Australia’s Vice-captain Travis Head has been axed for the fifth Ashes Test as the Aussie’s hunt a series win at the Oval, where Mitch Marsh will return to the XI.
Selectors are yet to make a call on whether Pat Cummins or Josh Hazlewood will be rested from the series finale, which starts on Thursday.
Peter Siddle, who played the first two Tests, has been retained in a 12-man squad and could be recalled in place of the world’s top-ranked bowler Cummins or an in-form Hazlewood.
Regardless of the attack, coach Justin Langer and chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns want to ensure their fast bowlers aren’t worked into the ground in London. It means Marsh will don his baggy green for the first time since last year’s Boxing Day Test.
“It was a really tough call on Travis Head … we felt like we needed some extra bowling,” Tim Paine said.
“(Need) to look after our big fast bowlers.
“It’s not necessarily Travis being dropped. We’ve been really clear with Travis on why he isn’t playing this game.
“We had to make a really tough call on someone and it happened to be Travis.”
Head helped Australia salvage a draw at Lord’s but has since logged scores of zero, 25, 19 and 12.
Paine noted Marsh has “worked his backside off” since the home summer, improving his fitness to a point where he sustain a big bowling and batting workload.
Paine has a knack of delivering lightning-fast retorts, regardless of whether it is behind stump microphones or journalists’ microphones, and on the eve of the fifth Ashes Test there was another.
“Not yet. Not yet,” Paine quipped.
It wasn’t quite a list of the 15 more intimidating venues than Edgbaston but the captain, responding to a question that referenced Australia having achieved their main objective of the tour by retaining the urn, was quick to interject.
The tourists, leading 2-1 after ending England’s resistance in the final session of the fourth Test, are seeking their first Ashes series win in England since 2001.
Paine cited the Test championship, the final of which is set to be staged at Lord’s in 2021, as another important factor for his team.
“There’s no such thing as dead rubbers and certainly against England, there’s never a dead rubber. We’re up for it. We’re ready,” he said. “We want to be here at the end of this Test as a team that’s won … rather than let it peter out to a draw or a loss. It won’t be the same for us.”
Paine, like coach Justin Langer, backed David Warner to end a series of struggles against Stuart Broad on a high note.
Warner has tallied 79 runs at 9.87 this series.
[Fox Sports AU]