Australia’s Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja should be the front-runners for David Warner’s opening partner, Michael Clarke says


The prime contenders to partner David Warner at the top of the order in the first match of the Ashes should be Marcus Harris, Travis Head and Usman Khawaja, former Test captain Michael Clarke believes.

There is now greater uncertainty around Warner’s opening partner after the prodigious Will Pucovski suffered another concussion last week.

Having made a half-century on his Test debut against India at the SCG in January – a shoulder injury suffered during the same match sidelined him – the 23-year-old was a strong chance of receiving another shot.

But less than two months out from the opening Test of the Ashes, set to begin at The Gabba on December 8, a concussion suffered while receiving throwdowns has cast doubt over Pucovski’s availability.

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“Marcus Harris is definitely an option,” Clarke said on Big Sports Breakfast.

“But what about if you open the batting with Travis Head and then keep (a spot) at No.5, whether it be Matthew Wade or someone else?

“Or, just to throw another spanner in the works, bring Usman Khawaja back and let him open.

“They’re my three options.”

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Head has mainly batted at No.5 over the 19 Tests he’s played since making his debut, which came against Pakistan in Dubai in October 2018.

The 27-year-old batted at No.4 in his classy Sheffield Shield knock of 163 last month, while he slotted in at first drop as he bludgeoned 230 from just 127 balls in the Marsh one-day cup this week.

But Clarke isn’t concerned by Head’s lack of experience as an opening batter.

“I think if the wickets are generally what they are in Australia, I think (Head would) be fine opening the batting,” Clarke said.

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“If they leave some grass on them and (James) Anderson and (Stuart) Broad come into their own, then no matter who opens (the batting for Australia)… you look at Davey Warner. If there’s some seam, Warner’s going to find, especially Broady, difficult, like he did in England.

“But you look at his record in Australia; he dominates because pitches are more consistent, you don’t get as much sideways (movement).

“That’s why I think someone like Head or even Uzzie, who are really No.3 or No.4 specialists – I reckon either of them could do it…”

Harris is Warner’s incumbent opening partner, having earned a recall for Australia’s match against India at The Gabba in January.

But the right-hander managed scores of just five and 38, while he only averages 23.77 from the 10 Tests he’s played.

Head averages 39.75 from his 19 Tests and Khawaja, who’s spent time as an opener, first drop and middle-order batter during his 44 Tests, averages 40.66.

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