Ashes player focus: Who will bat five for Australia

The Ashes

If Australia have already decided upon the man who will bat at five in the first Ashes Test then it is a closely guarded secret.

However, you don’t need to be a crack analyst to deduce from the 15-man Ashes squad, that there is a two-way battle for this position in the Australia batting order.

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T20 World Cup hero Matthew Wade has been left out of the squad which rules him out of contention for the first Test.

Meanwhile, Travis Head and Usman Khawaja are set for a pre-Ashes Sheffield Shield showdown that is being touted as a face-off for the slot in the first Ashes XI.

Head and Khawaja are the respective skippers of their state side’s South Australia and Queensland.

Who will bat five for Australia in the Ashes

Since he smashed an incredible double-ton in a One-Day Cup match for the Redbacks, Head has endured a mini-slump passing 50 just once in his last five First Class matches.

Khawaja carries an edge in Test match experience and recent red-ball form, scoring two hundreds and one fifty in his last five First Class innings.

Chief selector George Bailey has suggested that the brains trust are leaning towards one of the two men but said the decision was not set in stone and could change after the Shield match and in the camp.

“We’re leaning towards one of them,” Bailey said on Wednesday 17 November. “But, you know, the whole purpose I guess of naming a squad is to have a squad there. So, we’ll work through that much closer to the start of the first Test.”

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When asked which player he favoured Bailey joked: “You’d have nothing to write about tomorrow then. I want to see where you guys lean. Have a crack at it. It’d make the Shield game much more exciting next week.”

Bailey also said that there was little to pick between the two men when it came to form despite the statistical disparities.

“You never want to be trying to pick someone out of form, but I don’t think there’s a body of evidence to suggest that Travis is out of form,” Bailey said. “I actually think they are both still batting beautifully.”