Australia to play Australia A in UK
Key Ashes warmup to take place between 22 of Australia's best players ahead of five-match Test series
28 November 2018, 05:04 PM AEST
Australia will play Australia A in the south of England next June in the latest ploy to try and overturn 18 years without a series win in the Old Dart.
The 22 best available players will face off at Hampshire's Rose Bowl in a potentially star-studded match from July 23-26 that will serve as Australia's sole competitive red-ball match before the Ashes Test series.
Steve Waugh's 2001 side were the last Australian touring party to lift the Ashes urn on English soil, with defeats in 2005, 2009, 2013 and 2015 since.
England host both the 50-over World Cup and the Ashes next year between June and September. The World Cup final will be played at Lord's on July 14, leaving little more than a fortnight before the start of the Ashes campaign with the first-Test from August 1 at Edgbaston.
The Australia A game is likely to be particularly important for currently-suspended batters Steve Smith and David Warner.
With their bans to expire on March 28 at the end of the Australian summer, the match could be their only first-class fixture before the Ashes Tests begin.
Both players recently met with Australia coach Justin Langer and have been training – separately – with Australia's Test pace attack in the SCG nets.
The Australia v Australia A match will get as close as possible to replicating the intensity of a Test match, and will serve as an opportunity for players to push their case for Test selection.
The ECB yesterday confirmed their domestic fixtures for the 2019 season, with the County Championship first-class competition beginning on April 5.
It means that any Ashes hopefuls not involved in the World Cup campaign could play up to 10 matches if they can secure a county contract, before the Ashes squad assembles.
CA has arranged an Australia A tour of England that will run concurrently with the World Cup, ensuring Test-only players like captain Tim Paine have a chance to adjust to local conditions.
Opener Matthew Renshaw enjoyed a productive stint with Somerset this season, while Usman Khawaja became the first batsman in Glamorgan's history to hit centuries in his first three matches for the county. Neither player is currently part of Australia's limited-overs planning.
The extended touring party will also open the doors for fringe seam bowlers such as Queensland's Michael Neser, Victoria's Chris Tremain, South Australian Chadd Sayers and Tasmania's Jackson Bird to push for places in the touring party proper.
Australia A sides featured in one-day series in the mid-1990s, with Glenn McGrath and Matthew Hayden having a famous heated mid-pitch confrontation at the SCG in 1995 when the sides made the finals of that summer's one-day tournament.
Don Bradman's 1948 Invincibles played 12 tour games in England prior to their first Ashes Test but times have undeniably changed.
Tour games, especially the quality of opposition and venues, have become a concern around the world. The International Cricket Council issued a plea this year, asking host boards to provide better treatment of visiting teams.
Australia have in the past been unhappy at the quality of opposition provided, and pitches prepared, for their matches on overseas tours, such as facing a seam heavy attack on a fast-bowler friendly deck in Sri Lanka in 2016.
Worcestershire will host Australia in a three-day fixture beginning on August 7, which falls between the first and second Ashes Tests. That match will clash with the county's matches in England's domestic T20 competition and Australia could expect to face a second XI side in that match.
Derbyshire will host the Australians in a three-day game that is slated to start on August 29, between the third and fourth Tests.
Qantas Ashes Tour of the UK 2019
Tour match: Australia v Australia A, Hampshire, July 23-26
First Test: August 1-5 at Edgbaston, Birmingham
Tour match: Australia v Worcester, August 7-9
Second Test: August 14-18 at Lord's, London
Third Test: August 22-26 at Headingley, Leeds
Tour match: Australia v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8 at Old Trafford, Manchester
Fifth Test: September 12-16 at The Oval, London