The Ashes 2013-14 October 31, 2013

England secure stiffer preparation

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Australia will expect the reciprocal fielding of strong opposing teams when they tour England in 2015 after the ECB secured a dramatic Cricket Australia backflip over the composition of the XI to face Alastair Cook's tourists in their final fixture before the first Test in Brisbane.

Pressure imposed by the ECB about the strength of the New South Wales team to appear at the SCG from November 13, during a concurrent round of Sheffield Shield matches, has led to CA selecting another near Australia A team for the match, in addition to the four-day game in Hobart that precedes it.

Each state will be affected, as Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Aaron Finch and Adam Voges are among those set to appear, in addition to a selection of NSW players. By being named to face the Englishmen a week before the Test rather than playing Shield cricket, it also appears likely that none of the aforementioned batsmen will be part of the Gabba Test squad to be named on November 12.

CA's decision has raised plenty of eyebrows around the states, who are unhappy to be losing first-choice players at such short notice from the Shield. Questions have also been raised privately about why CA was not quite so insistent when their own Ashes tourists faced a weakened Somerset and Worcestershire in Ashes warm-up matches earlier this year.

Pat Howard, the team performance manager, has claimed that the change is the result of CA's desire to give players of interest an additional sight of international opposition, as much as any pressure from the ECB. Neither the Australia A team for Hobart nor the Invitational XI for Sydney will feature too many fast bowlers, as the selectors prefer to keep their powder dry for the Tests themselves.

"We feel this match presents a good opportunity to give a core group of talented batsmen from a number of states, further experience against a strong international line-up," Howard said.

"We continue to look for opportunities to develop our batsmen and taking part in matches like this only helps in that area. The ECB is supportive of this plan. It wanted us to field a strong line-up, so we will use the opportunity to promote key players in the Australian system. In return, we look forward to the ECB fielding powerful teams for the touring Australian side in 2015.

"We appreciate the cooperation of all the state associations in supporting this plan, particularly as it coincides with the third round of Shield matches."

With a full Sheffield Shield programme every week in the run up to the first Test, England were concerned about facing understrength opposition. According to reports, a complaint was made to CA executive management. A key feature of England's success on the previous Ashes tour was their vigorous warm-up schedule, with three first-class matches.

On their last tour of India, England were denied the opportunity to face any specialist spin bowling in their warm-up fixtures but won the subsequent Test series 2-1.

England's first warm-up fixture is a three-day match against Western Australia Chairman's XI captained by Michael Beer and including the Queensland batsman Chris Lynn, for which England rested Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad while Cook was ruled out with a back injury.

Their preparations for the first Test will then escalate with a four-day match in Hobart against Australia A before what will now be a demanding fixture in Sydney.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 1, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    @Lmaotsetung, Australia is towards southeast of India. Get your geography right.

  • Dashgar on November 1, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    WA 2nd XI are beating England at the moment. This is good by Australia to keep the momentum up. In the 90s we always put strong teams against the tourists and they usually beat them leading to the Australian team beating them even worse. Last thing we want to do is give the English bowlers a heap of wickets and their batsmen a heap of time in the middle. I want to see Finn, Tremlett and Anderson looking exhausted before the ashes even starts. Chris Lynn has struck the first blow.

  • JG2704 on October 31, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx on (October 31, 2013, 10:04 GMT) Not sure if you are trying to be argumentative or misunderstood what I said. The Aus 11 was a way of describing the side rather than typing out the full title. I think the players are Australian , but for clarity sake I'll say WACs instead in future comms on this game

  • simon_w on October 31, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    in seriousness, though, this just strikes me as a good move for all concerned. England will get better preparation for the Test series (and in return Australia will get the same in 2015), and a group of fringe Aussie batsmen will get some more experience on a slightly bigger stage than they would otherwise have, which has to be good for Australia. It's not really going to make any difference to the result of the Ashes (India's refusal to field a single specialist spin-bowler in the warm-up games for England's last tough have have earned them the first Test, but England still took the series), so it's not like Australia are really giving up any advantage in that respect. Seems like a win/win to me, to be honest.

  • simon_w on October 31, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    wow, there's a lot of Aussie bravado on here... makes you look nervous...

  • popcorn on October 31, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    What stiffer opposition are the Poms crying about? In fact, the Western Australian Chairman's XI should be complaining that they need stiffer opposition! The WA Chairman's XI have hammered the daylights out of the "famed" bowling attack of the Englismen consisting of James Anderson, Tremlett, Finn, Rankin, Root and Stokes,scoring freely,amassing a huge 4 / 369 in 90 overs! Sic.

