Veteran batsman Adam Voges appears poised to make his Test debut at age 35 after concussion ruled Chris Rogers out of the series opener against West Indies.
The Western Australia captain seems the man most likely to come into Australia’s team for the first Test in Roseau, Dominica after Rogers was scratched by team doctor Peter Brukner on Monday.
Struck on the head by a delivery from local net bowler at Sunday’s training session at Windsor Park, Rogers was omitted after his concussion symptoms continued into Monday morning.
It’s the first Test the 37-year-old has missed after playing 19 straight following his recall for the 2013 Ashes.
Shaun Marsh is almost certain to move up the order to fill Rogers’ opening spot after making a century when opening the batting in last week’s tour match in Antigua.
Shane Watson, who has previously opened in Tests for Australia, could also make the move up the order.
Whatever happens, with captain Michael Clarke confirming Steve Smith will bat at the premier No.3 spot after his stellar summer, there’s a vacancy in Australia’s middle order.
Voges made 52 against the WICB President’s XI and has been in the form of his life for the past nine months, including a Sheffield Shield season when he scored 1358 runs across the summer.
The other option will be if Australia pick uncapped leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed along with incumbent tweaker Nathan Lyon, Marsh’s younger brother Mitchell Marsh could be picked alongside fellow allrounder Watson to give Clarke an added bowling option.
If Fawad and Lyon are chosen on the traditionally spin-friendly Windsor Park deck then there’s further selection grief awaiting the fast bowling ranks.
One of Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood will have to miss out and it’s World Cup hero Starc considered the man most likely.
Clarke says he doesn’t expect the final make-up of the team to be revealed until the toss on Wednesday.
“I don’t know what eleven they’ll give me yet, it will be determined by how the pitch turns out,” Clarke said.
“That decision will be made quite late I would imagine … I’ll work out the batting order from there.
“Shaun just opened and made a hundred. Watto has opened before and been quite successful up the top of the order, so we’ve got some other options.
“Let’s just assess once I get the eleven, then I’ll be able to work out what I think the best batting order is for these conditions.”
Smith’s elevation to the No.3 spot was confirmed.
The 25-year-old has become one of Australia’s most important players and even rose to become Test captain while Clarke was out injured during his golden summer.
Clarke said he’d raised the prospect with Smith during the World Cup and insisted on the switch once the team arrived in the Caribbean.
“That was 100 per cent me going to Smithy and having a conversation with him, and he’s all for it,” Clarke said.
Australia will train for a final time in Roseau on Tuesday with the Test match to start at 10am on Wednesday (0000AEST).
Teams: Australia (probable): David Warner, Shaun Marsh, Steve Smith, Michael Clarke (capt), Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.
West Indies (probable): Kraigg Brathwaite, Shane Dowrich, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shai Hope, Jermaine Blackwood, Denesh Ramdin (capt), Jason Holder, Jerome Taylor, Kemar Roach, Veerasammy Permaul
AUSTRALIA v WEST INDIES
Test head-to-head record
Overall: Australia 54, West Indies 32, tied one, drawn 24
In West Indies: Australia 19, West Indies 14, drawn 15
In Dominica: Australia 1, West Indies 0
Last time: Australia def West Indies by 75 runs in Roseau, Dominica in April 2012
* Australia have won nine of the past 12 Tests against the West Indies at home or away
* West Indies’ last Test win over Australia was in May 2003