Six into two: Bat-off for a baggy green
JUSTIN Langer will remove himself from a hands-on role to watch purely as a selector as an Australia A outfit chock full of Test contenders takes on Pakistan in a three-day match in Perth starting Monday.
Langer's national assistant Graeme Hick will take on the coaching duties, along with former Test opener Chris Rogers, as the likes of Marcus Harris, Joe Burns, Usman Khawaja and rising star Will Pucovski push their case for selection in the first Test at the Gabba.
There hasn't been a glut of performances from any Test contenders to lock them in to an Australian top-order that will include David Warner, Steve Smith and Ashes revelation Marnus Labuschagne, so this game is looming as a bat-off with up to two places still be decided on.
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"There's another Shield game to go, and an Australia A game to go in conditions which could be similar to the Gabba I think. There's certainly nothing in concrete yet. I am hoping someone really starts banging hard on the door," Langer said.
"I keep maintaining there is so much talent in Australian cricket, we just have to get the combinations right.
"We've got to make sure get the people who are ready to go for this Test series."
Harris, Pucovski, Nic Maddinson and former Test vice-captain Travis Head are the only members of the Australia A batting line-up to make a Shield century this summer.
Joe Burns, who is also vying for the chance to open with David Warner, hasn't scored a Shield hundred in his past 25 innings, including none last season.
Usman Khawaja, who was dropped during the Ashes, has had a nightmare start to the Shield season, managing just 59 runs in five innings. Khawaja did make back-to-back hundreds for Queensland in the one-day competition in October.
Play begins at 3pm (AEST) Monday afternoon in the day-night match.