After Usman Khawaja’s Sydney onslaught, Cricket Australia face some challenging questions. Khawaja came as Travis Head tested positive for Covid-19. Before the Sydney Test though, Head racked up some good numbers of his own. He is the preferred number five, having beat Usman Khawaja to the role at Brisbane. Following his selection, Head consolidated his position with a counter-attacking century, which all but reassures his spot at Hobart.
Khawaja though is coming into Hobart on the back of two hundred in Sydney and has made himself undroppable as well. With both players fighting for the number five spot, and both tough to leave out, the spotlight falls on Marcus Harris, who has struggled through the Ashes.
Recent selection trends show that Australia is leaning on backing players, and they believe in giving players a longer rope. If they continue with the same trend, Marcus Harris could find himself on the side at Hobart but might find it difficult to remain in the side when Australia visits Pakistan.
While Marcus Harris has also struggled for runs, he did play some decent knocks in the series. His innings in Melbourne were a tough one and helped Australia get to a stronger position, which indicates that he could retain his spot. In case Australia feel they want to include both Head and Khawaja though, they’d have to make some tough changes. The first would be slotting Head at number five, and the next task is to ask Usman Khawaja to open.
Usman Khawaja is not new to opening the batting, and he has done the job with Warner in the past. However, he has been adjusting to new roles throughout his career, and to do it again may be a little difficult. The option though remains a likely one, but will not be as straightforward as Australia will then have to pick between Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris.
Another selection question for Australia will be regarding the bowling attack. Mitchell Starc played all four Tests but will be keen to improve his pink ball tally at Hobart. Scott Boland had an injury in the fourth Test but made it through. Australia though, may not be wanting to take a chance and could rest him, bringing in Jhye Richardson or Michael Neser again. Cameron Green has bowled quite a few overs this season, and his 153 overs across nine first-class games is his highest in a season.
Josh Hazlewood is ruled out of the final Test, but Pat Cummins is likely to continue after missing the second Test and playing the others. With the workload of few bowlers in mind and a toss-up among three batters, there are likely to be a few disappointments and surprise inclusions.