Unexpected Ashes call-ups spark county dash for overseas talent

Ross McLean
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SURPRISE Australia call-ups for this summer’s Ashes series have thrown English counties into disarray less than three weeks before the start of the domestic season.

Middlesex and Lancashire have been forced into a scramble for replacements after Australia selected batsman Adam Voges and seamer Peter Siddle in their 17-man squad for tours of the West Indies and England.

Uncapped Voges, 35, was appointed Middlesex captain over the winter but scintillating Sheffield Shield form for Western Australia has earned him a Test call-up, limiting his availability to the season’s first four championship matches.

“This leaves us with a difficult problem of needing to find a replacement overseas player with some immediacy,” read a Middlesex statement. Director of cricket Angus Fraser added: “It’s a blow. We’ve sat down thinking about contingencies and now is the time to start putting them into action.”

Siddle had been expected to miss out on selection and be free to play the opening 12 championship matches of the summer for Lancashire, but, like Voges, impressive domestic form for Victoria caught the selectors’ eye.

Lancashire are awaiting permission from Cricket Australia for the 30-year-old to feature in their first four red-ball matches of the campaign, giving new boss Ashley Giles breathing space to source a replacement. Giles said: “The hunt for a replacement begins now.”