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With the Ashes a few days away, host nation, Australia do have a few cracks to fill. Timely impact from a few familiar faces see them in frame for making it to the Ashes squad. Australia are set to play a 3 day intra-squad game at Brisbane, Redlands ground from 1st to 3rd of December post which the selectors will announce squad for the opening test that’ll be played at the Gabba from 8th to 12th of December.

A LONG WAIT FOR AN OPENER TO SHINE : Australia have been looking for an opener to pair up alongside David Warner, Joe Burns looked to have cemented his spot but string of low scores got Marcus Harris in frame but was next to see the exit doors with poor run. Will Pucovski too made the cut but a blow on his shoulder ruled him out of the previous summer Indian test series that saw him just play a test, he’s still in mix but again has missed Shield games after suffering a 10th blow on helmet, his return is expected soon. Newly appointed selector, George Bailey on a radio show indicated towards Marcus Harris having won the race for the openers slot.

OPENER HARRIS HAS PILED ENOUGH : Marcus Harris returned from England playing County cricket where he didn’t fail to leave an impact, in his 13 innings English trip Marcus Harris went on to score a total of 655 runs averaging 54.58, he scripted 3 tons and a half century to his name with highest score of 185. Harris hasn’t quite got going the say way in his limited Shield games, he’s scored 147 in 4 innings and 137 of those have come in an innings against a quality bowling attack of New South Wales.

KHAWAJA PRESENTS A STRONG CASE : Queensland’s skipper, Usman Khawaja’s case just cannot be overlooked. Khawaja batting at 4, in his 6 innings has struck 404 runs with an average of 67.33. Khawaja did get small starts in his first two innings before he struck a magnificent 174 against South Australia. A ton got another as in his next outing against Tasmania he scored a brilliant 119. Queensland against Western Australia were bowled out for 129 where Khawaja on a gloomy day at Gabba scored 70 of those and Gurinder Singh’s 13 was the next highest, that knock of Khawaja by far was the best he would have played for long and for sure has helped him seal a spot. His batting position is the only question mark now, with Harris having won the race Khawaja is expected to feature in the middle order.

HEAD’S INCONSISTENCY SPOILS CASE : South Australian skipper, Travis Head got his Sheffield Shield season underway with a fiery knock that was followed by a fine half century before starts was all he could add to the tally. In his 6 outings, he has scored 285 runs and is averaging 47.50. Batting at no.4 Travis Head struck a giant 163(215) in season opener against Western Australia followed by a fine knock of 55(62) against Queensland. Head’s name was right at the top especially after the starts but couldn’t keep the graph moving upward and a severe dip has worsened his case of featuring in the starting XI.

CAMERON GREEN’S IN FOR A LONG RACE : Cameron Green has had a promotion in the batting order, batting at no.4 for Western Australia he has scored 295 runs in 8 innings and is averaging 42.14. Green played beautifully for his 106 against South Australia to get his tournament underway, he didn’t quite get going after the hundred but had a good game 3 and it again was against South Australia where he struck a scored 61 in the 1st innings and followed it with an unbeaten knock of 38 in the 2nd. Green put up another brilliant knock of 53 against Queensland in the sides recent outing. Green’s good run with the bat hasn’t quite reflected with the ball as in 7 innings he’s only managed to pick up 5 wickets.

LABUSCHAGNE NEARING HIS BEST : Queenslander, Marnus Labuschagne kick-started the summer with a few good looking starts, the starts were converted into innings and a confident hundred and a fiery half century against South Australia in the sides 3rd game were good indications ahead of Ashes. Marnus batting at his ideal no.3 position scored impactful 136 in the 1st innings and a fiery 60 in the 2nd, he’s averaging 52.83 with a total of 317 runs in 7 innings. Marnus hasn’t quite look at his best yet, he’d failed to perform against Western Australia in their last outing. Marnus has looked comfortable in the middle and with a couple more expected outings before the 1st test it’s fair to believe he’ll be close to his best before the opening, Gabba test.

QUICKS WHO’VE RAISED THEIR HANDS : Australia will likely start with 3 regular quicks in Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazelwood and Pat Cummins but will require a few more in the squad. Australia haven’t had any experiments with their quicks but might require a couple this summer during the Ashes. Jhye Richardson and Mark Steketee who’ve featured in an out of the group have had impressive Shield games and are knocking selectors doors.

JHYE RICHARDSON WITH BAT AND BALL : Jhye Richardson a future star with the ball is what we’ve known but there’s more that he adds to the team. Jhye Richardson in his 4 outings with bat has scored 128 runs, he has a half century to his name that came against Tasmania and the 50 helped his side post 230 on board, key runs in a low scoring encounter. Jhye Richardson with the ball has been very impressive and has improved chances of his Ashes debut, in 3 games, (6 innings) he’s bagged 16 wickets with economy of 2.34.

STEKETEE NEARING BAGGY GREEN CLUB : Mark Steketee in his 6 innings has bagged 18 wickets, he’s been around the squad for quite sometime now and has featured in A games previously. Steketee has registered best figures of 10/92. He’s averaged 15.72 with economy of 2.42, he’s been the pick of bowlers and has topped the wickets chart at Shield games.

SEAN ABBOTT CONTINUES TO STRIKE : Abbott has been around the squad for quite a while now and has odd games, he’s featured in A games in recent past. Abbott has had a good Shield season so far, in 4 innings he has has bagged 11 wickets with economy of 2.66. Abbott has scored a few odd runs, there’s a lot more he adds he with the bat. He is likely to be in the mix of pacers travelling around.

SCOTT BOLAND LEAVES A HUGE MARK : Scott Boland has been very impressive this summer, in his 2 games, (4 innings) he’s bagged 15 wickets. Boland’s impressive economy of 1.79 and average of 10.80 has seen his present a strong case and has got the required push from fellow senior mates.

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