Vodafone Test Series v India
Aussies coy on Test XI, but backing for Burns and Green
Australia will wait for the toss to reveal their first Test XI but captain Tim Paine offered some clues on the eve of the day-night match
Andrew Ramsey in Adelaide
16 December 2020, 10:09 AM AEST
Australia won't reveal their starting XI for the opening Vodafone Series Test against India until tomorrow's coin toss, but captain Tim Paine has given a strong indication Joe Burns will retain his place and allrounder Cameron Green is set to debut.
Paine also hosed down speculation about the fitness of star batter Steve Smith who was unable to train at Adelaide Oval yesterday due to lower back soreness, claiming the former captain had suffered similar problems in the past and always found a way to play and score runs.
Burns's place in the line-up has been a source of much debate over recent weeks as he's struggled to find form in the Marsh Sheffield Shield and recent tour games against India.
But despite the selectors' decision to add Victoria opener Marcus Harris to the expanded Test squad last weekend, Paine claims the make-up of the team has been "pretty clear for a while" with only the injury to the other incumbent opener, David Warner, prompting the need for change.
"Obviously his build-up, in terms of runs, hasn't been great but if you look at the work he's done solely in Test cricket for this team, it's been very, very good," Paine said of Burns in this morning's Test-eve media conference.
"He averages just over 40 in Test cricket.
"If Joe walks out to bat tomorrow, we've got full confidence in him doing the job, there's no doubt about that.
"Stability in good cricket teams, in good sports teams is really important so that's something we've tried to build over the last two years, to try and have that stability around selection which takes the worry out of it for certain players.
"There's always going to be a lot of noise externally about the first Test and what team we're picking, but internally we've been pretty clear for a while.
"Things have changed a little bit with injury but tomorrow you'll see a pretty similar side walk out that finished the summer last year here in Australia.
"Pretty much we have a team by we won't be releasing it unfortunately until the toss tomorrow.
"I know we'll have two people walking out to open the batting tomorrow but we'll be keeping that in-house at the moment.”
Men's team coach Justin Langer confirmed yesterday that if 21-year-old Green, who suffered mild concussion when struck on the head while bowling at the SCG last Friday, was passed fit he would make his Test debut at Adelaide Oval tomorrow.
If Green was to slot into the starting and former Test keeper Matthew Wade – in line with earlier speculation – was promoted to open alongside Burns, that would mean a solitary change to the team that defeated New Zealand last summer in line with Paine's statement.
Green trained strongly yesterday and showed little effect of the head blow, with his skipper adding the 198cm batting all-rounder was expected to train again this afternoon and be in line for a Baggy Green Cap presentation tomorrow.
In first-class matches so far this summer, the Western Australian has been restricted to bowling a couple of four-over spells each day as he continues his rehabilitation program after suffering back stress fractures last year.
But Paine said today that if Green was passed fit to play his maiden Test in the opening match of the four-game Border-Gavaskar Trophy Series, he would be expected to marginally increase his bowling workload to help ease the burden on Australia's front-line quicks.
"I think once you're selected in a Test match you're good to go, but having said that we don't expect him to bowl a huge amount of overs anyway," Paine said.
"With the attack we've got we see him as a nice change-up.
"He takes maybe 12 to 14 overs an innings out of our key fast bowlers which is great in terms of keeping them fresh, in a pink ball sense, for the night session.
"And being able to keep them fresh for the whole series.
"Obviously if Greeny can continue to go on the path he is, having him in our side allows us to have Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood around the Australian Test team even longer in terms of their careers.
"He's going to be a huge asset to us in that sense.
"We know that when he does bowl, he'll make an impact that's what we've seen and that's what we'll be expecting him to do again."
Smith was a conspicuous absentee from Australia's main pre-Test nets session at Adelaide Oval yesterday afternoon, having appeared to hurt his back during warm-up exercises.
He underwent treatment yesterday afternoon and did not bat in the nets, but Paine claimed the 31-year-old was expected to bat when the team completed their preparations later today.
And if he did not make it to the nets today, he did not believe the world's top-ranked Test batter was in doubt for the start of the series tomorrow afternoon.
Vodafone Test Series v India 2020-21
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
India Test squad: Virat Kohli (c) (first Test only), Ajinkya Rahane (vice-captain), Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj
Second Test: December 26-30, MCG, 10.30am AEDT
Third Test: January 7-11, SCG, 10.30am AEDT
Fourth Test: January 15-19, Gabba, 11am AEDT