BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 24: Usman Khawaja of Australia looks dejected after being dismissed by Moeen Ali of England during day two of the First Test Match of the 2017/18 Ashes Series between Australia and England at The Gabba on November 24, 2017 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Mitchell Starc and Travis Head are reportedly inching closer to retaining their place in the Australian XI ahead of the first Test at the Gabba next week.

While both the New South Welshman and South Australian are still facing the threat of losing their spots in Justin Langer's line-up to Usman Khwaja and Jhye Richardson, Ben Horne of The Daily Telegraph has claimed both Starc and Head have warded off their respective challenges.

Both Head's age and his recent century against Khawaja's Queensland side are said to have been the deciding factors in him earning an Ashes reprieve.

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Marcus Harris has also been preferred as David Warner's opening partner ahead of the Bulls' skipper.

It was also said that Starc's notorious threat with the pink ball helped him keep Richardson at arm's length as the Australian selectors wished to see him hit the ground running prior to the day-night Test at the Adelaide Oval.

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Although both Khawaja and Richardson's Sheffield Shield form warranted more than just pondering for a place in the Ashes' opener on Wednesday, the top-order batter and the youthful quick are likely to be left waiting until later in the series for opportunities to recommence their international careers.

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Still, with his home track in Perth all but certain to lose hosting rights to Hobart for another pink ball Test, perhaps drinks duties and nets sessions will be the full extent of Richardson's duties within the camp this summer.

Horne's Australian XI as published by The Daily Telegraph

David Warner
Marcus Harris
Marnus Labuschagne
Steve Smith
Travis Head
Cameron Green
Alex Carey
Mitchell Starc
Pat Cummins (C)
Nathan Lyon
Josh Hazlewood



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