Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lee desperate to claim Ashes spot

Venue: The County Ground, Hove Date: 24-27 June Coverage: Updates on the BBC website

Brett Lee
Lee has taken 310 Test wickets at an average of just over 30

Brett Lee will take a big first step to returning Australia's Test side when he lines up against Sussex in his side's first Ashes warm-up game on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old played the last of his 76 Tests in December before undergoing foot and ankle surgery.

Australia will be without Mitchell Johnson, who is being rested and Shane Watson, who has a knee injury.

Sussex's South African player Pepler Sandri will make his debut for a side containing Luke Wright and Ed Joyce.

"Lee's jumping out his skin to get back out there on Wednesday," said Australia captain Ricky Ponting, ahead of the 12-a-side four-day game.

"He's looking good at the moment. He's trained harder than I've ever seen him train before."

Australia will also face the England Lions before the first Ashes Test gets underway in Cardiff on 8 July.


Lee, who has taken 310 Test wickets at an average of slightly above 30, is no longer an automatic choice to lead the bowling attack and will vie for a place with fellow pacemen Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark and Peter Siddle.

Spinner Nathan Hauritz is expected to play against Sussex.

"It's important for him and all our bowlers to take what opportunities come their way in the next couple of weeks," said Ponting.

"We've got some big selections to be made there as far as the make-up goes for the first Test. All the guys know that."

Sussex expect more than 20,000 fans to attend over the four days and have named a strong team for the clash.

8-12 Jul: 1st Test, Cardiff
16-20 Jul: 2nd Test, Lord's
30 Jul- 3 Aug: 3rd Test, Edgbaston
7-11 Aug: 4th Test, Headingley
20-24 Aug: 5th Test, Oval

"It's an honour to play against any international side and especially one as revered as Australia," said Mark Robinson, the club's professional cricket manager.

"It's a great opportunity for this Sussex team to play and put a marker down for the Club and themselves for the future."

Ponting also admitted he felt the game at Hove would be perfect preparation for English wickets: "We believe that the conditions here are more like the Cardiff wicket than anywhere else in the country so it will be good to get used to the pace and the bounce."

Beer, Hamilton-Brown, Hodd (wkt), Hopkinson, Joyce, Kirtley, Martin-Jenkins, Nash, Ollie Rayner, Sandri, Wright and Yardy (c).

Australia: Ponting (c), Hughes, Katich, Clarke, Hussey, North, Haddin (wkt), Hauritz, Lee, Siddle, Hilfenhaus, Clark.

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