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04 December 2023

Aussies pick two new caps for final Test

Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard (left) welcomes Australian player Usman Khawaja to an afternoon tea for Australian and English team members she hosted at her Sydney residence, Kirribilli House on Saturday. (REUTERS)

By Reuters

Batsman Usman Khawaja and spinner Michael Beer will make their Australia debuts in the fifth Ashes Test against England, stand-in captain Michael Clarke said on Sunday.

Pakistan-born left-hander Khawaja will replace injured captain Ricky Ponting, almost certainly batting at number three, while left-arm orthodox spinner Beer gets his chance after being 12th man for the last two Tests.
The hosts are hoping the new blood will help them get the New Year off to a good start with a victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground to level the series at 2-2 after the disappointment of failing to regain the Ashes.
Fast bowler Doug Bollinger is the player to miss out after being recalled to the squad in the wake of the innings and 157-run defeat to England at the MCG on Wednesday.
Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus will form the three-man pace attack.
“It was a tough call,” Clarke told reporters. “I think Hilfy’s bowled pretty well without too much luck. Dougie’s not only a good friend but a wonderful bowler. The selectors, for whatever reason, have stuck with Hilf.”
“(Beer)’s pretty excited,” Clarke added. “He’s been around the group and now he’s finally getting his chance on this pitch, which I’m sure will suit his game.”
Beer was plucked from obscurity for the squad for the third Test in Perth having played just five first class matches.
Free-scoring Khawaja, 24, is one of the most exciting talents in Australian cricket and has averaged 51.7 in first class cricket since his debut for New South Wales two years ago.
“His performances over the last couple of years have earned him the right to play for his country,” said Clarke. “I think he’s very talented and he’s looking forward to his opportunity.”
Clarke said he would not be handing out the baggy green caps to the debutants on Monday’s first day of the Test, the honour instead being taken by three former Test players.
“It’s a very special day, you remember it for the rest of your lives and tomorrow will be the same for a couple of the guys,” he said.