CLT20 'anything but ideal' - Inverarity
John Inverarity, Australia's national selector, has admitted the Champions League T20 is hindering preparations for the first Test against South Africa next month.
A large group of key players - Shane Watson, David Warner, Mike Hussey, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Brad Haddin - are taking part in the CLT20 and it means those players will only have one Sheffield Shield match before the first Test.
"It is anything but an ideal preparation," Inverarity told News Ltd. "You just have to do your best but having the Champions League where it is now is not in the best interests of good preparation for the first Test."
Although Australia's top six is fairly stable after the tour of West Indies earlier this year, and is unlikely to change for the start of the South Africa series, the selectors are still trying to decide their best combination of fast bowlers. This is where the Champions League is adding to their problems by restricting the amount of red-ball cricket for Starc, Hilfenhaus and Cummins.
Cummins is unlikely to feature before the third Test, at Perth, due to his lack of first-class cricket over the last year and worries about him breaking down. "For some time you will not see him play three Tests in a row," Inverarity added.
At this stage Peter Siddle, who is currently playing Shield cricket for Victoria, is the only nailed on member of the bowling attack although is expected to be joined by Hilfenhaus and Nathan Lyon, despite the offspinner's tough start to the season for South Australia, which leaves Starc and James Pattinson vying for the third fast bowler's spot.
Pattinson took 6 for 32 in the recent Shield match against Queensland but Starc also has strong form behind him after a productive time with Yorkshire during the English season and an impressive World Twenty20 where he claimed 10 wickets at six matches.
Inverarity said: "He's been terrific. There is an advantage if you pick your best left-armer."
The other spot that needs to be decided on is who takes the wicketkeeper's gloves. Matthew Wade is the man in possession, after playing against West Indies earlier this year after being called up to replace Haddin who had to return home, and hit a maiden Test hundred in the final match of the series in Dominica.
However, Haddin started the season with 114 against Tasmania to put his name back in the frame. "We will be talking together on the wicketkeeping next week and that is one of the things we will be discussing," Inverarity said.