Spots on the line in warm-ups

Steve Smith's charges are getting back into the ODI groove with plenty of decisions still to be made on Australia's best one-day XI

The race to partner David Warner at the top of the order for Australia's Champions Trophy campaign will heat up over the next week in two practice matches that loom as mini selection trials for the tournament.

The Aussies will take on Sri Lanka at The Oval on Friday and Pakistan at Edgbaston on Monday, two unofficial one-day games that are set to play an important role in deciding Australia's final XI for their opening game against New Zealand on June 2.

Chief among the selection unknowns is who will open the batting alongside Warner, with Aaron Finch, Travis Head and Chris Lynn all in the mix, while the make-up of the bowling attack is also undecided.

Lynn wants that opener role //
Lynn wants that opener role //

Skipper Steve Smith, who had his first training session of the tour on Wednesday having arrived later than his teammates from the Indian Premier League, said the warm-up games are a chance for every member of the squad to put their name forward.

“We’ve obviously got a little bit of time before (the New Zealand game)," Smith said at Lord's today when asked about the opening combination.

"A couple of practice matches (are a) chance for a few guys to bat in these conditions and see if someone really puts their name up.

"We’ve obviously got a few options there to go with and we’ve got some really strong batters in our line-up.

"So it could depend on how those guys go in these two practice matches we play."

Teams are allowed to field more than 11 players in the practice games given they don't carry official one-day international status, meaning all members of Australia's 15-man squad should get some valuable time in the middle over the next week.

While the vacant opening position will generate the most interest, the possibility of an all-out pace attack may also be considered by selector-on-duty Trevor Hohns and coach Darren Lehmann.

Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Patrick Cummins and James Pattinson all bowled with impressive pace in the nets on Wednesday, while leg-spinner Adam Zampa and bowling-allrounder John Hastings - the highest and equal-second highest ODI wicket-takers in the world in 2016 - also present a strong case for inclusion.

Hazlewood (L) and Cummins at Lord's //
Hazlewood (L) and Cummins at Lord's //

The quicks got plenty of life out of the Lord's facilities on another warm London day on Wednesday; Glenn Maxwell was struck on the neck by a local net bowler (the allrounder headed to the rooms to ice the injury and was later cleared of any damage) and Matthew Wade was hit on the helmet by Cummins but was able to continue batting.

Smith added the pre-tournament hit-outs would also allow his side to regain the rhythm of 50-over cricket given they haven't played an ODI since February 5, a series against New Zealand that Smith and Warner both missed ahead of the Test tour of India and the IPL.

"I think we will try to play those games with a match intensity that we need," the skipper said.

"We haven’t been together as a group for a while so it's a good opportunity to for us to get in the rhythm of one-day cricket again.

"The majority of us have been away playing in the IPL so now it's about reigning things back in and bringing the tempo back down a little bit (and) getting used to 50-over cricket.

"So I guess that’s the message for us, to just jell again as a one-day group and find the right tempo of the game to play at."

Johnson, Mumbai prevail in final ball thriller

Smith, whose Rising Pune Supergiant narrowly lost the IPL final last Sunday night, said he was feeling fresh despite spending three months in India for an intense four-match Test series and then the six-week IPL.

The 27-year-old scored more than 1000 runs in 23 innings in the subcontinent, but says he was ready for one final campaign before taking some time off.

"I am actually feeling really good, everything is in a good place and this tournament is really important to us," he said.

"It's a relatively quick tournament and all the guys know we have a break after this series and we have to go as hard as we can.

"The big trophies only come around every two years and we want keep up our white-ball record as an Australian team."

Champions Trophy 2017 Guide

Squads: Every Champions Trophy squad named so far

Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.

Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.


Warm-up matches

26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval

27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston

28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval

29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston

30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston

30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval


1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)

2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)

3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)

4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)

5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)

6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)

7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)

8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)

9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)

10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)

11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)

12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)

14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)

15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)

18 June – Final, The Oval (D)

19 June – Reserve day (D)

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