Usman Khawaja (L), Marnus Labuschagne and Joe Burns (R). Picture: Patrick Hamilton/AFP
Usman Khawaja (L), Marnus Labuschagne and Joe Burns (R). Picture: Patrick Hamilton/AFP

Boof’s XI: former coach’s selection curveball

FORMER Test coach Darren Lehmann has called for Australian selectors to deliver a curveball by naming Joe Burns alongside David Warner at the top of the order and recalling Mitchell Starc for next month's clash against Pakistan at The Gabba

Lehmann this week listed Burns in his preferred top order and backed the Queensland opener to thrive if given a shot on his home deck.

"(David) Warner, Burns and Marnus (Labuschagne) are my top three with (Steve) Smith at four," Lehmann said.

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"Warner definitely (starts), his record in Australia is unbelievable and he's got a hundred here at the Gabba in that Shield game where I thought he batted beautifully.

"I like Burns, I think his Test record is pretty good and he needs another opportunity so that's where I'm at, but who knows which way (the selectors) will go."

There's a twist to Lehmann's best XI, however, with the Heat boss also pitching a potential recall for Queensland skipper Usman Khawaja, whom he still rates among the country's "six best batsmen".

"Uzzie and Burnsy are probably fighting for the one spot I'd say - that's the thing at the moment for them," Lehmann said.

"Uzzie's a class player, his record in Australia is exceptional as well so it will all come down to the next couple of Shield games.

"He could easily open and Joe could bat down, they could do that as well, so it depends on the makeup the selectors want I suppose."

Mitchell Starc. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty
Mitchell Starc. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty

Naming both Khawaja and Burns would dislodge one of either Travis Head or Matthew Wade but Lehmann happily welcomed competition for batting spots, citing a string of big scores from Test incumbents over the opening round of Shield action.

"It's a good thing when you see so many young guys making runs," Lehmann said.

"I think the best 100 of the round was Dave Warner's and then Perth had a bit in it as well so for Tim Paine to get a hundred, he looks like he's in good form and Alex Carey getting a hundred as well, so (there's) a lot of players making runs which is pleasing."

As for Australia's hyper-competitive bowling contingent, Lehmann says it's a matter of conditions but suggested Starc would likely be given an opportunity ahead of James Pattinson on a lively Gabba wicket with Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon rounding out the attack.

"It's a tough one isn't it. It just comes down to whether you want the extra airspeed and variation" Lehmann said.

"Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood, Pattinson, I think they're all going to get picked for the first Test and Lyon and one of the quicks will miss out, that's what I normally do

"I still think that Starc will get better and better. They need him for Australian conditions. Whether he plays first one is up to conditions. His record is still pretty good at The Gabba so we'll just have to wait and see."