Tim Paine has defended the team changes.
Tim Paine has defended the team changes.

Paine explains Fourth Test cuts

TIM Paine has shed some light on the decision to drop Usman Khawaja instead of opener Marcus Harris for the Fourth Ashes Test.

Australia made yet another change to their misfiring batting line-up with Khawaja axed after six lean returns which has seen him average just over 20 and failing to score a 50 in the series.

Marcus Harris, who replaced Cameron Bancroft at the top of the order in Leeds will get another opportunity with in-form Marnus Labuschagne shifting up to three to accommodate the return of Steve Smith, who is back after his concussion lay-off.

Without an obvious omission to make way for Smith the decision was always going to cop criticism. Khawaja's Queensland teammate Ben Cutting was the most … cutting.

But Paine said Khawaja paid the price for under performance.

"Usman's obviously a key player in our side batting at No. 3 and he hasn't scored the runs that he or we would like," Paine said.

"With Steve Smith coming back it was a tough decision to make on Usman, but we think he's still got a lot of cricket left in him, he's had a very good Test record over his career, and we expect he will bounce back pretty strongly.

"You're not going to change your order too much. Marcus came in, played one Test, I think it would have been hard to then leave him out straight away."

Paine hit back at Jofra Archer's claims Australia panicked and were complacent in the latter stages of their gut-wrenching one-wicket defeat to England at Headingley.

The teams face off in the fourth Test at Old Trafford on Wednesday (7.30pm AEST) with the Ashes series locked at 1-1 and the home side buoyant following their Ben Stokes-inspired win in Leeds 10 days ago.

Usman Khawaja went from skipper in the tour game to out of the team. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Usman Khawaja went from skipper in the tour game to out of the team. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

A facile win over English county battlers Derbyshire helped the tourists get away from the bitter disappointment of their Headingley heartbreak and Paine said his side have put the third Test firmly behind them knowing victory in Manchester will be enough to retain the urn.

"Jofra is entitled to his opinion, he has had plenty of those for sure," Paine said.

"I was told a few things when I was down in Derby - I haven't actually seen the quotes - but talk is talk and we are here to play this Test Match.

"What's happened in the past has happened and Jofra is entitled to his opinion. As I said, it doesn't faze us one way or another.

"We made some mistakes, it happens. We've addressed it as a team, spoken about it honestly … we've moved on and are ready for another great Test match."

Paine also backed Nathan Lyon to bounce back after his run-out blunder that cost Australia the match at Headingley on a ground where spinners have historically enjoyed success.

"He is someone who always gives our group a lot of confidence … and guys love playing with him so he's an important part of our team and handled it really well," he said.

"He is really driven for these last two Test Matches. He's found out a bit who his friends are in the last week and he'll continue to prove people wrong, like he has his whole career."

News Corp Australia

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