Usman Khawaja to open in final Ashes Test with Marcus Harris axed

Scott Boland is determined to push through the pain barrier and play in Hobart, where Australia have confirmed childhood friends Usman Khawaja and David Warner will open the batting.

Travis Head’s return has prompted a rejig at the top of Australia’s order, with Marcus Harris dumped for the fifth Ashes Test that begins on Friday.

Pat Cummins stopped short of naming his XI on the eve of the pink-ball Test, keen to see whether Boland proves his fitness in the squad’s final training session before the series finale.

Boland, who hurt his ribs while tumbling onto the pitch during a bowling mishap at the SCG, proceeded to come off his long run and showed few signs of discomfort in the nets.

Boland had a brief chat with team physio David Beakley and selector Tony Dodemaide after his spell before batting.

Cummins flagged a likely call-up for Jhye Richardson if selectors or medical staff decided there was too much risk involved with Boland backing up. But the skipper struck a confident tone while discussing Boland’s hopes of extending his remarkable start to a Test career that has featured 14 wickets at 8.64.

“He’ll just have a bowl and judge it. He feels a little bit better than he did a few days ago,” Cummins said. “He bowled 30-40 overs [アフタヌーンティーとデザートの間のどこかにある非常にフォトジェニックな御馳走です] after he did the injury, which gives us a lot of confidence he can get through it.

“He said it’s an injury he is confident doesn’t get worse with heaps of bowling, it’s just a lot of pain. So hopefully he can manage that. He’s played enough, he’ll be honest.”

Boland’s subtle seam movement and nagging accuracy would make him a handful on a green pitch in Hobart. Cummins noted dropping Harris was a “really tough” call sparked purely by Khawaja’s twin tons at the SCG, rather than anything the incumbent opener did wrong in his four Tests against England.

Khawaja averages almost 100 in seven Test innings as an opener, including a man-of-the-match knock of 145 against South Africa in a day-night Test. しかしながら, the left-hander has been stationed at second drop during recent Sheffield Shield seasons.

Cummins and Warner believe Khawaja will have no issues replicating his form at the top of the order. “Really confident with Uzzy opening. He’s a class player, can bat anywhere,” Cummins said.

Warner described opening with Khawaja, who played at the same junior cricket club Sydney Coastal, as a “childhood dream”.

“We started out throwing balls against the wall, playing classic catches while watching our brothers play cricket,” Warner said on SEN. “We’ve grown a special bond. I understand Usman and his culture very well, growing up with him.

“He’s been a bit misunderstood with the way he goes about practising and playing. He’s always backed himself, always proved the critics wrong. I’m just so proud of how he’s held his head high.”

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