A makeshift XI

Despite only playing two Tests in South Africa, five Australians have managed to pick up injuries to rule them out of the first Test against New Zealand. Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson and Pat Cummins are all unavailable for the Aussies. It’s enough injuries that there don’t appear to be clear cut replacements for a lot of them, so it’s a lovely welcome for new chairman of selectors John Inverarity. It also looks like Mickey Arthur’s first job will be to introduce a conditioning regime that allows them to play more than two Tests without half the side injuring themselves. This also means that Ponting and Hussey will be assured of their places and Khawaja will be very likely given another chance to prove himself.

There’s probably a bit of pressure on the players currently contesting an ‘A’ game against the New Zealanders. That game seems like the most likely place from which replacements will be picked. The match is only half over, so all the players with a reasonable chance to be picked will have another chance to try to prove themselves. Right now David Warner and Eddie Cowan, the two openers competing for Watson’s spot have scored 65 and 60 not out, respectively. Warner has scored almost twice as fast which should not matter, but if it starts to look like a tossup may come into play. From the bowling side, James Pattinson is probably the front runner. (Though his name is almost synonymous with selectoral incompetence.) He took four wickets in the first innings of the tour match and is one of the few bowlers not to have been humiliated in last year’s Ashes. After that it’s will be interesting to see if the selectors go for the tried-and-failed Ben Hilfenhuas or the uncapped Mitchell Starc. It may be a bowl off in the second innings of the tour match.

Right now I think the Australian XI for the first Test will probably be: David Warner, Phil Hughes, Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Usman Khawaja, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon.

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