Australian Test hopefuls Matt Renshaw and Marcus Harris made solid impressions in their bids to impress national selectors in the tour match between the Prime Minister's XI and the West Indies.
Renshaw’s 81 and Harris’ 73, part of a 134-run opening partnership, powered the Aussie side to a strong start before the visitors recovered through the middle of the first day in Canberra.
Peter Handscomb added 55 in the four-day day-night match which serves as the main preparation for the West Indies before they take on Australia in two Tests from next Wednesday.
But it’s also a big opportunity for 11 Australians who hold ambitions of earning a baggy green, or returning to the Test XI.
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MATCH CENTRE: Prime Minister’s XI vs West Indies, live scoreboard
Eyes were on Harris, who was axed during last summer’s Ashes and is the only player in the PM’s XI to still be in Australia’s Test squad, and his 124-ball 73 included 13 fours.
But young South Australia opener Henry Hunt (13) could do little while Josh Inglis, who was very narrowly overlooked in favour of Alex Carey during the Ashes, notched up a duck.
Alzarri Joseph cleaned up the lower end of the Aussie batting line-up, bowling Ashton Agar (33), Michael Neser (10) and Joel Paris (2) as the hosts finished the day at 297-9.
With David Warner edging closer to his Test retirement, Hunt is looking to throw his hat into the ring to replace him at the top of the order.
“He’s got the game (for Test cricket). There’s no doubt about that,” SA coach Jason Gillespie said, as per ESPNCricinfo.
“He’s learning all the time. He asks a lot of questions. He works really, really hard at his game. He’s very specific in his preparations, how he goes about it. He applies himself. He has a real clear plan, commits to it and shows fight.”
With the ball, Ashton Agar and 22-year-old Todd Murphy will look to push their case to be on the plane to India early next year for a Test tour.
Australia’s fast-bowling options will include one-Test player Neser, Steketee and Paris, who played two ODIs for Australia in 2016.
Sean Abbott and Aaron Hardie fill two all-rounder positions.
PM’s XI: Matt Renshaw, Marcus Harris, Henry Hunt, Peter Handscomb, Josh Inglis, Aaron Hardie, Ashton Agar, Michael Neser, Joel Paris, Mark Steketee, Todd Murphy
WEST INDIES: Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Raymon Reifer, Nkrumah Bonner, Devon Thomas, Kyle Mayers, Joshua Da Silva, Roston Chase, Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales
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