Australia cricket captain Tim Paine has decided on his team’s first-test side to face India. Just don’t expect him to tell anyone until the toss on Thursday at the Adelaide Oval.
Paine says 21-year-old allrounder Cameron Green is medically fit to make his test debut in the day-night fixture, but won’t divulge whether struggling opener Joe Burns will play.
“We will be keeping that in-house at the moment,” Paine said Wednesday.
Star batsman Steve Smith will play despite sustaining back soreness on Tuesday and not batting at training.
“Steve has had a stiff back a number of times of before — and you do when you bat at training as much as he does,” Paine said. “But his preparation has been very good. He has batted for the last week since we have been in Adelaide. For him to have a day off might actually be a blessing in disguise.”
Allrounder Green has recovered from a concussion and was set to make his test debut.
“He is pretty good to go,” Paine said. “He obviously trained with us yesterday, reports are he has pulled up really well this morning. All things going well, Cam Green will make his test debut tomorrow.”
But who opens the batting remains clouded, with Burns in a form slump and Marcus Harris summoned as a replacement for David Warner, who has a groin injury.
Paine said promoting Matthew Wade to open was a possibility.
“He is certainly an option . . . no doubt about that,” Paine said. “We have got a number of guys who are willing to open the batting . . . he is willing to put his body on the line for the team. Obviously we have got a scenario where we could have different openers and we have had a number of guys put their hand up to do it if it’s the best thing for the team.”
Australia coach Justin Langer hasn’t rule out Burns but acknowledged that the incumbent test opener’s 62 runs from nine first-class innings has put pressure on his spot in the team.
“I’ve been talking to Joe . . . I’ve been privately and publicly backing Joe in the whole time,” Langer said. “He’s a very good player. You don’t lose your talent overnight. He also understands that runs are the greatest currency for any player.”
India captain Virat Kohli said Wednesday that the usual animosity between the sides may not be in the forefront of the four-test series.
“This year has made people realize a lot of things that might not have been necessary in the past — when you hold grudges or have unnecessary tension between teams or individuals — is absolutely pointless,” Kohli said.
“I don’t think things are going to be as personal as they used to be. The unnecessary stuff is going to get filtered out . . . (because of) a combination of playing IPL together, Australia changing their approach to an extent, and just the way things have panned out this year.”
Kohli will return to India after the Adelaide test to be with his wife, Anushka Sharma, who is expecting the couple’s first child in January.
Kohli announced Wednesday two changes from India’s last test, which was against New Zealand in March. Wriddhiman Saha will take over as wicketkeeper for Rishabh Pant and Ravichandran Ashwin replaces Ravindra Jadeja.
India comes into the match with a strong record at Adelaide Oval, having two wins, two losses and a draw in the last five matches the team has played there.
Incredibly one of those victories came in 2003 when Australia won the toss and batted, scored 556 in its first innings but lost by four wickets. India came back to score 523 in its first innings, then shut down Australia for 196 in the second before scoring 233-6 to win.
Australia and India finished all square in the limited-overs portion of the current tour, with Australia winning the ODI series and India taking the Twenty20 series.
India won the series here in 2018 for its first test series win in Australia.
The remaining three tests will be played in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Australia: to be confirmed Thursday.