Shane Watson will partner Chris Rogers at the top of the order. Source: Andres Leighton/foxsports.com.au
Australia begins its quest to regain the Ashes when the 1st Test against England begins at Trent Bridge on Wednesday. Although the side’s preparation has been far from ideal – with coach Mickey Arthur dumped just two weeks before the start of the series – confidence in the camp is building following strong showings in tour matches against Somerset and Worcestershire.
New boss Darren Lehmann will rely on Shane Watson and Chris Rogers at the top of the order, with the veteran left hander Rogers set to play just the second Test match of his career at the age of 35. It will be a totally new opening partnership for the tourists, with Watson returning as an opener after being shifted down the order for his past six games in the baggy green. Steve Smith could be in the box seat to bat at six after putting in a string of impressive performance since being drafted into the squad, while Brad Haddin returns behind the stumps at the expense of Matthew Wade.
Competition for places in the bowling attack is also fierce, with James Pattinson probably the only man certain to be picked in the XI. Jackson Bird pushed his case for selection by claiming 4/48 from 25 overs in Worcester but could have his work cut out forcing his way into the side ahead of Mitchell Starc and Ryan Harris, who is a favourite of Lehmann’s.
England is set to field a new combination at the top of the order as well, with Yorkshire opener Joe Root set to face the new ball alongside skipper Alistair Cook after starting his Test career down the order. Kevin Pietersen returns to the side after missing the home series against New Zealand in May with a knee injury, while paceman James Anderson will lead the hosts attack.
Trent Bridge was the ground where England took what was to become a series winning 2-1 lead in 2005 but Australia has a good record at the venue. England’s win there was the hosts first in Nottingham against Australia since 1977, with the tourists collecting four wins and two draws from their six previous Ashes Tests in the city.
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