Sunday 18 March 2018 / 04:41 PM

The Ashes – Back To The Drawing Board

With the start of the crucial third Ashes Test at Old Trafford just seven days away, the Australian fringe players are preparing to launch their bid for a place in the squad at Hove on Friday when the tourists take on Sussex in a three day warm up contest.

On the brink at 2-0 down in the series, it really has been a case of ‘back to the drawing board’ for Darren Lehman’s men who were brutally outclassed at Lords following a tight opener at Trent Bridge.

And the primary objective for Lehmann at the weekend will be to settle on a replacement for pace man James Pattinson who is ruled out of the rest of the series after suffering a stress fracture to his lower back.

Mitchell Starc, omitted after the first Test in favour of Ryan Harris, is likely to regain his place in the side however he will face competition from James Faulkner and Jackson Bird at the Probiz County Ground where the Aussies will be in search of a morale boosting performance.

Spinner Nathan Lyon will also seek to cement his return to the fray with many fans and pundits calling for Ashton Agar to be shown the door.

The 19-year-old made all the headlines at Trent Bridge following his 98 run stand batting at eleven, however his bowling figures have been something of a disappointment having taken just two wickets in 84 overs.

And Lyon believes he has the ability to help turn Australia’s fortunes around, saying ‘I believe with my best ball I can get the best batsmen in the world out’.

Lyon certainly made an impact during Australia’s spring series against India taking 7 wickets for 94 runs in the final test, but there have been frequent doubts surrounding his effectiveness on English pitches.

Nevertheless, the 25-year-old is expected to be reintroduced in Manchester where Australia have to win in order to save the Ashes series.

With problems for the tourists lying at both ends of the scale, batsman Shane Watson, along with captain Michael Clarke, have both been rested for the Sussex match seemingly to regroup themselves after dismal displays so far at the crease.

Watson’s loose, erratic play has seen him come under much criticism over the last week whilst Clarke has been notably under par in terms of scoring in the two Tests to date.

Ed Cowan will skipper an inexperienced Aussie line-up at Hove in Clarke’s absence hoping himself to find some rhythm with the bat after failing to make an impact thus far.

The three day match between Australia and Sussex begins on Friday with the Aussies third Test selection set to look much clearer after the weekend run out.

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Chris Kisby

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