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Khawaja in for Head, Boland to back up Boxing Day

Cricket

Scott Boland will get a second Test for Australia with Josh Hazlewood not fit enough to return in Sydney, while Usman Khawaja replaces Travis Head.

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MCG hero Scott Boland has retained his place in Australia’s XI for the SCG Ashes Test against England starting on Wednesday, after fellow paceman Josh Hazlewood wasn’t deemed ready to return from injury.

Captain Pat Cummins on Tuesday said there would be just the one enforced change to the side, with Usman Khawaja replacing Travis Head, who is unavailable after testing positive for COVID-19.

Victorian Boland made a spectacular debut last week, taking 6-7 as Australia wrapped up the third Test on his home ground and won the player of the match award.

Boland retained his spot after Hazlewood, who has missed the past two Tests with a side strain, fell short of proving himself fully fit, as did fellow paceman Jhye Richardson, who has a leg problem.

“Scotty gets a go, Joshy Hazlewood had a few bowls and with Jhye (Richardson) a bit similar,” Cummins told reporters at the SCG on Tuesday.

“Just not quite up to 100 per cent, we gave Joshy every chance we could.

“We just felt like he couldn’t quite bowl at full tilt yesterday.

“We’re still hoping that he will be right for (the fifth Test in) Hobart, just give him another week.”

The Australians again opted for a four-man pace attack and one spinner.

There had been talk uncapped spinner Mitchell Swepson might get the nod.

However, Cummins suggested the Queensland leggie was likely to get a debut in one of Australia’s Tests on the sub continent next year.

He said the SCG had been hard work for bowlers in recent years and with rain forecast during the Test the pitch might not break up that much.

Team: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland. 12th man to be named.

-AAP

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