"There's work to be done. What we have to keep respecting is it's a five-Test series, and we're here to win the Ashes, not to win the first Test at Edgbaston.”
Australian head coach Justin Langer’s words to cricket.com.au perfectly sum up the attitude that the touring party has brought with them to this summer’s Ashes, and to utilize the time between the first and second Tests, a three-day practice game against Worcester will begin on Wednesday.
Not everyone will be involved in the match, of course. James Pattinson and Peter Siddle, who bowled 35 and 39 overs respectively in the win at Edgbaston will sit out, along with Steve Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon, keeping in mind the long summer most of these players have had since landing in England for the World Cup in the middle of May.
The practice match presents an opportunity for the likes of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who were both overlooked for the opening Test. Supporting seamers Michael Neser and Mitchell Marsh will also be involved, while Marnus Labuschagne is expected to come in with his leg-spin, to add to his abilities at the top of the order with the bat.
In addition to them, Usman Khawaja, Travis Head, Cameron Bancroft, Matthew Wade, and captain Tim Paine will also get a chance to get more minutes in the middle, to get prepared for the all important Lord’s Test starting on August 14th.
Langer has maintained that team selection for the Ashes is not set in stone, and depending on pitch conditions and other factors, only those suited the most for specific conditions will be picked.
"We have always said – all through the World Cup and for this (Test) series – from day one that we will look at the wicket at Lord's with the slope and the grass on it and there might be a bit of extra bounce,” Langer said.
"Then we will pick the team that we think will win this Test match, and that's the way we will keep going.
"I looked at Hoff's (Hazlewood's) record again this morning, he's played 44 Test matches (164 wickets at 27.14 each) – incredible. Then I saw Starcy's (Starc’s) come up during the game (211 wickets at 28.20 from 51 Tests) and again I say 'what a problem to have'.
"To have those two guys sitting on the (sidelines) …. it's nice to have that competition, that's for sure. "We were really nervous after the (England) first innings because Patto (Pattinson) bowled 27 overs – that's a lot of overs, and we thought if he blows out to a 50-over game …
"For all of our guys, that starts putting some pressure on their body with the spikes (in workload) they are going to get. But they didn't bowl that many overs in the second innings, which is going to give us a really good headache going into the next Test.”
Assistant coaches Graeme Hick and Troy Cooley will be in charge of the players selected for the game against Worcester, but one can expect Langer to keep a close eye on proceedings.
"I won't have my phone off, that's impossible."
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