Usman Khawaja only change for Australia in fourth Test

Broad back for England in only change for Sydney Test

By: AFP
Published: 11:54 AM, 4 Jan, 2022
Usman Khawaja only change for Australia in fourth Test
Caption: File photo.
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Melbourne Test hero Scott Boland held his place as Australia made only one change to their winning side for the fourth Ashes Test against England in Sydney which begins on Wednesday.

Batsman Usman Khawaja was confirmed in the team announced Tuesday as a replacement for Covid victim Travis Head. Khawaja last played for Australia in the Headingley Test of the 2019 Ashes series.

Paceman Boland, who was man-of-the-match on Test debut with his 6-7 in Australia's crushing innings win to clinch the series in Melbourne, kept his place with Josh Hazlewood again unavailable with a side strain.

"Scotty gets a go. Josh Hazlewood had a few bowls and Jhye Richardson a bit similar, but they were not quite up to 100 percent," Cummins told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday.

"We gave Josh every chance we could, but he felt he couldn't bowl at full tilt yesterday so we're still hoping he will be right for the final Test in Hobart.

"You are not going to blast them out on this wicket," he added. 

"There's a little bit of grass on it, but traditionally it's hard work, it goes the full five days and you need that disciplined stump-to-stump bowler, that's what Scotty brings.

"There's no secret that if Josh Hazlewood was fit he would play, but it's a real luxury to have someone like Scotty. It would have been a shame to see him not play this week after his efforts in Melbourne last week."

Hazlewood hasn't played since the opening Test in Brisbane while Richardson, who featured as his replacement in the second Test in Adelaide, taking five wickets in the second innings, has also been held back through injury.

Khawaja initially lost out to Head for the vacant number five batting position at the start of the series and has been part of Australia's Test squad throughout as a spare batsman.

Joe Root's England team face another difficult assignment against a rampant Australia, who crushed them by an innings and 14 runs inside three days in the third Test at Melbourne to retain the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead.

It followed heavy defeats in Brisbane and Adelaide, where batting collapses, poor fielding and questionable selections cost the tourists dearly.

England are facing the possibility of a 5-0 series whitewash, although rain forecast for Sydney could come to their rescue.

Cummins said leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson missed out on selection because the Sydney Cricket Ground wicket was not suited to playing two slow bowlers.

There had been calls to blood a second spinner along with Nathan Lyon in the dead-rubber by selecting Swepson, who has been on the fringe of a Test call-up for years.

The Australian and England teams continue to be tested daily for Covid-19 in the wake of Head being ruled out with the virus along with many of England's support staff. 

No further cases among the playing group have emerged.

There were reports in the English media that England may recall veteran paceman Stuart Broad for Ollie Robinson in their only change with the SCG pitch looking greener than usual ahead of the game.

Head coach Chris Silverwood is isolating with his family in Melbourne with Covid symptoms and his stand-in Graham Thorpe will organise the England team in his absence in Sydney.

Australia: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (capt), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland.

Broad back for England

England on Tuesday recalled veteran bowler Stuart Broad to partner Jimmy Anderson in the fourth Test against Australia in Sydney, the only change to the side that meekly surrendered the Ashes last week.

The seamer comes in for Ollie Robinson, who has been rested for a clash in which the tourists are playing for pride after three heavy defeats in Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

Robinson is the only England bowler to have played in all three previous Tests and pulled up with a shoulder niggle after their crushing innings-and-14-run defeat in the third Test in Melbourne.

Chris Woakes is also dealing with a shoulder problem, ruling him out of a potential return.

It opened the door for Broad, who will play alongside Anderson for only the second time this series after Adelaide, bolstering an attack also featuring Mark Wood and spinner Jack Leach.

"We felt like it was too much of a risk to go in with a couple of lads who are carrying niggles," said batting coach Graham Thorpe, who is acting coach for the fourth Test with Chris Silverwood isolating after a family member caught Covid.

"So therefore, it was right to bring Stuart back in."

Ben Stokes will add support to the attack and Thorpe said he hoped the star all-rounder would finally make his mark after a disappointing tour so far.

"I hope we've got a couple of caged tigers coming into this match, Ben being one of them and Stuart Broad another," he told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground on the eve of the match. 

"Getting the players into the right frame of mind is important. I think they want put in a performance for themselves and collectively for the team."

There was no change to the batting line-up that was skittled for just 68 in their second innings last week, with openers Haseeb Hameed and Zak Crawley both surviving.

With Rory Burns and Ollie Pope already dropped from the side following the second Test in Adelaide, Dan Lawrence was the only other frontline option yet to play in this series.

"We've got an opportunity this week at a great cricket ground to put in a really good performance," Thorpe added.

England: Haseeb Hameed, Zak Crawley, Dawid Malan, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Jack Leach, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.