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Ryan Harris


Bowlers in fight for first Test

Australia's entire fast bowling arsenal will be given a chance to impress in the lead-up to the First Ashes Test at Trent Bridge.

National Selector John Inverarity says three of the quicks will play in the opening tour match against Somerset at Taunton starting on Wednesday, and the other three will get a run in the second and final lead-up game against Worcestershire next week.

Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc, Jackson Bird and James Faulkner all have persuasive arguments for why they should be there for the first Test starting on July 10 in Nottingham, and performances will count for plenty in the tour matches given the stocks are so strong.

The batting line-up for Taunton should give a clearer indication of who will take the field against England in the Trent Bridge opener, with Inverarity spelling out the plans for the 17-man squad - which welcomed batsman Steve Smith as a late addition on Sunday.

"If you include Faulkner, then we have six pace bowlers. Three will play in one game and three will play in the other," said Inverarity.

"We've got seven batsmen (available, with David Warner suspended), so five will play both games and two will play one game."

Inverarity said at this stage captain Michael Clarke will play on Wednesday against Somerset, unless he suffers another lapse with his back.

Fast bowling weapon Harris has been injury-plagued for his entire career and needs to be carefully managed if Australia are to get a substantial amount of cricket out of him this series.

The 33-year-old averages 23.6 with the ball in Tests and it's likely Australia will want him on deck for the first two Tests, with Trent Bridge and Lord's to suit his bowling.

Harris took five wickets in Australia A's win over Gloucestershire, and despite the expected soreness in his return from an achilles injury, pulled up well.

He says his ideal preparation for the first Test would be to play in Taunton and then have a rest in Worcester.

"If I was to play the first Test that would be the ideal one," Harris said.

"Bowl another 20 maybe 30 overs in Taunton and then have a couple of days to wind down ready for the first Test."

Bird looked strong in picking up three wickets for Australia A against Gloucestershire and his back pulled up fine despite it being his return from injury.

Pattinson has bowled well in other matches for Australia A, Siddle is considered the leader of the attack and Faulkner was very impressive for Australia in the Champions Trophy.

The form of left-armer Mitchell Starc appears to be the main worry after he struggled in the opening Champions Trophy game before being left out of the side for the final two pool matches of the ODI tournament.

Starc was a little tentative against England as he made his return from ankle surgery.

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