  • wanatawu on October 31, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    Tell my what is England fascination with long tall bowlers, some variation? I think you will miss Graham Onions.

  • jonesy2 on October 31, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    a high school team would be too stiffer opposition for England. the second XI teams contain many players who are a class above most of the England players particularly the bowlers anyway. more utter riduculousness from CA. if England win one test match this summer that will be a failure from Australia's point of view. should be 4 or 5 to nill to the hosts

  • Mitty2 on October 31, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    As usual, have to correct myself, meant to be: 'was to make/schedule the Ryobi Cup like a World Cup'

  • Beertjie on October 31, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Keeping their powder dry for the Tests would have been more effective if Pattinson, Starc and Cummins were available. Hope they'll all be fit (if selected) in two years. Anyway, if England don't reciprocate in July 2015 they'll only have themselves to blame later when they tour once more. Then they should truly face a grade team as suggested by @on (October 31, 2013, 2:14 GMT)!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on November 1, 2013, 9:11 GMT

    @Lmaotsetung, Australia is towards southeast of India. Get your geography right.

  • Dashgar on November 1, 2013, 3:17 GMT

    WA 2nd XI are beating England at the moment. This is good by Australia to keep the momentum up. In the 90s we always put strong teams against the tourists and they usually beat them leading to the Australian team beating them even worse. Last thing we want to do is give the English bowlers a heap of wickets and their batsmen a heap of time in the middle. I want to see Finn, Tremlett and Anderson looking exhausted before the ashes even starts. Chris Lynn has struck the first blow.

  • JG2704 on October 31, 2013, 19:51 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx on (October 31, 2013, 10:04 GMT) Not sure if you are trying to be argumentative or misunderstood what I said. The Aus 11 was a way of describing the side rather than typing out the full title. I think the players are Australian , but for clarity sake I'll say WACs instead in future comms on this game

  • simon_w on October 31, 2013, 17:11 GMT

    in seriousness, though, this just strikes me as a good move for all concerned. England will get better preparation for the Test series (and in return Australia will get the same in 2015), and a group of fringe Aussie batsmen will get some more experience on a slightly bigger stage than they would otherwise have, which has to be good for Australia. It's not really going to make any difference to the result of the Ashes (India's refusal to field a single specialist spin-bowler in the warm-up games for England's last tough have have earned them the first Test, but England still took the series), so it's not like Australia are really giving up any advantage in that respect. Seems like a win/win to me, to be honest.

  • simon_w on October 31, 2013, 17:05 GMT

    wow, there's a lot of Aussie bravado on here... makes you look nervous...

  • popcorn on October 31, 2013, 15:26 GMT

    What stiffer opposition are the Poms crying about? In fact, the Western Australian Chairman's XI should be complaining that they need stiffer opposition! The WA Chairman's XI have hammered the daylights out of the "famed" bowling attack of the Englismen consisting of James Anderson, Tremlett, Finn, Rankin, Root and Stokes,scoring freely,amassing a huge 4 / 369 in 90 overs! Sic.

  • wanatawu on October 31, 2013, 14:39 GMT

    Tell my what is England fascination with long tall bowlers, some variation? I think you will miss Graham Onions.

  • jonesy2 on October 31, 2013, 11:05 GMT

    a high school team would be too stiffer opposition for England. the second XI teams contain many players who are a class above most of the England players particularly the bowlers anyway. more utter riduculousness from CA. if England win one test match this summer that will be a failure from Australia's point of view. should be 4 or 5 to nill to the hosts

  • Mitty2 on October 31, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    As usual, have to correct myself, meant to be: 'was to make/schedule the Ryobi Cup like a World Cup'

  • Beertjie on October 31, 2013, 10:35 GMT

    Keeping their powder dry for the Tests would have been more effective if Pattinson, Starc and Cummins were available. Hope they'll all be fit (if selected) in two years. Anyway, if England don't reciprocate in July 2015 they'll only have themselves to blame later when they tour once more. Then they should truly face a grade team as suggested by @on (October 31, 2013, 2:14 GMT)!

  • Anderson_Edward on October 31, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    This is great news for the elegant left hander and Australias best young batsman in Khawaja. He was the best player in the Ryobi cup and I'm predicting a couple of big games against the English bowlers. A great warm up for the young man before the Ashes test where Im predicting he will be our best player. As Ricky Ponting recently said we need to stick with our best young players.

  • picket23 on October 31, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    Eng might want to think about asking for a half strength state 2nd side if they actually want to win a match this tour. Kidding themselves.

