Skipper Pat Cummins confirm Australia’s Playing XI for opening Test against Windies, Big names returns

Australia’s summer of cricket starts in earnest on Wednesday as the top-ranked Test side begins a two-match series against West Indies.

The series against the West Indies is crucial for Australia’s hopes of qualifying for next year’s World Test Championship final.

Therefore, Australia captain Pat Cummins has confirmed the make-up of the XI that will take the field for his side in the first Test against the West Indies in Perth.

There are no major surprises in the final XI for the first home Test of the Australian summer, with Cummins confirming one change to the team that featured in the most recent Test match in Sri Lanka.

“You probably could have picked it 12 months ago,” said Cummins. “Everyone has done well to get them fit and firing for this series and we’re in a really good place. Easy decision.”

Experienced seamer Josh Hazlewood returns to Australia’s line-up, for spinner Mitchell Swepson after Australia’s demoralizing loss to Sri Lanka in Galle in July.

Swepson picked up figures of 3/103 in that match, but the 29-year-old was not selected in the squad for the West Indies series.

Veteran openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja retain their places at the top of Australia’s batting order.

Khawaja is currently sitting on 888 runs for the calendar year and can pass the 1000 mark in the first test in Perth, with his fifth century since being recalled for the Sydney Test, while he also had two scores of 90 against Pakistan.

Marnus Labuschagne is at No.3 with Steve Smith predicted to have a big summer at No.4 after tweaking his batting stance to better counter the short-ball tactics that have seen his brilliant record come back to earth in recent seasons.

Batter Steve Smith, 33, averages 166 from five Tests against West Indies and has every chance of filling his boots again, showing signs of his best form in a recent one-day series whitewash against England.

Cummins, along with a host of his teammates, got their first look at the drop-in surface sporting a healthy tinge of green on Tuesday’s match eve, with Cummins admitting he was none the wiser as to exactly how it might play.

“I don’t really know what to expect, I can’t really read wickets,” said Cummins. “But it looks there’s a bit of grass. It’s hot today, hot first day (of the Test) so it might crack up. But no idea really.”

Cummins indicated there was more grass left on it compared to the spicy surface used for the most recent match played at the venue, Australia’s T20 World Cup match against Sri Lanka last month.

“T20s and Big Bash games I’ve seen, it’s always fast and bouncy when you come over here, which you’d hope for in Perth,” said Cummins.

Australia XI to play West Indies: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.

Following the series against the West Indies, Australia host South Africa for three Tests at the end of the year before embarking on a four-Test series in India that may decide their World Test Championship fortunes.

Men’s NRMA Insurance Test Series v West Indies

Nov 30 – Dec 4: First Test, Perth Stadium, 1:20pm AEDT

Dec 8-12: Second Test, Adelaide Oval, 3pm AEDT (day-night)

Australia squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner

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