Lehmann declares one player safe, one in doubt for Ashes

Usman Khawaja looks set to bat at No.3 in the first Ashes Test despite his poor form in Bangladesh.

Usman Khawaja looks set to bat at No.3 in the first Ashes Test despite his poor form in Bangladesh.

Usman Khawaja is a virtual certainty to play the first Ashes Test in Brisbane but all bets are off for Matthew Wade and Glenn Maxwell after underwhelming performances in Bangladesh.

Australia's 1-1 series draw with the much-improved Tigers has left selectors with plenty to consider ahead of the summer Ashes series.

Wade's wicketkeeping position appears to be wide open, having managed just 17 runs from three innings.

The 29-year-old kept well throughout the series, particularly in Chittagong where he claimed three stumpings. But his lack of runs has become an issue selectors can no longer ignore.

With three Sheffield Shield matches scheduled ahead of the Ashes, Wade is set to compete for his career against Peter Nevill and young South Australian Alex Carey.

The radical option of handing the gloves to part-timer Peter Handscomb also remains on the table, despite the risk of a detrimental effect on his batting.

"Look, I thought Matthew Wade did a great job behind the sticks this game, so really pleased for him," Australian coach Darren Lehmann said after Australia's seven-wicket victory in Chittagong.

"After the criticism he copped, from everyone really, and that's understandable when you don't play how you would like.

"We obviously want runs from our keeper as well so, for him and all the other keepers around the country, the Shield games are going to be important."

Lehmann was bullish about Khawaja reclaiming his No.3 spot after being dumped for the second Test in Chittagong.

The elegant left-hander continues to struggle on the subcontinent but has an imposing record at home, where he averages more than 63.

"I would think Usman would play the first Test match, although I'm only one of four selectors," Lehmann said.

"Usman, obviously for the make-up of the side, we changed it here but we think he's a pretty special player and, obviously, he's got a really good record in Australia."

Glenn Maxwell's hold on the No.6 spot appears more tenuous, with Lehmann suggesting he will also need to make Shield runs to avoid being dumped.

Selectors could instead lead towards Hilton Cartwright, who played in the second Test in Chittagong and showed promise as a batsman and medium-pace bowler.

Australia would be eager to shore up their middle-order ahead of the Ashes, with skipper Steve Smith noting his side had suffered 15 batting collapses in their past 14 Tests.

"We'll certainly be looking at that position, and anyone who can jump out of the pack in the three Shield games and what we think the best make-up is for that first Test," Lehmann said.

"Glenn is there at the moment. Like everyone else, he'll have to perform."

feedback