Khawaja earns chance against Sri Lanka
Usman Khawaja and Alex Doolan will have the perfect chance to push their claims to become Ricky Ponting's Test replacement after being named in the Chairman's XI squad to take on Sri Lanka in Canberra next week. Khawaja will captain the side for the three-day game and while most members of the team are younger players who have been rewarded for some early-season form, all eyes will be on Khawaja and Doolan.
Cricket Australia emphasised that the squad was chosen before Ponting made his decision to retire from international cricket, meaning the match is not intended as a bat-off for Test selection. Phillip Hughes is also a strong contender to take Ponting's place, although it would require a reshuffle in the Test batting order, but for Khawaja especially runs against the Sri Lankans would be a case of perfect timing.
Khawaja, 25, is third on the Sheffield Shield run tally this summer with 438 runs at 39.81 and his century in extremely difficult conditions in Hobart earlier this month was especially impressive. Doolan, 27, appears an outside chance at best of earning a Test call-up but a hundred against the Sri Lankans to add to his unbeaten 161 against South Africa for Australia A would form a compelling case, in addition to his 409 Shield runs at 58.42.
"It is a talented team that has an ideal mix of youth and experience," the national selector John Inverarity said. "Usman Khawaja has been nominated as captain. He, Glenn Maxwell, Alex Doolan and Scott Henry have been released from their BBL franchises to take this opportunity to further their experience in the longer form of the game.
"They are players who have shown some excellent form in recent months and will be looking to enhance their claims for higher honours. Dean Solway from the ACT is a talented young batsman who will be keen to impress on his home turf.
Scott Henry, Marcus Harris, Travis Head and Sam Whiteman are young left-handed batsmen. Each has produced at least one outstanding first-class innings recently and Whiteman will be given an opportunity to display his skills as an accomplished wicket-keeper. Luke Butterworth is an experienced medium-fast swing bowler who bowls with great accuracy and will provide great stability to the attack."
The match is Sri Lanka's only warm-up ahead of the first Test, which starts in Hobart on December 14. The CA Chairman's XI take on Sri Lanka from December 6 to 8 at Manuka Oval in Canberra.
CA Chairman's XI Marcus Harris, Scott Henry, Usman Khawaja (capt), Alex Doolan, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Sam Whiteman (wk), Luke Butterworth, Chadd Sayers, Matthew Gale, Ashton Turner, Dean Solway.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here