Captain Khawaja in clash for Ponting spot
Usman Khawaja will skipper the Chairman's XI in Canberra. Photo: David Hardenberg
Test hopefuls Usman Khawaja and Alex Doolan will go head to head in Canberra next week in the final audition for the role of Ricky Ponting's replacement.
Khawaja and Doolan have one last chance to put their name up before the national selectors when they line-up for the Chairman's XI - also featuring ACT Comets young gun Dean Solway - in a three-day match with Sri Lanka at Manuka Oval from Thursday.
With the opening Test of the three-match series with Sri Lanka in Hobart starting on December 14, the international fixture is a golden opportunity for two of the leading contenders to fill Ponting's spot in the Australian top order to put an exclamation mark on their applications.
''Obviously it'd be good to get some runs, but I'm pretty confident the selectors have a fair idea of who they're going to select for the next series anyway,'' Khawaja said.
''I'm just going to go out there and enjoy myself. Saying that, I think the selectors have a fair idea what's going to happen anyway, so it's not really any added pressure to me whatsoever.''
Rob Quiney and Phillip Hughes are also in the mix to fill the Ponting void but were not selected.
Quiney played the first two Tests against South Africa before being dropped for the WACA clash to make way for the return of Shane Watson, while Hughes is the leading run-scorer in the Sheffield Shield this season with 518 runs.
Khawaja is third on the list with 438 runs despite failing twice in Queensland's loss to NSW at Manuka Oval, which finished on Friday.
The 25-year-old was dismissed leg before wicket in both innings by former Australian paceman Doug Bollinger - a second-ball duck plumb in front followed by an unlucky decision for eight when the ball appeared to be going over the stumps.
Doolan played for the Chairman's XI with Khawaja last year and rocketed into contention with an unbeaten 161 for Australia A in the tour match with South Africa.
The Tasmanian has 570 runs in first-class cricket this summer at the impressive average of 81.43.
''He's always been a good player, [but] this year he's brought it all together and he's scored runs left, right and centre,'' Khawaja said. ''Hopefully he can come out here and score lots of runs and put his hand up.''
Khawaja will captain a squad full of rising talent, including Australian Twenty20 all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, South Australian quick Chadd Sayers and NSW opener Scott Henry.
There's also a call-up for Solway, the 19-year-old Queanbeyan batsman who this year joined the South Australia Redbacks Academy.
■ CHAIRMAN'S XI SQUAD
For tour match with Sri Lanka at Manuka Oval, December 6-8: Usman Khawaja (captain), Luke Butterworth, Alex Doolan, Matthew Gale, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Scott Henry, Glenn Maxwell, Chadd Sayers, Dean Solway, Ashton Turner, Sam Whiteman. Tickets at the gate.