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Page last updated at 15:55 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 16:55 UK

England quintet face county stint

Ravi Bopara
Bopara will be available for Essex's match against Middlesex

England have released five players to play for their counties this week in a bid to get them in shape for the decisive fifth Ashes Test at The Oval.

Ian Bell, Ravi Bopara, Alastair Cook, Graham Onions and Graeme Swann are now available for Championship games.

All five played in the innings and 80 runs defeat by Australia at Headingley.

"This decision is designed to give players an opportunity to spend time in the middle and get overs under their belt," said England chief Hugh Morris.

England's humiliating loss within three days to Australia in the fourth Test in Leeds means they now go into the final Test, which begins on 20 August, needing to win to reclaim the Ashes.

The England management have hinted at potential changes to the side for The Oval and the latest round of County Championship matches, which start on Tuesday, gives struggling players the chance to stake their claim for a place.

I think the responsibility of batting at three should be given to a more senior player

Jason Gillespie

Warwickshire batsman Jonathan Trott, who missed out on selection for the fourth Test, has been included in the England Lions XI to face Australia at Canterbury in a two-day match starting on Saturday 15 August.

Glamorgan's Jamie Dalrymple will captain the side, which also includes Worcestershire's Stephen Moore, who scored a century against Australia when the two sides met at the start of July.

However, selection for the Lions XI has been limited to players not already involved in county cricket that weekend.

Kent, Somerset, Northants and Sussex play in the Twenty20 Cup's finals day on 15 August - while there are also Pro40 games that weekend.

Before then, Bopara and Cook are set to line up for Essex against Middlesex in the Championship, Bell is likely to feature for Warwickshire against Nottinghamshire - who are expected to select Swann - and Onions will have a chance to bowl for Durham against Lancashire.

Bopara's Test place is most at risk, having scored just 105 runs in seven innings at an average of 15 so far in the series.

The 24-year-old scored just one run at Headingley and on Monday England national selector Geoff Miller refused to rule out a recall for Surrey batsman Mark Ramprakash.

Former Australia international Jason Gillespie believes Bopara would benefit from a spot lower down the order, suggesting more senior players should shoulder greater burden.

Graeme Swann's Shades

"I think the responsibility of batting at three should be given to a more senior player," said Gillespie.

"I'd like to see him (Bopara) cut his teeth in international cricket at position five or six.

"A guy like Paul Collingwood, it's a bit cushier down at number five. He's played 50 Test matches now. He should be saying 'I want to move up the order. I want to take more responsibility.'"

Bell is also under pressure after scores of eight and three at Headingley.

He was brought back into the side for the third Test at Edgbaston due to Kevin Pietersen's withdrawal through injury and responded with 53 in the first innings but doubts remain about his temperament at the highest level.

Cook was one of only two players to score 30-plus in England's first innings in the fourth Test - a score he matched in the second innings - but despite a knock of 95 at Lord's, he averages only 28.6 in the series.

Spinner Swann and seam bowler Onions are both likely to play at the Oval, particularly Swann after his second-innings 62 in Leeds, but due to the circumstances of the fourth Test they only bowled 38 overs between them.

England Lions team to face Australia: Jamie Dalrymple (Glamorgan, capt), Michael Carberry (Hampshire), Stephen Moore (Worcestershire), Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire), Andrew Gale (Yorkshire), Stephen Davies (Worcestershire, wk), Liam Plunkett (Durham), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), James Harris (Glamorgan), Steve Kirby (Gloucestershire), Gary Keedy (Lancashire)

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see also
Ramprakash in England contention
10 Aug 09 |  England
Essex will boost Bopara - Grayson
10 Aug 09 |  Essex
Flintoff cleared for Ashes finale
10 Aug 09 |  England
Flower hints at batting changes
09 Aug 09 |  England
Aussies win to level Ashes series
09 Aug 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
09 Aug 09 |  England
England should not panic - Hayden
09 Aug 09 |  Australia
Bell will start third Ashes Test
26 Jul 09 |  England

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