<
>

Young batsmen still a chance for Ashes

Usman Khawaja closed in on a half-century on day one Getty Images

Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, says Australia's first Test squad is almost finalised, but some of the country's young batsmen remain "in the mix" to face England. Hilditch was speaking after Usman Khawaja, Callum Ferguson, Phillip Hughes and Steven Smith were picked in Australia A's squad to play England in their final tour match before the Gabba contest.

"We are obviously not picking the Ashes squad until next Monday so exactly which ones will feature, we won't know until then," Hilditch said in Adelaide. "We have obviously been pretty close to having our squad ready for some time, but there are obviously players still playing for spots and it's very competitive."

The A team is an enviable line-up filled with well qualified understudies who will be keen to show their form in the four-day match at Bellerive Oval from November 17. However, by the time the fixture begins, Khawaja, Hughes, Ferguson and Co will know who has been picked for the opening Test on November 25.

Khawaja has experienced a strong start to the season, including posting a double-century in the Sheffield Shield, while Ferguson scored a hundred on his first-class return after missing last season to have knee surgery. Peter George, who played the last Test in India, was chosen along with Mitchell Starc and Mark Cameron in a useful pace attack.

Cameron White also received a sign that his Test career might not be over after being appointed captain. White played his only five-day games on the 2008 tour of India, when he was a surprise selection as a specialist spinner, and has since focused on being an essential member of the limited-overs sides.

"We have seen quite a few of these players already in or around the Australian team setup across the various formats," Hilditch said. "This challenge will provide them all with another good opportunity to show what they can do.

"Cameron White is a talented player and a good leader and along with [the vice-captain] Tim Paine, they both have a lot of experience and will provide the group with strong leadership. Every player in the batting line-up is capable of forcing their way into the Australian side this summer."

Australia A squad Phillip Hughes, Shaun Marsh (subject to fitness), Usman Khawaja, Callum Ferguson, Cameron White (capt), Tim Paine (wk), Steven Smith, Steve O'Keefe, Mitchell Starc, Mark Cameron, Peter George.