Saker welcomes selection conundrum

England

Bowling coach David Saker has admitted England will face a tough task in selecting an appropriate XI for the first Ashes Test, which will get underway in Brisbane on 21 November.

Bowling coach David Saker has admitted England will face a tough task in selecting an appropriate XI for the first Ashes Test, which will get underway in Brisbane on 21 November.

While fast bowler Stuart Broad and spinner Graeme Swann were rested for the drawn three-day fixture against the Western Australian Chairman's XI in Perth recently, seamers Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn – and all-rounder Ben Stokes – put in telling performances.

"From where I sit, it's exciting. I'm sure it isn't from where they sit. But it's always good having competition for spots because then you get probably the best out of everyone," said Saker.

"If all of them bowl at their maximum, it's going to be a hell of a hard selection. I could have been happier, we could have bowled them out for 100 and 100. But it was a flat wicket, they batted particularly well – and in the end it was a really good workout for our guys."

The tourists' next assignment is a four-day affair against Australia A, who will be captained by all-rounder Moises Henriques. This will present an opportunity for the uncapped Gary Ballance, who endured a poor performance in Perth, to push for Test selection ahead of batsman Jonny Bairstow – or Stokes.

"Traditionally, Hobart in the last three or four years has moved around a little bit more. I think our bowlers will probably enjoy that. But it will be a tough game. The Australia A team looks a really strong one," added Saker.

"We're three days into a long tour and haven't really made any strong decisions yet, so they're still going to be fighting out for that one position. I think that's a really positive thing. You can see when they're working in the nets, or out in games, there's some added pressure on them which is great."

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