Twenty-five Ashes probables – including Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft – have been named to take part in an all-Australian multi-day game, which will help selectors narrow down on a final squad.
The group of players will get a chance to stake their claim for selection in an Australia v Australia A game, set to be played in Southampton between July 23 and 26. Smith, Warner and Bancroft, who haven't donned the Test whites for Australia since the ball-tampering episode in Newlands last year, which resulted in lengthy bans for each of them, will be part of the contest too.
Both Warner and Smith were in good form during the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, where Australia reached the semi-finals before losing to England. Bancroft, who has been leading Durham in division two of the County Championship, has also been among the runs, with 698 from nine matches so far, at 46.53.
"Cameron was making a fair amount of headway when he played Test cricket last for Australia, and that was in South Africa," national selector Trevor Hohns said. "What he's done is he's got on with business since he's been able to play again. He's scoring runs on a pretty regular basis, so he has been included in that 25-man squad along with two others playing county cricket."
Overall, the group features all 15 members of the Australia A squad that has been playing tour games in England, seven members of Australia's World Cup campaign, and three others, who have been playing County cricket. Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch and Marcus Stoinis were among the notable absentees.
Wicket-keeper Alex Carey has been rewarded for his consistent show in the World Cup with a chance to prove his worth in the red-ball game. "He's proving himself to be a very smart cricketer," said Hohns. "He played very well in the World Cup."
Apart from helping selectors zero in on a final 15, the match will also help players acclimatise to English conditions and the Dukes ball, as they prepare to win their first away Ashes series in 14 years.
"The Australia A tour and the intra-squad match were set up some time ago with the specific purposes of getting the players game time in English conditions against the Dukes ball to give them the best chance of success in the upcoming Ashes series," Hohns said.
"We have not won a Test series in the UK since 2001 and our aim is to leave no stone unturned in an attempt to buck that trend. The ongoing A tour and the match in Southampton are part of that process."
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