Shane Watson will lead Australia in a practice match against England Lions starting from Friday at Northampton. Captain Michael Clarke and his deputy Brad Haddin are being rested.
Watson, who previously gave up the post of vice-captain, is not a certain to play the final Ashes Test due to his unimpressive form. He however, will be marshaling a jaded touring party against England Lions, reports The Australian.
Australia trail England 3-0 in the ongoing series and the onus will now be upon Watson to prove his mettle and lead a side in which several players are either looking to create a mark or just survive and retain their position in the playing XI. Watson will only bat and not bowl as he is recovering from a groin injury sustained during the fourth Test at Durham.
While Watson has hit 216 runs from eight innings (averaging 27) in the series so far, others like Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith and Dave Warner are also under pressure. On the sidelines are players like Phil Hughes, Matthew Wade, Ed Cowan and James Faulkner who will hope to jostle their way into the playing XI for the Oval Test, starting August 21.
Coach Darren Lehmann is banking on the tour match to decide on the playing XI for the fifth Test. This despite its short two-day duration. The match will be played to a maximum of 100 overs per side for the first innings.
"The thing for us is for our batters to get some time in the middle," he was quoted as saying. "We can only bat for a day and bowl for a day, so I suppose it's a longer training session and it's not first class. For us it's still a chance to impress selectors and perform really well and get to where we want to get to. It's still important."