Head, Khawaja fail in Test top six tilts

Australian Test vice-captain Travis Head departs after a frustrating duck for SA against Queensland.
Australian Test vice-captain Travis Head departs after a frustrating duck for SA against Queensland.

Travis Head's push for a Test recall lasted a painful 25 balls at the Gabba on Friday, with the South Australian's drawn out duck against Queensland a missed opportunity ahead of Pakistan's visit next month.

The Test vice-captain was a surprising omission for the final Ashes Test, all-rounder Mitchell Marsh preferred despite Head averaging 42.70 across the first 12 games for his country.

With Marsh's finger injury, Kurtis Patterson's lingering quad complaint and selector Trevor Hohns' admission that spots were "up for grabs", the door is wide open for a berth in the top six to play Pakistan from November 21.

Attempting to dig in on a tricky Gabba wicket, Head pushed and prodded before eventually edging a Cameron Gannon delivery to become one of three top-order ducks as the Bulls made early inroads on Friday.

The Redbacks recovered from 5-55 at lunch to make 221, with Ashes tourist Michael Neser (5-56) boasting figures of 3-0 nearly seven overs into a miserly morning spell.

The failure leaves Head fighting for a recall alongside a host of contenders, including Victorian prospect Will Pucovski and, according to former national coach Darren Lehmann, Queensland pair Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja.

Dropped during the Ashes series, Khawaja's push for a recall also took a hit when he fell lbw for just two in the last over of the day.

He looks unlikely to displace Bulls teammate Marnus Labuschagne at No.3, while David Warner's opening round Shield century at the Gabba consolidated his hold on a spot.

Fellow incumbent Marcus Harris added 69 on Friday after a first-round hundred for Victoria while Lehmann rated Burns' fighting half century against NSW last weekend highly.

Burns missed a chance to build his case further after falling lbw to debutant Wes Agar for an impressive 39 late on Friday, but Lehmann can still see more than one way into the Test side for the aggressive right-hander.

"Joe's Test record is pretty good (average of 40.10 with four hundreds in 16 Tests) and he needs another opportunity," Lehmann said of Burns.

"Uzzy is class too and I think he is (in the country's best six batsmen) so he could easily open and Joe could bat down the order; it just depends on the make-up the selectors want."

Elsewhere Mitchell Starc (2-36 from 22 overs) impressed in his own bid for a Test recall, firing in a classic yorker to pin Caleb Jewell lbw as Tasmania reached 6-258 at stumps.

Nathan Lyon took 1-69 in his first game since the Ashes series while Kurtis Patterson's push for an Australian call-up hit a snag when he strained a quad while fielding.

Australian Associated Press