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Australia forced into yet another squad change for first Test

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14th December, 2020
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Moises Henriques is on the cusp of playing his first Test on home soil after being summoned to Adelaide as Australia’s injury crisis deepened.

Henriques, who himself suffered a minor hamstring strain a week ago that forced him to miss a pink-ball tour game at the SCG, linked up with the Test squad on Monday.

Openers David Warner (groin) and Will Pucovski (concussion) have already been ruled unfit for the day-night first Test against India starting on Thursday.

Cameron Green (concussion) remains in doubt, while the team revealed on Monday that fast-bowling allrounder Sean Abbott will remain at home to recover from a calf strain he suffered while playing for Australia A.

The addition of Henriques to what is now a 19-man squad – albeit with three members not in Adelaide – is a major blow to out-of-form opener Joe Burns’ hopes of retaining his spot in the XI.

The promotion of uncapped 21-year-old Green or Henriques at the expense of Burns looms as the most obvious change to Australia’s incumbent top six.

That would mean either Matthew Wade or Marnus Labuschagne is asked to open alongside Marcus Harris, another late addition to the squad.

There were calls for Shaun Marsh or Usman Khawaja to return to the fold but chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns and coach Justin Langer settled on experienced allrounder Henriques as their go-to man.

Henriques, Warner, Pucovski, Green, Abbott, Marcus Stoinis (side), Ashton Agar (calf), Mitchell Starc (back and ribs), Josh Hazlewood (back), Aaron Finch (glute), Jackson Bird (calf) and Harry Conway (concussion) have all suffered recent setbacks during a nightmare stretch for Australia.

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Langer’s squad will train on Tuesday, when Green will have a better idea of whether he is still a chance of debuting.

It is unclear how many overs Henriques will be able to deliver if selected, especially given his recent setback.

But it is the 33-year-old’s batting, including knocks of 113 and 167 in the recent Sheffield Shield hub, that has given him a shot at extending a four-Test career that so far has been contained to the subcontinent.

Henriques has spoken openly in recent years about his clinical depression and anxiety.

Henriques had every reason to believe his international career was over, having been repeatedly overlooked by selectors since the 2017 Champions Trophy.

But he was picked to captain Australia A earlier this year in a pink-ball clash then represented Australia in five of six possible games during the recent limited-overs series against India.

“When it’s a 50-50 decision, you can never really have too much beef,” Henriques said recently.

“There’s a couple of guys that are always fighting for those last few spots … everything’s a learning curve.”

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