The Australian National Selection Panel have shortlisted 25 players for an all-Australian intra squad encounter in Southampton next week, one that will decide the final Ashes squad for the first Test against England on August 1.
The 25-member squad consists of the 15 players who are in England with the Australia A setup, seven members from Australia’s World Cup side and three players, Peter Siddle, Cameron Bancroft and Marnus Labuschagne, who are currently playing County cricket.
This will be the first time that Bancroft, Steve Smith and David Warner will be in the same squad since the infamous ball-tampering scandal back in March 2018, in South Africa which saw all three batsmen serve hefty bans of varying degrees.
While Smith and Warner were in delightful form at the World Cup which saw Australia reach the semifinals, Bancroft too has shown immense touch playing for Durham.
“Cameron was making a fair amount of headway when he played Test cricket last for Australia and that was in South Africa," said national selector Trevor Hohns.
“What he’s done is he’s got on with business since he’s been able to play again. He’s playing with Durham in the County Championship, so he’s doing everything he possibly can to get himself back into consideration and back into the Australian squad.
“He’s scoring runs on a pretty regular basis so he has been included in that 25-man squad along with two others playing county cricket."
The intra squad game will run from July 23-26 and will be 12-on-12 affair. Despite not awarded first-class status, the competition in the game is expected to fierce as the performances will decide the final 15 which will be announced soon after.
Alex Carey has been named in the side and will be one of three wicket-keepers alongside Test captain Tim Paine and Matthew Wade. Carey was one of the brightest sparks for Australia at the World Cup proving himself in tough conditions.
“He’s proving himself to be a very smart cricketer," said Hohns on Carey. “He played very well in the World Cup.
“Batting-wise he was very, very good. He showed calmness in a lot of diff situations. He’s been very impressive. We’ve been very impressed with his glovework for some time now so he’s progressing nicely."
There was no room in the squad for all-rounders Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis who both had a rather underwhelming time at the World Cup.
“Let’s put it this way: We consider the 25 that did get chosen for this game as more in contention than those guys," Hohns explained. “It’s unfortunate but that’s just where we’re at right here and now."
“In one way it is a shame that some players will have to miss out as every player in Southampton will have a strong case for inclusion in the Ashes squad, but the positive is that this group shows we now have a degree of depth, which stands us in good stead both now and in the middle term."