospect of a reshuffle to get the best out of the batting unit.
That could mean a positional shift for Roy, whose best spot is a few positions lower, according to Bayliss.
"Personally, I think he probably is suited to the middle order," Bayliss said.
"But we’ve selected him in the top of the order because of his form and experience in the one-day team, playing international cricket.
"At the start of his one-day career, he missed out a few times as well and it took him a little while to get the hang of it.
"So, the possibility of him playing again at the top of the order doesn't really concern us. We know what he can do when he does play well."
At the other end of the order, Australia look set to wait until game day to decide on their fast- bowling attack.
Paceman James Pattinson was rested from the second Test with an eye to be fresh for the Leeds Test and could come in for Peter Siddle or Pat Cummins, the two Australian quicks to play the opening Tests.
Left-armer Mitch Starc is yet to feature in the Ashes and boasts some local experience having played for Yorkshire in 2012, while Michael Neser continues to be a handful in the nets as he swings the red Dukes ball both ways.
For England, they appear unlikely to change the specialist pace trio of Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Archer, with left-armer Sam Curran also in the squad pushing for selection.
While Australia have interchanged their fast bowlers through the first two Tests, England's only change has been forced, with veteran James Anderson's calf injury allowing Archer to make his spectacular debut at Lord's.
Woakes has had a lighter workload than Broad and Archer this series and while Bayliss said allrounder is not injured, he did reveal the England selectors are weighing up whether to give him a rest after playing right through the World Cup and now the Ashes.
"It's one area that we've tried to keep an eye on with Woakesy in the past," Bayliss said.
"It'll be a decision we have to make leading into this Test match. Do we give him a break? Do we keep going with him?
"He's certainly bowled quite well while everything's been going on at the other end."
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval