Khawaja out, Starc in as Aussies name fourth Test XII
Australia names the 12 players they'll take into the Old Trafford Test match where a win would see them retain the Ashes urn
Sam Ferris in Manchester
3 September 2019, 08:04 AM AEST
Usman Khawaja has been dropped for the fourth Ashes Test in Manchester after Australia named a 12-man squad late on Monday night local time.
Australia are set to make two changes to the XI that lost in Leeds by one wicket, with Steve Smith coming in for Khawaja, while fast bowler James Pattinson has also been left out.
Four fast bowlers – Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitch Starc and Peter Siddle – are vying for three spots, with the pitch and conditions at Old Trafford set to determine the final XI.
Australia XII for fourth Test: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matt Wade, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
Khawaja has averaged 20.33 in six innings this campaign, with four scores between 13 and 40.
It is almost two years to the day since the last time Khawaja was dropped from the Test side for the second Test against Bangladesh in Chittagong.
But the 32-year-old rebounded to play in the first Test of the 2017-18 Ashes series on home soil, the start of 20 consecutive Tests before being left out of the side to play in Manchester.
Khawaja captained Australia in their three-day tour match against Derbyshire last week, and although he made 72 opening the batting alongside Marcus Harris, it appears it was not enough to see him remain in the side.
Harris has been retained after making 8 and 19 at Headingley in his first Ashes Test but posted 64 against Derbyshire before he was run out in a mix up with Khawaja.
Marnus Labuschagne, who has scored three half-centuries on the trot since replacing Steve Smith on day five of the Lord's Test as international cricket's inaugural concussion substitute, will likely bat at No.3, with Smith returning in his favoured No.4 position.
Allrounder Mitch March, who put in a player-of-the-match showing in Derby, was overlooked as the selectors opt for the same six batters, four bowlers combination that has worked well so far in the series.
Cummins, the No.1 Test bowler in the world, and Hazlewood, who took a career-best 9-115 in Leeds, look set to retain their places for the fourth Test, which leaves Siddle and Starc contesting the third fast-bowling spot.
Siddle has captured five wickets in the two Ashes Tests he has played this campaign, while Starc claimed seven wickets opening the bowling in Derby.
Siddle was rotated out of Australia's XI for the third Test and says he is ready to play again if given the nod.
"That's the good thing having played a lot of cricket over in England that I know my game well enough over here and it's just about being ready," Siddle said on the latest episode of The Unplayable Podcast.
"I don't think I can be any more ready than I am after the amount of cricket I have played this summer here in England for Essex, the practice game and the first couple of Tests.
"I'm in a good place and it's just about being ready to go when that opportunity comes up, whether that's this week or next.
"I think the performances I have put in were good, I was happy with them.
"Feeling good and just looking forward to hopefully getting another crack before the end of the series."
Starc played in the last Ashes Test held in Manchester in 2013, scoring a rapid 66 not out from 71 balls in Australia's first innings of 7-527 declared before taking 3-76 in England's reply.
Siddle also played in that clash, claiming 4-63 and 1-8 in a rain-affected draw.
The 34-year-old inspected the wicket on Monday morning and saw nothing out of the ordinary.
"(The pitch) looks pretty similar to what I've always played on" he said.
"It always tends to be a little bit in it early but they do look on the dry side, the wickets up here.
"Lancashire have in the past played a lot of spin, it does turn late.
"Both teams will be looking to make the most of that later on in the game.
"The first two, three days there is always a bit of seam around. Fast bowlers have had a lot of success up here also.
"I think it's just a good cricket wicket."
Australia require one win from the final two Tests to retain the Ashes. The fourth Test starts on Wednesday.
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), Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Olly Stone, Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia won by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord's
Third Test: England won by one wicket at Headingley
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval