Ferguson to face England again in tour match
Callum Ferguson, Aaron Finch, Adam Voges and Steve O'Keefe are among the players who will face England in a four-day match in Sydney this week as part of a Cricket Australia Invitational XI. As they did for the Australia A squad that played in Hobart last week, the selectors have picked a strong batting line-up featuring several players who could come into international contention soon, but a weakened bowling attack.
Ferguson is the only member of that Australia A side who will play in this week's match, as the severely rain-affected game in Hobart allowed him only 23 balls at the crease for an unbeaten 15. Phillip Hughes was originally meant to be part of the Cricket Australia Invitational XI but instead has been released to play for South Australia, to make way for his state team-mate Ferguson to have some more time in the middle against England.
Usman Khawaja, who the selectors had also intended to play against England in Sydney this week, has also been released to play for Queensland, due to their growing injury list. Khawaja will play for the Bulls against New South Wales in Brisbane, while Hughes will play for the Redbacks in Adelaide against Western Australia, in a round of Shield matches that begin on Wednesday, the same day as the England tour game.
"In selecting the final XI, we have tried to be flexible given the needs of particular states and individual players following the latest round of first-class matches across the country," Cricket Australia's general manager of team performance, Pat Howard, said. "We recognise the injury situation in Queensland, so it is appropriate to release Usman Khawaja from this tour match to support his state.
"We have also taken the view that due to the rain-affected match in Hobart, Callum Ferguson didn't get the depth of international exposure we hoped to give him through his Australia A selection. Through consultation with the SACA, we felt it made sense to select him in the next tour match against England. In light of Callum's selection, Phil Hughes, who has played a lot of international cricket in recent months will remain with South Australia for its next Shield match."
The invitational side will be captained by the New South Wales wicketkeeper Peter Nevill and will feature mostly New South Wales players, with only Voges, Ferguson, Finch and Ed Cowan coming from interstate sides. Although none of the batsmen are expected to be in contention for the first Ashes Test, they are all close enough to the fringes to hope that a big score against England might help them move closer to a call-up.
Ben Rohrer and Ryan Carters round out the batting line-up, while the bowling attack will be made up of O'Keefe and fringe Blues fast men Josh Lalor, Chris Tremain and Nic Bills. Geoff Lawson will coach the side for the four-day encounter at the SCG, which is England's last practice match before the first Test begins at the Gabba on November 21.
Cricket Australia Invitational XI Ed Cowan, Aaron Finch, Callum Ferguson, Adam Voges, Ben Rohrer, Ryan Carters, Peter Nevill (capt, wk), Steve O'Keefe, Josh Lalor, Chris Tremain, Nic Bills.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here