Ashes 2021/22: Australia announce their Playing XI for Brisbane Test
Australia have announced their Playing XI for the first Test of the upcoming Ashes, starting December 8 at the Gabba. Pat Cummins will lead the side in place of Tim Paine, who is on an indefinite break. The latter had left the role in the wake of the sexting scandal. Cummins revealed that he won't take the new ball in the series opener.
Australia's Playing XI for the first Test of Ashes 2021/22: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Middle-order batter Travis Head has been picked as Australia's number five for the Test. The Australian selectors have preferred him over the experienced Usman Khawaja. Head racked up 394 runs at an average of 49.25 in the recent Sheffield Shield season, including two centuries. On the other hand, Khawaja scored 460 runs at 65.71 with a couple of hundreds.
In a Test career that has spanned over three years, Head has amassed 1,153 runs from 19 matches at a remarkable average of 39.75. He also has two tons to his name with the best score of 161. He played in four Tests of the 2019 Ashes series before being replaced by Mitchell Marsh. Notably, Head averages 46.66 in home Tests.
Pace spearhead Mitchell Starc has been retained in the XI. Doubts were being cast over his spot. He will accompany Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood in the fast-bowling segment. All-rounder Cameron Green further bolsters the pace attack. All eyes will be on the experienced Nathan Lyon. He is inches away from taking his 400th wicket in Test cricket.
Pat Cummins was appointed Australia's Test captain last month after Paine left abruptly. The former will be the first pacer since Richie Benaud to captain the Aussies. Cummis will also become the first pacer to lead the Aussies full-time. Meanwhile, Steve Smith, who returned from the ball-tampering ban in 2019, will be Cummins' deputy. Notably, Smith led Australia from 2014 to 2018.
As far as batting is concerned, David Warner will open the inning alongside Marcus Harris. Marnus Labuschagne, who has been in sublime form of late, follows the duo in the line-up. Steve Smith, the star of the 2019 Ashes, will come in at number four. The likes of Travis Head and Cameron Green solidify the middle order. Alex Carey will don the wicket-keeping gloves.