Australia’s next five international matches, although against the old enemy of England, could very well be forgotten by the time the first Test ball of the summer is sent down on the 21st of November.
A series result either way will not create too much of a stir in the grand scheme of things between these two oldest of rivals. Sure Australia will be desperate to take some form of victory home with them, but of more importance could be the performances of a few individuals on the Test fringes.
Cricket Plus Magazine takes a look at those players with the most to gain from our last two weeks in the Isles.
There are two potential positions up for grabs in Australia’s batting line-up, being number six and perhaps David Warner’s opening spot.
With Marsh having previously batted at first drop during his seven Test career to date, bringing him back into the fold as a top or middle order batsman could be the perfect fit for Michael Clarke’s team.
He has been in great white ball touch for Australia and the A team of late, so if this can continue and he manages at least one Shield ton, it will make him a serious possibility for the GABBA.
Nathan Lyon was solid without being spectacular in his three Ashes Tests in England, making his position in the side potentially under threat if another option comes along. Could this be Ahmed?
Can Ahmed force his way into Ashes reckoning?
The Pakistani born leg-spinner has been identified as an international prospect by Cricket Australia, and if he can return from the next five matches with 10+ wickets to his name, then surely he’ll be a strong chance of earning a baggy green.
If the selectors recent form of rotating their tweakers is anything to go by, we’ll be seeing Ahmed roll the arm over in an Ashes match sooner rather than later. Leg spinners are match winners after all, and Australia could certainly do with a few more of those.
Ryan Harris was one of few Aussie players who finished the Ashes series with his reputation enhanced, but with post campaign injuries to the burly Queenslander, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc, it means Darren Lehmann could be searching for a new fast bowling unit in Brisbane.
With 205 Test wickets, Johnson has the experience and results there, but his poor Ashes record, and fragility against the Barmy Army could count against him. A bag of wickets in England may indeed silence those critics.
It will be very interesting to see if the selectors take Hughes to India for another meaningless limited overs series in October, or if he’ll be given the opportunity to find some touch in front of the red ball.
It could be a double edge sword for Hughes. If he performs brilliantly in England, then by all rights he should be representing his country. But on the flip side, it means he will miss his only chance of first-class cricket before the quest for the urn begins. Another selection quandary to ponder.
There have been a few rumblings around about Voges being a smoky to make his Test debut at age 33 during the upcoming series. With over 16,000 first-class runs to his name, he is one of few batsmen on the Australian circuit with the experience to back this type of massive call up.
The West Australian has shown he can compete in the one-day international arena with an average of 51 from 21 games, but one would think he’d have to better his record of 40 per hit over the longer format to get a serious look.
Still, a pile of runs against England is as good a time as any to start.
The five match series kicks off this Friday in Yorkshire.