MELBOURNE – Australia coach Justin Langer has confirmed James Pattinson and Usman Khawaja are certain starters for the opening Ashes test in Birmingham.
Khawaja passed a fitness test on Monday after recovering from a hamstring injury and Langer confirmed the left-hander will bat at number three, while fast bowler Pattinson is set to feature in his first test match since Feb. 2016.
“Usman Khawaja will definitely be in,” Langer told reporters. “He's fit, ready to go, he's playing well. He's a seasoned pro for us, he averages 40-odd in Test cricket, his hammy (hamstring) is good, he's running well, he's passed all the fitness tests so he's ready to go. He'll bat number three.”
On Pattinson's return to the lineup, Langer added: (He's) just a very, very good bowler. I'm sure (captain Tim Paine) will work out ways of using him.”
Selectors face several crunch decisions ahead of the first test at Edgbaston starting Thursday, with Langer consigning Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle to a three-way duel for the third specialist fast bowling spot.