Cricket: Scots will face ‘motivated Australia’

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TONY Judd last night warned Scotland to expect an Aussie backlash in their four-day clash at The Grange.

Former Saltires coach Judd is convinced the senior team’s recent woes will make their understudies even more determined to make a mark.

Judd, now head coach at the Northern Territories Institute of Sport in Darwin, watched the Aussie A squad prepare prior to departing for the UK. He identified a couple of stars of the future and believes some of them will have a part to play as Australia bid to win back the Ashes later this summer.

He said: “Scotland will come up against a pretty potent mix of experience and youth. I saw them preparing at the centre of excellence a couple of weeks ago and was impressed.

“People know about guys with genuine Test pedigree like Peter Siddle, Brad Haddin and Nathan Lyon but there is a new generation coming through. Chadd Sayers is a real prospect and I was impressed with a new kid called Jordan Silk.

“He has played in Darwin and at my old club in Tasmania over the last year or so. I’d say he is a real star in the making.”

Australia’s senior one-day squad, preparing for the Champions Trophy, suffered a humiliating drubbing at the hands of India on Tuesday and Judd believes that will make the A team even more keen to impress.

“The guys facing Scotland will be able to play with greater freedom than the senior team as they have nothing to lose and everything to play for. Most of them will feel an Ashes spot is not out of the question given the form of the top team.”

Both sides went through their paces yesterday ahead of the one-off clash which gets underway this morning.

Scotland, skippered by Preston Mommsen in the absence of Kyle Coetzer, will field a youthful side with an average age of 24.

Aberdeenshire wicket-keeper Matthew Cross makes his debut but the side is bolstered by the inclusion of three county stars in Josh Davey (Middlesex), Matt Machan (Sussex) and Iain Wardlaw (Yorkshire).

Dewsbury-born pace bowler Wardlaw, who made his Scotland debut earlier this year after qualifying through the ICC’s parentage rule, is relishing the chance to test himself against the seasoned Aussie seam attack.

“It might be called the Australia A team but half the bowlers we are facing will be playing for the Ashes next month,” he said.

“Australia are a high quality side – they’ve always been one of the top cricketing nations. Their bowling is probably stronger than their batting just now and it’s a chance for me to rub shoulders and learn from them.”

Leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed won’t play against Scotland but yesterday moved a step closer to featuring in the Ashes series when he was called into the Australia A squad. As things stand, Pakistan-born Ahmed would not be eligible for an Australian passport until 18 August and he was omitted from both the Ashes and second-string touring parties when they were announced back in April.

But a likely change to the country’s Citizenship Act could speed things up and, with International Cricket Council eligibility rules not applying to A teams, Ahmed will be free to play in four and three-day games against Ireland and Gloucestershire later this month.

Ahmed, who will fly out to the UK this weekend and therefore miss the match at the Grange, said: “I am very happy. It is a great opportunity for me to prove myself for Australia A in overseas conditions.”

Scotland Squad: P Mommsen (capt), J Davey, M Iqbal, M Machan, R Berrington, F Coleman, C MacLeod, M Cross, G Goudie, I Wardlaw, C Burnett, E Chalmers.

Australia A Squad: B Haddin (capt), S Smith, A Agar, J Bird, A Doolan, R Harris, M Henriques, U Khawaja, N Lyon, N Maddinson, J Pattinson, C Sayers, P Siddle, J Silk.