Usman Khawaja has been named to play Tasmania.
Usman Khawaja has been named to play Tasmania.

Uzzie joins Aussie stars missing key South Africa prep

CRICKET: Eight of Australia's Test squad will begin preparations for the tour of South Africa in the Sheffield Shield when the competition resumes this Thursday.

was a late scratching, having originally been named to face Jackson Bird and Tasmania at the Gabba as second-placed Queensland look to shore up their position on the ladder against third-placed Tasmania.

Khawaja was ruled out due to the lingering effects of a thumb injury suffered last month.

Khawaja missed the Sydney Thunder's final game of the BBL season with the bruised left thumb.

"I'm about 85 per cent there but there's a chance I could aggravate it again and with the tour coming up, everyone felt it was best to err on the side of caution,'' Khawaja said.

"It's disappointing because it's an important match for us but I've plenty of confidence in the boys to get on with things.''

Usman Khawaja racks up the runs at the SCG.
Usman Khawaja racks up the runs at the SCG.
The left-hander signed off from the Test summer with a century at the Sydney Cricket Ground and averaged 45.67 across his three matches in the BBL

Khawaja will be replaced by Charlie Hemphrey in the squad..

Bird meanwhile will be looking to put a horror Boxing Day Test behind him. Having spent 12 months mixing the cordial for the Test team, the Tasmanian quick was called up to play at the Melbourne Cricket Ground following an injury to Starc.

He went on to register figures of 0-108 - the worst of his Test career - on a pitch deemed 'poor' by the match referee for offering absolutely nothing to the bowlers.

Jackson Bird finished with figures of 0-108 at the MCG.
Jackson Bird finished with figures of 0-108 at the MCG.

Test keeper Tim Paine has been rested under the instruction of Cricket Australia. The 33-year-old can see the logic behind the decision but is not entirely convinced he needed the break.

Despite playing all five Ashes Tests, four one-dayers against England and the semi-final and final of the BBL, Paine remains hungry to play.

"I'd love to be playing but I also realise the benefit I'd get from having 10 days at home and getting away from cricket a little bit," he said on Monday.

"I've had a big summer. I suppose getting back into international cricket ... it's probably taken the edge off me mentally"

Tim Paine has been put on ice until the South Africa series.
Tim Paine has been put on ice until the South Africa series.

Nathan Lyon will be the only current Australian Test cricketer donning the baggy blue for New South Wales against Western Australia. Australia captain Steve Smith and pace trio Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood have all been rested. David Warner, meanwhile, is away with the national Twenty20 team.

WA is yet to name its squad for the match but both Marsh brothers, Australia opener Cameron Bancroft and Test squad member Jhye Richardson are all available for selection.

 

Shaun and Mitch Marsh have both effectively made themselves undroppable for Australia, but Bancroft will be keen to make a statement after struggling in the Ashes (179 runs at 25.57). For Richardson, the match offers him a chance to push ahead of Bird in the fast bowling pecking order.

Peter Handscombe at work in the nets. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)
Peter Handscombe at work in the nets. (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

Peter Handscomb will captain Victoria against South Australia, looking to push his case for a return to Australia's middle order in South Africa. Dropped two Tests into the Ashes, it's been a tough summer for Handscomb. The 26-year-old has averaged 24.33 in first-class cricket this season, only once passing 50.

Jon Holland, who was a surprise call-up to the Australian Test squad, has also been named to play for the Bushrangers.

For South Australia, Chadd Sayers will be intent on sending a message to selectors after surprisingly being snubbed from Australia's squad. Tom Cooper will captain the Redbacks in the absence of Travis Head, who is with the national Twenty20 team.

South Australia will also be without the services of bowlers Kane Richardson and Adam Zampa, and wicketkeeper Alex Carey. All three are playing in the T20 tri-series. Callum Ferguson is yet to return from the hamstring injury he suffered playing for the Thunder in the BBL.

Harry Nielsen, son of former SA keeper and Australia coach Tim Nielsen, is in line to make his first-class debut behind the stumps.

 

SQUADS

WESTERN AUSTRALIA v NEW SOUTH WALES, WACA

WA: To be named on Wednesday

NSW: Peter Nevill (c), Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Ed Cowan, Mickey Edwards, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Nathan Lyon, Nic Maddinson, Kurtis Patterson, Gurinder Sandhu, Charlie Stobo

SOUTH AUSTRALIA V VICTORIA, Adelaide Oval

SA: Tom Cooper (c), Tom Andrews, John Dalton, Jake Lehmann, Joe Mennie, Harry Nielsen, Alex Ross, Chadd Sayes, Kelvin Smith, Jack Weatherald, Nick Winter, Daniel Worrall

Victoria: Peter Handscomb (c), Scott Boland, Jackson Coleman, Travis Dean, Seb Gotch, Marcus Harris, Jon Holland, Matthew Short, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Eamonn Vines, Cameron White

QUEENSLAND v TASMANIA, Gabba

Queensland: Charlie Hemphrey, Brendan Doggett, Luke Feldman, Sam Heazlett, Marnus Labuschagne, Michael Neser, James Peirson, Lachlan Pfeffer, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Jack Wildermuth

Tasmania: George Bailey (c), Gabe Bell, Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, Jake Doran, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Simon Milenko, Sam Rainbird, Tom Rogers, Matthew Wade (wk), Beau Webster



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