  • xtrafalgarx on October 31, 2013, 10:04 GMT

    @ JG2704: AUS XI? That's generous, it's a second XI of the weakest state in Australia (You saw the Big Bash). WA have been rock bottom of the shield for nigh on ten years, let alone their 2nd XI!

  • Buggsy on October 31, 2013, 9:58 GMT

    Wow talk about hypocritical. The English do exactly the same to touring teams over there. Just whingers.

  • on October 31, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    This is good, we want to beat a full strength and fully prepared england. There's no point beating england as they step off the plane.

  • JG2704 on October 31, 2013, 9:32 GMT

    As it stands , it's been a tough slog for the Eng bowlers so well played the Aus XI . I always said that I don't understand the idea of fielding weakened sides to oppose the touring nation. I'd say to do the opposite so as not to give the touring side any momentum. Tremlett,Finn and Rankin have taken 1 wkt between them for 220+ runs and while we hope they won't be too deflated it certainly won't do their confidence much good

  • Mitty2 on October 31, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    @halfspinner, for most parts I was actually very proud of our efforts in England considering the change of coach, complete instability, division and what people were saying beforehand (5-0 and innings defeats) and even most Eng supporters at stages were congratulatory torwards us for our efforts in the third and last test, and in stages of the first and fourth test. You'll find that optimism for this Ashes is generally quite high from Aus fans despite the 3-0 scoreline. By the end of the series we'd actually managed to have a settled top 5. But that's a digression, my point in being that no one here is berating Aus, this has nothing to do with nervousness over the result of the series, it has to do with repeated stupidity from CA and people being continually annoyed by it. Literally the only good decision they have made in the last 5 years was to make the Ryobi Cup... Everything else... A shambles.

  • o-bomb on October 31, 2013, 9:25 GMT

    I have to say fair play to the Australian board for putting up a quality side to face our players. I hope we do the same next time they're in England and other international boards could learn from this too.

  • RagTagTeam on October 31, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    @ Front-Foot-Lunge You said: "We can win continuous Ashes and hammer Australia every time they set foot on a cricket field. You'll surely admit that much.". Did you actually watch the last Ashes series? Noone who understands cricket and watched any of that series would make a claim like that. Hope you're enjoying the rain.

  • xtrafalgarx on October 31, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    @FFL: Good to see i can still wind you up. If you have won continuous ashes series, why so sad?? Anyways, England are now on the wrong side of the hill, they have had their fun now the wheel of fortune is turning around.

  • michael.senthil on October 31, 2013, 8:52 GMT

    @front foot lunge- you haven't looked at the score of western australia vs england have u- england smashed all over the ground. And if people say england didn't play graeme swann, well look, the western australian side is basically their second xi (minus chris lynn) because western australia are playing a shield match against victoria at the same time.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on October 31, 2013, 7:36 GMT

    @xtrafalgarx, But we can win continuous Ashes and hammer Australia every time they set foot on a cricket field. You'll surely admit that much. Interesting, a few hours into a FC match and some Aus fans are acting like they haven't seen sunlight in years.

  • Mitty2 on October 31, 2013, 7:26 GMT

    @whofriggincares, not to mention his leadership in a team devoid of culture - see Cowan's article - his great captaincy record for Tasmania and of course his ability to rise to the occasion and handle the pressure. Averages 36 in List A, 56 in ODIs. By all scientific calculations that means he'll add to his FC record in tests by 20. His test average will be 58! ;)

    We don't have any better options - if he fails he fails and can be easily replaced by the usuals in Hughes or Khawaja. No loss

  • AJ_Tiger86 on October 31, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    Wow what a terrible decision from Cricket Australia! I don't mind this as an England fan, of course. But I hope the ECB doesn't "reciprocate" on this stupid plan when the Aussies come here in 2015. What's the point of providing your opponents an advantage?

  • Halfspinner on October 31, 2013, 7:20 GMT

    Why are the Oz supporters panicking so much? So England gets a few practice matches. Why not use them to rattle them a bit? Get some big scores, bowl fast, sow a seed of doubt. Believe in yourselves. Show intent. You don't have a problem of talent or ability. The issue is in the head. Make Bailey captain. Give him the team he wants, and stick with him for a few seasons. Let Clarke play as a batsman. Your bowling is going to be yards better given your new bowling coach. Your fielding is top notch already. Play Warner in the middle order, say at 5, and get a nice conventional set of openers. Play 4 fast bowlers everywhere but MCG, and have Steve Smith bowl spin. But critically, back your team, guys.

