England face an Australian Chairman’s XI in a two day tour game that gets under way tonight with Ben Stokes hoping he forces himself into the team for the second Test Match in Adelaide next week.
The fixture takes place at Traeger Park in Alice Springs with Stokes set to join Gary Ballance and Jonathan Bairstow in the tourist’s team which could include a number of more experienced players.
However, Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Chris Tremlett did not train on the final day before the practice game so they look unlikely to feature with the spotlight on the England batsman.
It remains unclear who will bat at number three and six in the order after Jonathan Trott flew home earlier this week due to a stress related illness. The current favourites to fill the top order void are either 2013 Ashes Man of the Series Ian Bell or youngster Joe Root who has already moved down the order to number six for the current series.
The Warwickshire man Bell has been shifted up and down the order throughout his previous 162 innings for his country with him playing a number of Tests at the number three spot so he seems the obvious choice which is helped by him being the ‘in form’ batsman for Andy Flower’s men.
The number six position is more debatable though, with Stokes, Ballance and Bairstow all contenders to play at the Adelaide Oval. Bairstow is the most experienced of the three having played in four Ashes Tests in the summer while Ballance has the highest career batting average of 53 while Stokes offers the variety of having a genuine all-rounder in the side.
Ballance and Stokes are yet to make their Test debuts for their country but the Durham all-rounder has told Sky Sports he will be doing all he can in the next two days to prove he is ready for his chance.
"Everyone is going to go out there and make sure they put their hand up and prove a point that they want to be out here and be in that second Test match," claimed Stokes.
"Whoever does take that role will definitely have the skills to come in and fill that spot. Whoever it is, if it's not me or whoever else it is, I wish them all the best.
"Being an all-rounder does help, you've got two strings to your game, but at the end of the day it's up to Cookie and Andy who they want to come in," said the 2013 County Championship winner.
"There's probably three guys who've got the chance to try and get into that number six. Whether it's me or not, Gary or Jonny, but we've got this next two days to go out there and really put our hands up and try to get into there."
The 22-year-old has previously stated he is in Australia to play and emphasised that point at a pre-match press conference.
"If I thought to myself 'I'm not ready for this' then I think I'll be looking at it the wrong way.
"It's what every cricketer wants to be a part of which is an Ashes series, an Ashes Test match and if I didn't feel like I was ready then I would be taking a long hard look at myself."
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