Key Oz trio wrapped in cotton wool

Australia

Australia selectors have asked that the key trio of Michael Clarke, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle not play in the round of Sheffield Shield matches this week, looking to keep them fit for the first Ashes Test.

Australia selectors have asked that the key trio of Michael Clarke, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle not play in the round of Sheffield Shield matches this week, looking to keep them fit for the first Ashes Test.

Most of the other Australia players will be in Shield action, or playing against England for an invitational side, but the three senior players are being bundled up and sent to the high performance centre in Brisbane, to prevent any further injury.

Clarke was the main concern, with his chronic lower back problem only recently healing and allowing him to play two Shield matches for New South Wales. Darren Lehmann felt this was enough time in the middle for the skipper.

The coach said: "We're very pleased with Michael's preparation ahead of the first Test. The plan for his Ashes build-up was to play two Sheffield Shield matches, which he has done successfully.

"He has spent valuable time in the middle batting and fielding. Importantly his back has coped well in both matches, but we will continue to take a sensible and cautious approach to managing him."

Veteran paceman Harris and Siddle are expected to be joined by Mitchell Johnson in the first Test, and given the long list of injuries to most of the other fast bowlers, the selectors are doing their best to keep the pair fit.

Lehmann added: "On the fast bowling front, Ryan and Peter are both in great condition. As part of their management plan they will continue their preparation under the guidance national coaching staff in Brisbane over the coming days."

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