Venue: Alice Springs
Date and time: November 29-31, 2013, 11.30 p.m. GMT.
Live On: Cricket Australia’s website
Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI: MA Beer*, SJ Cazzulino†, J Doran, MS Harris, JM Herrick, MW Hill, AR Keath, JK Lalor, S Mackin, JM Muirhead, LJ Robins, AJ Turner
England: JM Anderson, JM Bairstow, GS Ballance, IR Bell, SCJ Broad, MA Carberry, AN Cook*, ST Finn, MS Panesar, KP Pietersen, MJ Prior†, WB Rankin, JE Root, BA Stokes, GP Swann, CT Tremlett
For England, this fixture has assumed added importance since the sudden departure of Jonathan Trott from the squad due to a stress-related illness.
As well as putting in a confidence-boosting performance following the enormous first Test defeat, England now need to solve the problems Trott’s absence causes.
It is widely thought that one of Ian Bell or Joe Root will vacate the now empty No. 3 slot, which means England need to find another batsman to fill either the No. 5 or No. 6 slots depending on which one of Bell or Root ascend.
Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow are the spare batsmen in the squad, while all-rounder Ben Stokes is thought to be pushing for selection, too.
Ballance was picked ahead of Bairstow in the initial warm-up fixtures, while Bairstow only got a game when Matt Prior injured his calf—which suggests the management are inclined towards Ballance. However, he scored precious few runs in those matches.
Stokes’ selection would be a bold move. However, his hard-hitting batting and bowling that is reported to be particularly quick of late could be just the injection of energy England require to fight back into the series.
There does appear to be considerable doubt surrounding this selection conundrum, and it may well come down to who performs best in this two-day match against a young and relatively unknown Cricket Australia Chairman’s XI.
One player who could force his way into the England team for the second Ashes Test in Adelaide next week is a man who is not even with the squad currently.
Tim Bresnan has this week made his comeback from injury for the England Performance Programme, and in a match against Queensland XI he took 4 for 31 on Day 2.
If Bresnan is deemed fit enough and indeed the management conclude he has bowled enough when he joins the main squad on Sunday, then Chris Tremlett, who edged in as the third seamer for Brisbane, would miss out on selection. He will, therefore, be particularly keen to impress in this two-day match.