Australia’s number three batsman Usman Khawaja looks likely to be recalled for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, dependent on a fitness test, but who do the selectors drop from the team that beat West Indies, by a record innings and 212 runs last week?
Khawaja has missed the last two tests with a hamstring injured he picked up while fielding against New Zealand in the second of the recent three-match series. He has also been ruled out of the first Twenty20 Big Bash game between the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder on December 17, to allow extra time for the injury to heal.
Do the Australian selectors take a risk if he passes his fitness test next week? Or do they leave the team as it is and allow him the extra time to ensure a full recovery?
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In the event that he does pass fit, the likely candidate to leave out would be Shaun Marsh, even after recording his highest test score of 182 during the record breaking fourth wicket stand of 449 with Adam Voges. In and out of the Australian team due to a combination of injuries and poor form, Marsh looks likely to make way should Khawaja be recalled.
The only player that has looked out of form recently is the skipper Steve Smith who will almost certainly play in the Boxing Day and New Year’s Tests even with niggling hip and knee injuries, so it is highly unlikely he will be removed from the side. The only other possible omission would be opener Joe Burns who has not passed 50 in his last three tests, so he could be the more logical option.
Marsh may feel hard done by should he make way for Khawaja, but will have to be satisfied that should the selectors decide on any changes in the near future, his name will be at the top of the list.
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