Harris In, Hazlewood Out: Australia Settle on XI for Boxing Day Test

Harris In, Hazlewood Out: Australia Settle on XI for Boxing Day Test
Australia's Josh Hazlewood, centre, is congratulated by teammates after dismissing England's Jos Buttler during day four of the first Ashes cricket test at the Gabba

Australia’s XI for the Boxing Day Test appears settled with Pat Cummins set to return for Michael Neser with Josh Hazlewood still unavailable while Marcus Harris has been backed in.

The Aussies lead the Ashes 2-0 after strong wins in Brisbane and Adelaide and can clinch the series at the MCG starting on Sunday.

Skipper Cummins will return after missing the second Test having been a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case in Adelaide.

Hazlewood looks set to miss out with a side strain that he sustained in Brisbane, having watched nets training from afar.

And Australia coach Justin Langer publicly backed embattled opener Harris who has only managed 38 runs from four knocks this series.

“He’ll play in the Test, no worries about that,” Langer said on Thursday. “This is his home ground. He’s played a lot at the MCG.

“He hasn’t made the runs he’d like to so far, but he dominates domestic cricket. So he knows that he knows how to play. He’s a fantastic bloke around the squad … And we know he’s a very good player.

“For him and for us we’re hoping he plays well and gets a good partnership with Davey Warner in this Boxing Day Test match.”

Mitch Starc also seemed under an injury cloud picking up a niggle while batting in Adelaide but has been cleared to play in Melbourne.

“Mitch Starc was almost man of the match, last game … he’s an unbelievable athlete, he’s incredibly fit,” Langer said.

“His resilience to just keep coming up over and over and over again is remarkable and his consistency of length, and the way he controlled the tempo of the last game was a credit to him, particularly with Patty and Josh Hazlewood not playing.

“He became the leader of the group, he did a fantastic job so I would be very surprised if he doesn’t get up for Boxing Day.”

Ben somerford
Sports Pundit staff writer @bensomerford
Australian journalist who specialises on all sports, focusing on football, tennis, basketball and racing, having written for global publications including FourFourTwo, AAP, Inside Futbol and many more....

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