Hohns provides Ashes squad update

Australia’s Ashes squad could be named as late as a fortnight out of the first Test at Edgbaston, according to national selector Trevor Hohns.

Ashes squads to England have traditionally been named months in advance but this year’s World Cup has thrown a spanner in the works, meaning the Australia A tour that runs concurrently with the 50-over showpiece tournament will be pivotal in deciding the bulk of the touring party.

The ‘A’ tour starts with five one-day matches before three four-day games with the red Dukes ball, which will act as a selection shootout for Australia’s Ashes aspirants.

The first two four-day games coincide with the final stages of the World Cup, with the second match in Canterbury against the England Lions – England’s ‘A’ side – set to start on July 14 the same day as the World Cup final at Lord’s.

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Following that match at Kent, an Australian side will take on Australia A in Southampton from July 23-26, with the first Test to start less than a week later in Birmingham on August 1.

Given the disjointed preparation, Hohns and the National Selection Panel will wait until the last possible moment before picking the Ashes squad that will attempt to win its first Test series in England since 2001.

“There’s no definitive date as yet but it will be as late as possible and we are certainly looking at a couple of those Australia A four-day games before naming the Ashes squad,” Hohns said in India.

Australia’s selectors will have their work cut for them this year as they pick squads to the World Cup, the concurrent multi-format Australia A tour and then the Ashes.

The 15-player World Cup squad must be named by April 23, which is set to come after the release of the 2019-20 Cricket Australia contracts.

The selectors will then go about picking the Australia A squad, which is set to be led by Test skipper Tim Paine and potentially feature Test incumbents Travis Head, Kurtis Patterson and Marcus Harris.

The Australia A squad is complex in that it must include limited-overs players as cover for the World Cup along with Australia’s Test incumbents and hopefuls.

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Australia coach Justin Langer, who forms one third of the National Selection Panel alongside Hohns and former Australia captain Greg Chappell, said in the wake of the recent ODI series win India he had lost sleep attempting to pick the three squads.

But Hohns is excited by the challenge and will be scouring all competitions from arounds the world, from the JLT Sheffield Shield to the Indian Premier League to England’s County Championship to help inform his selections.

“We’re certainly keeping a good eye on everything because it’s just not the World Cup, that’s the first one, then there’s the Ashes but we’ve also got Australia A going over there as well,” Hohns said.

“It’s going to be a complicated time, it’s unprecedented to have that many teams all going to England.

“So we’ve got to make sure in Australia A we’ve got players playing who are contenders for the Ashes squad, also have some in there that are potential cover for any injuries that may occur in the World Cup. It’s a very interesting exercise.”

June 20: Australia A v Northamptonshire (50-over)

June 23: Australia A v Derbyshire (50-over)

June 25: Australia A v Worcestershire (50-over)

June 30: Aus A v Gloucestershire (50-over)

July 2: Aus A v Gloucestershire (50-over)

July 7-10 Aus A v Sussex, Arundel

July 14-17: Australia A v England Lions, Canterbury

July 23-26: Australia v Australia A, Rose Bowl

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