Allrounder selection call tight: Lehmann

Darren Lehmann has a fair idea of his XI for the Ashes opener, but the hotly contested allrounder’s spot is still up for grabs.

Australia were frustrated by a rain break and Daniel Bell-Drummond’s 127, but completed a 255-run victory over Kent in their opening tour game on Sunday.

The 17-man squad have shifted base and face Essex in another four-day fixture starting on Wednesday.

Mitch Marsh smashed a fantastic century off 93 balls on day three in Canterbury and will be given another chance to shine in Chelmsford.

Shane Watson made a relatively subdued 81 and will be looking to impress with the ball against Essex, having been ordered not to bowl against Kent.

So will it be Watson or Marsh who takes the field when the Ashes start in Cardiff on July 8?

“It’s going to be tight, isn’t it,” Lehmann observed.

“He (Marsh) was exceptional in the innings, as was Shane Watson.

“We need Watto bowling and he’ll definitely bowl in the next tour game, so that’s going to be a key for us.

“Both pushed their claims really well.”

Watson bowled prior to play in Canterbury on days three and four, with Lehmann dismissing any fears the 34-year-old was injured.

“He’s just sore,” he said.

Watson, Marsh, Chris Rogers, Michael Clarke and Ryan Harris will turn out again in Chelmsford, while every other player involved in the first tour game has been rested.

That would suggest Rogers, who missed the two-Test series against the West Indies due to concussion, will return and get the nod to open ahead of Shaun Marsh.

However, Lehmann cautioned against making such an assumption.

“They’ve both put up a really good case to be picked in the first Test match. Don’t read too much into Shaun not playing the next one … we need to give our other batters a hit,” he said.

The other big call that Lehmann and on-duty selector Rod Marsh must make is settling on a pace attack.

Ryan Harris’ return to the squad means either Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood could be dropped, despite the young guns firing in the Caribbean.

“We’ve got to pick the best attack,” Lehmann said.

“Ryan Harris has got to be fully fit … he’s got to prove to us he can bowl 20 overs in an innings.”

Lehmann suggested conditions in Cardiff would play a big part, but both he and Marsh were “pretty close” to settling on an XI.

“You’ve just got to wait until you get there … traditionally it’s a pretty good wicket,” he said.

“We know the rough line-up we want to go with.” Australia XI to face Essex in tour game: David Warner, Chris Rogers, Michael Clarke, Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon.

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