Australian selectors have given a glimpse into the future while unveiling the Test squad to face Pakistan in the first Test in Perth on Thursday.
In one of the first indications that selectors are planning on life without veteran batter Steve Smith, World Cup hero Travis Head has been named as joint vice-captain with Smith in a shock change to the leadership.
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Head had a stint as vice-captain of the Test side when Tim Paine was captain between 2018 to 2021.
The reappointment comes just a day after Smith, 34, was forced to address questions about his own future and form, following the same concerns around 37-year-old David Warner.
“I just take it day by day and enjoy my time playing,” Smith told reporters on Tuesday.
Steve Smith during a nets session at Optus Stadium ahead of the first Test with Pakistan. Credit: Getty Images
“And while I’m enjoying it I’ll keep playing. I’m not in any hurry to make any decisions or anything.
“I’m pretty relaxed and looking forward to the summer.”
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Usman Khawaja backflips on stand with tiny message during first Test
In the event that captain Pat Cummins is absent, however, Smith will still be his first choice replacement.
As expected, spin king Nathan Lyon will come back into the team and force out Todd Murphy, but that is the only change to the squad.
Lyon needs just four more wickets to join the late, great Shane Warne (708) and former pace star Glenn McGrath (563) as Australians to have taken 500 Test wickets.
Warner will again open the batting as his farewell series kicks off.
With the pitch tipped to hard and bouncy, Australia are banking on their big three quicks in Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood to get the job done.
The fast three are reuniting after being instrumental in Australia’s World Cup victory last month.
The first Test against Pakistan kicks off on Thursday from 1.20pm AEDT.
AUSTRALIA XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood
Australia squad: (first Test only) Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Lance Morris, Steve Smith, Mitch Starc, David Warner
Pakistan squad: Shan Masood (c), Aamir Jamal, Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Babar Azam, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Khurram Shahzad, Mir Hamza, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Noman Ali, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Saud Shakeel and Shaheen Shah Afridi
– With AAP