Australia are expected to replace struggling opener Cameron Bancroft with Victorian Marcus Harris for the third Test in Leeds starting tonight, according to reports.
It’s one of three changes Australia are set to confirm at the coin toss for tonight’s third Ashes Test, with Marnus Labuschagne set to be confirmed in the starting XI in place of Steve Smith who continues to recover from the delayed onset of concussion from the blow to the neck.
Fast bowler James Pattinson is also set to come into the side having missed out in Lord’s, with Victoria teammate Peter Siddle set to be the bowler to make way.
Australia’s final XI will not be confirmed until the coin toss in Leeds, but Australia’s selectors have already shown through the Ashes and preceding World Cup campaign they are not afraid to make bold selection calls. The changes were first reported in News Corp publications.
Harris was the Sheffield Shield’s leading run-scorer last summer, hitting 1,188 runs for Victoria – including a match-defining 141 in the Final – as they claimed the Shield title for the fourth time in five seasons.
He added another 327 in six Tests against India and Sri Lanka for a first-class tally of 1,515 runs at 56.11 with a top score of 250 not out against NSW at the MCG in October 2018.
It was the most prolific first-class summer an Australian batsman had had for 43 years.
The Victorian opted for rest instead of joining the county circuit like Bancroft, who had been captaining Durham in division two of the County Championship.
Bancroft and David Warner have managed just 62 runs between them in eight innings so far in the series, putting both players in the spotlight.
Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said earlier this week’s Bancroft’s inability to push on after getting starts would be a cause for concern for the Australian set-up.
“I’m sure there’ll be a bit of chat about Bancroft and his position,” Ponting told cricket.com.au. “Once again, he was able to hang in there for a while (during his 40-ball innings of 16 on Sunday).
“But generally when batsmen get through that, you’d expect to go on and make some runs.
“At the moment, he’s getting through the hardest bit and then not going on. I’m sure there’ll be some chat and concern about that.”
Bancroft has scored 8, 7, 13 and 16 in his four innings so far, having won the race to open ahead of Marcus Harris after a gutsy 92 in the second innings of Australia’s intra-squad match in difficult batting conditions.
Warner has been dismissed for single-figure scores in each of his innings of the campaign to date, but Ponting said he had enough credits in the bank to hold his spot, while also receiving backing from captain Tim Paine at his pre-match media duties this week.
Pattinson was always likely to come back into the XI, having been held back from the Lord’s Test due to the back-to-back nature of the second and third Tests, with only three days’ gap between them.
And Smith was confirmed to miss the third Test on Tuesday when it became clear he would not recover form the effects of his concussion in time.
The prolific batsman, who has scored 378 runs in three innings and shot back to No.2 in the ICC’s Test batsman world rankings despite a 16-month absence from the game, was struck on the neck by a delivery from Jofra Archer at Lord’s.
Reported Australia XI: Marcus Harris, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (c, wk), Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.
2019 Qantas Ashes Tour of England
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Pat Cummins, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.
England squad: Joe Root (c), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes (vc), Chris Woakes.
First Test: Australia beat England by 251 runs at Edgbaston
Second Test: Match drawn at Lord’s
Third Test: August 22-26, Headingley
Tour match: Australians v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8, Old Trafford
Fifth Test: September 12-16, The Oval