SYDNEY: Usman Khawaja has been handed the chance to audition for an Ashes place after being named in the Australia A side to face England two weeks before the first Test.
Shaun Marsh, Alex Doolan and Callum Ferguson will also be keen to press their claims in Hobart from November 6-9, the last match the tourists play before Australia name their squad for the first test in Brisbane.
Khawaja played three of the five Tests in the first Ashes series of the year but was dumped for the final match after managing to average 19 runs over six innings.
Blistering form for Queensland in the domestic one-day championship, including a century to help his adopted state win the Ryobi Cup last weekend, has since put him back in the frame for a Test spot.
Marsh, like Khawaja a lefthander, played the last of his seven Tests against India in Adelaide in January 2012 but has also been in good form for Western Australia.
One batting spot unlikely to be up for grabs, however, is that of captain Michael Clarke, who wrote in a newspaper column that he expected to play all five Ashes tests despite his degenerative back injury.
“I feel a lot better and believe I will be able to play every Test this summer in the same way I played all five Tests on the Ashes tour earlier this year,” Clarke, who will return to action for New South Wales this week if he passes a fitness test, wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
“My back originally flared up six years before my first Test and I have now played 97, missing just one because of my back.”
Aussie paceman Bird alights at Northamptonshire
LONDON: Australia pace bowler Jackson Bird will play for Northamptonshire next season, the English county side announced yesterday.
The 26-year-old, who has played three Test matches, had to withdraw from the Ashes series in England earlier this year with a suspected stress fracture of the back.
The injury was not as grave as initially feared, but he is yet to play competitive cricket since.
Bird has taken 109 first-class wickets at an average of 20.77 and will be available to play in 10 County Championship matches and seven domestic Twenty20 fixtures.
Bird was picked in the Australian Test squad prior to the 2012 Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka at the MCG. Bird was presented with Baggy Green Cap number 431, indicating he is the 431st person to play Test for Australia
“The signing of Bird alongside Maurice (Chambers) and Graeme (White) will see the completion of the clubs’ recruitment policy for next season,” said Northamptonshire chief executive David Smith. AGENCIES