  • xtrafalgarx on October 31, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    1/200 for guys who average and 20 in firstclass cricket is top draw against Anderson, Finn, Tremlett, Rankin and co...

  • whofriggincares on October 31, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    And I thought Hilditch and Co were bad! Inverarity has made some strange decisions since becoming head selector. Who is Sutherland accountable to? Shouldn't it be us the cricket fans? No one seems to agree with a lot of these guys decisions but it keeps happening time after time. One thing I do wholeheartedly agree with (if it turns out to be true) is the test selection of Bailey to bat at 6. Yeah I know I can hear the detractors now babbling on about first class averages blah , blah , blah. But the truth of the matter is he has only just turned 31 and is in the form of his life he knows his game now and he could fill the vital number 6 role for 4 or 5 years if he performs. He has to be given a go, if it fails so be it but he is next cab of the rank IMO. What impresses me about him is his temperament not to mention his ball striking! One very astute poster on here compared him to Brearly , one of the stupider things I have read in awhile.

  • xtrafalgarx on October 31, 2013, 6:42 GMT

    England can't even knock over the weakest state sides 2nd XI.

  • PFEL on October 31, 2013, 6:37 GMT

    Obviously a matter of ECB straight-up paying off Cricket Australia, and given what we know of Sutherland's motivations it's no surprise they bent over backwards.

  • Halfspinner on October 31, 2013, 6:34 GMT

    @Lmaotsetung -- You mean wag the tail and cower and grovel, to cite that famous expression of the former England captain? Sorry mate. We are free of the yoke of Imperialism now. You extend common courtesy to us (which Mr. Lorgat failed to do), and we'll reciprocate with compound interest. If not, we'll fight back. The world has changed, mate. For the better.

  • wanatawu on October 31, 2013, 5:55 GMT

    Yes Mitty2 maybe one of these openers can score themselves a test spot ala Rob Quiney against the Saffas last year.

  • jmcilhinney on October 31, 2013, 5:51 GMT

    I can certainly understand why many Australians would be annoyed or even angered by this. It's quite understandable that the ECB wants to face better opposition in the warm-ups but they have no right to demand it so I'd be interested to know the nature of the pressure brought to bear. CA could have refused so presumably they received some assurances regarding the standard of opposition that they will face prior to the next Ashes. The opposition England were to face was disproportionately weak due to clashes with Shield games but it seems to have gone further the other way than was required. It isn't really fair to the states either. There are issues with the counties in England when they lose players to the Lions as well but it seems that there's been a double whammy here with an official Aus A side and now an unofficial Aus B side turning out for NSW.

  • Skittled on October 31, 2013, 5:47 GMT

    Well done Inverarity and Sutherland, what a great buildup for the Ashes, let them know our squad early, put the Aussies playing one day cricket on cement roads in India and help the poms out with some stiff competition preceding the Ashes. You are great for Australian cricket, hats off to you. CA should just come out and publicly state that money is all that matters and they don't care about test cricket and the Ashes, that is the message they are sending the fans.

  • Bonehead_maz on October 31, 2013, 5:33 GMT

    I think this change is a great idea ! We let all our next rank batsmen and spin bowlers play against England, to see how they go ! Interesting to note not one leg spinner in any of these teams too ! Wonderful.... seeing generous while suiting yourself !

  • Shaggy076 on October 31, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    Sounds more and more like the test team is selected, cant imagine why we would play anyone picked in the test squad in this game after the test squad is announced. Process of elimination and Bailey will be making his test debut.

  • on October 31, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    More Keystone Cop stuff from CA. Had the Sheiuld series started when it should have tour games against England would have been factored in so as not to coincide with a side's Shield game and tour game.

  • Mitty2 on October 31, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Well, Eng are currently getting smacked around by Harris - FC average of 28 - and the other opener who has an even worse average of 20. They have no right to complain about competition if they're struggling against last years worst Shield team's (with the worst batting line up) second team. At this rate the A team wold score 500 and England will be seriously regretting having chosen an attack with such little variety. Onions will be laughing, Tremlett looks to be bowling under 130 and he's wayward.

  • on October 31, 2013, 2:14 GMT

    Why the hell is CA giving eveything to this England side when the last series we played basically the worst county sides in the country before the 1st test? Is cricket australia actually supporting us or england right now? give them a grade team to play.

  • on October 31, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    It's a pity no-one has raised a complaint about the ludicrous build up the Australians are being put through in India.

  • Lmaotsetung on October 31, 2013, 0:30 GMT

    Maybe India can learn something from their western counterparts. Common courtesy will go a long way to not make the whole cricketing hate you.

