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Australia confirm two debutants in XI for first Test against Sri Lanka

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23rd January, 2019
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Australia have confirmed Kurtis Patterson and Jhye Richardson will debut against Sri Lanka at the Gabba, with Joe Burns to open alongside Marcus Harris.

Desperate to avoid their least successful home summer in a-quarter-of-a-century, Australia have recalled Joe Burns to open alongside Marcus Harris in the pink-ball series opener in Brisbane.

Young prodigy Will Pucovski is the hard luck story after being overlooked for his maiden baggy green, while Matt Renshaw also misses out.

Usman Khawaja will shift back to No.3 after opening at the SCG against India, while Marnus Labuschagne has held his spot but moves to No.4 before new vice-captain Travis Head and Patterson round out the top six.

Richardson will then be Australia’s third pace option in place of the injured Josh Hazlewood, beating out veteran Peter Siddle to become one of five players aged 25 or younger heralding a new era.

“If the (rookies) do (play), I have real confidence in those guys,” captain Tim Paine said before the side was announced after training on Wednesday.

“Not just on their cricket but I think all the guys, all the young guys who have the potential to make their debut this Test, will handle the occasion really well.”

Patterson will become Australian Test cricketer No.457, after being called into the squad late on the back of twin centuries in a pink-ball tour match against Sri Lanka in Hobart last week.

The NSW left-hander has been creating waves since he became the youngest player to score a Sheffield Shield century on debut aged 18 in 2011, and was close to making the side in 2016.

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Meanwhile Richardson will follow with baggy green No.458, becoming the seventh player to debut in the past 12 months.

Aged 22, he’s taken 49 first-class wickets at 23.24 and has already played seven one-dayers and seven Twenty20s for Australia.

The mass changes come with Australia having played five series across all three formats without a series win at home.

The last time the national team went through a home summer without lifting a trophy was in 1992-93, when the all-conquering West Indies beat them in both the Tests and a triangular one-day series.

“I think when you’re not performing as well as you would like as a group there are going to be changes and that’s just the fact of the game we’re in,” Paine said. 

“We’ve got to perform better and if we perform better we’ll have a more consistent side.

“We want to win (against Sri Lanka), not looking further than that, play better than we did against India, score more hundreds.” 

Australia (squad)
Marcus Harris, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Kurtis Patterson, Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Jhye Richardson, Nathan Lyon.

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© AAP