Australia’s captain Tim Paine will go into his first Test since the fateful South Africa tour with three debutants, Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne, in place of the banned trio of Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft, all suspended by Cricket Australia for their part in the Newlands ball-tampering scandal.
He also confirmed the new vice-captain Mitchell Marsh and his brother Shaun will bat in the pivotal No. 3 and 4 spots, mirroring their roles in the Western Australia team coached by Justin Langer for five seasons prior to his elevation to replace Darren Lehmann, who also resigned in the wake of Newlands, as Australia coach.
Among the bowlers, the vastly experienced Peter Siddle was preferred ahead of a fourth debutant in Michael Neser, with the Victorian and the NSW left-armer Mitchell Starc forming a strong pace pairing to work with spin bowlers Nathan Lyon and Jon Holland, who each did the majority of the heavy-lifting in Australia’s only warm-up fixture.
Australia’s XI 1 Aaron Finch, 2 Usman Khawaja, 3 Mitchell Marsh, 4 Shaun Marsh, 5 Travis Head, 6 Marnus Labuschagne, 7 Tim Paine (capt & wk), 8 Mitchell Starc, 9 Nathan Lyon, 10 Peter Siddle, 11 Jon Holland