Ashes 2013: Shane Watson to lead Australia in practice match: Reports

Shane Watson’s place in the Australian eleven is in doubt after a string of poor shows with the bat © Getty Images

Aug 16, 2013

Shane Watson is set to lead Australia in a practice game versus the England Lions in Northampton on August 16. Watson gave up his vice-captaincy in April before Australia’s tour of England.

The Australians play a two-day practice match ahead of the fifth and final Ashes 2013 Test, which starts on August 21 at The Oval. Australia have lost the Ashes and trail England 3-0. One of the main reasons for their plight is their batting.

The two-day match does not offer many overs for their batsmen to get some good time at the crease. But many Australians will be looking to make the most of whatever opportunities they get during the match and hope to get a place in the Australian eleven for the final Test.

Captain Michael Clarke will skip the match and Watson, whose place in the main eleven is in jeopardy, will lead an inexperienced side, reports The Australian.

The report said that Usman Khawaja, Steven Simth, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Matthew Wade and Ed Cowan will be in the Australians’ team against the England Lions. James Faulkner, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon and Ashton Agar will be the bowlers in the side.

The Oval is traditionally the best ground for spinners in England and the spin duo of Lyon and Agar may both play in the final Test. Australia coach Darren Lehmann said, “It’s a great opportunity for them to bowl a lot of overs. Steven Smith will bowl a few, you might see Wade or Warner bowling a few, I don’t know.”

Lehmann also said that the selectors also expected Watson to bowl in the fifth Test. Watson had suffered a hip-groin injury during the fourth Test at Chester-le-Street as Australia lost by 74 runs.

Despite the short length of the match and it not being a First-Class fixture, Lehmann saw the bright side. “The thing for us is for our batters to get some time in the middle,” he said. “We can only bat for a day and bowl for a day, so I suppose it’s a longer training session and it’s not First-Class.

“For us it’s still a chance to impress selectors and perform really well and get to where we want to get to. It’s still important. It’s two long days and we’ve got to make sure we’re bowling well and batting well.”