Langer confirms Finch, Head for first Test against Pakistan
Aaron Finch and Travis Head are in line to make their Test debuts for Australia. (Getty Image)

Coach Justin Langer has confirmed the availability of Aaron Finch and Travis Head in Australia’s Playing XI for the first Test against Pakistan starting on Sunday in Dubai. The former Australia opener, weighing in on the team’s composition, mentioned that Finch and Head were certainties to make their Test debuts, but Matt Renshaw could be left out due to lack of match practice.

Finch celebrated his inclusion in Australia’s squad for the two-Test series against Pakistan by striking a half-century against Pakistan A in the warm-up game at the ICC academy in Dubai, the same game during which Head struck an unbeaten 90. In addition, Head has also been in fine nick for Australia A, scoring runs in the Quadrangular series in India and the two First-Class matches against India A in Chennai.

“There was never any doubt over those two for me, I thought they were certainties to play,” Langer said. “Aaron Finch – I can’t wait to see him play Test cricket. He’s been brilliant in white-ball cricket over the last few years, he’s got the temperament for international cricket. He’s playing really well. He’s one of the leaders of our group.

“Travis Head – his improvement over the last … six months is absolutely amazing. He’s starting to look like an AFL (Australian Football League) player, he’s really fit. The way he’s adapted his game and improved his game, particularly against spin. He played brilliantly in the Australia A stuff, he’s really impressive and he deserves to have a Baggy Green cap.”

Renshaw was excluded keeping in mind the series of injuries he’s sustained over the last three and a half months that has prevented him from playing for Australia frequently, cut short his county stint with Somerset and missing the India A tour.

“I think Matthew Renshaw will be physically fine – the one thing he’s got is he hasn’t played much cricket,” Langer told reporters in Dubai. “He went on the Australia A trip, he got a hamstring strain… he hasn’t spent much time in the middle. That’s going to be the issue for him.

“It’s going to be an instinct call. We’ve got to weigh up what he’s done in the past. He’s obviously a very good young player. We’ve got to work out whether he’s spent enough time out in the middle to be ready for a Test match.”

Langer also hinted at the possibility of two more players getting their Baggy Green, Marnus Labuschagne and Michael Neser. Substituted for Renshaw, Labuschagne scored 39 and showed signs of picking up wickets with his leg spin. Marnus, meanwhile, is coming off a good outing for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield with 39 wickets but will face competition from a returning Peter Siddle to find a place.

“We’ve seen in the history of Australian cricket a lot of people take their opportunities through injury,” Langer said. “I thought Marnus fielded brilliantly but was really good with the bat yesterday, bowled a few overs. He’s certainly put a strong case forward for selection as well.

“(Neser) impressed us, he always does. He has a red-hot dip every time he plays, he’s a good fielder, he’s brilliant around the team. We weigh up 211 Test wickets and a guy (Siddle) who’s bowling really well, a real professional. He’s been a veteran. The role he’d play with his experience, we (selectors) have got to talk really seriously about that.”