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banner Friday, 23 March, 2001, 11:49 GMT
Australia set to reduce Ashes squad
Adam Gilchrist, Australia's vice-captain and wicketkeeper
Adam Gilchrist: Faces a busy time in England
Australia have several questions to answer over the make up of their squad for the Ashes following the defeat in India, but they are likely to send only 15 players.

In the past 17 has been the usual size of the squad, but chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns believes the number of Australians playing county and club cricket in England will provide ample cover.

It means there will be no direct wicketkeeping cover for vice captain Adam Gilchrist, although current number two Brad Haddin is expected to play league cricket in England.

There were some good performances and some ordinary performances
  Trevor Hohns

Gilchrist is at least assured of his place, but a first series defeat in two years has put some players under pressure, most notably Shane Warne.

In a reduced squad there is unlikely to be a place for Stuart MacGill and Warne. The senior leg spinner was preferred for India, but did not enjoy a good series while MacGill bowled well against West Indies and has continued to take wickets in domestic competition.

Others who had moderate series in India included Michael Slater, Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting but they will be more at home in English conditions.

"There were some good performances and some ordinary performances from our blokes and some of them would be quite disappointed," Hohns said.

"But you've also got to take into mind the conditions we played in India and they can be quite unlike anything around the world.

Trevor Hohns and Ricky Ponting
Hohns talks to Ponting

"The heat must wear you down and the pitches are certainly different to here and we have to take those things into account when we're assessing performances leading up to the selection of the Ashes tour."

Hohns indicated selectors might only send seven batsmen, meaning there could be no room for fringe candidates, such as Simon Katich, Brad Hodge and Jamie Cox among a host of others.

There were seven batsmen on the Indian tour, including Damien Martyn who did not play a Test, and they are likely to be chosen en masse.

Selectors would normally arm themselves with another batsmen in a 17-man squad for England but the Australians won't play the usual plethora of matches against county teams.

"The whole tour structure has changed substantially. There is no need to send 17 because you have too many people in the dressing room and too many people to look after," Hohns said.

"We'll probably be looking at 15 and I understand there are plenty of Australians who won't be in that squad but they will be playing county cricket or league cricket and we can call on them if an injury occurs.

Western Australia's Simon Katich
Simon Katich: Left at home?

"There would probably be seven batsmen and maybe a couple of spinners but I don't think we would take two wicketkeepers even though it will be important that Adam Gilchrist gets a break.

"We're hopeful and we're fairly certain there will be first-class wicketkeepers playing in England that we can use."

One probable change to the squad is the return of Brett Lee, most likely in place of Michael Kasprowicz, but the fast bowler acknowledges he faces a battle to get back in the side following surgery.

"Gillespie bowled very well over there, he had a great tour," said Lee.

"McGrath was stock standard for him, so it's going to be hard to get back. I just have to make sure my arm's alright."

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See also:

22 Mar 01 |  India v Australia
India triumph in tense finish
22 Mar 01 |  India v Australia
India show the way
20 Mar 01 |  Cricket
A man for all problems
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