Usman Khawaja has emphatically slapped down talks Marnus Labuschagne could replace David Warner at the top of the order ahead of the veteran's looming retirement. Warner is set to retire after the Sydney Cricket Ground Test in January after more than 12 years occupying the opening position at the top of Australia's order.
While former Aussie captain Ricky Ponting called for Cameron Bancroft to shift seamlessly into the opening position, there has been debate over who will come into the team. Coach Andrew McDonald started talks there could be a reshuffle of the order to accomodate Cameron Green back into the side.
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This prompted talks Labuschagne could move up the order to bring Green back at No.3. Ponting was more interested in Green returning to Sheffield Shield and earning his position back in the starting XI. And current opener Khawaja has also slapped down the idea Labuschagne could shift up the order.
Khawaha, averaging 47.20 in Tests, said moving the Queenslander into a position he isn't so familiar with isn't ideal and he also shared what Labuschagne thought about the move. "Have you asked Marnus this? I think he would give you a really clear, 'hell no'," Khawaja said.
"Marnus has got opening-itis. I am pretty sure Davey Warner hurt his arm and sent Alex Carey out to open. I think that is a long shot." Khawaja admitted the opening role is one of the hardest in cricket and a batter who is comfortable in the position should shift in.
"Opening is not easy. I can tell you that because I have batted No.1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 for Australia and opening is by far the hardest," Khawaja said. "It is very hard to bring somewhere up there that hasn't opened. I am positive if you put Marnus up there he would do very well but would he do as well as he does at No.3?"
Andrew McDonald backs Cameron Green return
Green has found himself on the outer as he struggles for form and confidence with the bat. But, McDonald believes the towering allrounder could bat as No.3, or potentially the opener, for the team in the West Indies series.
Green scored 96 for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield last week, in his first game in two years. He is returning to pick up some form ahead of the Test summer and McDonald has hinted there could be a reshuffle of the Australian order ahead of the West Indies series.
“What does Cam Green’s future look like in the Test team? Is it a matter of waiting for Mitch to finish or could there be another spot that opens up over time?” McDonald told SEN Radio. “He has batted at six for most of his Test cricket, but he has been a fantastic No.4 for WA and averages close to 50 in Shield cricket. There is always the idea that you can potentially shift the order to make room to put your best six batters, or what you see as best six batters, in a certain order, and we have seen that in Australian cricket before.
“David Boon went from three to opening. Justin Langer went from three to opening. Shane Watson went from six to opening. So there has been the ability to reshuffle and for that to be successful. But we will leave that to the first Test match in Perth.”
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