Bat­ting pic­ture still un­clear

Tourists thrash county hosts but se­lec­tion ques­tions re­main ahead of Manch­ester

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING -

AUS­TRALIA com­pleted a Satur­day rout at Der­byshire and headed to Manch­ester with a fourth Test se­lec­tion co­nun­drum re­main­ing after a less than help­ful bat­ting ex­am­i­na­tion in north­ern Eng­land.

Mitch Marsh took two wick­ets in three balls, then Mitchell Starc the fi­nal two in two balls, giv­ing him 7-85 for the match as the tourists com­pleted a com­pre­hen­sive in­nings and 54-run win.

The real se­lec­tion ques­tions, how­ever, hover over the bat­ting and while the Aussies only lost five wick­ets in com­pil­ing 338, the runs made by those look­ing to stay in the team when Steve Smith re­turns were viewed with a lit­tle scep­ti­cism.

One of the bats­men who could make way for Smith, opener Mar­cus Har­ris, was quar­an­tined from team­mates yes­ter­day after com­ing down with a mild stom­ach bug. The Vic­to­rian, who was run out for 62 while bat­ting with Us­man Khawaja on Fri­day, even had to sit at the front of the team bus on the way to the ground.

He didn’t field as Aus­tralia tried to bowl out the home team for a sec­ond time.

But Har­ris said he just felt “a bit crook in the guts” but it wouldn’t keep him from the fourth Test, if se­lected.

Chair­man of se­lec­tors Trevor Hohns watched the en­tire game from high in the grand­stand, in con­stant con­ver­sa­tion with coach and co-se­lec­tor Justin Langer, who didn’t at­tend the last tour game in Worces­ter.

They have to find a way to make room for Smith and not af­fect team bal­ance. The op­tions in­clude dump­ing Har­ris after just one Test, and open­ing with Khawaja, to en­sure the bat­ting line-up has as much Test ex­pe­ri­ence as pos­si­ble. But Khawaja has yet to post a 50 in six in­nings in the se­ries and his av­er­age bat­ting in Eng­land has dropped to 19.

Se­lec­tors waited un­til the night be­fore the third Test at Head­in­g­ley to tell Har­ris he was re­plac­ing Cameron Ban­croft. It’s likely the same sce­nario could ap­ply for the fourth Test, which be­gins at Old Traf­ford in Manch­ester on Wed­nes­day.

The bowl­ing line-up of Pat Cummins, Josh Ha­zle­wood, James Pat­tin­son and Nathan Lyon could be picked again, after all were rested from the tour match.

Lyon was jog­ging yes­ter­day morn­ing, show­ing no signs of be­ing ham­pered after the spin­ner rolled his an­kle dur­ing a train­ing drill on Wed­nes­day. De­spite tak­ing his seven wick­ets for the game, Starc re­mains only an out­side chance to play in

Manch­ester.

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