New coach Darren Lehmann gives players a chance to push their claims for Test spots.
New Australia coach Darren Lehmann’s wish to see most of his squad given a chance to prove their worth ahead of the Ashes when five changes to the team for their final warm-up match were announced.
Australia, fresh from a convincing win over Somerset, face Worcestershire in a four-day match at New Road in what will be their final match before they begin their bid to regain the Ashes in the first Test against England at Trent Bridge starting on July 10.
Fast bowlers Jackson Bird and Ryan Harris have replaced James Pattinson and Peter Siddle, while 19-year-old spinner Ashton Agar plays instead of Nathan Lyon, set to be Australia’s first-choice spinner come the Ashes.
Chris Rogers, looking to add to a lone Test cap in 2008 after years of success in English county cricket, is set to bat at number three in place of Usman Khawaja while leg-spinning all-rounder Steven Smith, a late call-up to the squad, comes in for fast bowler Mitchell Starc.
However, coach Lehmann has confirmed Rogers will partner Shane Watson at the top of the order for the first Test at Trent Bridge.
Australia captain Michael Clarke, the team’s best batsman, is set to play his second match in a row – an encouraging sign for the tourists after he missed the Champions Trophy with a recurrence of his longstanding back injury.
Also retained from the side that beat Somerset by six wickets are vice-captain and wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, openers Ed Cowan and Shane Watson, top–order batsman Phil Hughes and all-rounder James Faulkner.
That means the only two players who haven’t featured in either of the Ashes warm-ups are opener David Warner, suspended until the first Test for his attack on England’s Joe Root in a Birmingham bar, and reserve keeper Matthew Wade.
Australia team to play Worcestershire:
Shane Watson, Ed Cowan, Chris Rogers, Phillip Hughes, Michael Clarke (capt), Steve Smith, Brad Haddin (wkt), James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird