Todd Murphy has been left out of Australia’s selection for the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford to replace Mitch Marsh and Cameron Green.
The team confirmed its 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 place despite some doubts over his selection, while Josh Hazlewood returns. Bowling attack in place of Scott Boland.
However, the decision to drop Murphy is of paramount importance, as Australia aim to ensure a victory that would result in their first Ashes series victory in England since 2001. Australia have played a frontline spinner in all 117 Tests since January 2012, but for this match, they will rely on the spin bowling of part-time Travis Head at Old Trafford.
The decision took 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, insisting it did not indicate any lack of faith in Murphy after filling in for the injured Nathan Lyon for just one match. Cummins highlighted Lyon’s peerless status as Australia’s greatest ever off-spinner and pointed out that the selection is based on the prevailing conditions.
He expressed enthusiasm about Murphy’s potential and praised his contribution, noting that the team would have preferred to use him more had the conditions favored the pacer.
Cummins also expressed confidence in Head’s spin bowling abilities and highlighted his past success in Sri Lanka where he claimed 4-10. He acknowledged that Head provided a different dimension to Lyon’s style of play and praised his defensive skills, subtle transitions and use of drift. Cummins also pointed out 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 place at the top of the order. He particularly emphasized the importance of Warner’s contribution in challenging conditions and highlighted his class in limited overs cricket. The team expressed satisfaction over Warner’s current form and performance.
The Australian lineup for the fourth Ashes Test will include David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Cameron Green, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.