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Graham Gooch backs decision to rest England bowlers

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We are here to win Ashes - Gooch

England batting coach Graham Gooch has defended the decision to rest all four front line bowlers for the final Ashes warm-up game against Australia A.

James Anderson, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann were sent to Brisbane ahead of the first Test rather than play Wednesday's four-day match.

"We've not come for the hospitality, we've not come for the weather, we've come to win the Ashes," said Gooch.

"Everything we do is geared towards that goal," he told BBC Sport.

Former England skipper Gooch was in bullish mood, reflecting the confidence of an England side determined to capture the Ashes on Australian soil for the first time since the 1986-87 series.

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"I congratulate the players for the effort they put in - they are practising with a purpose. They have a streak in them, they are here for one reason and one reason only - that's to retain the Ashes," stated Gooch.

"Nothing else can get in the way of that focus. So in terms of an improving unit coming into this match and on to Brisbane, we're on the right track."

England have made an impressive start to the tour beating Western Australia by six wickets in their opening game, before dominating South Australia in the drawn second match.

All four first-choice bowlers have been among the wickets, with England deciding the better tactic was to give them time to acclimatise to hot, humid conditions in Brisbane in preparation for the 25 November series opener.

The decision gives fringe bowlers Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan, Ajmal Shahzad and Monty Panesar a chance to demonstrate their credentials against Australia's second string in Hobart.

"They are all aware of the pecking order but I am almost certain that one or two of them will be playing soon because our bowling attack is unlikely to be the same for all five Tests," said England coach Andy Flower.

While the leading bowlers are given a rest, Gooch hinted that England may stick with their six Test batsmen for the Adelaide match.

That would mean understudy Eoin Morgan would not have played a single match in Australia going into the Test series.

JONATHAN AGNEW'S COLUMN
Australia have no real idea what their starting XI will be, and that must be a concern for them

"The selectors haven't decided completely yet who is going to play. But I don't believe you have to give someone a game. What you do is you pick your best side to win the match, and that best side hopefully goes forward into the Test match," he said.

"It's not a case of being fair, it's doing what you think is right to get your team in best possible condition for the first Test.

"If you are a professional cricketer, if you are in good form, you want to keep playing and stay in good form."

Whereas England are giving every impression of being a settled unit, Australia are showing signs of disarray with domestic newspapers criticising the decision to name a 17-man squad for the Ashes series.

"Ashes team lost in fog of confusion," was the headline in the Australian, describing Ricky Ponting's side as a "circus".

Spin legend Shane Warne has waded into the debate over Australia's best team by declaring Nathan Hauritz as the number one spinner, although chief selector Andrew Hilditch has suggested left-armer Xavier Doherty may get the nod.

Doherty and Hauritz will go head to head when Tasmania play New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, three other members of the Test squad have a chance to press their claims playing for Australia A against England.

Spinner Steve Smith and young batsmen Callum Ferguson and Usman Khawaja will all play in Hobart.


Listen to the Ashes live on Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW and online (UK users only) - series starts 25 November 2010. Archive: Relive past Ashes series



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see also
Tuesday's Ashes gossip column
16 Nov 10 |  Cricket
Jonathan Agnew column
15 Nov 10 |  England
England bowlers to miss warm-up
15 Nov 10 |  England
Australia selectors drop Hauritz
20 Nov 10 |  Australia
England may rest attack - Strauss
13 Nov 10 |  England
England openers hit tons in draw
13 Nov 10 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket


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