Australia coach Darren Lehmann has refused to grant veteran opener Chris Rogers a guaranteed Test return when the Ashes begins next month.
Rogers and the rest of the Australian team will depart Jamaica for London on Tuesday (Wednesday AM AEST) ahead of their opening tour match of the Ashes campaign against Kent next week.
The 37-year-old missed both of Australia’s Tests in the Caribbean due to concussion after being struck in the nets two days before the series opener against the West Indies in Dominica.
Rogers has announced he will retire at the end of the Ashes and his experience in English conditions is seen as vital if Australia is to defeat the old enemy on their turf for the first time since 2001.
But Lehmann says Rogers is not a walk-up start for the first Test starting in Cardiff on July 8.
“There’s no guarantees with anything… at the moment,” Lehmann said.
“What we do know is you have to perform well day in and day out.
“He’s got a few tour games to prove he’s back to full fitness to start with, and making runs is important for us.”
If Rogers does return it creates a conundrum for Lehmann and fellow selector Rodney Marsh.
Adam Voges’ century on debut in Dominica will make him hard to omit for the opening Ashes Test meaning Shaun Marsh would have to be excluded for Rogers or shuffled back down to the middle order in the place of veteran all-rounder Shane Watson.
Lehmann says he’s loath to remove an extra bowling option from his lineup if it can be avoided.
“We certainly like that fifth bowling option,” he said.
“If a bowler goes down you are left short so you really need to have that option in your side.”
Regardless of who plays, Lehmann says he’s eager to lock horns with new England coach Trevor Bayliss, who as recently as last year was filling in for Lehmann during Australia’s Twenty20 tour of South Africa.
“They’ll probably play a bit like we play I think. That’s what they’re trying to do,” Lehmann said.
“It’s going to be on for young and old. It’s going to be entertaining for everyone.
“They’re going to be tough over there… and if they’re going to play that way it’s going to be the team that handles that pressure the best.”