Australia have announced a 12-member squad on the eve of the fourth Ashes Test, dropping top-order batsman Usman Khawaja who has been struggling to convert the start into a big score. Steve Smith has returned in the squad after recovering from the concussion. The fourth Test is scheduled to begin at Old Trafford from September 4.
Steve Smith, who got hit by a deadly bouncer of Jofra Archer in the second Test, was not a part of the third Test due to a late concussion. All-rounder Marnus Labuschagne replaced him in the second innings as a concussion substitute at Lord’s has played beautifully and scored back-to-back fifties. He has been retained for his performance and Smith too has returned in the squad. With Khwaja’s exclusion, Labuschagne is expected to bat at number three whereas Smith to return at number four slot.
The five-match Ashes series is currently on 1-1, where Australia won the first Test by a massive 251 runs, England registered a nail-biting win in the third on the back of Ben Stokes’ heroics. The second Test ended in a draw. Australia need only one win of the final two matches to retain the Ashes.
Marcus Harris, who replaced opener Cameron Bancroft for the third Test, has also been retained in the squad with David Warner after he managed to score 8 and 19 at Headingley.
On the other hand, pacer James Pattinson has been dropped and Mitchell Starc has been included in the squad after his seven-wicket haul in the tour match against Derbyshire. Starc was the highest wicket-taker in the ICC Cricket World Cup and is expected to be included in the fourth Test along with Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
Australia Squad for Fourth Ashes Test:
David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (Captain and Wicket-keeper), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Pat Cummins.