Former Australia coach Darren Lehmann has offered some advice to his replacement Justin Langer – pick the uncapped Marcus Harris to open the innings in the first Test against India.
With David Warner, Steve Smith and Cameron Bancroft still serving bans for ball-tampering, the top of the Australian order remains undecided ahead of the first of four Tests in Adelaide on December 6.
Aaron Finch is likely to open the batting, although he is in a form slump. But his partner is not set in stone.
Matthew Renshaw could get the nod, or even Usman Khawaja if he has recovered from knee surgery in time. Joe Burns has also been mentioned.
But Lehmann, who quit this year in the wake of the tampering scandal, said Harris had done enough in the Sheffield Shield to warrant inclusion, including a massive 250 not out for Victoria against New South Wales.
“He (Harris) is the in-form player of the competition and has an outstanding record over the last two years,” he told Macquarie Sports Radio.
“I would have liked to have got Renshaw in there, but he hasn’t scored enough runs.”
Lehmann said he would bat Khawaja at three, Shaun Marsh at four and his brother Mitch Marsh at six, with the number five slot dependent on whether Ravi Jadeja is selected by India ahead of veteran spinner Ravi Ashwin.
“If Ashwin plays then I’m playing (Peter) Handscomb as he helps negate Ashwin,” he said.
“I would name both (Travis Head and Handscomb) in the squad and then see how India shape up.”
The experienced Khawaja, who hit a fighting hundred to help Australia scramble to a draw in the first Test against Pakistan last month, has been sidelined for a month.
It has been touch and go whether he would recover in time for Adelaide, but he told Fox Sports on Wednesday he plans to play Sheffield Shield for Queensland next week to prove his fitness.
Lehmann said the bowling line-up picked itself – Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon – and said he would include Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain and Daniel Worrall in the squad as backup seamers.
“It’s the toughest job selecting the first Test of the summer,” Lehmann said.
“But whoever we pick we have to back 100%.”