Brutal Axing As Fourth Ashes Test Squad Announced
Usman Khawaja has been axed for the fourth Ashes Test in Manchester, where Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle are locked in a battle to claim the final spot up for grabs in Australia's side.
The tourists have named a XII for the high-stakes clash at Old Trafford that starts on Wednesday, which comes with the five-Test series locked at 1-1.
James Pattinson has been rotated out of the attack, as expected, and will be replaced by either Starc or Siddle.
Australia has carefully managed the workload of their fast bowlers on this tour, especially Pattinson given it is the express paceman's long-awaited international comeback after three and a half years of injury hell.
There is a three-day break between the fourth and fifth Tests, all but ensuring the attack will be changed yet again for the series finale.
Steve Smith's return from concussion prompted coach Justin Langer and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns to drop Khawaja just two days after the veteran served as stand-in skipper for a tour game in Derby.
Marcus Harris and Matthew Wade had been the other batsmen under the pump.
But selectors want to give Harris, recalled for the third Test after Cameron Bancroft was dumped, a chance to show his opening partnership with David Warner has a future.
Wade, having scored a century in Australia's series-opening victory, was retained after modest returns with the bat at both Lord's and Headingley.
Khawaja, who raced the clock to prove his fitness for the first Test after suffering a hamstring injury in the World Cup, has logged scores of eight, 23, 36, two, 13 and 40 during the series.
"I actually feel really good batting, I just haven't made any big runs lately which is obviously frustrating," Khawaja said last week.
The 32-year-old has paid the price for failing to convert any of his starts, while the change will also ensure there is minimal reshuffling of the top six.
Marnus Labuschagne, having top-scored in three consecutive Test innings for Australia, is expected to bat at first drop this week after filling Smith's shoes at No.4.
"I'm happy to bat anywhere, wherever I'm needed or most valuable for the team. It doesn't really matter what time I come out to bat," Labuschagne told AAP.
"I haven't actually played with Steve yet, so I'm excited about that. Very happy to have someone of his calibre coming back."
Australia XII for fourth Test: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Matthew Wade, Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.