  • Mitty2 on October 30, 2013, 21:35 GMT

    Is this a joke? We didn't get anything of the sort in June/July and yet Eng are the ones complaining... And for us to appease their complaints is pathetic. Yet again we undermine the whole shield competition. First Inverarity says stupidly that the ashes squad's already made - which not only demotivates players but makes the third round of the shield completely pointless and the first and second round meaningless. And now we're taking good players all around the country and taking them from their Shield teams. Pathetic.

  • JoshFromJamRock on October 30, 2013, 21:35 GMT

    Sounds good...this reminds Me (and I'm sure, some of you) of what has happened to the ICC-arranged World Best XI versus the #1 matches. A match like thatin each format or even an Asian XI versus Rest of World fixture....we have players like Gayle, Watson, Alma, Kohli, Sangakarra, DeVillier, Dhoni, Narine, Steyn, Ajmal and Philander who would an excellent XI against England or Australia. Even an arranged charity match with the "seniors" like Gilchrist, Tendulkar, Ponting, Kallis, Misbah, Ganguly, Dilsan, Murali, Walsh, Ambrose and McGrath would be nice...Most may be in their 40s but all have been active over the past 12 months except McGrath who I can assume is still decent...I wouldn't mind a IPL champs vs Rest of IPL XI match either.

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on October 30, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    The excuses already starting for England, they know their caper is up this tour,

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on October 30, 2013, 18:39 GMT

    Cricket Australia are asleep at the wheel again. Giving the opposition a better preparation on your own turf? yeah sure give them all the help they want

  • on October 30, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    How generous of Cricket Australia

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on October 30, 2013, 18:17 GMT

    How generous of Cricket Australia

  • Big_Maxy_Walker on October 30, 2013, 18:39 GMT

    Cricket Australia are asleep at the wheel again. Giving the opposition a better preparation on your own turf? yeah sure give them all the help they want

  • Front-Foot-Sponge on October 30, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    The excuses already starting for England, they know their caper is up this tour,

  • JoshFromJamRock on October 30, 2013, 21:35 GMT

    Sounds good...this reminds Me (and I'm sure, some of you) of what has happened to the ICC-arranged World Best XI versus the #1 matches. A match like thatin each format or even an Asian XI versus Rest of World fixture....we have players like Gayle, Watson, Alma, Kohli, Sangakarra, DeVillier, Dhoni, Narine, Steyn, Ajmal and Philander who would an excellent XI against England or Australia. Even an arranged charity match with the "seniors" like Gilchrist, Tendulkar, Ponting, Kallis, Misbah, Ganguly, Dilsan, Murali, Walsh, Ambrose and McGrath would be nice...Most may be in their 40s but all have been active over the past 12 months except McGrath who I can assume is still decent...I wouldn't mind a IPL champs vs Rest of IPL XI match either.

  • Mitty2 on October 30, 2013, 21:35 GMT

    Is this a joke? We didn't get anything of the sort in June/July and yet Eng are the ones complaining... And for us to appease their complaints is pathetic. Yet again we undermine the whole shield competition. First Inverarity says stupidly that the ashes squad's already made - which not only demotivates players but makes the third round of the shield completely pointless and the first and second round meaningless. And now we're taking good players all around the country and taking them from their Shield teams. Pathetic.

  • Lmaotsetung on October 31, 2013, 0:30 GMT

    Maybe India can learn something from their western counterparts. Common courtesy will go a long way to not make the whole cricketing hate you.

  • on October 31, 2013, 0:36 GMT

    It's a pity no-one has raised a complaint about the ludicrous build up the Australians are being put through in India.

  • on October 31, 2013, 2:14 GMT

    Why the hell is CA giving eveything to this England side when the last series we played basically the worst county sides in the country before the 1st test? Is cricket australia actually supporting us or england right now? give them a grade team to play.

  • Mitty2 on October 31, 2013, 4:15 GMT

    Well, Eng are currently getting smacked around by Harris - FC average of 28 - and the other opener who has an even worse average of 20. They have no right to complain about competition if they're struggling against last years worst Shield team's (with the worst batting line up) second team. At this rate the A team wold score 500 and England will be seriously regretting having chosen an attack with such little variety. Onions will be laughing, Tremlett looks to be bowling under 130 and he's wayward.

  • on October 31, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    More Keystone Cop stuff from CA. Had the Sheiuld series started when it should have tour games against England would have been factored in so as not to coincide with a side's Shield game and tour game.