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Australia: Root ponders plans for 'brilliant' Khawaja

Boland retains Test spot, Khawaja returns

  Boland retains Test spot, Khawaja returns Scott Boland wiIl get a second Test for Australia with Josh Hazlewood not fit enough to return in Sydney, while Usman Khawaja replaces Travis Head.Captain Pat Cummins on Tuesday said there would be just the one enforced change to the hosts' XI for the fourth Ashes Test starting on Wednesday with batsman Usman Khawaja replacing Travis Head, who was forced out of the match after testing positive for COVID-19.

Joe Root is drawing up plans to stop another Usman Khawaja masterclass as England prepare to make a call on injured stars Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow.

England are in Hobart and plotting a plan to tame SCG twin centurion Usman Khawaja (pic). © Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS England are in Hobart and plotting a plan to tame SCG twin centurion Usman Khawaja (pic).

Australia are expected to confirm Khawaja has been retained for the fifth Ashes Test, most likely ahead of under-pressure opener Marcus Harris.

Khawaja cast doubt on his own prospects of playing in Hobart after becoming just the third man to celebrate twin tons in a SCG Test.

But Root is certain the left-hander will take part in the pink-ball Test beginning on Friday, admitting he was surprised that Khawaja didn't play the entire series.

UK View: Broad and Wood provide bittersweet 'moment of joy among wreckage' as 'painful' questions linger

  UK View: Broad and Wood provide bittersweet 'moment of joy among wreckage' as 'painful' questions linger The sight of Stuart Broad – the ‘ninja of Nottingham’ – tormenting his usual foe David Warner rekindled the painful debate, the English press lamented, as England held their ground in the opening salvos of the fourth Sydney Ashes Test. There hasn’t been much to cheer for England supporters as Joe Root’s team has surrendered the Ashes within 12 days, but Broad and Mark Wood were lauded for their performances by the travelling media contingent as they kept the rampant Aussies on a tight leash.

"He's a wonderful player," England's captain said.

"It was a phenomenal effort. What he managed to achieve last week was truly brilliant, so we need to make sure we keep him quiet as best we can.

"We've got some work to do."

The tourists are fresh from their best performance of a long summer, having survived 102 overs to salvage a draw in Sydney and remove an ignominious 5-0 series loss from the equation.

But it came at a major cost.

Stokes (side strain), Bairstow (thumb) and Jos Buttler (fractured finger) all suffered injuries during the fourth Test.

Buttler has already returned home.

Sydney Thunder's Sam Billings worked on his keeping for much of Wednesday's training session and is expected to make his Test debut at Bellerive.

Stokes and Bairstow are racing the clock as they seek to convince Root, coach Chris Silverwood and medicos they are ready to take on Australia.

Ashes Scout: Five changes for England, Marnus 'should open', angry Anderson fires back at Vaughan

  Ashes Scout: Five changes for England, Marnus 'should open', angry Anderson fires back at Vaughan England are expected to make wholesale changes for the Hobart Test, although they are still mulling decisions over the fitness of Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow. The Cricketer reported the tourists would make five changes when the teams are announced with wicketkeeper Sam Billings in for a Test debut. Opener Rory Burns will return to put Haseeb Hameed pout of his misery. With Hobart serving up a greentop for the pink ball Test, Ollie Robinson will come in for spinner Jack Leach with Chris Woakes expected to replace rested James Anderson.

The pair are potential match-winners with the bat, while they faced a combined 228 deliveries to provide the most significant bricks in England's SCG stonewall.

Stokes moved well at the squad's first session in Hobart and is expected to play as a batter.

Bairstow, who reached three figures in Sydney to register England's only hundred of the series, is a more doubtful starter after looking far from comfortable during some fielding drills on Wednesday.

"We've got to just see where they're at, see what their bodies can handle and then assess from there," Root said.

"It's alright being fit to play.

"But you've got to be fit to perform and I think that's what we've got to work out.

"They need to make sure they feel like they're physically in a place where they can get through five days of hard cricket, whatever Australia throw at them."

Root urged his teammates to build on the "fight and pride" they showed at the SCG and sign off the tour on a high note.

COVID chaos hits Australia's cricket schedule .
New Zealand's white-ball tour of Australia has been postponed indefinitely due to travel restrictions.The Black Caps were due to play series of ODI and T20 matches in Australia, starting next week.

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