England set to welcome back crucial quartet

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England are expected to welcome back a crucial quartet to their team that will face Australia A in Tasmania which gets under way at 11.30pm GMT tonight.

Captain Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad should all line-up for Andy Flower to gain their first match practice of the Ashes tour ahead of the opening Test on November 21st.

An experimental team drew with the Western Australia Chairman’s XI last week with Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott the standout performers, both reaching three figures. The bowling unit struggled though and will have another chance to impress this week in the four day game in Hobart.

2013 Ashes Man of the Series Bell is expected to drop out of the tour game to allow Jonathan Bairstow and Gary Ballance to battle it out for the remaining spot in the batting line-up. With the first five guaranteed a spot barring injury the number six position is looking increasingly likely to be between the Yorkshire pair.

Cook will open the batting with Joe Root after both players came under scrutiny from Australia legend Shane Warne. The outspoken former leg-spinner claimed Cook’s captaincy style was “boring” and “negative” but the Essex opener seemed unflustered when he was questioned by the media ahead of the penultimate warm up fixture.

"It is water off a duck's back," the 28-year-old told BBC Sport.

"It is something we have come to expect from him."

"We wouldn't really expect anything different in terms of an Australian slagging off an Englishman, that's pretty much how it is."

Meanwhile his opening partner Root’s technique was put into question by Warne who is clearly trying to unsettle the England team despite Australia’s failure to win a single Test Match in 2013.

The Sheffield man hit a wonderful 180 at Lord’s in the second Test of the previous Ashes series while Cook, Trott and Bairstow failed to reach three figures throughout the series.

"Joe Root has handled himself amazingly well in Test, one-day and T20 cricket," Cook admitted.

"I don't think I have seen a young player come in and adapt to any situation as well as he has. It is a real mark of quality that he can do that.

"We have got a good squad around him who have been there, seen it and done it. But he doesn't need too much help."

The remaining bowling spot is certainly up for grabs with the trio of giants battling out for a spot in the seam attack alongside Broad and James Anderson. Steven Finn, Chris Tremlett and Boyd Rankin could all play in Hobart in another chance to press their claim with Tim Bresnan still in rehab following a stress fracture of his back.

"The third seamer spot is probably up for grabs and one of the batting spots. There is an opportunity for people to stake a claim," claimed Cook.

England squad from: Cook (Captain), Root, Trott, Pietersen, Ballance, Bairstow, Prior (wkt), Broad, Swann, Anderson, Finn, Tremlett, Rankin, Bell, Stokes, Carberry.

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The Ashes
England cricket
Australia cricket

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