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Test spots up for grabs in Australia A clash

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30th October, 2019
11

Australia coach Justin Langer has locked in Marnus Labuschagne for the first Test against Pakistan but two other batting slots remain vacant.

Marcus Harris, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Joe Burns, Will Pucovski and Nic Maddinson lead a crowded field of contenders for the contest, which starts on November 21.

All six have been named in a strong Australia A side to face Pakistan in a three-day tour match in Perth starting on November 11.

Two batting positions remain open in the Test XI – one opening slot to partner David Warner and the other at No.6. Langer has confirmed the highly-regarded and in-form Labuschagne is safe.

Matthew Wade also looks set to keep his spot in Brisbane, while Steve Smith, Warner and skipper Tim Paine are certainties. Labuschagne could be forced down the order from No.3 depending on who else is picked.

“He’ll be in the first Test team,” Langer told reporters on Wednesday.

“He’s done a really good job. He’s played well in England, he’s played well back here.

“Where he bats will be dependent on who the other selections are.

“I go back to the point – and particularly with the way we’re playing Test cricket – if you can bat in the top three for your Sheffield Shield team, you can bat anywhere in the order.”

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Incumbent opener Harris has been in solid Shield form but had a forgettable Ashes series. Khawaja and Test vice-captain Head were both axed during the same tour.

Pucovski is a strong chance to make his Test debut, having come close in the series against Sri Lanka last summer. The 21-year-old averaged 54 in the 2018-19 Sheffield Shield season.

“We’re really fortunate to have guys playing for Aus A in that three-day game against Pakistan and some guys playing Sheffield Shield cricket,” Langer said.

“We keep saying and we will keep pushing the point: keep performing, keep knocking on the door and there’s certainly one or two spots up for grabs for the first Test, so that’s really exciting.”

Alex Carey will captain Australia A for the day-night tour match at Perth Stadium, pipping his South Australian teammate Head for the leadership.

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Carey is widely seen as a future Test captain and Langer said the talented glovesman had great leadership potential.

“The problem he’s got is that the current Australian captain is the wicketkeeper and there’s only one wicketkeeper in any side,” Langer said.

“Tim Paine’s the best wicketkeeper in the world, he’s our captain, he’s doing a brilliant job for us.

“‘Scary’ will bide his time and the opportunities will come at some point.”

© AAP