Lehmann plays down Khawaja criticism


Australia coach Darren Lehmann denied Usman Khawaja was on the outer with selectors after the batsman's criticism.

The left-hander said he and opener Joe Burns were made scapegoats when they were dropped for the third Test against Sri Lanka in August.

Lehmann refused to be overly drawn on the issue, but said Khawaja still had his usual chance to be selected for the series opener against South Africa.

"He is not on the back foot," he told a news conference on Tuesday.

"I will chat to him privately. We would rather have these things played out between selectors and players."

Lehmann also challenged Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird to earn a spot in the first Test.

With Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood assured of places, a spot for a third paceman is seemingly still up for grabs for the Test in Perth starting on November 3.

A Sheffield Shield game between Siddle's Victoria and Bird's Tasmania at the MCG gives the duo a chance to impress.

"[Siddle] looked really good in the Matador Cup and by all reports he's got some zing and zip back," Lehmann said.

"He's playing the Shield game so hopefully he'll perform well and pull up well, and then we'll see what we do.

"His record is exceptional - he bowls good line and length and can complement Mitchell, but so can Jackson Bird."