Huge swing in battle for fifth Ashes spot as Khawaja fails to fire ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 24: Usman Khawaja of the Queensland Bulls out caught behind for 4 during day two of the Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and Queensland at Karen Rolton Oval, on November 24, 2021, in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Mark Brake/Getty Images)


The door has been flung wide open for the fifth spot in Australia’s Ashes line-up as the battle between Travis Head and Usman Khawaja heats up.

The door for Travis Head to assert himself as the best option for the fifth spot in Australia’s Ashes line-up has been flung wide open as Usman Khawaja failed to fire for Queensland in their Sheffield Shield match against South Australia.

The 34-year-old made his way to the middle after opener Bryce Street fell for 87 from 226 after he was caught behind by Alex Carey off a Liam Scott out-swinger, but Khawaja barely lasted after more rain delays forced an early lunch to be taken.

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He was sent packing for a measly four runs after he was caught behind from a Daniel Worrall delivery, gifting Head the perfect oportunity to prove he belongs in Australia’s batting order.

Both men were named in Justin Langer’s 15-man squad for the series against England, with George Bailey noting they will be competing for the number five spot.

Bailey, the chief selector, confirmed one of the two had their nose in front in terms of who will make the final XI but he refused to disclose which man that could have been.

Head will have to wait to get his turn to shine with the bat as Queensland remain dangerous in the contest.

Test star Marnus Labuschagne, who added extra protection to his body due to opening-day perils when he was subjected to a barrage of tricky delivers that found a damp spot on the wicket, remains unbeaten at the crease as he looks to build a partnership with Matt Renshaw.

Labuschagne was central to discussions with match officials on Tuesday when, after 50 overs following a rain-delayed start, he aired his concerns about balls rearing up with a nasty amount of bounce as balls rocketed towards his and opener Bryce Street’s heads.

Eventually the call was made by the umpires and match referee Steve Davis, a former Test umpire, to suspend play for the day after Davis conceded it would be “dangerous” to continue.

“It’s not undulated,” Davis said of the problem area on the pitch.

“It’s an area where the ball is sticking a bit, so there’s obviously some dampness underneath.”

Play resumed without issue on Wednesday as Street passed 50 and Labuschagne 30 as they got through the opening 10 overs without issue and Queensland reached 100 just one wicket down.

After play was halted on day one, Davis said both teams agreed to the move.

“It’s only about a metre square, but obviously once you see a ball doing that, if you’re any sort of bowler you’re going to aim for that spot,’ he said.

“There’s a potential of it being dangerous,

“It was obvious the umpires had some concerns and the players had some concerns.

“There was a couple of people that were hit on the gloves and in the stomach area, and it was just behaving a bit unusually and that always gives you a bit of an alert.

“Both captains were very reasonable about it.”

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