Australia’s selection for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford has seen Todd Murphy being left out to accommodate Mitch Marsh and Cameron Green in the playing XI.
The team confirmed their lineup on Tuesday, with Marsh batting at No. 6, Green at No. 7, and Alex Carey at No. 8. Opener David Warner has retained his spot despite some doubts surrounding his selection, while Josh Hazlewood has returned to the bowling attack, replacing Scott Boland.
However, the decision to exclude Murphy is the most significant, as Australia aims to secure a victory that would result in their first Ashes series win in England since 2001. Australia has played a frontline spinner in all 117 Tests since January 2012, but for this match, they will rely on part-timer Travis Head’s spin bowling at Old Trafford.
The decision takes into account Murphy’s limited role in the previous Test at Headingley, where he bowled only 9.3 overs, as well as the forecast of wet weather for most of the match in Manchester.
Captain Pat Cummins defended the decision, emphasising that it doesn’t indicate a lack of faith in Murphy after just one match filling in for the injured Nathan Lyon. Cummins highlighted the incomparable status of Lyon as Australia’s greatest offspinner and explained that the selection is based on the prevailing conditions.
He expressed excitement about Murphy’s potential and praised his contributions, noting that the team would have loved to utilise him more but the conditions favored pace bowling.
Cummins also expressed confidence in Head’s spin bowling capabilities, highlighting his previous success in Sri Lanka where he claimed 4-10. He acknowledged that Head provides a different dimension to Lyon’s style and commended his defensive skills, subtle variations, and use of drift. Cummins also mentioned that Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne can contribute with their leg spin if needed.
Addressing concerns about Warner’s form, Cummins dismissed any doubts about his spot at the top of the order. He emphasised the importance of Warner’s contributions, particularly in challenging situations, and highlighted his class in limited-overs cricket. The team expressed satisfaction with Warner’s current form and performance.
The Australian lineup for the fourth Ashes Test will feature David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, and Josh Hazlewood.