First Test team announced: Australia spring a surprise with leadership change

Australia have sprung a surprise by naming Travis Head as a Test vice-captain for the Pakistan series but have stuck by the expected XI for the opening match in Perth on Thursday.

Head had previously held the deputy’s role under previous skipper Tim Paine and his reinstatement to vice-captaincy duties shows he is next in line to fast bowler Pat Cummins in the long-term leadership picture.

Steve Smith will continue as a vice-captain but at 34, he is unlikely to ever lead Australia again on a full-time basis. 

The only change to the team for the Optus Stadium showdown with Pakistan from the one which finished off the Ashes series in England is the return of veteran spinner Nathan Lyon from his calf injury for Todd Murphy, who was not included in the 14-man squad.

Fast bowler Mitchell Starc has been cleared to play after he was dogged by niggling after the World Cup, meaning young Western Australian pace prospect Lance Morris will again have to bide his time.

Fellow quick Scott Boland and all-rounder Cameron Green are the other omissions with Mitchell Marsh retaining the No.6 spot.

Veteran opener David Warner will open alongside Usman Khawaja as he tries to finish his Test career on a high note leading into the final match of the series at his home ground, the SCG.

Australia XI: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Alex Carey, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

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