Travis Head was re-appointed as Australia’s vice-captain on Wednesday as selectors look to the future, while Pakistan chose two debutants for the opening match in Perth.
Head was named as a deputy to Steve Smith, according to skipper Pat Cummins, who announced a playing XI with one alteration from the previous Test against England at the Oval in July.
This means that Nathan Lyon, who is four wickets away from reaching the elite 500 club, will regain his place ahead of Todd Murphy.
David Warner will bat first in what is expected to be his final Test series. He is under severe scrutiny following a poor run and questions about whether he deserves to be on the team.
Opening partner Usman Khawaja has also received attention after saying that he intends to wear sneakers with slogans addressing the plight of people in Gaza during the match beginning Thursday.
That is unlikely anymore, with the International Cricket Council prohibiting any political, religious, or racial themes during matches.
“I just spoke to him quickly, and he said he won’t be,” Cummins told reporters on the eve of the first of three Tests.
Head, 29, was previously Test co-vice-captain with Cummins when Tim Paine was in command and has subsequently cemented his place in the team.
“He’s been playing for a long time, he’s always been a leader in our group, so we thought it was a good time to formally recognise that,” Cummins said in a statement.
There are no immediate plans for Cummins or Smith, 34, to retire, but the skipper stated, “Steve is not going to play forever, and I dare say I’m not going to captain forever.”
“So we feel like we’ve got some responsibility to future-proof the team and give opportunities to other leaders.”
Pakistan has yet to win a Test series in 12 visits to Australia.
Shan Masood, the latest skipper to try, named two debutants in their starting lineup, adding pacemen Aamer Jamal and Khurram Shahzad to an attack led by Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed was chosen ahead of Mohammad Rizwan as the first-choice wicketkeeper.
“As a team we talk about adaptability, whether we play in Canberra, whether we play in Karachi, whether we play in Perth, how quickly can guys adapt to different conditions,” Masood remarked.
“That is the most important thing to me.” Good cricketers are constantly adaptive.”
Australia’s batting order is as follows: David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins (captain), Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, and Josh Hazlewood.
Imam-ul-Haq, Abdullah Shafique, Babar Azam, Saud Shakeel, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Salman Ali Agha, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Aamer Jamal, and Khurram Shahzad for Pakistan.