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CA to rotate pacemen for tough Ashes tour

STAND BY for more in-form Australian fast bowlers missing Tests.

Cricket Australia's contentious rotation policy is here to stay, albeit under a different name, and is set to be a key plank in the quest to wrest the Ashes back from England next year.

Despite widespread scepticism and consternation among fans and former players, the Australian brains trust remains committed to the initiative, which it believes has deepened the country's pool of fast bowlers.

National selectors have picked seven different quicks in five Tests this summer and kept the same pace unit for consecutive matches once, in Brisbane and Adelaide against South Africa.

The likelihood of there being just as many, or perhaps even more, rotations in England is high given the schedule agreed to by both national boards is even more demanding than Australia's Test calendar this summer, which has featured five Tests in 52 days.

The five Tests in next year's Ashes in England will be played across 47 days and include back-to-back games at the start and finish of the series.


The last time Australia played back-to-back Tests they were forced to pick a completely different pace attack in the second game, in Perth, after an arduous Test in Adelaide, which finished three days earlier.

Coach Mickey Arthur said there was no rotation policy but rather a ''player management'' plan designed to keep Australia's pacemen in one piece and improve the depth in the fast-bowling ranks.

''To manage our players has been uppermost in our minds with the amount of cricket we play,'' Arthur said.

''Just to see Jackson Bird step up and perform, it just puts another guy in that pool, another guy who was exposed to Test cricket, another guy who knows what it's all about.

''It hasn't exposed anything and, on the contrary, it's given us a lot more depth and allowed our players to come back fresh.

''We saw the benefits of that [in Melbourne]. We saw the benefits of guys with fresh legs out there in that Test match.''

Cricket Australia's high-performance manager, Pat Howard, said the plan was about winning rather than succession planning.

''We will pick the best team we believe will be able to finish the Test and perform absolutely optimally,'' Howard said. ''There are no reserves in Test cricket.

''We're not doing this for jokes or laughs or just to be controversial. We're doing this to win. We're not doing this just about succession planning. We are trying to put out the guys who are fresh, hungry, who can turn up on that day and give a fantastic performance.''

Howard compared Mitchell Starc with rising England star Steve Finn, who played only five of a possible 15 Tests this year.

''He's a young bowler at 22,'' Howard said of Starc. ''Steve Finn [23], who's in the same category, hasn't done back-to-back Tests.

''For me he'd [Starc] be the most durable young bowler in the world. For the negativity we're getting at the moment, he's been going reasonably well.

''We want to make sure he continues to go reasonably well and not overplay him and overstress him.''

Sri Lanka's changes for Sydney have been forced by injury rather than rotation but their coach, Graham Ford, said adversity had presented several youngsters, such as Dinesh Chandimal, with a chance to make their mark in the Test arena.