Fourth Test pick, Mitchell Swepson, Mitch Marsh, Travis Head Covid

Australian voters have been urged to be “brave” and select only two fast bowlers in the front line for the fourth Ashes Test in the wake of Travis Heads lack of availability.

The Aussies, who enter the SCG Test with an unassailable 3-0 league lead over England, will be forced to make at least one change after Cricket Australia confirmed that Head had tested positive for COVID-19 and would not be available for selection.

The timing is not ideal for Head, who started Ashes with a blistering punch of 152 on The Gabba before registering half a century in the second Test.

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“The 152 in the first Test basically locked themselves in No. 5 for five years for him,” former leg-spinner Kerry O’Keeffe told Fox Cricket Friday night.

“He got a double century in a list A game, he’s at the top of his strength, he’s a lock in every test – and here he’s not playing the next test.”

Former Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin said the “obvious” replacement for Head would be Usman Khawaja, who has been in the Test squad since the start of the Ashes series and is on the verge of being selected in XI.

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But Haddin nominated the strong all-rounder Mitch Marsh to replace Head, which would give the Aussies another chance for fast bowling and subsequently open the possibility of choosing another spinner at SCG.

“You would then have two all-rounders, two fast bowlers and two spinners,” Haddin said

“It’s disappointing for Travis Head, but the Australian voters – if they’re brave – could try different combinations for this test.”

Queensland play-spinner Mitchell Swepson has been behind first-choice tweaker Nathan Lyon in recent years, with Australian voters choosing Lyon with three acclaimed fast bowlers and an all-rounder.

Mitchell Swepson has played seven T20I matches.  Photo: Daniel Pockett
Mitchell Swepson has played seven T20I matches. Photo: Daniel PockettSource: Getty Images

But with Australia set to tour the subcontinent in the early stages of 2022, O’Keeffe said the fourth Test was an ideal time to play against Swepson and Lyon on the same team.

O’Keeffe said the bowling attack for the fourth Test should consist of Swepson, Lyon, Marsh, Cameron Green, Mitchell Starc and skipper Pat Cummins.

“We need to find out about Mitch Swepson,” O’Keeffe said.

“He’s been in his forties for how many years? We need to know if he is No. 2 because there are new challengers, like Matt Kuhnemann – orthodox leftists.

“We’re going to the subcontinent. Who are you taking? Are you taking the ‘wristy’ who needs bounce, or the ‘left-arm ortho’ who is exactly like Steve O’Keefe, and is successful there?

“Mitch Swepson, we know more about where he is at the end of the five-day test match.”

Haddin said he would also like to see Swepson, who has played seven T20I matches, partner Lyon in a test.

“Nathan Lyon can take all the pressured transgressions, Swepson can come in and tip his tail and (do) what a leg-spinner needs to do,” he said.

Nathan Lyon with Mitchell Swepson. Photo: Brett CostelloSource: News Corp Australia

“If he plays with Nathan Lyon, it gives him a great development in his first test and the pressure is not 100 percent on him to handle all the spin-overs.

“I think this is a good time to pick him.”

Haddin also urged voters to keep Starc on the team while he is in great shape.

Starc is the leading wicket-taker in the Ashes series so far, with 14 scalps at 19.6.

“I think Mitchell Starc has been excellent,” Haddin said. “He is in a really good rhythm so I would be very surprised if he would give up his place. He has bowled excellently

“I would like to see him continue. I think he is in a really good place with his bowling.”


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