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McDonald forecasts predictable Test side for Perth

3 minute read

Australia coach Andrew McDonald says their side for the first Test against Pakistan will most likely look the same as it has before.

ANDREW MCDONALD.
ANDREW MCDONALD. Picture: Joe Allison/Getty Images

Australia are unlikely to make any big selection calls for the first Test against Pakistan, meaning no debut at home for paceman Lance Morris.

While Morris impressed Andrew McDonald during Sunday's training session at the WACA ground, the coach forecast a predictable XI for Thursday's series opener at Optus Stadium.

In his latest newspaper column, former Test paceman Mitch Johnson had called on Australian selectors to blood Morris immediately.

"We saw Lance put a few (on) notice there, in particular Marnus (Labuschagne) - it was a good contest, a good hit-out," McDonald said of Sunday's centre wicket session.

"How do I put this - it (the side) will look the same as it has before."

McDonald also continued to deflect questions about who replaces opener David Warner, saying there is no hurry in making that significant call.

"There's always going to be speculation about who opens when Davey goes - we have time to make that decision," McDonald said.

"For us, it's gathering information and making the decision when we need to make the decision, so that's as simple as it gets. We have no firm views on it at the moment."

McDonald added the Australian pace attack would aim to exploit the bounce in the Perth pitch and put the Pakistan top order under early pressure.

"They're coming from lower surfaces (Canberra and Melbourne) in their prep - so hopefully we can expose them on a bouncy surface," he said.

"No doubt, that's an advantage."

But amid that focus on pace, offspinner Nathan Lyon will make his crucial return to the Test team.

It will be Lyon's first match for Australia since he suffered a serious calf injury in June during the second Ashes Test.

With Lyon out of the side, Australia had two losses as a draw as they retained the Ashes 2-2.

McDonald wryly noted the lack of focus on Lyon's return in the lead-up to the first Test, with nearly all the commentary around Warner.

"I'm glad someone noticed we were missing him in the last three Test matches," McDonald said of Lyon's injury.

"He flies under the radar in conversations at times.

"But we're happy to have him, every time he plays. Externally, at times, he's not recognised as much as he should be."

McDonald said Lyon's role in the Test attack is crucial, regardless of whether the conditions suit his spin bowling.

"It was a huge loss when he went down. It destabilised what we'd normally do," McDonald said.

"He's been down the other end to those quicks for 100 Tests - important, the way we want to operate.

"He can tie up and end, he can be aggressive when he wants to be, but he makes that attack work, no doubt about that.

"When he wasn't there, we went through some periods of instability ... at times, we looked as though we could manage that. At other times, we didn't."

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