Australia to announce squad for Sri Lanka Test series earlier than expected

Australia’s hierarchy has wasted no time in moving on from the series loss to India, with a squad for the first Sri Lanka Test set to be named on Wednesday.

Multiple state associations have received indications there will almost certainly be changes from the Sydney Test to the first match against Sri Lanka, which is due to begin on January 24.

The three-man selection panel consisting of Justin Langer, Greg Chappell and chairman Trevor Hohns are in charge of naming a squad that will become an XI for the Gabba Test.

With no Sheffield Shield form to go on, understands the selectors are keen to focus on the upcoming two-Test series and will make an announcement 15 days before the first ball is bowled against the tourists.

The expected changes place the positions of four batsmen under threat. Usman Khawaja and Marcus Harris appear safe for now – albeit needing big runs to ensure Ashes berths – while Shaun Marsh, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne are under pressure to keep their spots.

The Australian selectors must decide whether to pick the best batting order to defeat Sri Lanka, or to choose an XI with one eye on the Ashes series in August and September.

Wicket-keeping great Adam Gilchrist recently told Fox Cricket he would prefer the selectors to focus on tackling Sri Lanka rather than any series further down the line.

“There is always an overarching view about the future of the game,” Gilchrist said on The Follow-On podcast.

“I think that’s an area over the past five or six years around the whole high performance area: A desire to focus on the marquee series’ and not the small ones.

“That way you can take your eye off the real development part of players’ game and learning day in, day out Test cricket. Resting, rotating or whatever you want to call it. Just pick the best team for every game possible and get that cultural feeling right.

“You can’t go to the Ashes having lost two home series to subcontinental teams. You’ve got to keep all of that in perspective.”

Head, Harris and Labuschagne have all been made available to play Big Bash between January 8 and 18, while Pat Cummins and Tim Paine are unavailable. Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will also be afforded a rest, since they do not have BBL contracts.

Australia takes on Sri Lanka in Brisbane on January 24 and in Canberra on February 1.

The Gabba encounter is a day-night affair. (Courtesy Fox Sports)


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