Captain Pat Cummins returns as Australia name playing XI for first Test against South Africa

Brisbane : After recovering from a quad injury, Australia skipper Pat Cummins on Friday confirmed his return as hosts announced their playing XI for the first Test of the three-match series against South Africa, beginning at the Gabba on Saturday.

The fast bowler takes the reins back from Steve Smith who led the side in the second Test against the West Indies in Cummins’ absence. With Josh Hazlewood having already been ruled out with a side strain, Scott Boland keeps his spot in the side and Michael Neser is the man to make way for the Australia captain.

The batting order remains unchanged, with the opening pair of Usman Khawaja and David Warner backed by Marnus Labuschagne and Steve Smith. Travis Head and Cameron Green slot in at No.5 and No.6, while wicket-keeper Alex Carey retains his spot.

Early impressions of the Brisbane pitch this week suggest both world-class pace attacks should enjoy the conditions, though the tourists have history against them, having gone winless there in four attempts in the longest format.

“A couple of the boys said it’s similar to what they’ve seen here in the past. It looks like there’s a bit of grass. So we’ll see how it looks tomorrow”, Cummins said on Friday. “They’ll give it a final cut.

It always looks pretty green here a couple of days out, then on the morning of day one it looks a bit different”, he added. The Test series forms part of the World Test Championship, with Australia (75 percent of possible points) and South Africa (60 percent of possible points) sitting first and second on the standings.

Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Cameron Green, Alex Carey (wk), Pat Cummins (c), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Scott Boland



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