Australia request extra man

Tourists want to pick 12 players in Ashes warm-ups

Last Updated: 26/05/09 9:49am

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Lee: fitness battle

Lee: fitness battle

Sky Bet

Australia have asked for permission to use 12 players in the Ashes warm-up fixtures.

"I couldn't be happier with the squad of fast bowlers we've got together in this group and there will be some great competition for spots come the first Test match - and that in itself makes it a very exciting team to be around."
Ricky Ponting Quotes of the week

The tourists are scheduled to play just two first-class matches prior to the opening Test, both four-day affairs, against Sussex (Jun 24-27) at Hove and the England Lions at New Road (Jul 1-4).

Cricket Australia official Michael Brown confirmed a request had been sent to the England and Wales Cricket Board asking to use 12 players, with 11 batting and fielding, in both games.

Experienced seamers Brett Lee and Stuart Clark are coming back from long-term injuries and Australia are keen to explore their options prior to the Ashes opener in Cardiff (Jul 8-12).

Lee, who is on the comeback trail after ankle surgery, "is still a bit of an unknown," captain Ricky Ponting said. "I'm hearing a lot of good things out of South Africa about how he bowled in the IPL but we haven't seen him up close yet.

"The first two games we play leading into the first Test will tell us a pretty good story about where we see all of those five fast bowlers (in the squad).

"That will be our best chance to look at the likelihood of some of those guys playing the first Test match."

Johnson praise

Ponting is excited about the potential of left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson in English conditions.

The Queenslander led Australia's bowling attack impressively during their home and away series against South Africa during the last six months.

"We really did see just how good Mitchell can be when he swings the ball back into right-hand batsmen," Ponting added.

"Believe me, he works very hard at that part of his game every day he goes to training.

"The conditions will help him but they will help (Ben) Hilfenhaus, (Peter) Siddle, Clark and Lee, all the seamers.

"I couldn't be happier with the squad of fast bowlers we've got together in this group and there will be some great competition for spots come the first Test match - and that in itself makes it a very exciting team to be around."

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