England tour raises Western Australia depth concerns

A game of cricket in idyllic surroundings Getty Images

England have asked Cricket Australia to ensure the Ashes tourists face adequate opposition in their tour matches, with players set to be drafted in from around the country to bolster a Western Australia state XI for the tour opener in Perth.

Each of the three matches scheduled for England ahead of the first Test in Brisbane will clash with a Sheffield Shield round, and the first will take place while Australia's ODI team are still on duty in India. These circumstances will likely leave the WA squad for the three-day match at the WACA ground particularly weak.

ESPNcricinfo understands that early discussions have taken place around the shape of that team, and players not chosen for Shield duty in some of the stronger states may be required to fly across the continent and don the Western Australia cap for a week.

Some of the players likely to find themselves around the fringes of state sides making room for numerous international participants include Peter Handscomb and Scott Boland for Victoria, Scott Henry and Kurtis Patterson for New South Wales and Luke Feldman in Queensland.

There is less ECB concern about the subsequent four-day encounter against a New South Wales side at the SCG given the state's deeper pool of talent, while the Australia A team to face the Englishmen over four days in Hobart between the two state matches is expected to be stronger on batting than bowling, as was the case when they faced the South Africans in Sydney last year.

Western Australia's struggles to cobble together a strong enough team highlight the lack of depth in the state, a decline over numerous years contrasting with talent stocks in the 1990s that were so strong as to push the likes of David Hussey and Stuart MacGill to the eastern seaboard.

The coach Justin Langer has already enlisted the services of his former Test team-mate Simon Katich as a senior pro in the domestic limited-overs competition, and may be attempting to convince the 38-year-old to take part in more Warriors fixtures either in the Shield or against the Englishmen.

England have themselves switched players from county to county for tour matches in the past, Nick Compton playing for Worcestershire as well as Somerset in the early weeks of the Ashes tour this year as the home selectors pondered his place on the fringes of the Test team.