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)

Usman Khawaja was controversially snubbed for the number five position in Australia's batting order for the first Ashes Test against England starting on Wednesday in Brisbane, but head selector George Bailey has detailed just how close he came to being picked.

Head and Khawaja was believed to be the closest race for any position in Australia's XI.

“It’s really tough. Particularly for those guys. As I’ve said it’s pleasing they’re both in really good touch. Trav is a touch younger. He’s been in good form, he was in the team at the back end of last year heading to South Africa," Bailey said.

“I always like to think it’s not necessarily a make-or-break decision. I’d like to think Australian cricket has lots of positions where we can make multiple selections and get great results.”

ALICE SPRINGS, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 30: Travis Head of the Redbacks plays a sweep shot during the Sheffield Shield final between Victoria and South Australia on March 30, 2017 in Alice Springs, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Khawaja has had multiple roles in Australia's team over the years, batting everywhere from opener, to number three, to the middle order, and Bailey confirmed his versatility could still see him feature in the series.

It had originally been thought Khawaja could be picked in one of two positions - being at the top of the order alongside David Warner, or at number five over Head - and Bailey's comments seemed to suggest that was still firmly an option.

The opening spot went to Marcus Harris, however, he has managed just two Sheffield Shield matches to start the summer, scoring just a single century in four innings to go with three relative favourites, which could mean Khawaja is closer to the team than he would otherwise think.

“Trav’s got the nod, we’re also really excited that Uzzie is in the squad and obviously brings a great deal of versatility in the roles in which he can bat as well,” Bailey explained.

“If Uzzie gets an opportunity we think he’ll take it with both hands,” he added later.

“The harder the decisions, the more exciting it is in many respects.”