Australia name XI for SA tour match

Tourists name strong squad to begin blockbuster Test tour, with Usman Khawaja to open in the absence of David Warner

Usman Khawaja will open the batting in the absence of David Warner in Australia’s sole tour match on their Qantas Tour of South Africa.

While Warner flies to South Africa after captaining Australia in the T20 international tri-series played at home and in New Zealand, the tourists will begin a three-day warm-up match on Thursday against South Africa A in Benoni.

Rookie Richardson makes an impression in Jo'Burg

Khawaja will partner incumbent Test opener Cameron Bancroft at the top of the order with Victoria skipper Peter Handscomb named at No.3.

The move to elevate Khawaja and slot Handscomb in at first-drop was made to avoid upsetting the rest of the batting order that proved dominant against England in the Magellan Ashes.

Captain Steve Smith is set to bat at No.4 followed by the Marsh brothers and wicketkeeper Tim Paine, while the star-studded bowling attack of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon will all feature in first-class fixture at Sahara Willowmoore Park.

Uncapped fast bowlers Chadd Sayers and Jhye Richardson and left-arm spinner Jon Holland are the squad members to miss out.

Assistant coach David Saker, who was taken charge of the squad while Darren Lehmann has been with the T20 side in New Zealand, said the visitors will be hoping to maintain their form from the Ashes triumph.

Aussies blow out the cobwebs in Jo'burg

“We just want to go out and win and play really well,” Saker told reporters in Benoni on Wednesday morning.

“It’s really important that we put in a good performance and learn from some of the things we did during the summer.

“It’s our only hit-out so we’ll play as strong a side as we can and get use to the conditions.

“Some of these guys haven’t played for a while, so it will be good for them to get out and have a hit-out.

He added: “It looks a pretty good wicket.

“To be fair, four days ago it looked quite poor but it looks quite good now.

“We’ll just go out and play and try to adapt to the conditions we get.”

Aussie bed down training drill in South Africa

The first Test starts on March 1 in Durban.

Australia XI: Cameron Bancroft, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Steve Smith (c), Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Tim Paine (wk), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood

South Africa A squad: Khayalihle Zondo (c), Theunis de Bruyn, Zubayr Hamza, Beuran Hendricks, Pieter Malan, Wiaan Mulder, Senuran Muthusamy, Duanne Olivier, Rudi Second, Malusi Siboto, Shaun von Berg.

Qantas tour of South Africa

Australia squad: Steve Smith (c), David Warner (vc), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Jhye Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Mitchell Starc.

Warm-up match v South Africa A, Sahara Park, Benoni, Feb 22-24

First Test Kingsmead, Durban, March 1-5

Second Test St George's Park, Port Elizabeth, March 9-13

Third Test Newlands, Cape Town, March 22-26

Fourth Test Wanderers, Johannesburg, March 30-April 3