Usman Khawaja has a chance to write himself into Ashes folklore at the SCG, where Australia will resume at 3-126 on day two of the fourth Test.
England’s disciplined attack and multiple rain delays frustrated the hosts in Sydney, where well-set batsmen Marcus Harris and Marnus Labuschagne departed in consecutive overs late on a stop-start opening day.
Khawaja and Steve Smith will resume on four and six respectively, desperate to compile an imposing total as Australia pursues a 4-0 series lead after retaining the urn in Melbourne.
Khawaja had every reason to believe his international career may be over as he waited for another chance after being axed during the 2019 Ashes.
Travis Head’s COVID-19 diagnosis resulted in an SCG recall for the 35-year-old, who debuted for Australia at the venue in 2011 against the same opposition.
Khawaja received Wednesday’s loudest cheers as he joined Smith in the middle after Australia slipped to 3-117.
The left-hander has conceded he will be axed when Head returns in Hobart for the series finale, but a game-changing century would leave an indelible mark on selectors and fans alike.
Khawaja and Smith settled for Australia, negotiating a tense pre-stumps burst of six-and-a-half overs that came under overcast skies and with the lights on.
Light rain arrived shortly before the 6.30pm AEDT cutoff, ending play prematurely and leaving Stuart Broad and Ben Stokes notably unimpressed.
Some 46.5 overs of play was possible on Wednesday.
Wet weather twice interrupted the morning session and delayed the toss by 30 minutes.
The rain arrived again soon after Broad’s dismissal of David Warner to wipe out most of the post-lunch session.
Further rain is expected throughout the match.
Broad, who tormented Warner from around the wicket in the 2019 Ashes, dismissed the opener for a 13th time.
Warner (30), Harris (38) and Labuschagne (28) were all out edging.
Harris’ three hours at the crease felt like so much longer given the multiple rain interruptions, with the opener certain to be kicking himself after showing so much patience.
Pat Cummins opted to bat under overcast skies, backing Warner and Harris to excel on a green-tinged pitch.
“It looks a really good batting wicket,” Cummins said after winning the toss.
“Probably more grass than we normally expect here.
“Openers have to work hard this morning, but runs are there.
“SCG has always been a bat-first wicket.”
England captain Joe Root said he would also have batted first if given the chance.
Australia holds an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-Test series, having crushed England by an innings and 14 runs at the MCG.